February 8, 2015 – Dear friends, dear StayOnTop followers:
First of all, let me thank those of you who contacted me with their best wishes (and questions, and all kinds of advice) about my health situation. As you know, I don’t like writing too much about myself. But after months of silence, I feel you’re entitled to some kind of status update.
Well, in short: I am recovering very slowly, somewhat, but not yet out of the pit. I still do sleep much more than I should and I walk much less than I should; I still frequently feel paralyzed by somberness. The most important thing that seems to be returning right now is a glimmer of hope.
Just now, from my desk chair, I took this picture of the view out of my window. Maybe it can serve to illustrate the situation.
My mental landscape is still left barren by the winter cold. Spring is not yet in sight. However… slowly I’m beginning to recognize that in due time spring may return, and that these dry withered shrubs will be green and blooming again. And even more important, slowly I’m beginning to recognize that I actually want to see that happen again.
In the past horrible months I’ve learned at least two things. Or learned… let’s say I was reminded of them.
Psychiatry is still in the Middle Ages
One: we still understand far too little of the complex processes that make up our brain, feelings, and personality. Psychiatry, with all its testing procedures and patented medication, may pose as an advanced branch of modern medical science but in fact it’s still shockingly primitive. When in the past months my psychiatrist had to find some adequate medication to help me, in fact her only option was by trial and error. Just like in the Middle Ages, when doctors had no choice but to fight the Black Death by trial and error.
Once again I was close to killing myself: so it was obvious that I did need some heavy medication. But what? The first pills she prescribed gave me physical side effects so intolerable that after a month we decided to switch. I will spare you the details. We tried a second option. These pills not only gave me severe headaches: they also made me so dizzy that right when I needed to drive for the first time again (having not driven for the first ten days) I crashed into a parked car. After six more weeks of headache and dizziness I gave up on this medication, too.
So now, since a week, I’m on my third medication try. A very recent, state-of-the-art antidepressant: the pharmacy people did not even have it in stock yet – they had never seen it before. These pills promise to come with less severe side effects. Miracle pills? I certainly hope so. Will they help me do the trick of curing myself? We’ll see. Maybe time is just as important here as medication.
Patience must be Carefully Dosed
Which brings me to the second thing I learned in the past months: the importance of patience. More specifically the patience of people around you. For when you’re deeply depressed, you are too indifferent, numb and passive to feel much patience or impatience yourself.
The people who come to visit and help you will sometimes turn out to be far too impatient or far too patient with you. Too much impatience is not a good thing, as it will have an irritating or even demotivating effect. Too much patience is not a good thing either, as it won’t help you in any way to make a few little steps forward.
So just like with medication, the all-important thing with other people’s patience and impatience is they should find the exact dosage that fits the momentary depth of your depression. This is not easy. Maybe later I’ll post some more thoughts about this.
For now, please let me ask you for a little more patience. At least by now I do really want to come back blogging again, even though I will not yet be fully back this week or the next.
Thanks for your understanding. Here is a song to listen to: Broken, by Tift Merritt, from her 2008 album Another Country. If you like it and want to explore more of her songs, here is a link to the official Tift Merritt website.
Tift Merritt – Broken