<--- That's me, roughly, except this pig looks kind of happy, whereas I am in A Mood. And I'm just gonna frantically bang and bang on my keyboard until I get it all out, and then I'm gonna go swimming and go out and appreciate nature with my friend, and do all the things you're Supposed to Do to pull yourself out of it.
And then I'm gonna go buy toilet paper, which is actually a segue into this next paragraph. See, buying toilet paper is a little thing, and right now all the little things seem like a Big Deal. And you know what that's called when little things seem overwhelming? That's called depression. And as a person who has battled depression, it is very scary to think I might be Back There.
I know I'm not. I know this chiefly because I can come up with a plan to pull myself out, and, although it's a struggle, I'm willing to carry out that plan. (And don't think the plan is something really enlightened like, "Go help the less fortunate so I can put my own petty problems in perspective." No, the plan is more like, "Stop and watch Glee under a huge blanket in the middle of the day.")
My worst depressive episode began in January 2008. At the time, I assumed I could just pop a pill and it would all be better. I'd been on Prozac before for anxiety, and although my recovery took about two months, I was instantly, insanely happy at the end of those two months. So I assumed, when I finally got the prescription for Prozac in February 2008, that I would be better right away.
But that time it took awhile. Like, about a year. I mean, things gradually got better, to the point where I could get up in the morning and fathom being able to make it through a day, but ultimately I was Down. During that year I upped my dosage and went to therapy. I started taking a prescription vitamin (Deplin, which is folic acid), which has been known to boost the effects of antidepressants. I made a lifestyle change in the form of quitting my full-time job to be a full-time mom. But still I was sad and exhausted and generally hating life.
I didn't mean to make this a blow-by-blow account of my life in 2008, but, long story slightly shorter, what really pulled me out of depression was committing to exercise. Let me make myself perfectly clear here: I do not think that most people can exercise their way out of major depression or any other mental illness. Most people need medication. I need medication. But medication is not a magic bullet, as I assumed it would be. Medication gets you to the point where you can do something to pull yourself out of depression. It does not do all the work for you. It takes the edge off of your depression so you can at least say, "Oh yeah, I know some things I can do to make myself better, and I'm actually willing to try them." And you are able to drag yourself out of bed and do these things because medication took the edge off, but it's still your job to adopt lifestyle behaviors to get you the rest of the way to recovery. Like any medical condition (and mental illness is a medical condition), both pharmaceutical and lifestyle interventions are required for treatment and recovery.
So, I know what I need to do to pull myself out, and that is precisely why I am not Back There. Sure, I get upset and think things like, "Oh my gosh, now I have to PREPARE FOOD for lunch ... Wow, I seriously have the WORST LIFE EVER!" But I don't think, "Geez, there's no point to life, and nothing is fun or pleasurable, and I just want to die."
This post kind of veered off the course of what I originally intended to write about. I was just going to complain about my petty problems for awhile. But instead I turned it into some sort of lame public service announcement about mental illness. Which, overall, is an improvement. And I think I'm already starting to get some perspective after all.