Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Depression Is Not Going To Get The Better Of Me If I Can Help It

I took a sick day yesterday. Really, it was more like a half sick-day, half mental-health day. Yesterday was preceded by Monday night's celebration festivities in honour of the Fiery One's advancement at work. There was much merry-making, what with the sushi and the beer and the bumping into of friends and the talking and the ha ha ha. But that was followed by a very short nap in place of a good night's rest, and the Fiery One neglected to set the alarm, so I only woke up nine minutes before I was supposed to leave the house for work. I briefly considered throwing on some clothes, brushing my teeth, and running for the bus, but came to my senses and left a message at work letting them know that I would not be coming in. I am not using the activities of the night before as an excuse, even though they did leave me a little ripe and bloodshot. I was feeling unwell for other reasons. This is why I was emotionally beating myself up for most of the day yesterday. Whenever I feel that I have "allowed" psychological illness to intrude on my life, I tend to berate myself and then feel guilt over whatever thing I have not done as a result.
I have mentioned a couple of times over the last while that my brain has not been functioning properly, or at least in the way that I am used to. The last couple of days have been better but still very tiring, and that is partially why I stayed home yesterday. It all started about a week-and-a-half ago... or was it two weeks ago?... three? I lose my ability to account for time properly at this stage of the game. My brain started having what feels like fits. There is a stiffening, a rigidness, a sense that things should be one way and one way only and any other way is so awfully stressful to my ability to function that I just can't stand it. After this feeling has had time to settle in for a while, I am filled with an emotion akin to extreme anger, except that I am not angry. Volatile, like nitroglycerin, would be a better description. This state is usually followed by an emotional breakdown which has me crying many buckets and coming up with many reasons for why my life is so much wet toilet paper (meaning: bereft of its once possible usefulness; laid to waste; somewhat disgusting in its state of pulpy near structurelessness).
This becomes a cycle: brain fits, volatility, depression and self-loathing, back to brain fits... Sometimes, when I enter into these cycles, they are livable. My reason is intact, and although my thinking and feeling are somewhat altered, I can recognize the actual state of things. Sometimes, though, my reasoning becomes quite shaky, and I imagine that others are talking behind my back, or that my friends only humour me but secretly dislike me, or that I am loathesome in ways to numerous to count. On top of these baser and embarrassing struggles, I see my life and the world as one long empty struggle whose only note of importance is its inevitable demise. Nasty, huh?
So this is what my brain has been doing off and on for the last while, and it was starting to scare me more than a little. When this cycle overtakes me, it feels like I am still in my head somewhere watching myself feel and think and act in ways that, for some reason, I cannot control. There’s nothing dangerous about it, because it is all emotional in content, but it is scary to watch that happen to me. It feels like I am being arrested of myself. It feels like I have become a point of consciousness locked away inside my own brain so that my uglier, fatter, stupider, and more insecure twin can be let out to play.
Today, I feel pretty good. Actually, I feel pretty great. The sun has finally come out after a couple of weeks of near constant rain and grey skies. There are all these trees that I don’t know the names of blooming in yellows and whites and pinks and releasing their heady perfumes. The sun felt warm on my shoulders and shone through someone’s overgrown lawn where I saw my first bee of the year. These things don’t make everything better, but they lift me out of myself enough to know who I am and where I don’t have to be.
This is why I am starting on a round of taking St. John’s Wort. There are a lot of people who would warn me against self-treatment, but I have been through a few psychiatrists and several pharmaceuticals, and I am not interested in that avenue of treatment at this time. Also, I have been on St. John’s Wort before, and it worked wonderfully. It is the only thing I have ever taken for depression that relieved my depression, left me feeling exactly like my not-depressed self, and had no side effects for me whatsoever. It did not leave me with dry mouth, disrupted sleep patterns, green urine, catatonia, tremors, the “zaps”, weight gain, water retention, changes in sexual interest and function, nausea, headaches, memory loss, or any of the other side effects I have had to live with in the past. I would suggest that you see a naturopath/homeopathist/herbalist, though, before making a decision to use St. John’s Wort, because it is contraindicated with certain types of medications, it can lower the efficacy of the Pill by 50%, it can increase light sensitivity, and all forms and brands of the herb are not created equal. (For more information on St. John’s Wort, check out: St. John’s Wort & Depression Homepage, National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, About, and Kelly’s St. John’s Wort Info Pages).
I am hoping that it has a similar effect on me as it did several years ago, but with natural biological changes, who knows. I’m crossing my fingers. There is always the chance that this depression isn’t here to stay. Sometimes a depression can descend and overwhelm me for hours, days, weeks, or months, only to disappear on its own. I have relaxed into this wait-and-see approach, which is a good sign. It means I haven’t hit a point of desperation yet. Let’s hope I don’t have to.

How to Make Friends by Telephone" (link from Green Fairy).

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Articles like this one make me think that maybe if prostitution wasn’t illegal, women like these wouldn’t have to live in fear, and the men who commit crimes against them wouldn’t get away with it so easily.

A new story is emerging about what really went on fifteen years ago in Tiananmen Square.

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