How long I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety

I know that during middle school and high school I wrote moody poetry. I listened to “dark” music. And one day I was online talking to a friend and they misinterpreted something I said as a suicidal ideation. They went to their guidance counselor, who contacted my schools counselor, who had a “chat” with me. I clarified that it was a mistake, and that I was fine.

On the way home, Mom picked me up and the first thing she said was an angry “don’t you ever do anything like that again!” – we never spoke of it again. Once, much later, my dad alluded to the incident in discussing how we talk to people online, and how things can be interpreted. Those were the only two times the incident was brought up. It was the 80’s and our town wasn’t progressive enough that common kids would get therapy or meds.

The thing was, it really was a misunderstanding. What surprised me was that I wasn’t really feeling suicidal then. But that I did feel that was quite often. I know now that I was depressed and maybe even glanced off some severe episodes, but even personally wrote it off as young angst.

Later, in my 2o’s I distinctly remember sleeping through weekends. That’s called hypersomnia, and it’s sleeping too much. I was doing it to escape, and I did it as much as I could. Again, young angst.

By the time I was in my 30’s and having children of my own, I had settled into a routine. I would get what I thought of as the “mental flu” — you’d feel yourself coming down with something, then it would hit (hard) and you’d be in the midst of it, and eventually you would recover and soon enough be back to normal. This could be over the course of a few days or even a week or two.

Just after the turn of the century, the economy turned and I got laid off. Office closed and we all got our walking papers. I remember at one of the happy hours we had after the office had been shut down, I turned to a friend and asked her if she’d ever dealt with depression. I was in a rough spot. She turned me on to a walk-in counseling center in the area, and I stopped in.

Right away they pegged me as having clinical depression and anxiety, and in a fairly strong way. Since those days I’ve taken more than my share of PHQ-9 questionnaires about how you’re feeling. That wiki article includes a link to an online version. You should take it and see what it says for you.

I was hooked up with a Psychiatrist who gave me some meds. Now, you have to understand that someone with depression get good at wearing masks. Hiding depression is the best way to not have to deal with it. So I took the meds and convinced the psychiatrist that I was fine after a few weeks of meetings. Maybe he knew I wasn’t, maybe he didn’t. Maybe I was fine. Regardless, life carried on.

Another decade passes and the Wife is seeing a psychologist and suggests I do too. So we get matching his and hers Psychologist/Psychiatrists and do separate therapy. It was fun and all, and I got something out of it, as I remember scream-singing to Dresden Dolls a number of times after appointments. So the Psychologist was stirring the hornet’s nest nicely. But after a few months I was pronounced fine again and sent on my way.

Interesting note: In one of my first meetings with that psychologist, I was talking about how hard it was to have depression and anxiety, and how exhausting it was. And that I really wasn’t having it and didn’t want to have to put up with it for the rest of my life. We talked about my suicidality, and she essentially told me to go home and think about it. Almost daring me to do it. I called her our on it at our next session and she said some people just need to be given the freedom to kill themselves. That it would have been unfortunate, but that sometimes you have to let them go. It seemed ballsy, but I always wondered about the ethics of it. Obviously I’m still here, so I didn’t kill myself that week, but in some ways it felt like she was calling a bluff. I was truly suicidal – I had plans but no intent, but suicidal nonetheless. Overall I liked her, but she wasn’t that effective.

Skip forward another near-decade. and begin reading here.