Something came up yesterday that I feel like addressing in today’s blog post. I’m going to write about it today, because I realize that sometimes people must read my posts and wonder if I’m in need of “help”. I hope this post comes across as basically respectful and clears up some confusion. I also want to offer some perspective to people who may not understand, but would like to try.
I’ve mentioned it many times before in my blog, but I’m going to mention it again. I have a long history with major depressive disorder. I do not take medication or see a therapist for it these days, but there was a period of about six years during which I did seek treatment. That was back in the late 1990s, when I really needed help. It was the first time I ever sought treatment for depression. I wasn’t even sure I was truly depressed, since I’d always had kind of a bent toward being cranky, pessimistic, and sad. I thought it was just another situation during which I had said or done the “wrong” thing and I was to blame, yet again, for things not going the right way.
My experiences with being treated for depression were largely positive, although I didn’t like my psychiatrist very much. I am grateful to him for prescribing medication that helped me change my life and convinced me that clinical depression is a *real* thing. But I had problems with him, because he used to fat shame me, and he treated me like a child, even after I’d earned two master’s degrees and gotten married.
The psychologist, on the other hand, was wonderful. He helped me immensely. Even today, he is a friend.
I stopped taking antidepressants in 2004. I had a number of reasons for taking that step. Sometimes, I miss taking medication for depression, but I don’t miss having to see doctors regularly. I don’t miss having painful discussions with people about things from the past, especially when they judged me, as the psychiatrist had. But I can’t deny that Wellbutrin SR made me feel a lot better physically and emotionally. I had to take a lot of it, though. Apparently, I have a very efficient liver. What can I say? I come from a long line of drunks. 😉
So what do I do to stave off depression now? I mostly write or make music. Sometimes I write things that sound serious or dramatic. Such was the case a couple of days ago, when someone read my post about those guys who temporarily invaded my home last week. I wrote about wanting to “just die”. A reader got concerned and confronted me about it on social media.
I’m going to admit that when I first read the lengthy comment on my link, my first reaction was annoyance. That is, in part, due to my curmudgeonly personality, which is a feature of my chronic depression. But then it occurred to me that the person really meant well, and that’s a good thing. I also wanted to address the comment immediately, because I didn’t want people to get alarmed or stir up drama. The last thing I needed after last week was a visit from the Polizei because someone got worried after reading my blog.
You might think this isn’t necessarily something I needed to worry about. However, several years ago, a former Facebook acquaintance of mine got a visit from the cops because someone hacked her page. The hacker wrote a post that indicated that she might harm herself. Her friends and relatives, naturally, got very upset. They tried to call her, but she wasn’t answering her phone, because she was sleeping. Someone called the police. The cops came over and made her send her kids to someone else’s house for the night. They even threatened to send her children to foster care.
That situation isn’t really the same as my situation. I had written a passive comment or two about “wanting to just die”. And the truth is, having chronic depression often causes me to think about my eventual death and realizing it will be probably be a relief. When you’re dead, you don’t have any problems, and you don’t cause any problems. You’re just a part of history. We all die. I do think about that reality and, sometimes, even kind of look forward to it. But simply making that statement doesn’t mean I’m in a crisis or contemplating suicide. It’s just a statement of truth for me.
Having chronic depression means that I don’t often enjoy life that much, and I tend to be pessimistic. I can and do have fun sometimes, and many people mistakenly think I’m “happy” because I have a good sense of humor. But some of the most depressed people I’ve ever known have been hilarious. A lot of them are artistic, too… incredibly gifted in music, art, drama, comedy, dance, or writing. You’d think it would be a joy to have that artistic bent, but in my experience, it can make people feel things very intensely, which can lead to extreme highs and lows or, in my case, much milder highs and lows.
I assume that most people see me in a negative light. I ruminate on the past and realize that I’ve been in a lot of situations with people that ended negatively. I never go into situations wanting them to end badly, nor do I want to cause problems for people. At the same time, I don’t want to be someone’s doormat, either. So I struggle to find the sweet spot of being friendly, but assertive.
