Tag Archives: anti-depressants

RIP, David Foster Wallace:Some Thoughts on Suicide & Depression

David Foster Wallace committed suicide this weekend. 46. Hung himself.

The guy had made a career out of being brilliantly insightful and funny. Yet he somehow ended up on the dark side from which suicide seems the only out.

I’ve tried to write about depression over the last couple of years, because I know a fair bit about what it feels like to be on the wrong side of it. I’ve lived with others who’ve been suicidal. I understand depression in a whole slew of ways.

I’m on the other side of it these days, and think I’ll stay on the other side a while yet. I still struggle with being all happy-sunshiney, because, let’s face it, that works for demure screen sirens of old, but for the rest of us on Planet Earth in the here-and-now, happiness not some ubiquitous state we tap into with the flick of a finger or a “Hey, I know!” notion in the morning, as much as Dale Carnegie wants you to believe happiness is always a choice.

Even now, the quasi-adversities that pepper my life temper my glee-factor something fierce, but that’s humanity for you. I’m in touch with my moody glory. I can often think my way into better moods, though, as much as I like to mock the notion.

I mock it because depression is when the ability for levity and “opting out” of moods takes its leave.

“Real” depression is a whole ‘nother beast than the “normal” depression. I can shake my depressions these days because they’re just that: normal. I know it might all be better again tomorrow. I know bad days are just part of the mix, just like finding surprise bad produce in the midst of your seemingly selectively-chosen product when you get home from the veggie store. Shit happens.

But not to severely depressed people. Even trying to “think” your way out of it doesn’t work. I wrote this posting on August 15th, 2006. What you don’t see is, that even though I talked a good game on the night of the 15th, the 16th became the first and only time in my life that suicide seemed like a good choice. There was a point in the day when I came apart. I came wholly apart. I worked alone in my office that day and had a complete breakdown to the point that I had an “emergency” call placed to me by my old therapist I hadn’t spoken to in years. A 45-minute conversation talked me down from that fever-pitch of suicidal thoughts, and things were a little better in the morning.

I remember that blackness now, and even thinking about how I got to be from the person I loved earlier that year to the woman I was that day just sends shivers up me still. Because I know, as much as I loathe the easy way out that suicide is, as much as I pride myself on taking on any challenge and usually winning… I know I was ready to give it all up. And I have no idea how I got to that point.

That’s the terrifying thing about depression. When you’re no longer yourself, how can you possibly act in ways that are right for you? When you have no logic, how do you make the logical choice?

Depression isn’t something that occurs to the weak. I’m here to fucking tell you I know more about “surviving” than most people of my age, and I almost didn’t survive my depression, despite having survived so much else in my life.

(As I’ve said in the past: My suicidal depression was as a result of trying to suppress my period through birth control pills. I’m not sure I will ever take birth control again. I still recommend it for the average woman, but believe me I do so with massive caveat emptor attached. However, my life went off the rails at the same time, for what was pretty much the existential “perfect storm”, and perhaps the hormones were just the straw on the existential camel’s back.)

Weak is not a word people ever, ever, ever describe me as in real life. Not in any definition of the word.

Yet somehow the stigma of depression = weakness endures. It’s why I’m so hell-bent on writing about it, because *I* have no stigma about the depressions I’ve had. Why should I?

And someone like David Foster Wallace just inexplicably disappears from the planet one day because he’s committed suicide. Was he depressed? Probably. Maybe we’ll find out. Either way, William Styron’s incredible Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is something I think any moody creative type should read. The look that brilliant novelist takes at his own suicidal depression and the links he explores, believing his suicidal tendencies perhaps had to do with his creative nature, is something that has stayed with me over the years.

I’m obviously a highly introspective writer. I do it well, it’s my schtick. That said, there are dark and dingy places in the recesses of my mind that require stoicism and fearlessness, but particularly tempering, before I go trekking through them, and I find it healthy to remember just how much toying with the shadows of our psyche can unsettle us at times.

Styron quoted the book of Job from the Bible in the opening of Darkness Visible, and it’s something that anyone who has truly, truly endured depression can understand.

“For the thing I greatly fear is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.”

