Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This is not a post about the economy.

Being depressed doesn't mean I can't feel pleasure. I seem to be able to feel pleasure and enjoy the things I've always enjoyed. It's just that pleasure has no afterglow: once the positive experience is over, the funk slams down like anvil. ("Funk slams down" sounds like a groovy '70's tune. Trust me: it's not. The only 70's music I'm grooving on right now is Pink Floyd's "The Wall", which cannot be a positive indicator of mental health. Not entirely true: Keith Jarret's solo concerts are also a great comfort and solace.)

Anyway, remedies pharmacological (SSRIs) and logistical (get a nanny so I don't have to deal with him as much) are under consideration.

[end iPhone composed portion of post.]

I didn't realize that being told by my therapist that I was showing signs of depression would have such a big impact on me. It certainly didn't come a surprise: anyone who's read this blog or followed my Facebook updates may be wondering why it's taken me so long to put the obvious label on it. And any of the stressors I've been going through (unemployment, child permanently mentally retarded, purchasing and renovating a home) are on their own enough to drive someone into mental illness. It's not like things suddenly got worse last Thursday when I talked to my therapist. But I certainly feel worse. I feel not like myself. I don't know if its the impact of being told I'm showing signs (albeit mild ones) of a bonna-fide DSM mental illness that is making me feel like crap, or that being told I'm showing symptoms of depression has given me permission to feel as shitty as I've wanted to feel all along.

The thought of spending time with my son makes my chest tighten.

So, what exactly have I been experiencing?
  • Pleasureable experiences don't leave any lasting impression on my mood
  • I'm easily panicked and overwhelmed by seemingly small tasks that trigger anxiety or insecurity (this has been a problem for me for a long time, but has gotten worse recently).
  • I find I need my pleasures in a very visceral way, the way I imagine a drug user might need them. I need them to ward off other things.
  • I'm very moody and irritable. I'm not used to feelings of rage and helplessness on such a frequent basis.
  • Difficulty understanding what my wife says: I'm saying "what?" and "huh?" a lot. It might be an actual hearing problem. But more likely it's just because I'm escaping to alternate imaginary worlds as much as possible in an effort to get some peace, control, and solace. Or maybe it's because I don't particularly want to hear what she's saying, for fear it will be some request involving Quinn or otherwise disturbing me.
Of course, a lot of this may simply be sleep deprivation: Quinn has woken up at 3:30 am every night for the past 3 nights or so.

My therapist tells me that anecdotally, about 75% of couples raising a special needs child have one of the parents go into depression some time in the first three years. She also said that it's usually the woman. But I think Sarah is dispositionally unsuited for the role of depressive. Which is not to say that all this isn't incredibly hard for her.

Let's see if I can get some sleep...



fragilemom said...

Sure wish I could say something to help out. You do have stressors combined. I appreciate your honesty and wish we could all come over and give you a hug (or a beer????). I'm sure you are a strong guy and will surprise yourself at how well you CAN do all this (in time).

the other lion said...

I think you are quite strong for admitting your struggles. And because of that, I know you will get through this. Honestly, getting started is the hardest part. My meds keep me in a place that allows me to use other tools (exercise, asking for help, ect) to deal with stress. Without them, I'm pretty sure I'd be in a corner somewhere.

Sue said...

There is still a stigma attached to depression but in my experience it is mostly one we impose on ourselves - other people understand and empathize. The irony is that the low mood caused by depression can make us feel worse when we are given a diagnosis of depression.

Having gone through a few bouts of it, before finally accepting and not thinking less of myself because of it, I finally sought all the help that was available - pharmaceutical and therapy - seeking alternatives if something was not working.

It regrettably took me until my late 40's to do this but it was more than worth it - it made such a big difference to my life.

I know it is hard when you are feeling down but try and think positive about the diagnosis and treatment - it means that life for you is about to get better.

Zachary Drake said...

Thanks everyone. Sarah's giving me a rest right now, which is an absolute godsend. I'm still totally sleep deprived, but I feel a little better. Still need to make some adjustments though.

Umma said...

I have nothing profound to add. I just want to say that I hear you and understand.

Jana Nickle said...

I agree with the other lion. The meds help just to take the edge off so you can function. You will still have emotions but you can overcome them easier. I applaud you and your wife. Some dads just cant deal and dont get involved with their kids' life at all especilally with FX. Keep up the good work Zac and Sarah!!!!

Anonymous said...

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