Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Quest

What a long absence! Oh well... I'm back! I've been thinking about writing about depression, since this is something that many with AD/HD have to deal with, myself included. I don't even know when it started. As a young girl (maybe about the age of 10 or 11) I started shutting down. Depression, you see, is not sadness. It's basically about not feeling - not feeling the highs or the lows. I remember when I was at that "tween" age, one of my most often used phrases was, "Why should I?" I purposely developed a persona that was indifferent to many things.

When I was in my late 20's, I was diagnosed with AD/HD. In addition to a stimulant, I started taking Zoloft. However, during my pregnancy in 2004, I stopped taking prescription drugs. This was because there was new information that SSRIs were, in fact, not as safe for babies in utero as was previously thought. I stopped taking Zoloft, and I felt that I was falling into a big hole. I spent the next 11 years struggling to function. It wasn't a constant struggle, but as the years went by, it seemed to get more difficult. What started out as seasonal depression eventually became year-round, with perhaps a small break in spring. Some hard knocks made it even harder to get by.

After trying to manage my depression with supplements, last year I had to conclude that I had as yet failed to find a solution AND I was running out of time. If I didn't do something drastic soon, I was likely headed for a major depressive episode. So I decided to start taking Zoloft again. I started taking it in November of 2015. I can't say that I'm entirely pleased. There are side effects. I have gained weight, and have had various digestive issues. But overall, my life has improved.

Today I was looking a Facebook photo. A man was riding horses on the beach with his wife. I said to my daughter, "I wonder how much it would cost to ride horses on the beach? That would be amazing!" My daughter looked at me suspiciously. "You weren't like this before," she said.

She's right. I would have scoffed at the suggestion, mostly because the very idea would have overwhelmed me.

"But girls just want to have fun," I said.

I'm not sure whether I'll need Zoloft long-term, but I need it now. I think of it as my training wheels. I need it now because I'm trying to learn new skills. I need to change which thoughts I focus on, and Zoloft makes it easier to focus on the positive.

I recently had the privilege of reading two journals that my grandfather Orville left behind for my mom when he died. Alas, the family legacy of depression clearly stems from him. He wrote some journal entries while in the grip of deep depression. At times, he was in a deep, deep hole. In fact, in the last entry, his emotions were very negative. It was November of 1991. Summing up his troubles, he wrote: "It seems there are some mental adjustments which I can't make and problems I can't resolve."

He was 22 years older than I am now when he wrote those words. I imagine that he was sitting in the living room across from the wood stove in his old-fashioned upholstered rocking chair, which backed up to the corner of the room. (He liked to have his back to a wall.) He was trying to think his way out of his depression, being consumed with issues that offered no resolution. My heart breaks for him because I know exactly how it feels. Even sadder, he had less than four months to live, but he didn't know it. He died in February of 1992 of an aortic aneurysm.

If there is one good thing that can come from all of his suffering, it is this: to the best of my ability, I'm going to opt out of his quest. For many years, I have spent much of my alone time trying to do the same thing he was doing. But some things in this life cannot be made to be OK, no matter how hard we think on it. Some problems cannot be resolved by our own efforts. So, after life's disappointments have been properly grieved, the only thing left to do is to change the channel.

I know it's going to be slow going, and I'm going to make mistakes along the way. But I'm working on my sense of gratitude, because gratitude and negativity can't coexist. While the nice weather holds, I'm going to try going to the river in the evening. I'll take the time to sit in the backyard at night, holding my cat. (Holding my cat! That may be a subject for another blog entry.) I'll be working in my yard. And maybe I'll even ride horses at the beach. (Eh, maybe NEXT year!) Also, when I catch myself trying to solve any of those unsolvable problems, I will do my best to redirect my thinking. Obviously, there is a lot to this. Moving on will be a struggle. But I feel that moving on is one puzzle I CAN solve, in time. So for now, I'm moving forward with my Zoloft training wheels. Wish me luck.