~The Book of Job

In depression, the trouble always comes.

Because, when you’re depressed, being around life itself reminds you of everything you once had and feel has now become lost to you. It’s the inability to connect your reality with what your perception is, no matter how much you may be aware that it’s your perspective that’s the problem. It’s like looking at life through a cracked, distorted mirror. No matter how you try to defragment the view, it’s your perception and not the image that is broken.

Depression makes no sense. Suicide can never be understood. Unless, for the briefest of moments, it once seemed to make sense to you.

And even though I had that moment of clarity when “out” seemed better than “in”, I still don’t understand the choice of suicide. I don’t understand how life can make death seem appealing. I don’t understand having the courageous mix of fear and foolishness required to take that easy, all-too-permanent out, since all I had was the notion and not yet the motivation to make it so.

All I really understand about depression is that it’s not about weakness. It’s about something that we as a race still don’t understand, and we still can’t control. But we can at least try to talk about it. We can help remove the stigma that comes with a diagnosis of depression or mood disorders. We can make it easier for people, however brilliant and famous they are, to admit they’re powerless over this thing that’s come from the shadows only to choke all the light.

All I really understand is that it’s a crime, in this age of information and knowledge, that such rampant ignorance and judgment still exists regarding depression.

Because it’s why people like David Foster Wallace often think a rope over a rafter or a bullet in the head is easier than trying to end that chokehold of darkness over their light.

Holy Return of the Libido, Batman!

Sex. It’s been a while. Honestly? It’s been two years.

As I’ve written about at length, I went on anti-depressants the summer of ’06, after birth control pills messed my body up something fierce, at the tail end of a relationship that turned to shit in record time, while getting laid off of multiple jobs in a short period with no EI remaining. Oh, good times.

The meds were a necessary evil and I knew I needed ’em to get my body sorted out along with my life — both of which I’ve been accomplishing somethin’ fab. Since the new year I’ve been gradually decreasing the dose (with my doc’s guidance of course) and I’ve been off now entirely for 10 days.

Holy shit do I notice a difference. All of a sudden, like a wild fire in August, my libido’s back and raging. Like, oh, my god, is it back. ZING!

Must. Have. Sex. Orgasm! Now! YOU, SATISFY ME! Rowrr!

So, naturally, I posted myself a Craigslist ad. I posted two, one in the relationships section, and then the other in the casual encounters section, and now I don’t care about the LTR responses because I know I don’t want the complications of something serious yet. My casual encounters ad wasn’t entirely common, though. It began:

“Are you tired of stupid people? Are you tired of having to choose between routine sex and freaky sex, and nothing in between? Does the prospect of casual sex both appeal to you and frighten you? I mean, honestly, there are some skanky people out there. Some of these players have been around more than a 1966 RCA turntable, you get what I’m saying?…”

The responses have largely been of your “I’m a dedicated pussylickr!” type with pictures of penises and hairy bellies. [Delete] Or the most unappealing thong shot I’ve ever, ever seen. From front and back? That was really necessary? [Delete] Or riddled with spelling errors and the bad kind of non-sequiturs with nothing appealing. [Delete] Or obvious form letters that did nothing to address my 750 words. [Delete] Or very much older men with bad teeth and dirty leering looks and an almost palpable air of desperation. [Delete] Or cute guys with not much else to offer, the kind I’d always be smarter than. [Delete]

But there’s a bit of promise to be found. No, really. Like a crack of light at the bottom of a coal mine’s shaft: Surprising. Hopefully a good date looms in the next few days. And sex soon thereafter. Because that’s the whole point, no? Continue reading

In Vino Veritas: Lord Help Me

So, I’m doing my hump day in brilliant fashion. I’m drunk. Like, flat-out, I’m a 1/2 glass from the bottom of my bottle of Sicilian red wine. Mm, mm, good. Yeah.

What can I say? I was working on a tv show about red wine this afternoon, and I thought, “That sounds good. Sure.” So, that and a 440-calorie deluxe mini-pizza and I’m just as happy as can be. Albeit somewhat wobbly.

