(From July 2, 2008)
Today I walked out of the doctor’s office with a piece of paper that may change my life.
I actually set up an appointment because I found a tick on me and was worried I might have Lyme’s Disease. I had just moved so I needed a new doctor too.
I also needed to be honest about my depression.
I am sensitive, but now almost anything can make me cry.
I’ve struggled with self-esteem, but it’s always been with a healthy dose of humor and love. Lately, the balance has disappeared. I don’t want to be around very many people including myself.
I’ve always had a melancholy streak, but now it seems all I think about is death. I read the obituaries in the Post every morning as if to divine some clue as to the meaning of life.
I am in a wonderful marriage, but the strain of my constant complaining and “down” states on our relationship hasn’t helped me feel any better. What we have is too precious to stay the way I am.
I am tired of feeling guilty about everything. Including feeling guilty.
I have been talking about this for months with friends and family, many who have experienced depression and gotten help. I’ve thought about it for years, tried a few things. But I never took the big step.
So today I sat on the edge of the strange couch contraption that doctor offices have, looked down at the doc, and I came clean.
The doc asked me some questions. “Yeah, you’re depressed,” he concluded.
I really liked him. He didn’t overhype it nor did he play it down. He was relaxed but serious. He said that most folks don’t understand that the brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It’s just the one that makes all of the others run. It has chemicals that communicate with each other to make it work well. Sometimes the chemicals get out of whack and they need a little something to get them back on track.
He said I was past the first hump because I was over the stigma of trying medication.
It took awhile, but yeah, I am.
After he left the room, I had a hard time not crying. It is a relief to finally seek and receive help. Whether it “does” something or not, I feel as if a big weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.
The pharmacy said it would be ready in 45 minutes so I went to Popeye’s and got some chicken to celebrate.
My wife was thrilled at the news. As we ate our New Orleans-style supper and sipped our Strawberry Fantas, she asked me how I felt.
“Real good,” I said with a smile. “Real good.”
And you know something, for the first time in a long time, it was true.