Hello depression, my old friend

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I can’t breathe. Well, obviously that isn’t true. I can’t breathe easily. If I don’t keep thinking about it, I hold my breath. Guarded. Awaiting something bad to happen. I just walked home from work. It’s about a mile, a little more. I left work sick. Sick and worried that one of my coworkers would ask how I planned to get home. Walking would be an odd choice for someone with the flu. That’s what’s going around work right now, the flu. On my walk, a bit of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence played through my head. Over and over, altered to fit my mood. Hello depression, my old friend.

Sophie and Eli take the car every day. They drive past my work at 7:20 on their way to school. It’s easy to drop me off. It helps me set a consistent schedule. Gets me in early, earlier than everyone else. Without that ride, God knows what time I’d get in. Susan picks me up every evening. She passes my work at 4:30. My coworkers could set a clock by me.

Except today. I knocked off at 10:30 (AM). Work seemed doubtful before I even left home. I felt shaky and insecure. And tired. Last night, I woke up at 1:00, obsessing. There’s something that might happen in a year. It might cause some disruption in my life. So naturally, I skipped a good night’s sleep so I could get an early start on worrying. Maybe it was a lingering mid-night reaction to my building depression?

Walking home today, I multitasked. I sang that Simon and Garfunkel song, and I wondered about my mood. My last depressive episode resolved itself over two years ago after I escaped a job I hated. Today’s depression appeared abruptly on Monday night. As I walked (and sang), I tried to determine if something triggered me.

I left work early on Monday too. Susan called midday. She was driving home. Taking out the trash at work, she scratched herself. After the bag went in the dumpster, she realized it was probably a hypodermic needle. She works in a homeless shelter.

I met her at the Emergency Room. Yes, hours spent at the ER will trigger depression in just about anyone. But our experience was remarkable. She was in and out in just over an hour. Because she got scratched instead of poked, her risk of infection is infinitesimal. They recommended against taking a prophylaxis. Her needlestick was a non-event. Why would that trigger me?

I’ve wound up in the ER for emergency surgery three times in my life. These occasions range from not-so-traumatic to totally-freaking-traumatic.

Not-so-traumatic: Once on vacation, poking at my sore abdominal muscles after a day of digging in the sand with my kids, I suddenly realized that my muscle ache was really appendicitis. My appendix was removed right there at the beach-hospital midweek. I found myself back on the sand (but not digging) two days later.

Moderately-traumatic: Once, some after-dinner gastronomic distress worsened until I made a wee-hours trip to the ER. The doctor on-call told me I was constipated and sent me home. As I left, I said “For the record, you’ve botched this diagnosis. I’m sure I’ll be back.” At 8:30 the next morning, I was admitted for obstructed bowel surgery.

Totally-freaking-traumatic: Once, I was hit by a car. Read Mortality.

Could my history with emergency rooms leave me in a fragile state after my brief visit with Susan? Four years ago, doing some fall clean-up gardening, Susan upset a ground hive. Before finally freeing herself from the swarm of bees that engulfed her, she was stung twenty-five times. That afternoon, I took her to the ER for observation and a shot of Prednisone. That visit didn’t cause any anxiety or depression. Just some well-placed concern.

Last weekend, Susan and I spent a couple of hours rearranging my office. I’ve been in my job for over a year, and all of the furniture was still right where I found it when I started. My desk awkwardly faced directly at Valerie, the administrative assistant who works outside my office. To avoid her feeling watched all day, I kept my door pulled closed. This barrier left me feeling disconnected from the rest of my coworkers, not part of the team. Because my door was shut, people rarely walked into my office. I often felt lonely. By moving my desk, I hoped to open my door and open myself up to interaction.

Now my desk is on the other side of the room. I can’t see Valerie at all, and my door’s been open nonstop since Monday morning. Possibly I’m simply feeling exposed. Feeling the loss of the privacy I grew to expect. Maybe I like my door closed.

So, two solid theories about depression. Either (or neither) could be correct. Regardless, by spending this afternoon thinking about it, analyzing it, writing about it, I’m feeling better than I have since Monday night. Before work today, Susan suggested I take a day off to give myself some space to recover. I haven’t been home alone in months. Maybe I just need to reboot my brain.

Perhaps the passage of time away from Monday’s ER visit is all I need. Tomorrow, I’ll experiment with closing my door partway (or all the way) to see how I feel. I’d like to nip this depressive episode in the bud; end it right now, just as I’m realizing it’s here.

35 thoughts on “Hello depression, my old friend

    • Buddhist guru Tara Brach uses a phrase “Invite Mara in for Tea” (Mara is a demon). By facing the depression head on, I’m hoping to take away it’s power. I heard of Disturbed just the other day. I was trying to have a music conversation with one of my twenty-something coworkers. I only embarrassed myself. This cover seems akin to Marilyn Manson’s Sweet Dream. Good stuff.

