Tuesday, January 22, 2008

requiem æternam dona eis

I have so much to say.

Yet this is the post that will never be written; an empty placeholder in my writing and in my life.

This may well be the requiem that ends the beginning and begins the end.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Denying Zung

I have been asked by a friend to anonymously post something he'd written recently.
I suspect he has both a need to bring light to this deeply personal subject as well as test the waters for public consumption of his thoughts.

Here he is.

I took the pill out of the bottle. It was so easy, yet almost surreal. It was if my life depended on this pill. Everyday? I don't have any immune deficiency, I'm not cancerous, no strange virus or bacteria. Yet my life, at least the way I know it, could change. It was small. No, tiny. This is it? I can't split this in half. I took the large knife off my wall-mounted magnet that I'm so proud of, got out the cutting board and pulled off a feat akin to splitting the atom. I kept one eye shut, expecting one half to go zinging across the counter, ricochet and hit me in the eye. It didn't.

The last few months I've been feeling more and more run down, tired, weak. I figured with a relationship going in the tank and work going a million miles an hour it was all stress just bearing down on me. New apartment, finally some space! I tried to sleep more, but it was never enough. Appetite was waning. I'll take some vitamins, that will help. Work some more, nose to the grindstone... it's a war, don't you know. Ahh! Leave for Christmas! It wasn't enough. For the first time in almost ten years I wasn't clawing and scratching my way out of the house to get back to work, despite being more happy with my job than ever before. I was drained.

And so the last couple weeks I've been even more drained. Well, there IS a bug going around, maybe I have the flu. Thank goodness I had a flu shot, otherwise think of how much worse it could have been! You've been tired, too? Good, it's not just me. But it was me. Everyone kept getting better. I went home early one or two days last week just to sleep. Yesterday I gave in and went to see the doc.

I learned it could be anything wrong with me. I could have HIV, cancer, anemia, a virus, bacteria, it could even be mental. So he scheduled me for a long list of labwork to be done immediately, and gave me a questionnaire for evaluating depression.

At the lab I had twelve vials of blood drawn and gave a urine sample. I went back to work and stared at the questionnaire. "Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale". I think I knew the score before I answered the questions.

A little of the time, some of the time, good part of the time, or most of the time?

That night I went out with a friend of mine to Baltimore, and we talked about quite a bit. Girlfriends, traveling, the Navy, blogging, parenthood. Not once did I bring up the Zung test. It wasn't real.

I dismiss your reality and substitute my own.

This morning I took my paperwork in to see the doc. I wanted desperately for him to tell me he saw SOMETHING in my blood work. It was all relatively normal, save for my cholesterol levels being a touch too high. Then I handed him my Zung questionnaire. I knew the score, it was written plain as day on the attached scale sheet.

Moderate to marked depression. There was no escape, it's in the open now. That which tortures me now has a name and face.

Yet my salvation also has a name: Zoloft.

It all came with a bit of relief and anxiety all wrapped together. Immediately I think of everyone that is close to me. I've been hurting them left and right. Foolish decisions were made out of loneliness and fear, decisions I would not have made had I been well. Will I be able to repair anything? Will they believe me? Is it fair just to blame it on this mysterious illness, or should I just shoulder the responsibility of my actions and deal with the repercussion? I don't know, yet. I just wish I had to do it over again.

The past few months have been so dark. There is no other way to describe it. I was in denial. No matter how much I phoned, chatted and emailed friends and family it didn't help the loneliness. I sought relief in a number of ways, mostly unhealthy and always failing. Sometimes I would feel urges to cry, yet I didn't understand why. I wanted to be alone yet didn't. Rash decisions were made with others' feelings. Again I wonder if I'll be afforded the opportunity to mend things with everyone. As I reflect I realize probably not everyone. There are certain things in life for which we only have one, sometimes two shots. I may have spent both barrels.

One possible jewel of enlightenment came by way of a 220 pound Army Master Sergeant this afternoon. "There are three ways to handle these problems. The first is through medicine, which you are doing. The second is through talking to a professional. The third, is a spiritual outlet." I adjusted myself in the chair. I stopped talking to God a few years ago when I realized I was just going through the motions because everyone in my family was a Christian. I did not have faith. "Now, I know you're not religious, but we all tend to shoulder more responsibility than what we can handle. Our jobs, children, house, wife, everything adds up. It's very relieving to be able to admit to a higher power that we can't do it all, and have it shoulder that burden for us."

For once a spiritual argument made sense. I was immediately reminded of Gagdad Bob's blog "One Cosmos" when he refers to the spiritually horizontal and spiritually vertical. Perhaps I need to be more vertical. Who knows. I'll have to explore this, I tell myself.

And so I come home tonight and immediately pull the bottle out of the bag. I turn the cap and rip off the foil seal. Before me I see little pills. They don't seem like much, but cumulatively they are the portkey to a happier me. That's the promise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

what I've done, and what I've learned

In the intervening days since last I posted:

~ I visited my mom and brother in California and enjoyed a warm Christmas with family for the first time in years. My father was missed.*
~ I was able to spend time with my other favorite girls: Magdalena the Magic Bullet and Lily the Smiling Idiot.**
~ A girl didn't break my heart, but she certainly bruised it.
~ I spent NYE with one of my best friends, the one I hadn't seen in over four years, in Bear Valley. We mountaineered with snowshoes and and climbed the rim of the valley, taking in amazing vistas from over 8,000 feet. (I know, hardly the Himalayas, but it beats Maryland, no?) I loved spending time with him and his wife but I did get to feeling like a third wheel. I was, on that auspicious night, quite lonely, but I survived.
~ Madison and I shared a close and loving weekend together; picking up where we left off as though no time had passed at all... a characteristic to our relationship I am increasingly amazed by and thankful for.
~ I attended a special survival course in Washington state.
~ A very cute and very timely Air Force girl renewed my self-esteem.
~ I accomplished a three-part Christmas present to myself: new ink (Persian two-headed horse at the base of my half-sleeve); new gun (Sig Sauer P229 .40); new car (MB E320 AWD).
~ I finished, for perhaps the sixth time, Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye, one of the best novels ever written.
~ I began attending Georgetown University for a special post-grad course.
~ I've learned that I still live life at one hundred miles an hour and I'm okay with it.

*Father: while on a plane at some point going somewhere from somewhere else, I read the latest issue of Esquire. In its "What You've Learned" special, I found the following quote:
I have learned you will never know your father as well as you do after talking with your mother after his passing. -- Jeff Isbister, 51, Holualoa, Hawaii
**Maggie/Lily: my dogs.