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.

#478: SOME HOME DOCTORING

I have had to make a couple of very difficult admissions to myself recently. These admissions should not have been surprising but were nonetheless, and I have been avoiding discussing them with anyone.

To discuss them is to put them out there into the world
= if they are out there in the world, then they are real
= if they are real, then I actually have them
= if I actually have these problems, then I must do something about them
= if I do something about them, then I am further establishing the actuality of these problems and their effects on my life
= if I further establish the actuality of these problems and their effects on my life, then whatever state of denial I have been able to maintain will have to give way.

I love denial, though. It has seen me through so many difficult times. It has allowed me to keep my fingers in my ears through a couple of bad relationships, gender/sexuality issues, the death of my favourite cat, employment under a sexually harrassing boss, and years of evading student loans officers, to name a few. It's a defense that is quick and easy to construct: spot trouble, close your eyes, cover your ears, and keep talking.

The problem with this defense, though, is that pretend ignorance = pretend bliss, and that's a house of cards that can be hard to live in. It was/is hard to live in, and I can't anymore if I am to continue living free in the world as I have been, so I confess: I am unhappy, and I need help.

How did I come to these conclusions, you wonder. Well, it wasn't all that difficult in the end to deduce that I was suffering from levels of depression and anxiety that needed some attention. I had a lot of clues pointing me toward getting some help:

1. Crying in the bathroom at work is never cool, but that's what I have been doing every other day. I used to be a cryer who could produce a pillowful of tears with only an inkling of sadness to work with, but since my late teens, I have been far less expressive. So, it surprised me that, lately, I can work up a goodly amount of water over the futility of life as we know it when my stapler jambs up and I can't find staples of the right size in the copy room. Why must I even ever have to concern myself with staple sizes? I moan internally. How am I to ever rise up when I am held down by myriad trifling frustrations? At such moments, I feel that my fate is sealed by finicky office supplies.
2. I have seemingly random episodes during which I hate anything that happens to move or make noise. WHY IS HE LOOKING AT ME! OH, GOD, HE'S LOOKING AND SMILING AT ME! HE IS FORCING ME TO INTERACT WITH HIM NOW! THERE! I HOPE HE'S HAPPY! I SMILED BACK, FUCKTARD! OH SWEET JESUS! THE CAT IS TOUCHING MY GODDAMMED FOOT AGAIN! WHY DOES HE KEEP TOUCHING MY FOOT?! WHY DOES THE WORLD INSIST ON INTERACTING ME WITH ME SO FUCKING INCESSANTLY?! IT'S FREAKING PATHOLOGICAL! At those tiimes, I wish I had a sensory deprivation chamber and a prescription for Ativ@n.
3. Number Two is immediately followed with guilty feelings at having wanted so much death for so many.
4. Sleeping no more than four hours at night, and then only in short dream vignettes interspersed with my eyes snapping open and me thinking I. Will. Never. Experience. Real. Sleep. Again.
5. I quiz the Fiery One about his love for me, sure that my scratching at my skin, periods of lack of responsiveness, fear of the outside world, and self-loathing are making me less lovable. I ask you, what could be more attractive and mentally stimulating than a phobic depressive with a nervous skin condition?

All of these things and more crescendoed about a week or so ago, and at first I pretended to myself that my condition was surprising and unexpected. It is my default reaction to behave as though nothing is going on with me until so much is going on with me that I find myself talking out loud to myself in public places and thinking that six pints of beer is a sane amount for me to drink and unable to write due to the constant stimulation from that car/my cat/this table/my itching/that television.

It occurred to me that I need to be nice to myself. I need to be kind. I need help. I have an aversion to psychiatrists and doctors in medical clinics who tend to hand out prescriptions during your first or second visit when they're still checking your file for a name before they can address you. That kind of help is something I will try later if I have to, but until then I am going to give my way a try.

About a week ago, I started taking St. John's Wort again. In the past, I have often finished off one bottle of it and then neglected to continue with it once I was feeling better, but this time I intend to continue with it for a good while, because I don't know that I will ever be "better". With over thirty-one years of anxiety and depression behind me, I am becoming a little more practical about my approach to how I am.

I am also taking an over-the-counter sleep aid to help me get to sleep at a decent hour and also to get myself into a regular sleeping habit again. Just the regular sleep I have been getting over the last week is doing a world of good. Who knew that sleeping more than four hours a night would stop me from breaking down in the bathroom at work? It's fantastic, because finding yourself slumped against the wall next to the sink is not a self-esteem booster. The anonymous co-worker-originated pubic hair that you find stuck to your pants later as a reminder of your distress doesn't lift your spirits, either.

It may take a while for the effects of the St. John's Wort to kick in. I want it to be now, because I have taken to hiding out in the bath for three hours at a time, and although it is relaxing, I don't think it's helping my anxious itching problem. I can wait, though, if I have to. It is worth the wait to be able to sleep again, to enjoy the sun, to be social. It is worth the wait to be able to write more again, to want sex more again, to read more again, and to even want to care more again.

Right now, though, I am going to go hide in the bath some more, read a trashy true crime book, and sip coffee while the cat parades along the edge of the tub. At least I've got a decent hideout with an excellent supply of hot water to keep me warm while I wait.