Why I Wish My Unbalanced Brain Chemistry Would Fuck Right Off
Most people would perceive me as fairly happy-go-lucky guy who is content in his own skin. While this is not in the strictest of senses an illusion, it is not a naturally occurring state. My peace of mind combination of a slight talent for acting and the wonder that is modern pharmaceuticals.
Being diagnosed several years ago with depression has been a mixed bag to be sure. I’m very glad to at least know what the Hell has been happening to me for much longer than that, but frustrated not to be able to get back to the place I thought I was before all of the trouble.
Let me take it back a bit.
I was a newlywed, had gainful employment, good friends, and felt connected with my community through hobbies and volunteering. I was a bundle of seemingly boundless energies and enthusiasm. Then came the car ride.
In the weeks leading up to the car ride, there never seemed to be enough sleep. My wife was getting pretty upset with me for always napping. Yet, when sleep was happening, it was not full or satisfying. There were constant stupid thoughts that refused to let me rest- where were the cats? Are they fed? Is my wife going to leave me? Do the people at work hate me? Does everyone hate me?
My solution to the sleep problem was to curtail some of the hobbies. I gamed less, even though gaming was one of the amazing things my wife and I bonded over; it was actually where half of our shared social life existed.
I began to read less because reading was not helping me relax. I dropped off from writing because it was cutting into sleep time.
Or, at least, these were lies I told myself.
In the trap that was my own head, I knew I stopped gaming because I knew people hated spending time with me. I stopped reading because I was not worthy of having such luxury as an escape from the world around me. I wasn’t writing because I knew I was a self indulgent, pretentious, little shit who had nothing to say worth anyone’s time.
What did that leave me with?
There was work and there was barbershop singing.
Oh, I realize I have left my loving wife out of that statement. I’ll get back to that.
I love barbershop singing. I love the harmonies, the comradery, the volunteering, the sense of community, the constant learning, the practice, the discipline, the performances, and the corniness of the whole thing. The only thing better that singing a good barbershop tune with a tight harmony for me was singing a barbershop version of a Christmas carol. The only thing better than that was getting to perform these Christmas songs at seniors homes over the holidays.
I was driving home from a particularly fun night of Christmas concerts at a number of places on the North side when it happened. The practice disk was playing on the car stereo, there was a bit a snow falling on the highway, and I was grinning like an idiot alone in my car – then I began to cry.
Tears at first, then full on sobbing.
I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t stop crying; full on ugly crying. Tears and mucus poured out of me and I was hot and cold at the same time. I am not sure how long it lasted but it was long enough that I suddenly had very little time at home before I had to be ready for work.
That night at work I sat at my desk and barely moved.
At home, I got into bed and barely moved.
Then I went to work and barely moved.
Then, at home, I got into bed and barely moved.
Then I went to work and barely moved.
Then, at home – well, I’m sure you get the picture.
It was about here that my wife – oh, how I love her – said the magical words, “should you maybe make an appointment to see the doctor?”
Until that moment, it was not something I had even considered. I don’t believe I was suicidal, but I genuinely felt that if I disappeared the world might be better off at best and no worse off at worst.
Yet, here was my wife, actually concerned for me, giving me a lifeline.
Then it hit me. She was a bright spot I was blind to right in front of me. How many other bright spots were hidden from me?
What the Hell was going on???
I made the appointment. Then I actually went to the appointment. I felt like an idiot spouting symptoms that sounded like the imaginings of a whiney little bitch. Yet, the doctor was not acting like I was wasting her time. She was making notes, checking her computer for how the symptoms presented themselves, and asking questions; good questions.
Did I want to harm myself? No.
Did I care if harm befell me? No.
Was I happy? No.
Was there anything I wasn’t doing that I used to do? Yes.
Was there anything I was doing that I wasn’t enjoying? Yes.
Did I usually enjoy it? Yes.
Was I having sex? No.
Was I experiencing any physical pain? Yes.
Was I finding it difficult to be around people? Yes.
Then she laid the diagnosis of depression on me. Not just any depression; it was classic depression.
I was given a prescription and a warning that things were not going to get better overnight.
Weeks past and eventually I was sleeping less; or at least hiding in bed less. I had more appointments and dosage adjustments on my medication. Things got a little brighter.
I can tell you I don’t hurt as much. My wife and I talk a lot more. I am doing a lot of the thing I used to enjoy more frequently, even regularly. I am actually exercising and eating more healthfully. But I am not cured; merely treated.
You see, I have to maintain some activities on a schedule because if I don’t, I run the risk of hiding from the world again.
The key is adding more to what I do, not taking away, because it is too hard to get back into the swing of old routines if I cut them out.
How do I know this? Barbershop.
I was panicking about performing. I was panicking about standing in a group of 30 to 50 men and singing. I was doubting my abilities to sing at all. So, I stopped going to practice. I stopped singing all while going through the balancing act of getting the medications just right. I am not sure when I will be able to go back.
I keep the alarm set on my phone to remind me on Monday nights there is barbershop practice, but I’ve not followed through yet. I hope I will.
Since the diagnosis, I’ve begun miniature gaming again, dungeon mastering on a regular basis, reading comic books – heck, reading again, being a more attentive husband to my wife, beign more productive at work, and with this little piece of fluff I am writing again. Still no singing, but I haven’t given up.
I am working on it. Maybe that’s the best any of us can hope for in time. As long as I am working on it, I am not sliding backwards down the slope into darkness.
Every day I put on the disguise that everyone can see and I back it up with medication. Sometimes I manage to actually see what others see – more often than not. I am not back yet, but I want to be.
It sure would be nice to sing again.