Naturally, because I am me, my plan went awry. The day after I wrote my last post, I spun into a depression deeper than the one I was already in, and a few days later, I had an official diagnosis and a prescription.
It's funny how much it affects us to hear the truth, even if we think we already know it. I've been depressed, on and off, for roughly six years, but without a medical professional's professional opinion, I could easily pretend like I was fine. So I did. For six years.
But when I went to the doctor two weeks ago, on a Friday, I showed up ready to talk. Or, at least, write. On my sign-in sheet, I checked the box that said I'd been feeling ANXIOUS/DEPRESSED. Both/and.
The nurse did the depression screening, one that I later discovered is the standard way to check for clinical signs of depression these days. It asked how often I feel certain things like hopeless, how often I have no interest in doing things, how often I feel like a failure, how often I feel I'd be better off dead. I answered "nearly every day" to all of these questions, still thinking it was normal and not a big deal until the nurse paused and said: "We're going to get you some help."
After that doctor's appointment, on a Friday, I couldn't handle anything all weekend. I laid around even more morose than usual. Something about being told that my depression was real and it was serious—there was no debating, my doctor was sure, no "maybe you're just a bit sad right now," just "let's try this medication"—made me hurt.
But by far the strangest thing about starting antidepressants is constantly trying to gauge progress. Whenever I have a thought of death now, I wonder, Am I thinking about death more than usual? Less? The same amount? Because, of course, a cruel side affect of antidepressants is sometimes an increased desire to off yourself. That I'm anxious about potentially increased suicidal tendencies is perhaps a sign that my meds haven't fully kicked in yet.
So needless to say, I haven't accomplished much of anything. I can't write, because I feel the weight of not-writing anxiety on my gut when I start getting words out (including right now).
I can hardly read, because I can't concentrate, and even when I can, I almost always forget everything immediately.
I have been reading Rebecca Schiff's marvelous short story collection The Bed Moved when I can put my mind to it. In another circumstance, I'd have finished it in a sitting or two. But with this compromised memory and attention span, it's taking me a bit. I love the book; I love the ways she plays with words and puns to make such carefully pinpointed observations. My favorite, from a story about a girl who writes for the school newspaper, talking about the pressure to be impressive and figure shit out: "We lie in applications. We lie in interviews. We lie everywhere but on top of each other."
But, honestly, I'm mostly doing the work I have to do and watching a lot of Sex and the City. This is my first time watching through the show, and though it's very obviously nearly twenty years old sometimes, I'm still enjoying it a lot. I'm enjoying it even though it's all about sex and friendship, two things I can't really be bothered with right now, though I wish that weren't the case.
Sometimes it's enough, just for a while, to watch others have fun in a way that you can't. I can't help but wonder if I'm wasting my life. But right now, there's not much I can do about that.