Depression: The Prison of Our Own Devising
I haven’t been very active here of late. Even though I’ve managed two posts over the last several days, it was nearly two months between posts before that. There’s a good reason for my lack of productivity. I thought the reason was Donald Trump, but it turns out that I’m probably just depressed.
You could argue that I’m depressed because of Donald Trump, and there might be something to that. Certainly I’m not alone in feeling all at sea since the election. Like the signs of depression from the Mayo Clinic that I’ve listed below, Trump is just a symptom of a larger issue. Trump does not exist in a vacuum. It took nearly 63 million Americans to elect Donald Trump president. That means 63 million Americans could not be persuaded by fact, truth, logic, or common sense to vote for anyone else. Now that’s depressing. That level of ignorance can only spell doom for the American experiment. Is it any wonder that so many of us are feeling hopeless and ineffectual?
That said, my problem is not Donald Trump or even his supporters. My problem is depression and that’s what I have to deal with. The cause of my depression could be dodgy neurotransmitters, a hormone imbalance, one or all of the blood pressure medications I take … or it could indeed be the Trump administration. I don’t know. Likely I never will. So, as with a lot of things, I have to treat the symptoms … at least for the time being.
The 12 Symptoms
Even one of these, if it causes problems in your interpersonal relationships, your job, or your daily functioning, can be debilitating. Here’s how I stack up. There are twelve symptoms of depression. I have nine of them. They have me stymied on every front. Here they are:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness – I’m only sporadically sad and only tearful while watching sad movies, but I’m nearly always empty and hopeless. The trouble with this is, for an introspective like myself, it’s easy to find sound reasons for feeling empty and hopeless. They’re just part of the natural cognitive landscape.
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters – Hardly ever angry, but frequently irritable and frustrated.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports – I used to enjoy hundreds of activities ranging from sailing and kite flying to cycling, driving, woodworking, inventing, art, reading, music, and buying fishing tackle that I knew I would never use. Now I don’t give a rat’s ass about anything. I knew I was getting old when things I used to dream of doing like sailing single-handed around the world began to scare the shit out of me. Now they don’t frighten me. They bore me. Something is wrong with that.
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much – I sleep great. I get a good eight hours a night and I take two and sometimes three naps during the day. It never seems to be enough. I can sleep all day long, only getting up to eat, and still go to bed exhausted and fall quickly to sleep.This can’t be normal.
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort – See No. 4 above. If I manage to accomplish one thing in a day, I count that day a success. That one thing can be as simple as clipping my nails or refilling the bird bath. Keep in mind that I won’t even do that one thing if there is not time for a nice nap immediately after.
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain – This one kind of pisses me off. I couldn’t have the first one—reduced appetite and weight loss. Oh, no. Not me! I have to have binge eating and pound packing. I have never managed to get a box of chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels all the way home from Publix. I couldn’t even lose weight after a gruesome 11 hour surgery to carve cancer out of my face followed by radiation treatments and chemo. Click here for an update on this sad tale.
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness – I don’t have this one. At least I don’t think I do. Whenever I feel the least bit anxious or restless, I take a nap and it goes right away. (Again, see No. 4 above.)
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements – Everything I think, say, or do seems hopelessly mired in mental molasses. My grandson timed me getting out of the car once because he couldn’t believe how long he had to wait for me to catch up to him heading into a surf shop. Twenty eight seconds! That was probably one of my better days. (Is it just me, or is my grandson kind of a dick?)
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame – Yep! Even my dreams take place in the distant past and concern the things I shouldn’t have done … or should have done better. I spend a lot of time dreaming that I am still at work or still in school. As you can probably imagine, this takes a lot of the joy out of retirement.
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things – It’s possible that I could be better at these if only I could remember to take my ginkgo biloba.
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide – Thankfully, nope. Not this one. I do have occasional thoughts of homicide, but that is different … I think. I even have a list of targets, which is frightening enough to me that I refuse to own a firearm. Sorry NRA. I know the limits of my tolerance for fools, even if you guys think I have abandoned my 2nd Amendment rights.
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches – Virtually all of my physical problems and stray aches and pains are easily explained … from the bit of titanium surgical mesh sticking out through my face to arthritis in sundry joints, occasional bouts of gout, and regularly recurring kidney stones. I may be falling apart at the seams, but at least I know why. I’d say that’s depressing, but that would be a cart versus horse kind of thing.
Get Help or Perish!
Neurotic depression like mine is usually treated with some combination of talk therapy and drugs. The drug of choice currently is Prozac. I’ve never had Prozac and I’ve never endured any talk therapy. I probably never will unless Medicare will pay for it. I certainly can’t afford it on my own, which is one of the reasons that I’m depressed.
I did have Valium once. It was an accident of sorts. I had a kidney stone, it turned out, and I got an IVP to determine the stone’s size and location. In an IVP they shoot you full of iodine and take x-rays of your kidneys. The iodine makes everything stand out in bold relief.
Valium is the best thing ever!
I had an allergic reaction to the iodine. I got a hive. One. Hive. Big. Deal. The technician gave me Valium to counter the reaction. I don’t know how this is supposed to work, but I can attest that Valium is some wonderful stuff, and I would do almost anything to get some more. The six hours immediately following that fortuitous hive were the most wonderful hours of my life so far. I wish I were making that up, but I am not … and I say that in spite of the many, many wonderful moments in the 69 years I have lived on this planet.
Maybe Prozac is better, but I doubt it. Nothing is better nowadays than the stuff it has replaced. I introduce NP27 as proof. NP27 was an athletes’ foot medication back in the 60’s. It came in a little plastic bottle. You turned it upside down and squeezed it out in a stream between your inflamed toes. It stung like the dickens, but, next day, you athletes’ foot was gone. Talk about effective!
Try finding NP27 today. Today you get Tinactin. Tinactin does not cure athletes’ foot overnight. Tinactin may not cure athletes’ foot at all. I don’t know because I have never been able to use it long enough to make a difference. I loved NP27. It stung like hell, but it worked. Tinactin … not so much. I’m guessing the same is true of Prozac. Give me some Valium. It may be for shit on hives, but it’s pretty good for what ails me. Plus it would make talk therapy a lot more palatable for an anti-social old cuss like me.
If none of what I just said is helpful, you might want to check out the article I’ve linked here. Not as funny as I aspire to be, but prolly a little more useful if you’re having real difficulty adjusting to our new circumstances. Good luck. I’m pulling for us all.
If you found this post amusing, instructive, or useful in any way, please consider sharing it with your friends and acquaintances by clicking on one or all of the social media buttons below. I swear my posts are just like Valium. They may not solve your problems, but they sure will make you feel better about yourself and your prospects. What could be better than that?