- Mental Health
ONE FACE OF DEPRESSION
There are many faces of Depression. Lack of energy, the inability to concentrate, self loathing and trouble maintaining personal care are just some of them. This hub is about a woman who has had Treatment Resistant Clinical Depression for over eighteen years along with other health problems that can often exist comorbidly with Depression.
Like water poured on the floor of the desert, her parched skin welcomed the moisturizer. She had not taken care of her physical self in eons of time, her attention needed solely to walk the tightrope that stretched above the black abyss. Her reflection shocked her. A face swollen from too many pills not enough water, no sunlight and a mouth turned down that appeared to be a perpetual frown.
It wasn’t that she had avoided mirrors exactly there just weren’t any in conspicuous places where she would run into herself unexpectedly. There was one above the bathroom sink but her eyes rarely focused on anything other than washing her hands. There was the dressing table in her bedroom where she sat, years ago, applying make up, curling her hair, getting ready for the day. Then when she quit going out there was no need for all of that and the energy it took was tremendous.
There were days, after all, that were so taxing on her physically that squandering the precious amount of energy on anything other than trying to make halfhearted attempts to keep up with the most basic tasks of housework would have been a sin.
Once in awhile she would catch a reflection from the corner of her eye that depicted a body, huge sagging breasts, a bloated stomach and fat flabby arms. She would turn away from this image disgusted, and focus her attention back to the task at hand. Minutes ran into hours then days, months and finally years.
On the rare occasion she left the house it was out of self preservation, to her doctor who would not prescribe the pills necessary to keep her semi-functioning without seeing her. On these days, when she had canceled as many times as the doctor would tolerate, she would shower, pull on clean clothes, comb through her hair and gather the things necessary for her trip into town. She lived twenty-five miles from the city where her doctor was located and she would combine the dreaded trips in with the despised chore of grocery shopping and running errands.
At the doctor’s office she would announce her arrival to the receptionist and sit as far away from other people as possible. Their chatter and shear number turned her stomach and made her hands start to shake. She also didn’t want to offend with her ugliness and inept presence. Her doctor always greeted her warmly and would make small talk and wait patiently for her to say anything of importance, medically. Occasionally there were new side effects of a medicine or a dangerous warning of her mood falling below what her doctor called baseline and they would try to concoct a new cocktail of drugs to combat the insidious disease. Always, there was the warning that this was the last medication they had tried and adjusting the dose up or down, supplementing short term, with another medication whose side effects were barely tolerable was all medical science could offer right now. It was never stated or asked, that this was as good as it gets because both patient and doctor knew the full realization of this could be enough to tip the scales to suicide. So they would spend the allotted twenty minutes pretending things were not as bad as they once were and always ended with the positive hope that a new medication would be released that could be the one to cause a break through for her, returning her strength and setting her free to live and not just exist.
She would then begin the tedious, mind numbing list of errands she had neglected trying to knock out as many as she dared without using up the reserve of sanity and energy she had brought with her, always having to allow for the drive back and unloading the vehicle once she was home. In addition, because of the finances, she had to be acutely aware of not only her purchases but the mapping out of places she needed to drive to. Their old vehicle was a large Suburban that drank gas like a wino gulped his cheap port and there was only so much money allotted for gasoline. If she had to visit a store at one end of the city then grocery shopping must be done in that area or be done before she left the side of town where her doctor’s office was located. Her grocery purchases often depended on the weather and the ability to keep things from melting while she completed three or four hour’s worth of shopping and errands. She brought coolers and insulated bags and repacked frozen food into to them once she got them to the car. If she forgot an item from a store where it was on sale, it went un-purchased. Because the mapping also had to include where her dollars would go the furthest, a slip up of forgetting could mean prices double that if where bought from the intended store. A realization of this kind of carelessness had on occasion beaten her down so badly she would drive home without any of the rest of the errands being accomplished. What was a simple mistake to most people could send her mind swirling into a bombardment of self loathing thoughts that pummeled at any confidence she had been able to muster. If this happened the rest of the month ate up the once a month checks with purchases made at the tiny grocery in town, and often had to be added on the credit card, which of course put them further in debt.
Her husband, who was also disabled, would sometimes try to help unload the vehicle upon her return but more times then not he was asleep in front of the television. His mobility was becoming increasingly limited, as was his memory, and she tried to carry his share as well as her own. There were long days though when he would have to bring in food from the local store because she was paralyzed with anxiety and exhausted from the Depression and the draining pain of fibromyalgia. A real social creature in his day, he would go for the mail and collect their medications from the pharmacy chatting with anyone he could corner. Occasionally he would wander down to the auto repair garage and visit with the guys there who were trying to meet deadlines but usually doled out a few minutes for this likeable old man. On a rare occasion he would take a couple of dollars worth of change from their savings jar and buy a cup of coffee and a couple of hours worth of conversation with the lady who owned the local coffee shop and ice cream parlor. If he timed it just right he would have the place and her full attention all to himself. She too, had a genuine fondness for this old guy who had more jokes in his repertoire than most stand up comedians. The only problem with these wanderings was he often forgot to tell his wife that he was leaving and since his heart attack if he was missing for more than twenty minutes she became very concerned. Less than half an hour and she could assume he trapped someone in conversation who had foolishly cut through the alley behind their house where he burned the trash, a chore he tried to keep up with, but often did not.
She had put the moisturizer on her face, enjoying the cool feel of it and how it seeped into her sore skin and then realized she had not showered. They had no bath tub, the room being too small and they both longed for long soaks in bubble baths they had both enjoyed. Feelings of being stupid and wasteful started rolling around in her mind. How could she forget something so basic, so simple? Now the expensive treat would be washed off by the water, carried down the drain, useless. As useless as she was.