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Tue Jan 31, 2012, 05:39 PM

Depression Memoir: Updated 2/10

Last edited Fri Feb 10, 2012, 02:33 AM - Edit history (4)

This thread is intended to serve as a place to document my own experience in the dark world many of us inhabit—temporarily—though it may seem as though it will never end. I am working on what may become a book, primarily to work through the whole of the mess I was in and maybe help others see they're not alone, they're not "going crazy," and that no matter how badly they feel, it can and does get better.

If I can give someone a laugh or two in the process, even better. Doing something for others makes me feel good, and, bonus, doesn't cost anything. I would love to know your thoughts on the stories, whether positive or negative, as I work toward refining them.

You can read the first couple of entries here:

If you find something that causes you distress or pain, please alert the moderator. Moderator, please alert me and I will edit.

And if anyone ever needs to talk, a hug, a sympathetic ear, feel free to DUMail me.

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Depression Memoir: Updated 2/10 (Original post)
xfundy Jan 2012 OP
xfundy Jan 2012 #1
BeHereNow Feb 2012 #2
xfundy Feb 2012 #3
BeHereNow Feb 2012 #8
xfundy Feb 2012 #10
xfundy Feb 2012 #4
mdmc Feb 2012 #5
xfundy Feb 2012 #6
mdmc Feb 2012 #7
xfundy Feb 2012 #9
xfundy Feb 2012 #11
MadrasT Feb 2012 #12
xfundy Feb 2012 #13
momto3 Feb 2012 #19
xfundy Feb 2012 #14
hunter Feb 2012 #15
xfundy Feb 2012 #16
xfundy Feb 2012 #17
momto3 Feb 2012 #18

Response to xfundy (Original post)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 09:36 PM

1. On Anxiety and Panic, one recollection

Last edited Tue Jan 31, 2012, 11:05 PM - Edit history (1)

Once I was able to stay mostly out of bed I resumed exploring The City, often with the help of a friend who would call and bug me to get out.

Having recently rediscovered the ability to notice colors, and wanting to get out after a long period of isolation, one early afternoon I walked out of my apartment to get something to eat. That's one of the greatest aspects of living in the middle of a city, being able to step out your door and find literally anything within walking or bus distance. Used bookstores, groceries, coffee shops, Starbucks, bagels, fish & chips, Starbucks, Indian buffet, another damned Starbucks, great dives, bargain stores, seafood fresh off the boat. Sunny day, blue sky, very nice, at least when I spent time analyzing it.

It's funny to think about that now, just going out and getting something to eat anywhere I wanted; back then I still had money. Never tried to get rich, and scored that goal. In all the years spent in The City, I worked less than part time, by design. But I made more than enough to live comfortably, have cable+movie channels, nice meals out, add to my various collections, and buy new computer hardware & software by necessity or simply want.

My mood was dark, probably a dark cool grey that day and deciding among the many options as I walked became a problem. Not a "problem" in the usual sense, but folks in this group know what I mean. Walking from one completely suitable place to another, unable to settle on one, raised my anxiety level.

Ended up in a little place that I knew wasn't very good, just really a basic sandwich place, and who can mess up a sandwich, anyway? (This place.) My comfort food, swiss tuna melt on crusty whole grain with avocado, sprouts and fries, proved alien and insurmountable to them. Their fries were crinkle cut, and at that point I realized I hated crinkle cut. The place a block away did it perfectly but I'd already dismissed it.

Having eaten, I started up the hill to get back home. This time I was able to get up the hills fairly easily but halfway up I felt I was going to cry. Not "about" anything. A few people walked by, me avoiding eye contact as usual. My cell phone rang; I answered.

"Hi, (me)! (some name I forget) here!" the voice said.

I felt hot in the face. "Fuck you!" I yelled, loudly, and hung up. The tone and delivery of the speaker's message rankled me, like maybe a vendor or salesman, but it easily could have been a potential client. Whoever it was, I'm sure they never called again.

