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Soldiers go off to war and they know why they are fighting, and who they are fighting.  They know what they have to do to win.  But what do you do when you can’t seem to defeat your foe?  When you feel like you’ve vanquished this foe, and you’re doing all the right things, staying vigilant and yet somehow, this enemy sneaks in through some unguarded window and takes over again?

I’m talking about depression.  I’ve suffered with depression for a long time now, off and on, off and on, for 30 years.  For what sometimes feels like forever.  I guess I’ve tried everything.  Therapy.  Exercise.  antidepressants.  It’s all helped, definitely.  Changing my life so drastically over the last 2 years has – I think? – helped.  (And today is the 2-year anniversary of my moving into the Cottage.)

I had a pretty rough bout of depression in the summer.  Then, with a change in meds and the addition of a lot of aerobic exercise, I felt much better.  In fact, I was cruising along just fine.  Until a few days ago.  I opened my eyes one morning and it was back.  No rhyme, no reason.  It seemed to come with the wind.  Now, I’m sluggish, dull, have no interest in getting out of bed.

Have you seen those commercials that say “Depression hurts”?  It does.  Even though it’s been warm, my old broken bones hurt.  My hands hurt from arthritis.  I barely had the energy to take a 2-mile hike yesterday.  What a difference from the 6-mile hike I took a couple of weeks ago.

I keep asking myself what’s wrong, what’s missing.  And I can’t really come up with anything.  Yes, I’m in a bit of a limbo now, not knowing when or where I’m going next, or what I’m going to do next.  But I don’t think that’s what the problem is.  It doesn’t feel situational. 

I have learned that there are two types of depression: endogenous and non-endogenous (or exogenous) depression.  Endogenous depression is typically genetic.  Here’s what our friend Wikipedia has to say about it:

“A sufferer is prone to become depressed on the advent of traumatic events, exhaustion or when under high levels of stress and may not be aware of the disorder until confronted by symptoms of depression for the first time.

Depressive episodes can occur at any age, but despite the predisposition may never become a serious problem. The severity of depression resulting from a diagnosis can vary greatly, from mild to severe. Worsening of a persons mood may not be triggered by any external element. It is hard to determine its endogenous origin. It is often the case that a sufferer first confronted with life events that might trigger depressive condition and when no particular source of the mood disorder is found, the depression is considered endogenous.”

That sounds like me.  Right now, nothing has triggered it, but yet it’s there.  And it’s bad.  Even Kelsea notices.  She worries a bit that she will suffer from it too.  She’s talked to me about it, and she’s talked to a trusted counselor at school about it.  It’s just something we’ll have to keep an eye on.  Nice legacy her Mother may have given her, huh?

I feel like my work is suffering.  My good habits are suffering.  My relationships are suffering.  I am suffering.  And I can’t just “snap out of it”.

I feel grey inside.  Empty.  Yet incredibly heavy.  Smothered by cold, wet cotton balls.  It feels impossible to generate any enthusiasm for anything.  I want it to pass.  I want to master this enemy.  But I have no idea where to start.  I just want this feeling to go away.  It usually does.  It just takes time.  Damn it.

October 2010


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