Because I’m drunk, heh heh, and happy about it, and in vino veritas, and all that, I’m going to take a moment to not really apologize, but maybe clear the air or something here.

I have been short-tempered of late, probably pretty much clear throughout my life. It has been odd and strange to be on my end of it, because I’m not sure where it comes from. One word springs to mind: hormones.

Two weeks ago, I visited my doctor and said, “You know, I think it’s time I got off the meds.”

If you’re new to this blog, fuck, well, the story’s too long to indoctrinate ya now, but suffice to say my longtime readers know I’ve been on quite the ride the last couple of years, but given that I heavily edit this blog and temper it from my real life, all y’all don’t know jack. Really.

So, long story short, I lost my nut two years ago when birth control pills fucked me up more than I ever could have dreamed. I still think birth control pills are an important tool, and that my experience is probably the exception to the rule, but that, if you do decide to use the pill (and I’d approve that choice, with condoms), you got to monitor your moods and tell those closest to you to help keep you objective about how you’re reacting to life, because I tripped the wire, man. I really tripped the wire.

I am telling you this: I have lost my mother, who was THE most important person to me, after caring for her before her death; I have survived nearly a decade of chronic pain; I have survived nearly dying on a severely injuring motorbike accident… and I have never, ever endured the darkness I endured two summers ago. I couldn’t have written about the darkness I was in. You didn’t want to read that, I certainly didn’t want to actualize it on the page. I couldn’t talk about it. I kept trying to talk myself out of it; intellectually I knew my life wasn’t that bad, so what was it?

The further I get from it, the more I realize it had to be the pills.

So, back to the present. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds, the good old-fashioned way. I’ve not used trainers or clubs or organizations, and I haven’t even had a gym membership. But I’ve gotten it done. I’ve redecorated my place, tackled my debt…

But then in the last couple of months, though I’ve intellectually felt like I’m going someplace awesome, my emotions were just always a little too much on edge for all I KNOW I have accomplished.

So, I chatted with the doc. Because, you know, us women and hormones, man, it’s a delicate dance. I started wondering if maybe it was time to end the anti-depressants, since they’d clearly done their job.

Now, the doc only found out about 3 weeks ago I’d lost 35 pounds, so this 40-pushing-50 thing is news all the better. So, I show up for the appointment, tell him maybe it’s time I move on. He looks at me and goes, “Steff, depressed people don’t lose 40 pounds, and they’re not really into redecorating much. I think maybe, yeah, it’s time.”

But truth be told, I hadn’t really thought I’d been that off-kilter until the last couple days. Coincidentally, I just got off the meds Sunday. A couple days and that stuff starts to clear up, like a long fog in the winter. (Though, ironically, I’m all a-tipsy now. :)

In the not too distant past, I’ve written a rant about comments, chewed a few people out, you know. Kinda not-too-fuzzy stuff. It’s out of character for me to throw it out there — politically, I’m as shrewd as the fuckin’ day is long, baby, so I don’t tend to put my foot in my mouth all that often.

But it seems of late I have. I think I was expressing my true feelings, but I normally would’ve put a cork in it and just dismissed it as people spouting off when maybe they should’ve done a little self-editing. Then, ironically, I too failed to self-edit. Funny how that works.

Anyhow. This is me saying I’ll behave more. I’m not saying I’m sorry, ‘cos maybe we all should blow a fuse now and then and get that shit off our chests… heh, after four years of blogging, it was about time I ranted about comments. Hah. It’s like parental advice — sooner or later you just gotta speak your piece.

But I could have done it better. I could have been nicer. Hell, I should have. One thing I’ve never claimed to be is perfect. And I’ve always loathed hormones. Damn estrogenies. So, you know, older, wiser, and on it rolls. Will. Behave. Better.

All right, so I was a bit of an ass. Yes. True. But I wasn’t entirely incorrect. :)

(My theory is, with enough time passing for the birth control pills to finally be irrelevant, my weight loss success, my improved diet, a more relaxing job situation, and improved finances, that my body chemistry has become correct all by itself, but by continuing to be medicated, it’s actually been causing a new imbalance. Strange, huh? But it makes sense to me. Ay yi yi.)