Becoming Jill: Adventures in Adulthood

Chapter 8: In which I deal with an old, unwelcome foe, Depression. Medicine is taken.
June 15, 2010, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Depression | Tags:

Depression runs in both sides of my family. It’s something I have struggled with since my freshman year of college, and at this point, it seems like something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.

I started feeling down shortly after Christmas, but, true to pattern, tried to pretend nothing was wrong. Every morning it was a little harder to get out of bed and get to work on time. The effort I had to expend to get through the workday exhausted me so much that I would just come home and sack out on the couch for the rest of the evening, avoiding most social interactions so I would be able to get up and do it all again the next day.

Why didn’t I call my doctor and have my meds boosted, you might ask? Why didn’t I tell my family and friends what was happening? Well, extreme stubbornness runs in both sides of my family, as well, and I hate to admit that I need help. With anything, really. No matter how many times I go through this cycle, I am always too ashamed to reach out until it’s too late.

Eventually things came to a head, as they always do. I finally reached the point where I couldn’t get out of bed, no matter how much I knew that I needed to. In a way, that was a good thing, because I was finally forced to face up to what was happening, tell someone I needed help, and try to get a handle on things.

Unfortunately, I waited too long. Although my VISTA supervisor was extremely understanding, his hands were tied—I had violated my contract, and the state office told me I had to resign. Luckily, I was allowed to take a medical withdrawal, which is much better than simply resigning or being fired. I was upset that I wouldn’t be allowed to finish the last few months of my VISTA year, but I am grateful that I was able to leave on fairly good terms.

Since then, I have been slowly getting better. My doctor boosted my meds, which has helped, and just being honest with myself and others about what was happening made me feel more in-control of my life. I have been searching for a new job, and hope to find something soon!

They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and I guess it must be true. Since I didn’t have a job, I was able to go home for 3 weeks to help my family through a difficult time. In the space of a week, my grandfather had a full hip-replacement, and my mom had knee surgery. Mom and Larry are the full-time caretakers for my 97yr old Grandma Denzel, and with mom’s knee out of commission, Larry wouldn’t be able to take care of everything alone. It was a long 3 weeks, but we all made it through! Although cleaning up another person’s bodily fluids is not high on my list of favorite things to do, I was glad that I could be useful. Of course, if I had still been working, I would not have been able to get away. Paychecks are nice, but family is important, too!

I’ve been back in Minnesota for about a week and a half now, and back into the swing of my job search. I am trying to treat it like a regular job, so I get up at a decent time and spend normal working hours sending out resumes and such. Some days that plan works out better than others!

In general, the depression is better, although by no means gone. I still feel the need to isolate myself a bit just to get by, and it’s still a struggle to do the things that need doing. However, I am ABLE to do them, which is the difference.

Depression is difficult for me to wrap my head around… Even though I have been through this cycle again and again, I often feel that if I just tried harder, it wouldn’t keep happening. My brain knows that it’s about brain chemistry, not willpower, but it’s hard to accept that when you feel like a perpetual loser. On the upside, each time I get depressed, I seem to handle it slightly better, and reach out for help a little earlier. Still not early enough to prevent a crisis, but I do know that I am making a bit of progress, which is encouraging.

I am enjoying being back in my own little shoebox, and seeing my friends fairly often. My friends Karen and Sarah are training to do a triathlon at the end of the summer (they are superstars!) and I am joining Karen on the days she goes swimming! Swimming is my most favorite form of exercise, and I know that it should also help with the depression. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the water, so my muscles are sore, but my brain is happier.

Now that I am feeling more human, I plan to return to blogging! I am sure you are all thrilled, ha! I do have some funny stories stored up to share, so be on the lookout!

Thanks to everyone who has supported me through this, and if I have been out of touch with anyone, please don’t take it personally. I’m back, and hopefully soon I’ll be better than ever!


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

YAAY!!! So glad you are blogging again!!!! Did you know that I really don’t read blogs except yours? Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Comment by Sarah

Wow, I am not sure I deserve such excitement and devotion, but I’ll take it! 🙂

I am excited about tomorrow, too! 🙂

Comment by becomingjill

Glad to hear you got help and are on the road to recovery. I am also delighted to hear you are swimming – that’s good for you all the way around. 🙂 Good luck on the job search.

Comment by chandra

Thanks, Chandra! Things are looking up, hooray! How are things with you?

Comment by becomingjill

I am soooo glad you are doing better! I am also glad you are writing again because I know that means your brain is happier! I am sad about how VISTA worked out and that the demon depression returned BUT the silver lining was your help for that three weeks! I am not sure how we would have managed w/out your help! I need to find a place to do aquatic exercise for my knee and rest of my body – and know you will enjoy the swimming on many levels! MOM

Comment by jan

Hi, Jill!
Hi, from a very cold Pretoria! Good to hear from you again! And I’m glad to hear that you’re OK! Sorry about the job-thing, but I’m sure you will find a nice job quite soon.
My wife, Hester, also has problems with depression, for which she gets medication.
I am about half-way with the MS of a Venter book, and I would like to send it to you for your comments. Maybe we can even co-author the book – I need the help of somebody who can fill in the ‘fiction’ parts of the book, which is about the Venters of this world and their experiences throughout the centuries.
There is a lot of potential for a very interesting book if we remember that the SA Venter males have the Y-DNA patterns of ‘Muscovite princes’, and that there is a possibility that an ancestor of ours might have had some connection with the ‘Ostsiedlung’ of 1284 AD connected to Hamelin and the legend of the Pied Piper, and that the US-German Venters have connections with Alsace-Lorraine (where Joan of Arc came from), and that they have a Celtic Y-DNA profile!
We could be writing a best-seller, if we use our ‘collective’ imagination.
I think you are the right person to help me in this venture!
Kind regards!
Piet Venter

Comment by Piet Venter

I love that you are writing again! I was thinking after I read this about how I had no idea any of it was happening because I was wrapped up in my own stuff. Then I started thinking about how I withdraw when I’m depressed too, and thus it makes it hard for two depressed people to stay in contact all the time. Many of my friendships are maintained by the blessed persistence of the other person because I’d rather stay home and hide. On my good days I’ll make a gozillion plans for the next week, and when the time comes I hate myself for filling every spare minute with social activities. Friends who aren’t depressed make it easier to stay in touch, but friends who are depressed, totally understand and empathize with the distance. I guess it’s good to have some of both. I’m so glad you are back on track, and would love to see you soon! Hugs to you!!

Comment by negativealtitude

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