When It’s Hard to Be Happy

I sat in the doctor’s office earlier this week and lied to him. I didn’t mean to lie to him, but it had become so rote to say some of the things I’ve had to say to doctors recently that I didn’t even consider that things might have changed for me. When I first starting seeking help from doctors about how I felt physically, they would turn around and ask me how I felt emotionally, several of them offering antidepressants, like the only reason I wasn’t feeling well was because I was depressed. I wasn’t depressed, at least, not in the traditional sense.

DEPRESSION – UGH

Those who know me know that I am prone to depression–not sadness or sorrow, but real, honest-to-goodness clinical depression, which is a medical condition that has to do with the way the brain deals with certain hormones and chemicals. Read more about this that I wrote here. There ARE different types of depression and they have different causes. Some you can ‘snap out of’ and others you cannot, at least, not without help–I don’t care what Tom Cruise says.When one type of depression lingers too long, it can turn into the other type of depression. It’s unfortunate we use ‘depressed’ as a ‘mood’ too, so that so many people get confused about what depression really is.

Anyway, my point is, doctors would see me and take my vague complaints: tired, fatigue, exhaustion, all over pain and aches, no energy, poor appetite, weight gain… they take those symptoms and look me up and down and say, “Oh, she must be depressed.”

I never was. I used to explain to them, “It’s not that I don’t want to do all the things I love and enjoy. I still very much want to do those things. Those things still bring me pleasure… I just CAN’T do them anymore. I try, but I can’t. I’m physically unable to do them.”

I even went so far as to try the antidepressants twice over the past four-ish or so years that we’ve been fighting these medical issues, hoping maybe they were right – I’m willing to accept any cure here, even if it turns out to be that it’s all in my head. Though I really don’t know how edema and swelling and weight loss and weight gain, vomiting, body-wide pain, horrible headaches, muscle twitches and more are all ‘in my head’, but whatever. I don’t care anymore what the cause is; I’m only focusing now on the cure. Whatever it is, if it makes me feel better, I’ll take it.

THE LIE?

So I sat in the doctor’s office earlier this week and said I wasn’t depressed.

But I lied. I am. I’ve known it for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been ignoring it. Then I started trying to fight it, but I know better. I can’t fight it once it gets this far.

It started as a low level dullness, just a little grey spot in the back of my head that wasn’t finding anything to be happy about. Then it spread. And it all culminated into yesterday morning when I lay in bed, just lying there, staring at a wall. I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t anything.  I don’t feel anything when I’m like this. I don’t feel joy, happiness or love. I don’t get angry. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything. I feel like a lump, like a lump of nothingness, like I just exist and nothing more.

See, that’s what depression is for me. It’s not sadness. It’s nothing. It’s a dullness, and emptiness. It’s the absence of caring. It’s apathy to an extreme, in that I don’t even care that I’m apathetic.

“When was the last time you wrote something, Michy?” I asked myself. Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, I answer myself. No, I’m not any crazier than you are.

BEEN HERE, DONE THIS

When I was younger, I was nearly hospitalized for depression. It was deep, severe, and real. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t sad. I was simply nonfunctional. I’d spend hours sitting on the couch, staring at a wall. Doing nothing. Nothing. I had no ability, desire or motivation to DO anything.

Yesterday morning, I sat staring at a wall, for several hours, doing nothing. I had no ability, desire or motivation to DO anything.

Uh-oh. Sounds familiar, eh? It should have been scary for me, but when I’m like this, I don’t feel fear. Remember, I feel nothing.

So yeah, I am at least aware of the fact that I’m depressed. I’m trying to get out of it, but it’s been days now, perhaps even a couple of weeks, and it’s not something I’m seemingly able to pull out of this time. So I guess it’s time to go to the doctor. I hate this part of it. Why? Because they’ll nod knowingly and think this is all depression and now when I go to the next doctor and they see I’m on antidepressants, they’ll dismiss all my symptoms as being depression related.

This is a huge setback for me and that is very frustrating, or at least, it would be if I could even feel frustration.

IT’S TO BE EXPECTED

I don’t blame myself. I’m not really upset about being depressed. To me, understanding what depression is, really helps. I know it’s not a weakness. I know that situations can cause depression but that someone who is healthy can face the same situations and their body doesn’t react this way; mine does. It’s just a thing. It’s not anything I’m ashamed of. I learned a lot about depression years ago when I was so messed up, and I promised myself I’d never let myself get that far down ever again, because now I know what to look for, now I know how it feels — or in my case, doesn’t feel – to be depressed.

With the health stuff, with the pain, with the doctors who can’t agree on anything, with the back getting worse, with my mobility lessening, with the family stuff going on right now with R, G & L’s family, and with my own frustrations about stuff too… I mean, depression isn’t far fetched, strange or whatever – it’s perfectly understandable.

It’s not that I’m ashamed to get help. I’m not. I don’t think there’s a single person out there, besides maybe Tom Cruise and the Scientologists, who would fault me for this.

It’s that I’m so afraid that once I say I need help, everything I experience from this point forward with doctors becomes about the depression. It becomes important to me that the doctors can differentiate my symptoms and realize that I don’t feel like I feel because I’m depressed. I’m depressed because I feel like I feel.

Cause and effect, but they take one look at a middle-aged, overweight, depressed mom… and suddenly, my symptoms are relegated to nothing more than mood.

So I ask, “If you were in pain every day of your life and nobody outside of your friends and family believed you or cared or even could agree on the cause, and especially when one doctor just took away the only thing that has so far made you feel even remotely better, wouldn’t YOU be depressed too?”

Sigh.

Cause and effect.

So I’ll see the cardiologist next week and later that week I’ll see my PA, and I’ll get help… in the meantime, will any of you sit and stare at the wall with me?

Love and stuff,
Michy

PS: It’s okay that I don’t feel anything. Lynn, my best friend, is in the middle of hormone soup, and she’ll feel it all for me! And then some!

If I’m going to ride the ferris wheel, I need your hand in mine….

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3 comments to When It’s Hard to Be Happy

  • WindowShopping  says:

    You know, If I’m going to feel the emotions for you, wouldn’t it be easier if I take the pain and symptoms, too? I’m glad you recognize where you are and know what you need to do. We will find answers because there are answers to be found… and life will continue to get better, because that’s what we do!

    Hang in there, Michy! When you need me, you know you just need to fish me out of the hormone soup – be sure to use gloves!

  • Cindy  says:

    Michy,

    This sucks! Been there, done that and it sucks. I got out of bed only because the cat needed to be fed. No one else would do it, so I’d get up, feed the cat, and then go back to nothingness. Antidepressants made it worse. Now, having seen some of your recent medical trevails, I think I know why…they would work for a day or two and then stop…as they built up to the so-called working level. I think like yours my body wasn’t processing as much medication as they had me on.
    I’m sorry the docs took away the one thing that was working,. You’d think the fools would acknowledge what works even if they don’t know why. Remember that there are people out here who know you are sick and care…

  • I found me! Update & Stuff » Michelle Devon  says:

    […] so for those who have been following my health saga, you probably know what’s going on with me. For those who haven’t, I’ll briefly […]

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