Being Not Lost
Today we went into Boston for another visit with the doctor who helps me with meds for depression. My appointment was at 9:00 am, and so we were in the midst of the early morning commuter traffic. It took just under 90 minutes to drive the 33 miles from home. Once again, I was grateful that Rick calmly drives through all of that traffic, and as grateful that we have turn by turn navigation to direct us door to door. I never realized how much we would use this option in a vehicle, but it seems we have so many appointments in the city that I can’t imagine not having it.
It’s really too early to tell whether the adjustment we made in the meds a week ago has had a positive effect. I was able to tell the doctor that I haven’t noticed an increase in my hand tremors, which was a side effect I’d experienced when last I was on this dose, before we decreased it. Whether the new dosage will be enough to lift my mood out of the current morass will take at least a month or so to determine. I’ll see the doctor again in a few weeks, to try to stay on top of the depression.
It’s hard for me to explain why I sought a med change. I want to think that I can just ‘get tough when the going gets rough,’ but sometimes it is just too difficult. Let me try to figure out here what it is that depresses me:
- The six o’clock news is very hard to follow at times. The anchors jump from subject to subject, and intersperse their stories with headlines that will be covered in a later broadcast, and then jump back to the story they were covering in a previous broadcast to give updates on ‘breaking’ situations. It is all negative … our soldiers being killed by those we armed and trained to protect their own … teenagers being shot by relatives who had no intent to shoot them … people being stabbed, mugged, raped … cars going into bodies of water and spectators jumping in to save the driver … and each of these stories ends quickly to be followed by sports broadcasts that tell why the referees were on strike, or why the coaches are being fined, or why the players just didn’t measure up to the pundits expectations … and then the weathermen come on to give what could only be described as a remedial, redundant forecast, repeating over and over, with visual aids that change far to rapidly and repeat, repeat, repeat…
- Finances have been trying this summer, with increased gas and food prices competing with increased frequency of doctors appointments, lab work, and therapy for both of us. The decision to apply for social security now rather than to wait four more years for the higher amount will ease our present difficulties. But a fixed income is a fixed income, and choosing to work with a little more now rather than more later was a difficult choice. I feel guilty for having left my career early, and the sadness that accompanies that guilt is heavy … I failed to meet a goal that I had set thirty-five years ago … a goal that required my prioritizing educational expenses … time and money taken away from my husband and children to build my credibility and skills in the classrooms. Rick and I thought very carefully in the mid-seventies … we together decided to invest in my education, and once I had that career underway, I continued to work and climb the salary scale, and made it to the very top for classroom teachers. We replaced our vehicle with an eye toward paying off the loan while I was working full time. We intended to pay down the mortgage with extra principal payments while I was working full time. Even when I was diagnosed with MS, we decided together that we would handle the ugly nightly injection routine because it would allow me to reach my goal of a thirty two year career and maximum pension. But I failed to believe in the medication, and the anxiety it evoked built the depression, which eventually took me out of the classroom two years too early. And here we are.
- After thirty years in the classrooms of public schools, being surrounded every day by adults and students who were active, bright, engaging and challenging, who had a schedule in place and followed it consistently, who responsibly met the requirements of parents and the public, I suddenly have nowhere I have to be, and no one who needs something from me. We brought up our children to be independent, and they are. We had to prioritize our parents’ elder care during their crises, and could not have made other decisions. We don’t look back with regret. But we do look back, and wonder how it could have been done differently. We wonder what we might have done differently, without doing less.
- I guess those are the three big ones that contribute to my depression. My health isn’t on that scoresheet. I have shoved the diagnosis of MS right off the table, and consider it only a bad part of my life now behind me, irrelevant and surreal. And now the malignant melanoma that I am ‘lucky to have caught early with surgery’ sits front and center on our calendar. The next round of dermatology visits starts later this week. The first round consumed the entire summer. I fear what this round will entail. The scars are not just physical. I fear what it will cost us, financially and emotionally. I fear what it will take physically as well.
I haven’t given in to the depression … that’s not what I’m doing by asking for help with medication adjustments. I am trying to be pro-active, to defeat the defeatism before it again defeats me.
If you’re reading this, and you know me, then you might realize how much I need to know that you understand what I am dealing with. I’m a writer. I tend to ‘think in ink’ because by organizing things into written paragraphs, I can find some structure, and some weaknesses, and once finding those, I can use the structure to combat the weaknesses. That’s really what I’m doing here in this blog.
And if you’re reading this and don’t know me, but have arrived at this page via a search engine finding posts on MS, Depression or Melanoma, please use whatever information you’ve gained here to find compassion for those you do know. If you’re dealing with these issues, find compassion for yourself. Be gentle … be patient … be kind … but most important … be aware.