2018 was a hard year for me. Nothing awful happened, mind you. It was just a hard year. There was the back pain, which is better now after cortisone shots and cauterizing the nerves that were causing problems. And there were all those “little” illnesses beginning around April - intestinal issues that I blamed on diet, painful bloating I blamed on stress, acid reflux from I had no idea what, nausea and cramps I blamed on stomach flu - that all just kept recurring, and I thought it was all different things. And I was sick to death of being sick all the time. But apparently they are all symptoms of an h. pylori infection of the stomach, which is now being treated and will hopefully be better in about another 6 weeks.
But then there was that other stuff, those other symptoms that started small and increased as the months went by. The tiredness that made me need daily naps, and often had me in bed for the night by 7 pm. The lack of desire to clean my house, wash dishes, do laundry or even shower. I did those things, but it was so much like work. Lack of care about much of anything. Lack of patience with other people. Not wanting to be around humans much at all. I often found it hard even to carry on a conversation. I did most of the things I absolutely had to do, but anything I could avoid doing - a social event or a visit, for example - I would. I knew, of course, what was wrong, but I didn’t want to admit it.
You know, I know better. I have done funerals for suicides, and have said that their depression killed them just as surely as a heart attack or cancer. I know all the symptoms and I know I can’t just power through it, but you know I had to try. I had to tell myself that if I was just strong enough I could beat this. I kept thinking that I couldn’t be that bad, because I am happy. I am happier living and working here than I have been in I can’t tell you how long. How can I have depression and be this happy?
I was spiraling out of control. I stopped even going to events I really enjoy. I jumped on people for no good reason. I could hear myself saying all the wrong things, but it was like I couldn’t control my mouth or my emotions. A member’s mother died, and I couldn’t bring myself even to call. That is when I knew I couldn’t do this anymore.
I talked to my Spiritual Director, honestly, about my depression. We talked about medication and how it has helped me in the past. I agreed to talk to my primary care physician about a prescription, and I did that. Two weeks ago I began to take anti-depressant medication and I feel a bit better. I have more energy. I am happy to do my house chores. It will take a while before all the other symptoms go away. It will likely take much longer to make up to my congregation for a year and more of my impatience and neglect. But I will try.
After all, admitting I have a problem is the first step, right?