Hi guys. I know I’ve been MIA lately. I’ve been dealing with a particularly nasty bout of depression. But I just started taking Effexor and so far I feel like the one little pill I can get myself to take is helping.
I’m very medication-resistant. A lot of that is from bad experiences growing up. I’m also afraid of the zombie effect. It’s hard for me to conceptualize having my best creative ideas while not also allowing my brain to have the possibility of falling into the deepest despair. It feels like opposite ends of the same scale.
When I’m depressed, my mind runs a mile a minute. I have all kinds of ideas. But I don’t always realize that a lot of them look more psychotic than insightful. And the ones that are valuable I can’t write down because I’m constantly thinking about the evils of the world and about how much I just want to die. I kept ranting on Twitter and it made the few friends who know my penname worry about me. I also felt like I couldn’t advocate for the causes I’d like to because I wouldn’t look credible.
The thing about dysthymic depression is that a lot of the time you don’t even realize you have it. You think it’s just part of your personality. Which is partially true. Some people are definitely more pessimistic and/or melancholy than others. But you can’t just be in pain all the time. Dysthymia tends to not be seen as serious because a lot of people with it can work. But most dysthymics DO have at least one episode of major depression. In fact, we have a HIGHER rate of suicide than people who get more depressed for shorter periods of time. Because it wears on us every day.
I have highs and lows that cycle every couple of months. It’s been like that ever since I can remember. But lately the lows have been swinging way lower and lasting way longer. I’m still fighting myself because I’m a ridiculously proud person. I tell myself I’ll just wait this one out and things’ll get better in a couple of weeks if I do this, this, and this. But enough people were telling me I needed help that I realized it was time to listen.
Life circumstances were getting to me too. I just turned 30, and I’ve been taking stock of my life so far. It’s hard being autistic. Sometimes I think about what life would be like if I wasn’t. I have this grandiose fantasy that I’d be some opera singer/lounge star/fashion designer/femme fatale maverick, but I get that that’s not rooted in reality for most people. And I’ve always hated when people accused me of “using autism as an excuse.” It IS an excuse. It’s a pretty darn good one. But you still have to be a real person. You can circumvent obligations all you want, but we all know that you only get back from the world what you put into it.
There’s a lot of us out there who’ve been dealt a bad hand. And one thing we seem to have in common is that it all falls down on our heads at some point. People say it’s easy to blame your problems on other people. But it’s not. It’s actually pretty damn difficult to sustain a total lack of self-awareness for that long without being confronted by your friends and family. What IS easy to do is keep people at arms’ length and let the bitterness eat away at you. “I’ve had a tough life. I have every right to be like this. Leave me alone.”
And people will.
As much of a rebel as I fantasize about being, I don’t think I could actually get through life on my own. Few of us can. If we want to be productive and healthy we have to actually take the time to look into ourselves and understand what needs to change. I know that’s hard. It feels like a huge risk to tear apart your defense mechanisms and conserve that rampant negativity for the times when it’s actually needed. I know it’s smart. I know it’s real. But so is your life, and you owe it to yourself to try to enjoy it.