Shaking, dizzy, my face became wet. I reached out to lean on a tree and vomited. Cars drove by, their drivers' faces turned toward me. Several people walked a long way around me. Even though I made no attempt to look any of them full on, it was obvious some wore expressions of disgust.

For years previously I'd done the same thing myself, giving wide berth to disheveled people, those who yelled out, seemingly to no one, staggered or walked as though they were carrying something heavy on their backs. "Something" had been wrong with "those people," and it was none of my business. My only concern was to hurry on and get past them.

(edited for clarity)

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Response to xfundy (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 1, 2012, 03:56 AM

2. Leaving my house without my ativan is no longer a choice for these very reasons.

The complete panic, sweating, nausea and inability to breath
is completely gone from my life.
God bless my Psychiatrist.
Panic attacks are gone- unless I miss a dose and then I know
EXACTLY what is going on and what I need to do.

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Response to BeHereNow (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 1, 2012, 05:55 PM

3. I'm on Clonazepam (Klonopin)

Very tiny dose, .5mg, only when I need it. Having that option negated the "need" for alcohol in my case. Between that and Effexor, I rarely get the attacks anymore, but they can still come out of nowhere.

I always keep them with me, just in case, but often take one when I know I'll soon have to deal with a VERY unpleasant family member (much, much more about her later; can't deal with it right now).

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Response to xfundy (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 03:18 AM

8. Ativan makes my life normal-

I keep reading that it is only recommended for short term use though.
I've been on the same dosage for quite a while though- up to 3mg a day IF needed.
I've never felt like I have needed more and my Psych doctor does not seem concerned
that I have been taking it for so long- maybe because he hasn't detected any abuse of the prescription
and knows that it has given me the ability to live again?
I've never had to refill a prescription early, which means I am using it as prescribed.
He has told me he considers it a very mild drug for GAD, so why do you think
there are so many reviews of it as "intended for short term use."
Hell, I can't seem to take anything else without the WORST side effects, so I
don't know what my options would be...
I never knew what "normal" felt like until I met this doctor and he put me
on Wellbutrin and Ativan.
I don't ever want to go back to the way my life was without them.
BHN NO thanks!

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Response to BeHereNow (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 04:04 AM

10. I'm not familiar with it

but it sounds like a controlled substance. For most people, some of the stuff we take would have them flying, so there's a lot of potential for abuse by selling it, etc.

Hopefully we'll both get off this stuff SOON. I hate taking any chemicals (wouldn't have said that in high school!) and look forward to the day that the only chemicals I get will "only" be in our food, air, water, etc. Actually, I hate those even more than meds.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Wed Feb 1, 2012, 06:39 PM

4. Trails in the Apartment

It became increasingly difficult to respond to the obvious—my apartment had become a complete mess. No rats or bugs, thank goodness. At least that I know of.

Dealing with it seemed overwhelming; I knew that just starting somewhere, a small area, shouldn't be a big deal, but, as my mind remained unable to focus, still racing constantly, I reasoned that, yes, the small area would be cleaner, but that's a part of the bigger problem, and even starting in the small area produced great emotional distress.

My desk was piled full of papers and unopened mail, some of it bills, which I usually had to force myself to open at some time close to the due date. And letters from the IRS, which I was unable to open until five years later.

They've been piling up again lately, reminding me I didn't file in 2000, which was a good year, monetarily, but as I was in the middle of a breakdown, I. just. couldn't. do. it. And it's still unresolved 11 years later. Thanks to "the miracle of interest," the IRS wanted over $100,000, but it's down to about $85,000 now, as they grabbed some money I had in bank accounts in the mid-00s. (Please, no lectures. I know.)

Taking out the trash posed an enormous problem. There was a trash chute down the hall, no more than 20 steps outside my door. Too far. I tried to remember to take a few bags when I went out for food, to do laundry, etc., and sometimes I did. Usually I didn't.

