Unexcused Absence

I’ve been absent the last two months. When I laid it all out in the open last year, one of the worries I expressed was my fear of falling down again without realizing it. Depression is stealthy. Like a glacier. No matter how strong your defenses, you suddenly wake up one day to find it has carved away a huge chunk of your life. And you’re left with the choice of being swept along with it or digging your heels in to stop sliding and start rebuilding. And that’s where I am today. Beginning the rebuilding phase.

Back in late April, my doctor suggested we try a new medication to help control my Tourette’s symptoms. The medicine I had been on for the last few years was working mostly OK, but it had some not-so-fun side-effects including thirty-five pounds of weight gain. So I came off the risperidone and switched to haldol.

The first week was nearly unbearable. I’m not sure if it was coming off one med or ramping up on the other but for nearly a week I suffered hot flashes, couldn’t sleep, and when I finally did sleep and wake up my muscles were so dyskinetic I could barely walk without warming up first. Fortunately, those symptoms passed after a week and I began to feel better. My twitches remained mostly repressed and I even began losing weight!

But what I didn’t notice was the slow melting away of all of my energy, motivation, passion, and enthusiasm for anything other than staring blankly at a screen or sleeping. It’s not like a light that suddenly turns off. It’s more like a slow pressure leak. Barely noticeable at first. Maybe I’m just having a bad day? But soon you’re driving on a flat tire and you have no idea how long it’s been that way.

I’m normally religious about maintaining Inbox Zero, but both my work and personal mailboxes began overflowing. Questions from customers were ignored. Notices of bills went unread. I stopped reading the news – a morning NY Times habit I dearly love. I checked-out of all my social networks, became a ghost at work, and pulled away from my family and friends.

My lovely wife suffered the brunt of it. She picked up the slack with the kiddo and household as I became more and more absent.

And that’s the shittiest, scariest, most fucked-up part about depression. In my head, when I looked out of my eye balls at the world around me, everything appeared normal. The fact that I wasn’t getting work done? That I hadn’t written a blog post in months? That my side-business was languishing? This insidious disease inside my head found ways to rationalize all of that away day after day.

I don’t know what caused me to finally wake up. But when I did, and when I realized how far I had fallen, it scared the shit out of me. It’s like I fell asleep for two months and woke up on an entirely different continent with no idea how I sleepwalked there.

But I’m back now. That’s the important thing.

To all those relationships I nearly fucked up, thanks for sticking with me.