As I wrote before, my drug mule arrived and, now that I've been back on the happy pills for a week, I feel a bit better. The underlying issues are still there, but -- damn! -- I can deal with them better and can figure out solutions. Depression makes you myopic to such a degree that all you can see is the depression. Like I've always said, it's a stupid disorder.
Still, somewhere in my deepest, darkest drear, I could see myself and realize that much of what I felt came from the imbalance of chemicals in my head. That always strikes me as weird and not a little bit frightening. Our personalities, our emotions, our moods, are all governed by this chemistry in our brains. Depression feels like dark blue, almost black, water being poured through your head and turning to a mucky oil in your veins. As I was coming out of the worst part, I had that feeling of having cried for hours on end, although I hadn't.
That's not what I meant to write, however. What I meant to write was how, this time, I remembered all of the years that I felt this way every day. Usually, those memories frighten me. "This is how I really am, isn't it?" I ask myself. "I'm always doomed to return to this." This time, I wasn't worried about staying there. I knew that the happy pills would arrive and, within a week or two, I'd be back to my medicated self. This time, those memories made me sad.
I didn't get on happy pills until my mid-20s. Then, I was on them until I got myself into graduate school. Off for the first half of graduate school, and on for the last half and ever since except when I had problems getting my prescription filled or when I did not have insurance nor money to pay for the pills. That means that some foundations of my personality and career choices and even ability to pursue those choices were built on this oily muck of depression. I made choices, or failed to make choices, in this terrible state of suffocation and impending doom. So, I wonder what my life would have been like, of how it would have been different, if I had access to happy pills when I first started having episodes of existential funk way back in elementary school.
We won't go into the what if I had people around me who had sympathy for this funk and did not treat my depression as if it were an intentional attack on them. Since I've mentioned it, however, I am amused that that person -- my mother -- was actually more accepting of my depression as a medical condition for which I could take medicine than my father was. My father still tells me, "a pill won't solve all your problems." My mother gets that the pills certainly help. I think that may be because she understands about the chemicals and their profound affect on mood. After all, she's been through menopause and had to take hormones.
Anyway, the loss of all of those foundational years to this dank mood makes me sad and makes me wonder how other such things might have altered my life had they been available in my childhood. For instance, I often wonder how my life would have been different if my math disability had been recognized at any point in my education. Although math has not been, nor would have been, a major component of any career that I would have chosen, my inability to do math compromised all of my educational decisions and even my sense of my self as an intelligent person. I couldn't do math, so I wasn't really that smart. I couldn't do math, so my GPA and standardized test scores were lower. I couldn't do math, so I wasn't smart and my GPA and test scores were lower, so I couldn't go to a fancy college and I had to choose a less fancy college. I chose less fancy colleges that had low math requirements. I chose a grad school that didn't look at the math GRE scores.
Anyway, all of this is a mourning for parts of my life long gone, although I see that they had an impact on my life now. I don't know why this bothers me at the moment except that I think that I could have done more in my life by this time, gone more places, known more things, been better than I am. Which is a sad thought because as I am isn't so bad, is it?
I'm thinking back to my revelation at the conference back in October, that "I don't have to be that person any more." That was the real revelation of the year. I think I also should realize that I don't have to be that person who was always depressed and thought that, because she couldn't do math, she wasn't smart and so gave up far too easily on so many things or set her sights far too low. I have been her too long and I don't have to be. I have medicine, I don't have to do math, and smart isn't what I thought it was.