Well, I’m assuming I still have some readers otherwise this could be a very curious monologue. Still, I’m still going to write it because it’s important (and you’ll see why later, why it’s so important). It was 1st December 2012 I made my last post, so nearly twelve months have gone by. Twelve interesting months. And I use interesting in the most ironic sense.
So, I guess you’re wondering what I’ve done in these twelve months. Have I finished the third novel? Have I become rich and famous? Well the answer to both of those is a no. I have however been busy with other things.
In May I was diagnosed with depression and put on Citalopram (20mg if anyone’s that interested).
Ok, that wasn’t so hard. So far.
My wife reckons the beginning of this was back in October 2012 when we visited Disney world, that I was just a little subdued at times. I don’t honestly remember any particular event, but if she says that’s when it was then that’s good enough for me. Now to put this into context I don’t really see any major changes from October to March when it really kicked in, but I have it on good authority that I was more subdued at Christmas and into the New Year. Small things would wind me up and I’d be what’s probably best described as “a bit moody” and easy to wind up. (Editorial note – having read the initial draft of this my wife assures me that this underplays it somewhat. Just so we have a balanced view).
But March was the real kicker. I started to become paranoid and sometimes the slightest thing would have me up half the night. This wasn’t in the usual tossing and turning way but rather getting into and out of bed, storming around, going for a drive etc. From my perspective this was perfectly rational, I could always rationalise the behaviour being exhibited despite assurances from my wife that it wasn’t rational in the slightest.
I had no interest in writing or blogging or the other stuff I enjoyed. These ‘funks’ as my wife called them started to get more frequent and were happening a couple of times a week. Always assuring myself that ‘I could handle it’ and I wasn’t the issue I soldiered on. To me I was in the right, the issues involved were not my fault in any way shape or form.
Until one day in May when I went off on a ‘funk’ and the following morning when my wife left for work the look in her eyes, the pain. As soon as I got to work I rang the doctors and the triage nurse rang back pretty much immediately – and trust me that’s rare at our surgery. There were many questions asked about my state of mind and they got me an appointment same day. This, believe me, is akin to a local miracle since usually you have to wait at least a week for an appointment unless you have (a) missing limbs or have been (b) clinically pronounced dead. Actually it isn’t quite that bad, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Having explained the thoughts and emotions the doctor diagnosed pretty quickly and put me on Citalopram with the caution that the tablets take several weeks to ‘kick in’ and even then any improvement will be gradual until after a couple of months things should hopefully be better. They also come with the warning that not every tablet works for everyone and it may take some trial and error.
One of the issues I faced and one of the areas that caused the most problems was my daily commute of an hour each way. With nothing to do but spend time on my own this hour was causing me some issues, concentration was a problem and when you’re mind isn’t occupied it wanders away to it’s own dark areas. In short this was destroying me and frankly making everything worse. Luckily I have a very understanding boss and he agreed to allow me to work from home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday since my wife is at home these days and Id work from the office on Thursday and Friday. To give the tablets an opportunity to work we originally agreed for three weeks (although it ended up being four). This actually helped a great deal.
Like many people I always assumed (as did my wife) that depression means you skulk around unhappy all the time, but it’s not like that, and one of the things that makes it more difficult for our loved ones is that everything can be fine for days or weeks, and suddenly wham – funk. Out of the blue usually, it can be the smallest thing that sets it off. I’m not exaggerating to say that you can feel the downward spiral happening but there’s nothing you can do about it and that makes it worse. It’s like you have two people in your head constantly battling with each other and then something just pops. I once explained it my wife as being like a snowball – you know in your heart of hearts that something is true and accurate, but then a small sliver of doubt creeps in and once that happens it snowballs until it snowballs and flattens everything else. There is nothing you can do once this starts to happen, nothing anyone can say and nothing anyone can do it just pretty much has to take it’s course.
Thankfully my wife started to become very attuned to these events in terms of spotting the signs and would often head them off at the pass, in fact it got to the point that she had a 80% success rate at ending them before they really got started. Given that most of the time when I had a funk on I would go and sit by water she even went out and got me a water feature for the garden and believe it or not that did help.
And that’s how it went on from May to July. In fairness the tablets did start to work from June onwards, and the episodes got less frequent and less serious, but they were still there, and to some extent still are. It’s wrong to say I lost interest in things, but I haven’t done any writing since October last year and sometimes I couldn’t be bothered with even simple stuff. That’s started to get much better, and there is light at the end of the tunnel I guess, it’s just a very long tunnel.
Both of us (stupidly in retrospect) thought that the tablets would be some sort of panacea, but they aren’t. They help, yes, but a lot of it comes from what’s inside, and only that can really make me better. I’d like to say I understand all of what caused it in the first place, that I had something to blame it on, and whilst a lot of the issues I’ve now resolved (or come to terms with or whatever) there are probably some that need some adjustment.
To say it’s been difficult on my wife in an understatement – the doctor said to me that quite a few partners just can’t cope after the first few months and walk out. I know that neither of us would ever have wanted that, and I honestly couldn’t have come this far without her support. One of the most distressing things when coming out the other side of an episode was knowing the pain and upset that had been caused to her, and in some ways that made it worse. When you already feel down the worst thing in the world is to know you’ve hurt those you love most.
So, what’s the score at the moment? Well, I’m busy with work – we have a lot of major projects on the go and in some ways that helps and in others not so. When I was at the height of my depression doing too much was a sure fire way of going off like a firework. While it’s not like that any more I’m consciously aware that it could be and I know I need to stop dialling in over the weekend and evenings. OH has already expressed concern over the past week and that’s enough for me to pull it back somewhat and even I acknowledge that so close to Christmas I’m already feeling a bit run down and that this could have consequences.
As for writing, well, I know I’ll get back to it. I want to get back to it, that’s more important I guess and probably half the battle, but just at this moment I’m not quite ready. As daft as it sounds I’m aiming for the beginning of January to sit down and start afresh and see what happens.
Just as a footnote, when I asked my wife to read this she studied it carefully and asked whether I was sure I wanted to publish it. I was, however, she did point out that for her the above is a very softened version of events, which I acknowledge – I’m not going into graphic detail about some of the events and issues, partly because I don’t believe they would be helpful and partly because the world doesn’t need to know. I do however know that she is correct and while the above likens it to the first circle of hell I’m very very aware that she spent a considerable amount of time living in the ninth circle and I can never do enough to pay her back for the loyalty and understanding she has shown. I consider myself extremely luck to have had such a special woman to share my life with.