Last week, I spent four days with two strange men in my home. They didn’t speak my language, and they were doing work that was loud, messy, and disruptive. They didn’t seem to care that their work was affecting me. In fact, I picked up distinctly contemptuous vibes from them. I felt helpless, and being around them brought me back to an awful time back in the late 90s, when I was seeking treatment for depression.
During those days, I lived with my parents. I didn’t want to live with them, and I was trying to work my way out of the situation I was in. But I had some setbacks. First of all, I got sick enough with cellulitis one day that I had to go to the emergency room. I had no insurance, so the bills wiped out the money I’d been saving. Secondly, my parents were putting tremendous pressure on me to move. I wasn’t welcome in their home. My father was an alcoholic control freak who would do things like come into my bedroom and use the toilet, which he then didn’t flush. I mentioned this to my psychologist, who was aghast. He said, “Just like a dog… marking his territory!”
Well… last week, I felt the same way I did when I came home from work one night in the late 1990s, and found concentrated urine in the toilet in the bathroom. There was absolutely no reason for my dad to use that bathroom. We had two others in the house, and one was in his picture framing shop. My bedroom was in an out of the way corner of the house. He would have had to go out of his way to use that bathroom, and with him, my mom, and me in the house, it’s not like there was ever a line to use the other bathrooms.
The way those guys treated me last week reminded me of my dad, peeing in the toilet and not flushing, leaving it for me to discover and deal with. It was blatantly disrespectful. You might realize that when your own father treats you with contempt, it makes you question the reasons for your existence. Here I was in 2023, sitting in my own home, a rental… and these two guys were acting in the same incredibly disrespectful way toward me, putting their tools on my freshly oiled teak furniture, sitting on my new cushions, and putting their sock clad feet up, while blaring music.
Now, I could have marched over to my landlord’s house and demanded that he do something. In retrospect, maybe that’s what I should have done. But I knew that would slow down the progress of simply getting them done with the job and out of my house, hopefully FOREVER. I also didn’t want to cause problems. I never do. So I reacted in a passive aggressive way, which isn’t the best way to be, I’ll admit. And I had yet another thought of how relieved I’ll be when I’m dead, and I don’t have to deal with this crap anymore.
Stating that, however, does NOT mean that I need an ambulance, or to talk with a suicide counselor, or anything else of that nature. Like I said… I write and make music for my mental health. Some people hate what I do. Some have even dared to offer me “constructive criticism” on my posts. I always encourage those people to just keep scrolling.
Generally speaking, I only post my links once on my Facebook page. The vast majority of people don’t click the link, so most people don’t read my comments about my inevitable death. But they might read the comments left on Facebook. At this writing, I have 383 friends. An inflammatory comment on Facebook can lead to some big time unnecessary drama and alarm. Fortunately, the reader who was concerned was kind enough to delete the comment when I explained that I prefer a PM or even better, a comment on the actual blog post, rather than a Facebook comment on a concerning post. Because people love a good drama, and some people want to be a hero when there’s no need for heroism.
Something else I want to mention… It’s certainly not wrong to express concern for someone who writes or says something that seems “disturbing”. But immediately assuming someone is in need of “help” because they mention something taboo can have a pretty terrible effect on free thought and expression. I don’t consider myself a great artist or writer, but part of what I do requires free expression. I would hate to censor myself because of fear that someone might misunderstand and summon help when none is required.
But even if I really was feeling suicidal… it is kind of my life, isn’t it? Which isn’t to say concern isn’t ever warranted… but I always feel like people tend to act in a disingenuous way sometimes when a person has simply had it with living and dares to express it out loud. They feel better for calling the cops, or whatever… saving the person’s life. But that means the person gets hauled off to a psych ward, where they pretty much lose every shred of dignity. And after the person is “okay” again, the helpers sort of drift off… maybe until the next crisis arises. Or maybe not.
Anyway, for those who might have been concerned, rest assured, I’m fine. I feel a lot better now that the work is done, and I’ve been able to unpack it somewhat. And no, I’m not thinking of doing anything drastic. There’s no cause for alarm.
And now, I must close this post, because I need to get dressed. Bill is taking me out to lunch.
For more reading on chronic depression, click here.