I hesitated about going to the doctor, though, because I was afraid that nothing would work. Silly, right? I know it is, but I had this intense fear that I would get on medication after medication and just keep feeling the same, until I would finally have to accept that this is all there is for me, now, and that things will never get better. I had to force myself to schedule an appointment by reminding myself that my depression affects not just me but my husband and daughter, too. It’s one thing to choose to wallow in your own misery, but it isn’t fair to make other people wallow with you.
So here’s how I’d been feeling: empty, numb, uninterested in everything. I was eating a lot, but not because eating made me feel better. I suppose I had this idea that if I ate that candy bar or cookie, it might make me feel good, and then when it didn’t, I would eat another, thinking maybe the second time would be the charm. I wasn’t listening to much music. I wasn’t reading. I wasn’t writing. I watched things on Netflix, but with the exception of American Horror Story, which for whatever reason seemed to be the only thing that was able to really engage me during this dark period, I would just sort of sit and zone out to whatever I was watching, not really enjoying any of it.
Obviously, this was very distressing. It’s not like I’m normally little miss sunshine, but I’m usually able to focus on the things in life that I think make life worth living—good literature, good movies, good music, writing. Writing has been like an anti-depressant for me for many years. When everything else feels grim and pointless, I can always count on getting lost in my own creative process as I invent other realities, other people, other lives. In fact, I’ve found in the past that when I go more than a week or so without writing, I tend to start feeling listless and depressed.
But this time, my depression stopped my writing cold. I didn’t have any desire to do it, and when I would try to force myself, it didn’t feel good. Didn’t feel like anything.
It’s not even an issue, really, of productivity. It’s not because I envision myself as a writer, and when I don’t write, I don’t feel like myself (although that’s true), and it’s not because I have all these writing related goals, projects I want to complete, achievements I want to reach. The reason why it matters so much is because writing helps me deal with the world. Writing is my life vest, my buoy. When I’m not writing, I’m drowning.
So I got a prescription for sertraline and started the slow, anxious process of waiting to see if it would work. And you know what? It did, or at least, it’s started to. I don’t feel back to 100% yet. I’m still not writing or reading as much as I usually do, but I’m feeling better. Work doesn’t feel like such a burden anymore, and the little tedious “have to”’s of life don’t feel so all-encompassing. Life is beginning to feel manageable again, in other words, and I am starting to daydream again about my writing. I’ve been pacing around the house, with music playing, and thinking about the novel I’m working on. It’s a good feeling—feeling anything at all is good—and I’m so glad I finally took the step to do something about my depression.