Monday, March 28, 2005

Depression

Depression is as alien to my experience as anything I can think of.

Sure, everybody has experienced moodiness, sadness, anxiety, and I have too, but they've always been linked to some identifiable, limited cause.

What I'm experiencing now is qualitatively different. It feels like a fundamental shift in my world view from generally optimistic to pervasively pessimistic and fearful. I can't seem to muster that previously unshakeable tenet of my cosmology that everything is going to work out right.

I think I can peg the moment this began. When I fell in the hospital, and could not get up, I remember thinking that God, or as I was thinking of him at that moment, the "author", had finally gotten carried away with what he was dumping on me. In the language of the French comic books I read as a kid, I thought, "La, enfin, vous exagerrez."

The loss of confidence I experienced in that moment has since been aggravated by my persistent, post-surgical discomfort, by the infinitesimal pace of my recovery, by the effects of my pain medication, and even, I think, by the weather. Perhaps most poignantly, I can't sing. I don't have the breath or the voice. That is devastating for me, and I don't have confidence that it is temporary.

I feel like I've lost my self, and I have real doubts that I'll recover it. The grief I feel over that loss is devastating. Because I'm always uncomfortable and because eating is such a chore, I know I'm not regaining the strength I need to overcome this.

It seems likely to me that the fact that the immediate cancer peril has been defeated is actually contributing to my depression. The fight or flight impulse has relaxed, but I've still got a lot of fight to get through.

I had hoped to ride out the depression until I could get off the pain medication. But I've halved my dosage and the depression seems worse rather than better.

Today, I'm going to try to get some help. I've called my oncologist's office to ask for medication, referal to a counselor or psychologist or both. I'm going to call my surgeon to discuss the slow pace of my recovery. I may make some other calls as well.

As I told Judy, I'm sick of breaking records for the worst time in my life.

We have a new champion.

11 Comments:

Blogger Jeanne said...

Have you tried distraction/catharsis? Watch movies, read adventure stories like Rudyard Kipling. Re-read Narnia. Maybe if you step out of yourself it will work like a jumpstart. Also, in our family, bad feelings can go the rounds and reververate and reinforce themselves seemingly endlessly. Get out of the house when things feel too bad. Talk to strangers. Dissipate your anxiety. I don't know if it will help, but I hope so.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Kita28 said...

Oh, dear Jim,

I'm so sorry you're going through this. Depression is something that those who have not experienced it cannot truly understand. Those of us who have experienced it fear it terribly.

I feel the need to reiterate to you that it IS a physical and chemical reaction to everything you have gone through and are going through. It is NOT a fundamental change in who you are, although it wants you to think that. YOU are a joyful, optimistic person.

It's interesting that you mentioned that your will to fight had decreased since the cancer had been defeated. I've always found it most helpful to treat depression as an enemy that needs to be fought. At one point my only anthem was that Corey Hart song (WARNING: 80's flashback ahead) "Never Surrender."

"And when the road is cold and dark
You can see, you can see light
No one can take away your right
To fight and to Never Surrender."

People telling me to "be happy" I couldn't understand. People telling me not to give up the fight, I could.

That's why I'm SO happy that you are making those calls about medication and counseling. I think a combination of those would be great for you. You've had so many reasons for anxiety, fear, anger and sadness over the past six months. You should be able to talk about it in a setting where you don't have to "filter" any of your feelings to spare family or friends. And when it comes to depression, drugs are our friends.:)

Although I have not suffered what you have, I DO know the feeling of "enough is enough" - that God had better cut it out. I think that's why we have Job in the Old Testament - to tell us that that feeling is part of the human condition. And, although our situations are so different, I do truly believe that both you and I are due for an upswing soon.

I love you and your family more than I can say and pray for you every day .

Kita

12:41 PM  
Blogger vkenny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:16 PM  
Blogger vkenny said...

Hi Jimmy, I can sympathize with the depression you are going through but try to remember it is another stage of recovery. The human body is amazing,but it also has its' limitations, when pushed to the limit something has to give. I have read your blogs and reconnected with you in a way I never expected, I know this too shall pass, just hang in there and get the help you need. Keep fighting the good fight!!
V

2:19 PM  
Blogger Tom Wolf said...

Depression sucks. Literally. It sucks the joy, hope and life out of everything. My family has considerable experience with it. It’s real, and not to be ignored or trifled with. On ne badine pas avec la dépression.

Meds and counseling are good steps, necessary steps. Aphorisms are pretty useless in this condition. Still, the wisdom in the first three lines of the Dhammapada has spoken to me in the worst of times: “We are what we think. Everything we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” It’s powerfully difficult to change our thoughts, but not impossible, and it’s a target to shoot for.

Keep fighting. We love you.

Tom

2:48 PM  
Blogger UisceBaGirl said...

I have heard that folks who have had depression and have also suffered chronic pain would choose the physical pain over the depression experience. Apart from some highly hormonal teenage experiences, I've been (like your normal self) blissfully free from depression in my life. I have a sense that you can free yourself from this - but I have no wisdom to offer you on how this happens. I just have faith that you will eventually return to yourself. WIth warm loving thoughts to you and yours...

6:52 PM  
Blogger marian said...

Heya Jim, just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you, and rooting for you. I've watched my mother and grandmother go through this kind of post-surgery depression, and it really does seem like that's so much harder than the physical aspect of recovery. Hang in there.

7:30 PM  
Blogger marian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Kain said...

Jim,

I read the responses to your recent blog and you are getting excellent advice from your friends. Kita28 is right on the mark. I have fought depression for most of my life and sometimes it has won the battle. But it has never changed my underlying enthusiasm for life. It definitely won’t change yours. The comic Stephen Wright may not be known for his optimism, but in his jokes there is sometimes a kernel of truth. He said, “Depression is anger without the enthusiasm.” You lost control of your life for as short time and it pisses you off! However, you might be too tired to be angry because the fight with Cromwell has taken a lot out of you.

The feeling of despair is temporary and it won’t last forever. But you do need help to escape it. The drugs will help, but it takes time for them to work.

The other thing to remember is that it is okay to rest and gather you inner strength. Just don’t confuse resting with succumbing to depression. You will know the difference. While waiting for the drugs to help, you need to spend time thinking about all the positive accomplishments of your life. You family and friends love you for good reason.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Hoodia said...

Help me Dude, I think I'm lost..... I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him in a car lot yesterday, which is really strange because the last time I saw him was in the supermarket. No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender". He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a San Diego cosmetic surgery doctor ,to fit into those blue suede shoes of yours. But Elvis said in the Ghetto nobody can afford a San Diego plastic surgery doctor. Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger. Then I'm gonna go round and see Michael Jackson and we're gonna watch a waaaay cool make-over show featuring some Tijuana dentists on the TV in the back of my Hummer. And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . . "You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on " Strange day or what? :-)

3:57 AM  
Blogger Willie said...

When did they do all this? Last I checked was a week ago. Payday Loans Cash Advance

4:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home