I cried at the doctor’s office. It was super embarrassing. I didn’t intend to, but apparently it is my inadvertent nature to make life awkward for myself and those around me. How did I come to cry in front of three different strangers in the medical field you may ask? Allow me to explain–
I have been on anti-depressants for a little over ten years now. With my medication I have to visit the doctor every nine months to check in and get another three refills for my prescription which last three-months each. Last month my refills became due, and thus I headed to the USAF base Family Practice. Upon arrival, I sat next to the military equivalent of a nurse as she input my data into the computer system. She took my blood pressure and weight, as well as asking me the usual questions– date of birth, do I exercise regularly, do I smoke, date of my last cycle, could I be pregnant, do I consume alcohol, etc.
Then we arrived at a series of questions I assume the military uses to diagnose depressive behavior, prevent suicide and/or learn of unsafe domestic situations. She asked, “In the past two weeks have you–felt depressed or hopeless? Have you felt a loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy? Do you find yourself having little appetite? Are your sleeping too much or too little? Do you feel lethargic?”
There I was, repeatedly answering yes to these simple questions which require minimal self-reflection. Yet, I felt floored. My eyes began to water with the realization that I’m sad. I’m really sad. And really lonely. Why am I more comfortable acknowledging this in the endless expanse of the internet than I was with medical professionals?
I have no idea. Perhaps lack of eye contact?
This sweet girl, no older than twenty-five had unintentionally forced me to acknowledge the depths my depression had reached. When I later spoke with my doctor (and I started to tear up again), we agreed that moving is understandably emotional. However, he also informed me that my current anti-depressants did tend to eventually lose their effectiveness. (So that is super awesome, right? And by awesome, I mean not really very awesome at all.)
Finally, I spoke with (and cried in front of) a licensed psychologist working as a behavioral consultant with Family Practice. He mentioned several local activities and events I could take part in—a way to get active, get out of the house and interact socially with other humans. I appreciated his suggestions, and have since volunteered at a couple of venues as well as joining a gym (because science says physical activity helps make the brain happier). However, I still left his office feeling disheartened. He didn’t seem to understand the correlation between depression and lack of motivation. He could provide a theoretically endless list of seemingly pleasurable activities—the problem is my lack of motivation to do anything. If I am struggling to do things I usually enjoy (making art) or find the ambition to do things that need to be done (cleaning house), how likely is it, that I will venture out of my comfort zone—alone to tackle social situations when I’m nervous around strangers on a good day?
Currently, I don’t know if my medication is beginning to fail me, or if I’m simply inadequate at adjusting to my new circumstances. Either way, this is presumably why I seem to have abandoned working through The Artist’s Way (which is a little ironic since I’d taken on the project in an effort to ease my transition from the Azores to North Dakota). However, my morning pages force me to confront my persistent loneliness every single day. Keeping the sad realization of my utter ineptitude at dealing with life like a normal person, in the forefront of my mind.
I began to write my morning pages less and less. I haven’t done them for months now. Apparently, I prefer to ignore my emotional and mental issues, hoping they will resolve themselves and magically disappear, if only I can deny their existence. That’s healthy, right?
But the truth is, even if I wasn’t facing this sadness—it remained, incessantly lingering in my mind. To avoid the inevitable confrontation of my depression I attempted to hide away from my emotions in my new job, 3-4 hour naps, or allowing my mind to anxiously create lists of things I needed to do (while also constantly chastising myself for having no motivation, and generally being a pathetic excuse for a human who is crap at being alive). The sadness is a downward spiral. In retrospect, I suppose the extent of my depression was a fairly obvious.
Here I am, two months later. Winter is in full force, days are cold and grey. My doctor upped my medication, which seems to have helped a little. However, I fear the time when my medication will finally fail me. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week, to attend Zumba classes. I’m lanky with no rhythm, but dancing around like a dork usually helps to improve my mood. I am still struggling to make new friends (for lack of better phrasing). I’m not sure how adults make friends? I force myself into my studio at least twice a week to work on art. Even though I lack the motivation to create–I always feel better once I am creating. All and all, I am trying as much as I can. Depression is like a disorienting fog that distorts life and leaves me feeling weighted down. It comes in waves and I’m trying to focus on the positive moments between washes of hopelessness.