I had a follow-up visit with my GP last week. He was relieved to hear that my medication is starting to take effect. Moments of clarity, brief glimmers where I can concentrate the way I used to. Every positive moment encourages me to keep fighting, and creates a (shaky) momentum of hope and perseverance.
I told him how the timing of this medication was fortuitous: I am so grateful for the relief it is providing me, while remaining daunted by the amount of work and effort to dig myself out of this hole, that I no longer am struggling with the doubt that has haunted me my entire life: how much of my success is due to big Pharma, and how much is really my own? At this point, I don’t care. The reprieve from the acute state of misery and shame is good enough. If that relief can only be caused by a pill, I’ll take the damn pill. I will take all the pills. And if there are other pills that I can take to further balance out the havoc that my brain wreaks upon me, yup, I’ll take them too. Not a bad attitude to have, leading up to an (as yet unscheduled) appointment with a psychiatrist!
My GP nodded, but added,
The success is still yours, you know. The pill is helping you access your intelligence, but it cannot create intelligence. It is like digging for oil. You can have all the fancy machinery in the world, if you dig in the wrong spot, you can dig and dig and dig until you are on the other side of the world, and you won’t have struck oil. Striking oil requires there to be oil in the first place. Sometimes you have to dig just a little bit, a shovel will do. Sometimes you have to dig a long way, and then you hit an enormous well of oil and you are rich!
You have the intelligence. You just were using a shovel, and probably hitting small veins of oil. But if you want to hit all of the oil you can access, taking the pill is like investing in the proper machinery for oil exploration. What a pity it would be if you never found the oil because of a refusal to consider all the tools required for the job, hmmmm?
Put like that, my lifelong dislike of medication sounds a lot like pride. Too proud to admit I need help. Too proud to admit that while I’ve been given a gift of intelligence, I struggle to reach my potential on a daily basis. I would rather jeopardize everything than accept that I have an innate shadow in me, one that requires medication to keep under control. It has taken something of this magnitude, a depression that almost blotted me out, to strip me of this notion. And I can’t even claim virtue in this new found humility: my exhaustion has become so paralyzing I no longer have the energy to cling to this pride. My depression has truly broken me. Stripped of all my defenses, maybe now I might grow up?
This hasn’t been a particularly good week. I’ve had some productive moments, but never quite recovered from my Monday paranoia episode. I’ve slid back into old habits: crying at the slightest provocation (but not uncontrollably! progress!), and overwhelming tiredness. Concentration is pretty weak, only the easiest of tasks can I do, and not many each day.
Tuesday morning, after I finally made it into work, I told CSD of my Monday kuduro paranoid meltdown. He looked a little freaked out, “yeah no, that isn’t normal. I mean, I think we all experience thoughts of that nature from time to time, but not that intensely, to the point that it disrupts your life and can result in very real negative social consequences. Intense. I hope your waiting time for the psychiatrist is not too many weeks, it would be good for you to get the help you need.” Agreed. (I’ve been put on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist at one of the local hospitals. Waiting time of a couple of months. I am not deemed an urgent case, since I am not inclined to self-harm and am still employed. Lucky me.) Later that morning, CSD, who outranks me but doesn’t work in finance, invited me to crash a meeting at work. During the meeting, I’d been distracted, checking my phone too often, really hungry and needing to pee. #professionalAF I contributed a bit, when I wasn’t considering what I would eat for lunch.
At the end of the day, I received this from CSD.
This made me so very happy – CSD is a smart shrewd cookie. His praise means something, and compliments are not easily given. But at the same time, this saddened me. I know what I am capable of, and am not even delivering 5% of what I could. He was impressed when all I did was show up, because that I was all I was able to do on that particular day.
Whereas in recent months, that knowledge of my under-performance made me wanna take a shame-nap, now I want to get better. I want to reach a level of health where I can deliver the impact I know I can give to the world.
I’m willing to work on getting healthier, even though this is gonna be a bitch. I’m daunted, but determined. I’ve accepted that it is going to be months before I am ok. Months of sub-par work. But, goddammit, imma dig till I reach that oil reserve. It’s waiting for me, and if I don’t, nobody else will, and it will remain unused forever.
Recap of this recent battle with depression:
You don’t only have a gift of intelligence – clearly you can connect with people in a way many of us would envy. A former colleague calling you out of concern ? That’s not something most of us have. Coach, CSD, and others…. I’m actually envious.
Also, that GP clearly cares more than most GPs do – much of that is his innate caring, but clearly, it’s also that you’re someone people find worth worrying about.
Don’t take for granted the way that people seem to connect with you and care, and I mean care in a more than just distant, general caring way, but in a texting, actively checking up on you kind of way. You’ve got more gifts than just intelligence.
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Pride does not allow us to honestly share our feelings with others, opening of your heart and communicating your despair and struggle requires profound humbleness. Intelligence, hand on hand with humbleness will benefit, not only you, but many of us. Have a very good day.
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