Newspapers were stacked everywhere, as were microwavable tv dinner boxes, computer-related boxes, CDs, videotapes, used printer paper, and bags and bags of garbage. As I sat at my desk, which I did for hours or days at a time, trash confined my chair as I stepped over it to get there.

There were trails from the bed to the bathroom to the kitchen to my desk to the couch in front of the tv; I had a remote, so trash was piled in front of the sofa and I had to kick stuff around if I wanted to put in a video or CD.

There was a hallway I no longer used, unpassable, with a broken carved oak chair, more boxes, more trash. Since it ran parallel to the office area I kept to the trail running through there.

It was a nightmare, really, and every time I tried to make my way through virtually any room save the bath, the obstacles compounded the stress caused by my inability to clean anything except the kitchen countertop. Actually, a small area of it in front of the microwave.

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Response to xfundy (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 1, 2012, 09:15 PM

5. thanks for posting


my flat is starting to get some paths.. not as bad as your situation was, but I'm here in the here and now.

When I feel good my place is clean. I can't say that my place has been clean in over a year.. I'm clean, my clothing is clean, to the outside world it looks clean (the lawn, front), but inside is messy..

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Response to mdmc (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 1, 2012, 10:55 PM

6. One of the things that kept me from thinking more strongly about suicide

was that I was afraid everyone would find out what a pig I was.

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Response to xfundy (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 02:20 AM

7. good God


How I know that feel!

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 03:58 AM

9. "Hey, why don't you smile?"

I've never been able to smile convincingly when I didn't mean it. Old pics of me as a kid stand as testimony. But deep in the black fog, it was painful even to try.

Nearly every time I went out and had to be around others, some well-meaning-but-should-mind-their-own-damn-business jackass would always say that, or a variant.

"Oh, things can't be that bad! Come on, smile!" [/blockquote ]

Lady, you have no goddamn idea. Why can't you just leave me alone? If I told you I'd end up screaming and crying and vomiting all over your lovely shoes. In retrospect I wish I could have. Vomited, I mean. Projectile vomiting, all over every damn one of them. Okay, not really. But it would be nice to be able to weaponize vomit.

I was walking around The City one bright October day, maybe '03, when I felt well enough to go out, get some chow, read the paper and get toothpaste or mouthwash or whatever. One of the growing number of empty retail spaces was the temporary location of one of the Halloween stores, where I'd just been poking around.

I crossed the busy street, one of the main ones in The City, and stood waiting to cross in the other direction. Just then I heard laughing as a carload of teenaged boys squirted me with gobs of what I can only guess was hand lotion or sunblock. I stared at the car as it turned in front of me, squealing its tires as it went up the hill. I read the license plate easily and made sure to memorize it, but couldn't. I crossed the street and went into a drugstore, I guess to buy something. The sales clerk came up to me.

"Oh, you poor man! I saw what they did to you!" she said, as she brought over some paper towels to help me clean off the mess. I just stood there, something like a wet puppy though far more pitiful, possibly smelling like one.

My day was pretty much ruined and I headed home, my brain overclocking, as usual.

"Hell, I would have done something like that as a kid, and probably did. They couldn't have known," I thought. "Why does this kind of shit keep piling on me? How could I possibly deserve this?" I returned to my desk, where the corners of the walls were already yellow thanks to my chain smoking.

Projectile vomiting wouldn't have reached far enough to hit the car full of kids. But it would have been nice to hit the little bastards back.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 01:18 PM

11. * 2/3: The Refrigerator *

I've put off really examining the events in this portion; it may sound funny. If I saw it in a movie I can see how it could be, but having lived it—illogical, easily prevented, but there it was; it was horrible.

I was terrified to open the refrigerator door.

Earlier in the year, a good friend had come out for a visit, and I'd booked us on a tour boat to visit an environmentally protected island. Not to hike but to watch from a distance.

We'd packed fruit and cheese and good rustic bread with bottled water, but the seas were rough and the tour cancelled. Disappointed, we took a tour boat out to another island, this one well-trod, visited by tour boats at least hourly, the resident animals there accustomed to visitors and their food scraps.