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  1. I think it’s a bit of a miracle that people aren’t more depressed in our society, climate change, corruption, job dissatisfaction, bills, illness…the list goes on. I think writing about it helps to get it out of your space, good to vent and talk about things with people who like and understand you. Maybe that’s what we’re here to do, help each other get through this world. I hope your wife is ok, that’s scary what happened. I’ve been misdiagnosed by doctors too who insisted I was wrong (I’m good at researching online and self-diagnosis), they apologize later 😦 I go to doctors for confirmation of the ailment and try to heal it naturally, last resort I’ll take their medicine with the awful side effects. You deserve a health break. I hope you feel better soon.

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      • You’re welcome, Jeff. I’ve said it before but don’t think I’m heard when I say, I’m not pro-Trump. I’m disgusted with the whole corrupt system. He’s an obvious asshole, nothing to figure out there but so are the progressive liberals. Nancy Pelosi is a typical wealthy, entitled career politician. Getting rid of Trump doesn’t solve the problems, if anything he’s another distraction.

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      • This has me reeling right now too, even when I thought nothing could be shocking anymore. A conversation about it just this evening has brought me to tears.

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  2. I’m so sorry you’re feeling depressed. I’ve got no advice, only to say I know how it feels, and I hope you feel better soon. For what it’s worth, the needle incident would shake me too, I’m glad Susan is alright. Hoping the weekend brings some time to rest and recharge.

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  3. Jeff, I hope you are able to nip this depressive episode in the bud. Totally selfishly, I want to be able to keep reading your blog! 🙂 (Sorry, bad joke.) Maybe just writing about it and getting your thoughts out there helped to lessen the effects of the depression.

    I was happy to read you quoting Tara Brach. I think she has a lot of good stuff to say about depression.

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    • Well, writing is pretty much how I process anything that happens to me, good or bad, and blogging it is an important step of the process. I doubt I’m going to stop writing. So far, I’m feeling far better than yesterday at this time, so that has me hopeful. All of my blogger friends has been so supportive, it’s hard not to feel buoyed by the comments.

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  4. Take a day off, stay in your pjs.
    Do whatever eases your mind.
    Leave the door ajar at work. Slowly work up to fully open if that’s what you’re aiming for.
    Facing the D before it gets out of control is what you’re doing.
    You’ve got this.
    That needle incident would have freaked me out. Pleased your wife is okay and the ER visit was short.

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  5. I gasped when I saw the bit about the needle. My first reaction, as someone with OCD, was SON / DAUGHTER OF A BITCH. I get that the homeless are a mixed bag, and SOME (not all) are not exactly in the right mind. That is a mitigating factor, im sure.

    But still. That is just terrible. Surely it would not be too much to ask, that they get a pair of pliers, cut the needle out, and toss it into the plastic body of the syringe which came with it, right? That’s just my OCD speaking, of course. And the person I am while saying the above is probably only slightly more rational as the person/s who left the needle in the trash without any safeguards?

    I hope you get better soon, and that your wife and you to come out from it unscathed!

    Stay well!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So, I don’t know where users get their syringes, for my cat’s diabetes, we get ours at walmart. They each come with a plastic cap. Too much to ask to recap the needle? Maybe. I guess by that point, the person is high and not thinking clearly. At the ER, I got the impression that this is a pretty common occurrence.

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      • Actually, plastic caps are the norm everywhere. Otherwise, packaging would be an issue. That said, some people reuse needles, and it might go missing along the way.

        You’re right. The person might be too wasted to think. Funny that it ends up in the dustbin, though. Too high to cap, sane enough to throw it into the bin… 😦

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  6. Holy cow – I could have written this. I got hit with the depression bug over the weekend. I couldn’t figure out where it came from, but I noticed I have been calling myself all the mean names I use when I’m really low. To the point where it all bubbled over emotionally yesterday and Catelyn left me a note to “not sweat the small stuff.” I can’t figure out why for me, either. Tired? Maybe. It’s a really busy week FULL of driving all over the place. So, busy maybe? Out of routine? I don’t know. I am hoping you start to feel lighter and happier. I am hoping for the same feeling as well.

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    • This was so out of the blue, I was really caught off guard. I hate to bring this up because I’ve sworn off blogging about it, but COVID-19 might be in the mix as well. It’s great that your kids can see when you need help and can be supportive. I hope you feel better too.

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      • That makes sense too – a hopeless feeling around that. I thought the weather too. Not sure what it is like in G-burg, but it’s just been gray and rainy here for a long time. Maybe my mood caught the glum.

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  7. Jeff, I’m sorry to heart that depression is rearing it’s ugly head. Maybe there is a bit of seasonal sunless blahs feeding it too. The whole SAD thing. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself!!

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  8. Ah Jeff, I hate you are feeling this way. I like the idea above about spending a day in your pj’s – maybe pair it with a bowl of tomato soup and a gooey grilled cheese sandwich – and watch Napoleon Dynamite (or whatever your favorite movie is) :-). Hang in there friend – it sucks when something triggers bad feelings – it happens to all of us. I appreciate and admire the fact you can identify what is happening – most people can’t or they choose to ignore it. It’s Saturday, I hope the week got better for ya.

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