by Camela Thompson
Things have been bleak. It was a slow fall--one that I thought I correct on my own. Somehow, that slide steepened and I hit pretty close to the bottom without expecting my situation would dissolve to the point of talking myself out of bed in the morning and avoiding all non-essential contact with humans. Suddenly I was good at nothing, enjoyed little, and wanted to quit. Quit writing. Quit working. Quit seeing friends.
Depression lies. It's cruel and convincing. All of the successes, positive traits, and wins go into hiding. A big blanket descends, smothering me with negativity. My confidence melts away and I no longer know why I do the things I love. Everything loses its purpose. The fatigue that came with it this time was stunning. The world was in slow motion.
I'm lucky to have friends who are honest with me even when it's awkward or painful. I've heard people say that creative types feel more. I'm not sure if it's true--I know a lot of people who feel deeply--but sometimes it seems that way. Maybe those of us who "feel more" gravitate towards creative hobbies to help us heal. A good writer friend of mine brought up medication and he was honest with me about his own experience. His willingness to be open will always be something I remember and value. I already had an appointment with my doctor, but the conversation with my friend pushed me in the best possible way. The first words to my doctor were, "If we can't figure out a medical cause, I have to go on antidepressants."
Depression and anxiety run in my family. I've been close to it my entire life. I've watched family members be hospitalized, improve with medication, and then resist medication only to bottom out again. Finding the right balance takes time. The odd thing is that it's so easy to see what's happening when you're standing next to it. When it's happening to you, it's a different story.
My mood is closely tied to my health. If anything goes out of balance, the downward spiral begins. It's insidious in its gradual pace, and it's easy to lose control.
One of my complaints at the clinic was my inability to improve at running. My doctor noticed a heart murmur after minor exertion and suddenly I was on quest to determine whether a heart problem was at the root of my fatigue. These things take time, and I spent the next couple weeks eating junk food and binge watching The White Queen. It was an odd choice, but it worked in my favor. Watching historical fiction based in a time that didn't have any medical advancements made me realize how lucky I am to be alive now and here, even more so when witnessing the paranoia driven murders of those surrounding the Tudors and Yorks.
Annie is a most excellent assistant in all things - even watching bad TV
Another friend joined me in my new past time and let me talk through my own paranoia considering my health. My mom spent a weekend over and we watched bad reality television. My husband kept the chocolate stocked. I feel lucky to have people in my life who understand that the greatest gift is time. And patience for the occasional rant. And chocolate.
We received great news at the heart clinic after a stress echocardiogram. My heart looked perfect. The blood work, on the other hand, highlighted one issue. The murmur was brought on by hypothyroidism. It also explained my decline in mood and extreme fatigue. Just three days into a medication adjustment, life looks brighter. Literally. I'm noticing more. The story ideas are finally happening, and I can walk a mile without gasping for air. I've found joy. I want to do more and it's easier to bounce back. Which is a really good thing because we're traveling, and it has been interesting. But that's another blog post.
It's hard to confess when things aren't going well, but I think it's important to be honest. Depression lies. It minimizes friendships and hides reality. It distorts the truth and makes things dark and hopeless. I feel so lucky to have friends who weren't afraid to let me know they were concerned. I'm thankful I've learned to be suspicious of my darker thoughts and talk to a doctor. I wish I would act on that suspicion sooner, but I'm learning.
Things get better. It's okay to need help. We all do. Most importantly, don't listen to the lies depression tells you. When things find balance again, the world is a wonderful place. There is too much to enjoy to wait to fix things. Life will get easier.
If you or a friend needs help, call 1 (800) 273-8255 or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ to chat.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.