Tuesday, September 10, 2002


Mark Twain once said that "Worrying about something is like paying interest on a debt you don't even know if you owe." I have spent a great deal of my life worrying about what lies ahead of me, and dwelt much on the possibilities of leukemia, diabetes, paraplegia and acute appendicitis. Yet in my life, despite a weight problem, I have been disgustingly healthy. I rarely take sick days, and when I do, it is usually from exhaustion. Lack of sleep, for me, is the equivalent of illness. [Brief pause for the parents of small children to stop their hysterical laughter…]
But despite my robust health, I have been a worrier, and in my senior year of high school finally developed the one thing it had not occurred to me to worry about - depression. In the years following, depression has come and gone in various cycles lasting from 2 days to 3-4 months, with months to years of relative contentment in between. I've been seeing a Christian counselor since I was 20 to combat this, and have gained an enormous amount of personal insight and healthy coping mechanisms. I have also taken St. John's Wort, Celexa, Zoloft and now Prozac.
Depression has become my handicap; not the cancer, the diabetes or the actual loss of limbs or senses. The patterns of the affliction have become as familiar to me as going through the motions of brushing my teeth. Yet I have struggled against it, tried to justify it, resisted medication, embraced suffering, sought and found God within it, and eventually hit bottom and begun the rise back up to normalcy.
I particularly resisted medication for a long time. Only when I went through a truly horrific bout when I turned thirty did I finally succumb and start on Celexa, eventually switching to Zoloft. It always seemed to me that taking medication meant that I was truly helpless and out of control; that it being a chemical issue meant that I couldn't fix it on my own. I still believe that a lot of my depression is due to my poor coping skills and overactive imagination; but during an extended bout of depression my serotonin levels get so low that I am unable to pull myself back out of despair. The thought of being on medication for the rest of my life seems unendurable. I see the whole Prozac phenomenon as unnatural and an easy escape from coping.
Lying on the couch in my office during my lunch break one day, I wept at the life that I saw stretching ahead of me; where I would periodically be incapacitated by depression and the difficulties that might arise if I married or had children. And a little voice in my head pointed out that this was my handicap… that if I had useless legs I would use a wheelchair, wouldn't I? Then why was I (figuratively) dragging myself along the ground, refusing to use a wheelchair or crutches because it wasn't "natural?" It's ludicrous; and likewise, suffering needlessly through depression and despair is the same as dragging myself down the hallway. Yeah, I could get where I'm going eventually, but it would be mighty unpleasant and take a very long time! So for now, my crutch is Prozac. Maybe, years down the road, they'll figure out another way to combat depression that I don't find so... upsetting.