In our family we jokingly refer to “the crazy gene.” See, my dad suffers from depression. He’s had the kind of depression that got treated with shock treatments in the 60’s. I remembered those Jack Nicholson One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest days in my dad’s life. I was a scared teenager – and swore I’d never have that damn crazy gene. Dad’s mother had it. She never left the farm for over 30 years. She only wanted to be around family, and then not that much. My mom’s grandmother tried to kill herself three times. She had strokes back in the day when there was no medicine for it – and she was depressed. My brother has “the crazy gene” and so does his daughter. Both suffer to some degree with depression.
I was bound and determined not to have “the crazy gene.” I so desperately wanted to be normal.
If you’ve met me, you’ll notice I’m usually pretty upbeat and like to concentrate on the positive. I can do that for about 3 hours. Then I need to slip away. It takes a lot of work to always be positive. In the morning I’m very chipper and do most of my work from 5:30 a.m. to noon, if I can. The afternoons have to be spent by myself. It’s too hard to be around people then. Some days I can’t just stay home – I have to work. I muddle through. And some days I can’t even leave home and find reasons to stay there. I am tired all the time. Sleep is no longer fun, I wake up 2 or 3 times and can’t get back to sleep. I stay anxious – so much to do and not enough time to do it. It’s hard to concentrate. All these things – I thought just meant I was getting older and that’s the way things go. I mean it when I say “it’s not easy being me.”
I was pretty sure I didn’t have that crazy gene. I sure didn’t want it. I just wanted to be normal. Then one day I read a post by Steve Woodruff. Steve’s a smart guy, friendly, upbeat, conversationalist – and I know him only from Twitter. He has depression. And admitted it. For 20 years he tried to control it. He said “Maybe you think it’s shameful to admit that there could be a problem you can’t resolve by force of will. News flash: biochemistry does not yield to machismo. Darkness of soul is not something to be trifled with. Get some help.”
I started a conversation about depression with Steve. I read on the internet about the symptoms of depression: change in sleep habits, lethargy and tiredness, anxiety, moody, inability to concentrate, sadness. Holy toledo Batman – I think I was suffering from depression. I made an appointment and actually went to my doctor. She put me on meds and suggested I give it 2 or 3 weeks and see how they work. That was January 22.
I feel like a fog is starting to lift, I can see a few rays of sunshines. I’m not so tired. I’m better able to get my work done. I still have trouble sleeping and still want a little nap in the afternoon. I know the medicine is helping. I know I have a great professional working with me to see that I get the right dosage of medicine. I also know this will work out. I may have that crazy gene. And that’s okay, because depression is a disease. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is biochemically something wrong with me. Medicine helps.
I’m not a doctor. I can’t recommend you get treatment or what meds to take or tell you exact symptoms. I can tell you to find friends like Steve Woodruff who have enough guts to talk about depression and things that are important and may change your life. I can urge you to see if it’s a possibility. I can tell you, the crazy gene won’t kill me. I hope you’ll be okay too.
picture is from frogflicks