At the end of a nice day, one with no heavy anxiety or panic, I wrapped the leftover chevre (a goat-milk cheese) loosely and put it into the refrigerator door. My friend headed back home the next day, and I forgot about the cheese.

Left optimistic and hoping for an upswing, I tried to extend the routine of the previous week, getting out of the apartment for hours at a time, going to the various parks, contemplating the Japanese Garden, the art museum, visiting my favorite lunch and dinner places and out to the various neighborhoods to find new ones. Took the bus back out to the ocean, chuckling to myself as I remembered the day we'd walked the same beach, my friend exclaiming, as he bent down to retrieve it, "look, a little bird skull," flinging it in disgust as he saw its giant rat teeth.

Compared to the several months prior, I was doing OK and looking to continue.

I'd been able to straighten up the apartment, at least superficially, for the visit, and slowly began to accumulate newspapers, more mail—the previous batch had been put into envelopes, except for the bills, which I'd been a little late on, as usual. Amazingly, in retrospect I didn't think twice about the late fees.

Before long the apartment was a back in its usual mess.

Most days lately I'd sit at my desk, working on projects that previously I'd done relatively effortlessly, usually delivering them the next morning. It was good to have something I could focus on entirely, keeping my brain occupied with a relatively mundane but important task. This had become my niche; no one else I nor my client knew could produce so fast with few if any errors. I even threw in proofreading and rewrote sentences for clarity when needed, no extra charge.

My "real" work had been in coming up with ideas, apparently good ones as they'd consistently rung the cash registers for clients and received accolades from peers; with the economy in a downer (which I'd laugh at now), over time it became more difficult to retain my old clients. Most had shut down in the previous couple of years. The work I was doing now was lower stress, lower pay, but still gave me lots of time off, usually. I'd considered delivering the work later, still quicker than most could achieve, and padding the hours, but I'd determined years before I'd never lie on time or steal from a client.

Unfortunately by this time my head was so clouded, thinking so difficult, that it really did take longer than it should have to do my work. I lied about the time, but in the client's favor, and was in danger of losing my "quick" niche.

Meanwhile, the cheese sat, loosely wrapped, in its little door compartment.

Weeks went by. I felt like cooking again.

Upon opening the refrigerator I was overwhelmed by a tremendous stench. The chevre. I vomited as I closed the door, fast as I could. In following weeks I picked up frozen "healthy" dinners on sale and was glad I could still use the freezer, microwaving something on the few days I felt hungry.

One day, while picking at the microwaved dinner in its plastic tray, I could taste what I'd smelled earlier. My keyboard was ruined with an involuntary reaction.

Another month or two went by. I would go days without eating, or get by on peanut butter and crackers from the kitchen shelves.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 03:28 PM

12. I appreciate your sharing

I am a frequent visitor to the dark place and I know how it is. None of this sounds crazy to me because it's how I am too. My father and my (now deceased) husband too.

(if you want it)

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 4, 2012, 02:03 AM

13. Thank you.

Somehow we've got to attack the stigma and let people know that this is real, no one could make these things up, and we are not "lazy," "eccentric" or whatever words they use to ignore and/or belittle us today. I'm very glad I was able to get help and believe I can find my way out of this.

Thanks for the hug! Perfect timing, too. Lousy day today.



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Response to xfundy (Reply #13)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 06:36 AM

19. I completely agree.

Fighting the stigma has quickly become a passion of mine, mostly due to my daughter. I do NOT want her to grow up ashamed of the person she is. She has a chronic disease that will have to be treated for the rest of her life. Nobody would think twice, and there would be a lot more sympathy, if I said she had diabetes or cancer.

Of course, my bipolar and anxiety problems make it very difficult for me to do this. I really have to struggle to be her advocate and I feel bad about this.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Mon Feb 6, 2012, 01:41 AM

14. 2/6: Reply to a post where a bipolar man is treated as criminal

A young man has been chained up in a prison. The bastards there are treating him worse than a rabid animal.

