I don't know why, but for some reason this morning, I feel like writing about my experiences with depression. Maybe it's because it's a cold, rainy, November day and the day kind of got off to a yucky start. For one thing, I had a nightmare this morning about my husband's former stepson. Until recently, my husband thought of him as his son... but then the kid showed his true colors and betrayed him, making it clear that all my husband was to him was a source of cash. It would be so nice if we could just write the whole thing off and forget about him and his sisters, but that's pretty much impossible. So I still have bad dreams about all three of them.
I got up this morning and saw that it was raining outside, knowing that would be bad news for my dogs. I took them out to do their business and neither one of them seemed particularly interested in staying out longer than a minute or two. The older one managed to do all he needed to do, but the younger one laid a big stinky dump in the kitchen. So I had to clean that up, and when I went to get some toilet paper to pick up the shit, it turned out the bathroom was low on toilet paper. Oh well... at least it wasn't out of toilet paper...
Then I went to the refrigerator to get out the half and half because I figured a morning like this one called for a pot of hot coffee. I spilled the water as I tried to put it in the coffeemaker. Then, when I went to get the half and half, I realized my husband had put a piece of roast beef in the fridge wrapped up in foil, but he neglected to put a plate under it. So there was a bloody mess all over the shelf in the fridge that I had to clean up.
And ol' Zane, the younger pooch, keeps whining at me because he wants my attention for one reason or another... I guess it's nice to know that at least someone out there needs me around. Actually, I know my husband does and I know he loves me. Twelve years ago, I didn't have that kind of love. In fact, I was very depressed, crying all the time, and thinking of suicide.
Twelve years ago... it was November 1998 and I had been home from my Peace Corps assignment for about a year. I was 26 years old and living with my parents. That was hell on earth for me and for them. My father is an alcoholic and, at this point, suffers from dementia. I'm sure he's much worse now than he was back then, but he was bad enough then. And I was pretty paralyzed with depression and having a hard time launching... that, coupled with verbal abuse, made it pretty hard for me to function properly.
I had a stressful job waiting tables at a restaurant, where I routinely got abused by co-workers and customers. I had been seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist for three months and was taking antidepressants that were making things worse rather than better.
I remember November 1998 as one of the worst times of my life. I felt like a loser and started thinking that the world might be better off without me in it. I'm sure there were people around me back then who would have agreed with me. Things came to a head one day in mid November when I had a meltdown at work and had to leave. One of my co-workers called my shrinks for me and I ended up going in to see them. I admitted to feeling suicidal, but assured them I wasn't planning to kill myself.
I remember my therapist asking me what I planned to do with the rest of my day. I told him I was going home to read a book. He said, "You're not going to read Sylvia Plath, are you?" Looking back, that was a pretty funny comment... but I didn't have much of a sense of humor that day. My psychiatrist told me to start taking three Prozacs a day, which is a huge dose. That made things even worse. Prozac didn't really seem to help me very much, although the shrink told me I'd had a "partial response" to it. All I remember it doing was making me completely lose any interest in sex, which wasn't a bad thing, given the fact that I had no love life anyway. But even masturbation was a lost cause.
I remember Thanksgiving sucked. I spent it with my extended family a couple hundred miles away, then rushed home to go to work that Saturday night. I couldn't do anything right and one of my partners yelled at me. I was very close to being at my wits end.
Finally, in early December 1998, my psychiatrist switched my antidepressant to Wellbutrin SR. I remember taking the first dose of one of those purple pills at a restaurant. Things changed very suddenly. Within a few days, I was feeling much better. I started making plans for the future. I decided to go to graduate school.
While in graduate school the following November, I met my husband online. Three Novembers after that, we got married. And now, we've spent eight Novembers married... or at least it will be eight years on the 16th. Incidentally, our anniversary is also my husband's former stepson's birthday. I didn't know it was his birthday when I chose the date. I just wanted a fall wedding and that was the most convenient time to get married. But if I had known, I certainly would have chosen a different day... because I'm sure the fact that we got married on former stepson's birthday was somehow spun into something diabolical in my husband's kids' world. It rained on our wedding day, anyway.
It occurs to me that my stepdaughters probably would have preferred it if I had followed my instincts toward self-destruction in November 1998. I have a feeling they blame me for everything that's happened to them. The reality is, I met their dad online in 1999, after he had been kicked out of his house by their mother. I didn't even know he was married until several months later, and never thought I'd actually meet him in the flesh. When I did finally meet him in person in 2001, he had been divorced for about a year. Their dad never even so much as flirted with me until the day his divorce became final. Meanwhile, their mother was shacking up with future husband #3.
My husband is truly my first and only true love. I never dated much before I met him. It always seemed like the guys I liked didn't like me. And the guys who liked me didn't interest me. I've always had a lot of male friends, but they mostly seemed to think of me as a sister or "one of the guys". So, the last thing I am is a homewrecker or a whore. In fact, I lost my virginity to my husband at age 30, two weeks after our wedding day. Cue the theme song for "Lowered Expectations..."
Eh... I guess it doesn't matter what they think, anyway. They're going to think what they're gonna think. And there's no reason for me to feel guilty when I know I did nothing wrong. It's a shame that they're missing out on their father, though. He's a wonderful man and a good part of the reason why I'm not depressed anymore.
In fact, it's been a long time since I was last good and depressed. I stopped taking Wellbutrin in 2004 and I mostly haven't missed it. The only thing I miss about Wellbutrin is the way it helped me keep my weight down. I don't miss the regimen of remembering the pills or visiting the shrink. I miss my therapist somewhat, but he later became a Facebook friend, so it's all good. In fact, life is pretty good now. I'm glad I'm not dead.
Those of you out there who are dealing with depression, I'm here to tell you that it's worth treating. It's a real problem and you deserve to feel better. I felt like warmed over shit for many years. Today, I feel much better. But it does seem like every November, I remember the time when I just wanted to be beamed away somewhere else... and I felt like everyone around me wanted me to be beamed away, too.