2016: You’re the Worst

One of the things I like about the FXX TV show You’re the Worst is Gretchen’s constant reminder to the other characters that depression is a viable illness, that depression is a legitimate problem that deserves respect and understanding, and that isn’t something you can just ignore.

From Libby Hill:

“At its heart, what You’re the Worst understands that most shows, most individuals, don’t, is that clinical depression often functions as a sine wave. There are good times, times when you’re as close to normal as you ever manage, times where it feels like you’re finally free of the shadow of illness that stalks your every move, and you hope those days last forever. But nothing gold can stay and soon you’re suffused with darkness again.”

2016 has been a brutal year for many of us. Of course, there are some neo-Nazi conservatives who are enthusiastic about current trends in American politics, but for many people, 2016 has been a year in which they have been reminded, over and over, that they don’t matter. Women don’t matter, democrats don’t matter, gays don’t matter, Jews don’t matter, blacks don’t matter — it’s an infinite list. Just fill in the blank and feel hopeless and degraded.

Sure, the election may have been hacked. Sure, the combined efforts of James Comey and Vlad Putin may have handed the election over to a man with zero political experience. Sure, the results of the election may prove disastrous to the environment, as well as all those who don’t matter (see above), but none of those factors appear to merit a genuine recount effort, much less a redo of the whole voting thing, which reinforces the feeling that those who don’t matter really don’t matter.

2012 was another nightmare year for me, but it pales in comparison to the last few months of 2016. In September of this year, I unexpectedly lost my beloved dog Miles, a beautiful furry creature who was my soulmate in everything, and who should have lived for at least another five to seven years. Instead, within a matter of two days, I lost him to a sudden autoimmune condition which flared up out of nowhere, for reasons no one can decipher. Just like that, he was gone. The shock made his absence 1000000x worse. And now I have to figure out how to make life matter in a world in which he doesn’t exist.

Then, in November, the America so many of us believed in was also gone, replaced by some hideous monster no one wanted to admit had been lurking under the bed.

The combination of those two things has left me unable to write anything for this blog. The combination of those two things has left me unable to do most things–and certainly not articulating a thought or doing anything that required concerted effort. Getting out of bed and putting on shoes feels like a significant accomplishment. Making it through a class required superhuman strength. I would negotiate, telling myself that if I just managed to do X and Y, I didn’t have to leave the house the rest of the day. If I managed to go to work, to teach, to grade, I didn’t have to talk to people more than absolutely necessary. I spent many days in tears or fighting them back.

Depression is a real physical thing. It is a dark cloud that hangs above your head and weighs down your appendages and makes even the most mundane task feel equivalent to running a marathon. No, I cannot pick up the phone to call you. I cannot talk to anyone today. And maybe going to the gym is all I can really get done.

I tried Wellbutrin. It was a bit of a production because I had to go off my Lexapro first, and then I had to start on a low dose–since Wellbutrin can trigger anxiety–before gradually working myself up to the maximum allowed dose. Two things: one, my anxiety is so far superseded by the depression that the anxiety is barely an issue anymore (silver lining?); two, Wellbutrin does nothing for me, even at the higher dose. I was no better on it than before.

And so I went off Wellbutrin and started a new antidepressant. I’m on Amitriptyline now. One plus is that I was on a low dose of it already, because it’s good for chronic pain (silver lining?), and my chronic pain does seem to be even lower with this increased dose. Unfortunately,Amitriptyline also makes me really sleepy. At the moment, I’m averaging 10-11 hours of sleep a night. That’s not always conducive to a graduate student schedule, much less that of a working adult, but I’m managing as best I can and hoping it will settle with time. Luckily, I haven’t had a social life since September, for reasons outlined above, so that makes the excessive need for sleep more feasible.

Anyway, all this is to say, this is where I’ve been, why my blog has been so silent, and also to say, fuck you 2016.

Good luck to us all in 2017, and may we not be blown up in a nuclear apocalypse. Happy holidays and happy new year (please).

Please give someone a hug for me. Bonus points if they are small and furry.

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