Depression Hurts: Only when it doesn't
We’ve all seen the commercials for that one anti-depressant (whose name I can’t remember): Depression hurts. And it does: there can be aches and pains to go with all the emotional pain. But depression doesn’t always hurt. Sometimes it becomes a big, numb void. This is where I’ve been the last three weeks. You get to the point where you just don’t care. And you don’t care that you don’t care. I’ve written about acedia before. Acedia is the absence of care. It’s better known as sloth, one of the seven deadly sins.
This is where I’ve been, and it’s been really bad the last couple of weeks. The thought of doing anything overwhelmed me. Even putting in a load of laundry. Or checking the mail. I have sat on the couch and web-surfed and mindlessly watched TV. I didn’t care if my house was a mess. I didn’t care if I wasn’t working although I am teaching a workshop next Saturday that I still need to get going on. I haven’t even showered everyday. Kathleen Norris recognizes that the ceasing of repetition is one acedia’s first symptoms:
One of the first symptoms of both acedia and depression is the inability to address the body’s basic daily needs. It is also a refusal of repetition. Showering, shampooing, brushing the teeth, taking a multivitamin, going for a daily walk, as unremarkable as they seem, are acts of self-respect.
Moving seems so hard let alone taking a walk. In a week I left home twice. I don’t care if I’m isolated or lonely. I don’t care that nothing is getting done or that I’m not praying or writing. It’s all too much.
Earlier this week I did decide to take charge and do one thing: call my psychiatrist. I saw him yesterday and we talked. Nothing triggered this bout of depression. Everything is going fine. It’s been a good summer. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling the way I’m feeling. My doctor said sometimes that happens. You have a dip in brain chemistry and need a little help. We decided to increase the dosage of an anti-depressant I’m on to see if that helps. I also have to push myself to get out and to exercise. Because depressed people just like to sit. I got out today. I got my haircut (love it!) and went grocery shopping. I’ve actually gotten out of the house two days in a row. Woot! As Bob used to say, “Baby steps.”
Baby steps. Because I have to start somewhere.