Officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder 4 times.
1996, 2003, 2009, 2016
Experienced 8 episodes of Major Depressive Disorder.
1989, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015
And in between, there were ups and downs. Not tons of ups. Not tons of super downs. But a LOT of low-grade, below average, underlying malaise.
In 1996, I was traveling in Germany for Interim. One morning while taking a shower the thought ran through my head – my parents would be pissed.
What’s so interesting is I didn’t actually articulate the thought that came before that… It took me by surprise that these thoughts were playing leap-frog. My mind wasn’t allowing me to articulate that I wanted to commit suicide. It skipped that part. There were no plans or ideas…
My parents would be pissed.
How many of us have just existed in that “no man’s land” of just get along with the parental units, right? Just try not to rock the boat. Tip toe around. Don’t really say what you think. I was living a complete lie so I wouldn’t piss off my parents. And now I’m in a shower in Germany and I’m realizing that I just don’t want to do it anymore.
That’s the German phrase that so eloquently summed up how I felt. It literally means “do not feel like.” And I didn’t feel like doing any of it. None.
kein :: no, not a, not any, less than, neither – used to negate nouns / pronouns
die Lust :: delight, zest, desire
I had no delight in anything. No zest for life. No desire to participate to see to learn to grow. For some reason, keine Lust had a “feel” about it that deeply resonated with how I was feeling.
The activities an 18 / 19 year old participate in while in Germany don’t really help the whole keine Lust situation. Beer. Booze. I choose Bacardi mit Cola as my numbing agent of choice. Neither does visiting a concentration camp or sitting in the room where the decision was made to start rounding up an entire group of people or seeing ovens that actually were used to burn people. Nor did it help that I left a situation at school that was a mess of best friends, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, roommates, former best friends. Phonies.
And here is where a trait appears that will show up again and again in my story… I stood up and told someone. I advocated for myself. I told my professor on the flight home that I had keine Lust. He was like a grandpa – I didn’t have a sweet caring loving wise gentle grandfather. WB was all those things and oozed warmth. I stumbled back to his seat on the flight to Detroit and spilled my keine Lust-y guts. He gave me the permission to tell my parents. He volunteered to be present when I did so.
After sleeping off the hangover from booze and travel, I told my mom. She didn’t have much to say. We went downstairs so I could tell my dad. Instantly I felt nauseated. We don’t get sick. We don’t need help. Maybe I just have ADHD.
And I just went with it. You’re right, I probably just have trouble concentrating because I’m a spaz. Should have been tested long ago for this.
I told my roommate. I told my best friend. I went to the only place there was at the time to go – and my doctor was awful. He actually LAUGHED during my evaluation. Wait, what?
The signals from almost all the adults communicated this message – there’s nothing actually wrong with you. Get over it. Get on with it. Stop making excuses. Such lies.
Medication started. Hated it. Tried three different drugs.
Summer came. Quit the meds. Smoked a lot. Drank alone. Was lonely and felt abandoned. But I was pushing through.
Back to school.
You know when you have a blister forming on your heel but you just keep walking, trying to ignore it? There’s that stinging burning sensation that’s nagging at you in the back of your mind. You should really just take off the damn shoe and address it before things get worse – but maybe that’s inconvenient or time consuming – you’re on someone else’e schedule and can’t slow things down. And then you sit down for dinner and rest your feet for an hour. What happens when you start walking again? Your heel hurts like a bitch. Or, the next morning, you go to put on those shoes and do another day of hoofing it and your heel screams get this off of me!
So, I think of depression like a blister that’s forming. Address that shit right away or you’re going to end up with a big fat ugly screaming burning mess.
And because I didn’t address the depression – I went along with the story that I heard, I have to focus more, I’m ADHD, I need to think positively, God loves me so why am I sad? The blister ended up being a motherf*cker.
I knew it was bad when I had to pull over because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see to drive. And when I got to my appointment, I did it again. I advocated for myself. I told Dr. Crazy Combover that things were NOT better in fact they were WORSE. Now, this is hard to do. Well, for me. How do you tell an expert in their field (supposedly, but he barely spoke English so did he even know what I was saying to him in between sobs?) that they’re not helping you and you’d like help? How do you nicely say – hey f*cker, none of this is working for me?
And so begins a week long visit to Pine Rest.
The amount of medication I was on made me drowsy as hell and nauseated. (I found out later that there was a slow release formula for the medication – um, hello? I had to take two pills a day at the PRECISE time or I felt as if the world were in a box and it was floating around me. A doctor later told me that feeling is what people who are experiencing withdrawals from narcotics feel. What the? And you think this is good thing to give to a 19 year old who enjoys abusing the hell out of booze?)
But there was group therapy. Most of the stuff was bullshit. But there was this one Dr. Dr. Mr. Rogers. (this is when I decided that men in my life were either a principal or a Mr. Rogers – and if you were deemed a principal, good luck getting anywhere with me because I was going to clam up, dig in my heals, and put both middle fingers to the sky). Dr. Mr. Rogers said a beautiful thing to me – a thing that I’ve repeated and kept close to my heart.
We are constantly reweaving the fabric of our lives.
Isn’t that amazing?
So my tapestry or fabric has some threads in it that represent keine Lust. But I’m learning that when you step back from the tapestry, it blends in and maybe even enhances other parts of the fabric.