July 26, 2002 ~ Depression: Mildew Creeping Out
I wanted to update last night, but I didn't know how to say this. I still don't, but I'm going to try.
Years ago, after depression nearly cost me my existence, I vowed to never let it enter my life again. And it hasn't. But, of late, it has crept into my family, which is still my life.
I just got off the phone with Morgan. He's at work today, and it's my day off. But the cable Internet connection went down, and, after resetting the modem and checking a few things with no success, I called him about it for ideas. Normally, this would be a simple little uneventful conversation, but today it consisted of me asking questions and him snapping at me, growing frustrated and angry, and cursing. It wasn't that my questions were unreasonable or that I asked them in anything but a calm, kind voice. His reaction today--rather than being one odd occurrence out of several pleasant ones--is quickly becoming the norm. It has come to the point where I brace myself to get snapped at when I ask of him any question or task.
Not that every moment is like that. We still have wonderful, happy moments every single day. He's still as loving and gentle as ever. It's just that the frequency of his foul tempers are becoming closer and closer together.
So a week or two ago, I emailed Morgan a little questionnaire, asking him to fill it out at his leisure and let me know what the results were. I didn't tell him that it was a test that is widely used by psychologists to determine a person's level of depression. As I suspected, he scored well beyond the "clinically depressed" level, into "severely depressed." Afterwards, I talked to him about his results and what they meant. He agreed that he has developed a problem.
We've weathered some very rough spots before. However, they were usually outside challenges, not something that slowly grew beneath the surface, from one of us, like the mildew on my bedroom window frame that slowly crept out, hinting at the rotten wood beneath the paint. It was unnoticeable at first, but now it is a big black swath against the white.
For me, depression meant withdrawing, becoming quiet, melancholy, deadly calm, and self-abusive. I also buried myself in work. For Morgan it has meant becoming consistently frustrated and snappish, more vocally and loudly angry, and verbally/emotionally abusive to whatever stands in his path. He's lost any and all desire or motivation to work on anything, even those things that he enjoys. The smallest task becomes an impossible obstacle.
I've tried to help. Doing his tasks for him, arranging special surprises and relaxing moments, trying to be a calm, steady, loving presence no matter what. But I realize that my actions don't necessarily matter in this. Bad outside influences can make depression worse, but good outside influences won't necessarily make it better. One thing that I learned from my own depression was that healing comes, at least partially, from one's self, and unless the depressed person is ready and makes a conscious effort, no amount of help from the outside will really change anything.
And Morgan is making a conscious effort. I see him struggle every day with this. It is so very hard to watch.
I feel myself wearing down. Lately, I've been reminded just how much love can hurt. To reach out with good intentions but receive a nasty bite in return... we've all struggled with that, I'm sure. And we have all, probably, at one time or another, given out some pretty painful bites ourselves.
Part of it is that I feel guilty for feeling happy, fulfilled, and successful right now. Everything is going right for me, presently. But Morgan... well, we're not sure exactly what's causing this depression, but we know that it probably has something to do with his feeling directionless. He can't find a permanent job; he's unsure about the future; he doesn't know exactly what he wants to do with his life. He's worried about failure.
I want to help him, to pull him out of this, but I don't know that I can. It's all I can do to be patient, and keep a compassionate viewpoint, rather than biting back. It's always so tempting to bite back.
**Later: Our afternoon and evening together today have been wonderful, calm, relaxing. Not a single outburst. These times, which do still happen frequently, give me hope.
Note: I finally updated the links page with all of the journals that I am currently reading. Do go have a look. There are so many wonderful people on there.
Oh, and (by the way), on Monday morning I am leaving for a week to go to Philadelphia and New York City with Li and Morgan. Updates may not happen, though a notify or two might. I will be able to check my email, but may not have much time to write. (I've never been to the Northeast, and I'm very excited).