I was a little overwhelmed with the response I received about my last entry. I want to thank each and every one of you who responded, both in the comments and by e-mail.

I had a few reasons for raising the topic and asking for input the way I did.

  1. I don't get to see the faces of mental illness out there as much as I would like. Or rather, I do, but I don't know that this person I meet or that person whose website I visit struggle with some of the same issues that I do. It's not that I think everyone should be transparent about their psychological struggles, because these are very private issues, but it can feel isolating when a person rarely sees themselves reflected in the world around them. It came as a great relief to me that so many people came forward with stories that I could relate to. Even though I knew that I was not at all alone with this, reading your stories made it real. It makes what I am going through something more than mere dramatics. It makes me have to believe in it.

  2. Finding out what other people were doing about their particular psychological difficulties makes my effort to work out how it is that I want to deal with this latest round of depression seem like a practicable endeavor. In an e-mail exchange with MarillaAnne yesterday, I said that reading about how others were dealing with their issues made my struggle seem more like something concrete that I could work with rather than something akin to "punching ghosts", which is how it usually feels. This is a real thing that I can do something about.

  3. Lately, I keep writing funny things, and going out and joking with friends, and watching television, and reading, and going to work, and all those those things have been fairly effective diversions from acknowledging what is honestly going on with me. I was suddenly tired of everything that I was using to avoid myself, because, oh my gawd, I was still there. It was just becoming painfully obvious how ridiculous it was to go on existing as though I weren't there.

Looking at those above three points, it becomes clear that they are all facets of the same single point: I needed/need to staple this thing down and actually acknowledge it.

The first depression I remember feeling was when I was two, so I have had thirty-one years to learn how to create a surface appearance of being just fine. Constructing this appearance is habitual, and I often allow myself to shut down and go with it, pretending that I, too, believe my own costume. Sometimes this is a necessary tool for moving from one end of my day to the next, but sometimes this is a barely concealed avoidance tactic. Your stories made me look beyond my own crap.

So, everyone's comments and e-mails over the last couple of days have been both terrifying and a great comfort. Thanks for terrifying me! And comforting me! It hurts so good!

No, really, thank you. It can be difficult to be so open about psychological difficulties, and your candour was encouraging.

I read over everything every one of you said several times, weighed my own experiences with pharmaceuticals with yours, thought about the things that we all do aside from meds that often work as well as or better than drugs with far fewer negative side effects, and decided that prescribed medication is not for me at the moment. I am not making any statement against medication in general, but frankly, the idea of taking prescribed medication right now makes me feel cornered, like a kid with its lips pursed against the bitter, gritty aspirin mashed into jam, and I think, no, I know that that's not the best way to head into any kind of treatment.

I am going to continue with my full-spectrum lamp at my desk at work, and as of two days ago, I have started on a low dosage of 5-HTP, which has already had an excellent effect on my ability to sleep for more than three hours at a time. I am also getting off the bus several blocks before my stop in order to get in some much needed fresh air and exercise. Also, I think that we should always have a bottle of wine at home, and don't preach to me about the depressive effects of alcohol, because I personally find it delightful.

5-HTP = more sleep + less anxiety + less depression,
which hopefully will lead to a well-rested, more reasonable Schmutzie, and then
more exercise + wine, as well, (might) = (hopefully) well-being, or its nearest facsimile.

I am resting a lot of my hopes on the benefits of regular and deep sleeps. I have been without either kind for so long that I think I might find the results of getting in at least six hours of sleep a night surprising. After only two nights of decent rest, my perpetual headache has already lightened up somewhat, so there's hope.

I'm not shooting for the stars here, people. I just want to eat, sleep, and be occasionally merry without having to crawl out from under a rock to do it.