Do you dream in color?
Do you think in terms of shapes and patterns, similar to a game of Tetris?
Does your day-to-day life have a soundtrack? Do you hear a steady stream of music running through your head, offering advice on every situation from "I can see clearly now the rain has gone" to "It's easy like Sunday morning"?
These questions may have just revealed the depth of my bizarre inner nature. Or perhaps they illuminate intimate thoughts shared by many.
For several years, I have felt what I think of as a dark slash across my soul. It is a painless yet torturous weight that settles across my chest. It comes and goes with the seasons, with my level of stress and fatigue, with my general state of mind.
In color: I imagine I am looking at a canvas of my life, done all in natural whites, pale greens and tans, with an angry diagonal slash of dark purple running through the middle.
In music: I hear a beautiful symphony full of light springy notes, only the oboe player seems to be playing a mournful solo in counterpoint to the cheerful tones of the rest of the orchestra.
It's not that I don't think purple has a place on my canvas. The painting does have more depth with whispers of deep purple here and there.
It's not that I don't think the oboe has a place in my symphony. A few scattered deep notes can lend weight and contrast to emphasize the light and airy theme.
It's just that I don't want them to dominate. That's not me, not the me I want to be.
Early this summer, I decided I had had enough of the heavy dark purple oboe notes. I was done with the constant fatigue, sense of being overwhelmed, and feeling out of control of myself.
So I went to my doctor and talked to her about depression.
She prescribed me a little pill that some call a happy pill. I have come to think of it more as my normal pill.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing more about my first days on this medication. It took me about three years of soul-searching before finding the courage to ask for it, and I still can make arguments for and against it.
I probably don't have the most severe depression of anyone out there, but neither do I think I am imagining its tangible presence in my life.
I may attempt to continue this therapy only for six months until I pull myself together. Or I may continue for the rest of my life.
What I do know is that in three months, the heavy purple slash has all but vanished. My energy level is increased, my contentment is noticeable to my friends, and I haven't felt overwhelmed. Despite the stress of having three rowdy kids at home all summer.
There's still room for improvement. This pill is not a magic bullet to fold my laundry or pull me off Facebook to tend to my children. But some of the weighty baggage is cleared away, and I feel dramatically empowered to make the necessary changes to my personal discipline habits.
Best of all, the oboe player has given up his solo act, and is now playing a more background part in my symphony.
This post is the first in a series that will last through the month of September. A whole month blogging about depression, boy that ought to be uplifting!