My reply is here:

Hope to write more within a few hours.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Mon Feb 6, 2012, 08:16 PM

15. You memoirs are striking a chord in me.

My own madness is a different flavor, but I can relate.

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Response to hunter (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 6, 2012, 11:25 PM

16. Thanks.

I hope they will somehow help others to know they are not alone and that we will kick this.

Be well.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 02:32 AM

17. * Update, 2/10: The Accident *

June, 2005

My friend from DC was again coming out to visit, and though he'd seen me at what had previously been my worst, the apartment still had the trails through all the trash, and a huge stack of newspapers in the front closet where he'd need to put his luggage. We've known each other since he was my boss in '86 and always had a good time wandering around the city when he came out for a visit, typically once a year.

I'd gotten rid of a good portion of the garbage, had bought a new mattress and frame, vacuumed somewhat when I uncovered the machine, and decided to take the newspapers to the recycling bin, down the elevator, then the stairway to the lower basement, concrete walls and steps with freshly laid new carpet.

Tired of cleaning and actually looking forward to a bath, I wanted to get the job done quickly. I loaded the papers into my little folding shopping cart (they're essential if you live in a downtown area and don't drive), as well as six or eight big paper bags from Trader Joe's.

Surely, if I was careful, I could make it down with the folding cart. I'd done it before, but to save time I also had several of the paper bags in my hands, making it impossible to hold onto the side rails.

After a couple of steps I slipped and landed at the bottom of the concrete stairs, along with the newspapers and cart, a distance of probably 25 feet.

I may have blacked out for a minute, but when I regained awareness I looked myself over, just a little scratched, and decided to finish walking the papers to the recycling area and throw the now-crushed little cart in the container for metal.

As I held onto the side rail and began to pull myself up, I watched in surreal horror and excruciating pain as my kneecap slid down my leg. I yelled out, but of course no one could hear me.

Finally I sat on the steps and lifted myself enough to go up a step. The pain in my knee wasn't as severe, as it was all redirected to my shoulder. I finally butt-crawled my way to the top of the stairs, sweating profusely, and was able to open the door to the apartment building's lobby. I stuck my head out the door and passed out.

After some time, the sweet lady who lived in the apartment next door came in from work.

"Call 911," I asked.

"Taxi cheaper!" she said, as there was a hospital only a block and a half away. I insisted, and she called them.

Paramedics arrived, strapped me down fully on their board and put on something to protect my head in case of concussion, I guess.

"Always wear clean underwear!" The old saying came to mind as I realized I hadn't showered in days.

Diagnosis: kneecap broken into three parts, collarbone broken in the same place I'd cracked it as a baby.

I felt sorry for the doctors, me smelling the way I must have, and still sweating profusely. An apology was offered and accepted.

I think I spent the night there, not really sure, but somehow I ended up in surgery and was fitted with a leg brace then sent on my way. Via taxi.

The cabdriver helped me up the four or five stairs to the elevator, and I slept for hours.

Next day my friend was due in; I have hazy memories of calling and telling him not to come, and of course he did. He let himself in with a key I'd given him a year or two prior.

Apparently I was hallucinating and my leg was very swollen. The doctor insisted I get back to the hospital, where they found I'd contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which required yet another surgery, to get rid of the infection.

Once that surgery was done, I remained in one of their very expensive beds. At some point one of their money-people came round, wanting me to sign something saying I'd pay. I refused, telling her I was broke. So she had me sign "something else." That, I discovered later, was the wrong place to sign.


Sorry I haven't added to this in a couple of days. It's been a real shitpile around here, with yelling directed at me about how "useless" and "evil" I am by my loving, True Christian™ sisters and the hateful idiot woman who comes over nightly to care for my mother.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 06:33 AM

18. Thanks for sharing your story.

I still have difficulty talking about my dark times, even with my husband of 17 years. My experiences are different than yours (although I can identify with the anxiety), but I see a lot of your story in my daughter.

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