Before the tragedy – the loss of a good friend well before his time – I had gotten complacent vis-a-vis my depression. I figured “well, I’m still breathing – it could be worse and so long as it isn’t, I can deal.” But the problem is, depression can work incrementally, bringing you down into the abyss one step at a time. I had gotten to the point where suicide was a viable option and I hadn’t even seen anything wrong with it, really. I just… felt like shit and every day felt worse than the one before it. I didn’t care about anything. It’s not that I didn’t want to care, it’s that I actually *couldn’t*
But when I lost my friend, something clicked. I realized I actually cared about something – the people in my life. And at the wake/funeral, I realized that if I were to die, maybe people would grieve for me too and having felt that pain – the first thing I truly felt in ages – I did not want to inflict it on anyone else, especially not the people I cared about.
So in 2007 I finally committed to getting better. It took a while, but when my doctor diagnosed me with major depressive disorder, she suggested that maybe I should pursue therapy/counseling AND take medication
But the weird thing was, I felt that it was all in my head, and that I’d be weak if I needed medication to get it under control. Not only that, but I was worried about the medication changing my personality. I didn’t want to be some spaced-out, obliviously happy person just because of some pill I was taking. So I rejected the idea of medication for a long time
In 2009, I was visiting my hometown for Hallowe’en. One morning I woke up, and everything just… crashed. I can’t remember what my thought pattern was, but here’s a way to think about how I felt: Think of the brain as a giant cluster of cells (which, in fact, it is). Now, think of those cells coming undone, disintegrating and falling away. I felt like I was losing my grip on my sanity. I tried everything I could to stay grounded. I tried the one outlet that I cared about (drumming) – didn’t work. I tried talking to friends – didn’t work. I put myself in social situations (i.e. with my family) – it didn’t work. The whole time, I felt like I was… spiraling out of control. Again, like my brain was actually falling to pieces and I needed it to stop. I was going insane.
I realized that if I didn’t do something to stop whatever was happening, I’d have to be hospitalized or I’d probably try and kill myself. It was unbearable. I can’t remember feeling so terrible – either before or after that moment. Eventually my Dad was able to calm me down somehow. He reassured me that no matter what, hospital or no hospital, university degree or no, he and my mom would still love me. He managed to distract me long enough for my brain to reassert itself. The next day, first thing I did when I was back at school was I went to my doctor and told him “I don’t care what you need to do to get the ball rolling, but I want to know what my options are in terms of medication for depression.”
Adjusting to the medication was something else entirely. But still, making the choice to take medication is definitely in the top 10 of life decisions I’ve made.