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.
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...