The stalker was clever, remaining invisible, infrequent, and unpredictable. I assured myself that I was imagining it. The tingling in my abdomen passed as I sipped a glass of wine. Over time, several weeks, the stalker transformed from a suspicion to a shadow that elicited anxiety in my belly. I could feel the shadow outlining my body and deforming my facial structures, pulling down my mouth and darkening the circles under my eyes. This wasn’t sadness or frustration from the challenges of life. This was depression and anxiety. I increased the strength of the happy pills, “upped my meds” as my friend expressed it—as in, “I’ve upped my meds, now up yours.” Each morning gloom greeted me when I awoke, reluctant to leave the cocoon of my bed, procrastinating the start of the day. By late afternoon, I began to self-medicate. I made an appointment with the doctor.
Here is the thing about mild depression: I can function, I can have fun, but I drag, preferring to hide away in my room, reading or dozing. Here is another thing: I can be very creative in music and writing. I describe myself as melancholic, as described by Susan Cain in her book “Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole”. Melancholy itself is not depression although psychology has ruled it thus. Melancholy can make one sensitive to beauty and heartache. It can attune one to other’s joys and sorrows, while crippling you.
When my meds work, I tolerate frustrations with ease. I feel happy. I am energized. But there is a fear that if I discard depression, I lose some creativity. At this time of life, sharing the house with four other people, I need to be at my best. So I visited the doctor, adjusted the medication and now feel balanced. But what am I missing?