Diagnosis

Major Depressive Disorder, recurrent, moderate severity.

Panic Disorder, recent exacerbation.

Approximately 3–4 months before returning to work, to be reassessed.

Symptoms:
Increased anxiety, decreased concentration, decreased attention, decreased motivation, fatigue,  anhedonia,  decreased interest.

Treatment:

  • Individual therapy with psychologist in  community (recommended)
  • CMHA support group
  • Increase Sertraline to 200 mg per day
  • Increased Seroquel to 75 mg per day

Reassessment: Monday, 20 August 2007.

Attack!

Panic attack that is. Like the one I experienced this afternoon at the grocery store. It’s getting to be a trend that I’m not particularly happy with, but I don’t know how to make them stop.

They sound awful and they feel awful—like someone is reaching into my chest and squeezing my heart. Things look, unfamiliar. But if you saw me having one, you probably wouldn’t know. I can stay very contained in spite of great turmoil going on inside, probably a result of sitting. Zazen has taught me that these storms of thought and emotion do not require the active participation of my body. I can sit perfectly still while it swirls around me. I can also keep pushing a shopping cart while reminding myself to breath and focusing on the next item on the list.

Today, someone might have noticed that I was white-knuckling the shopping cart handle. I had to remind myself a number of times to relax my grip. The other thing one may have noticed is that I took an Ativan. It helps ease the pain and grip of the panic attack. I finished shopping, chatted with the friendly cashier, drove home, put away the groceries, then I laid down and slept for a couple of hours. It’s amazing how much energy and effort was needed for that shopping trip.

After I woke up, still feeling a bit shaky but no longer in an active panic attack, I made a very tasty beef and green bean stir-fry for dinner. Yay me.

But now I’m going to tuck myself into bed for a good night’s sleep. I’m still worn out from today’s events.

Note that while I am worn out, I am not freaked out. I’m okay with all of this in a way that I haven’t been before. It is what it is and I’m dealing with it. It’s not great but it’s not the end of the world either. Not freaked out is a good state. I like it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

No, it’s not another review. Suffice it to say I enjoyed it. I picked up a copy yesterday afternoon, around 2 pm. I finished at 10:30 pm today. Yeah, I read quickly. Okay, 607 pages in about 24 hours, with cooking and dishes, and sleep, and taking a child to school, and, oh yeah, helping a friend with her wedding website. I’m even impressed with myself.

At this stage of the game, I’m trying not to be distracted by the strangeness of the feeling: pride. Not much that I’ve been proud of in myself lately. So, as silly as it may be, I think I’m feeling proud of myself, in an odd kind of way. Reading is something I do really, really well. Now, how can I get paid for it? Universe?

I have a mixture of feelings right now. For the last day or so, I have been immersed in the magical war between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. I emerge refreshed, like someone having a long, cool drink after weeks and months of drought. Between that and actually being useful to someone other than myself and my immediate family (see reference to website above), I’m actually feeling good. Yay!

I’m trying to extract some understanding from the process. I understand why I feel good about the website—I’m helping someone I care about very much, just giving and being helpful to someone else is a good charm against depression. But why does immersing myself in a fat book full of fantasy, magic, drama, and death make me feel better?

It’s not like it’s the first time. The magical world has held me in good stead for many years: The Chronicles of Narnia were first, followed not long thereafter by The Hobbit and then the full Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Dune series, as well as the Foundation series made their marks as well. These stories are deeply spiritual and renewing and they have given me hope when nothing else seemed able to reach my heart and move it. Truly a testament to the amazing power of words.

What do these words say? In the face of great evil, there is always hope. Not even death conquers hope on these pages and that truth leaps from the pages and becomes a beacon for my heart.

No, there are no evil wizards gunning for my blood. Nothing but the heartless grind of an illness that causes me to forget how to feel, to lose touch with what makes me human. I have a debt of gratitude to these authors for their words. Like a magic talisman that opens at the hour of greatest need, these stories have cast a spell of healing and given the gift of hope.

To someone with depression, there is no greater gift than hope. Hope and the knowledge that this disease is not me, not who I really am. I am profoundly grateful to these teachers. Thank you.

What is it?

What is it that helps you to love, to be real, to be free?
What is it that helps you to awake from the slumber of your conditioning?
What is it in your life that helps you to re-member truth?
—Robert Holden from “Happiness Now!”

If you listen to, if you listen to the water
You will hear the sound, you will hear the sound of life
—Traffic, “Hidden Treasure” from the album “The Low Spark of High-heel Boys”

Music, poetry, sitting, zen, caring for my home, caring for myself, reading, writing, learning to relax and just be.

Fortunately, my psychiatrist agrees that a short-term medical leave from work is needed to help be regain that equilibrium, that ability to deal with life that I seem to have lost lately. The key is to be gentle with myself.

Everything old is true again

All that you touch
and all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
and all that you love
and all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
and all that you give
and all that you deal
and all that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
and all you create
and all you destroy
and all that you do
and all that you say.
and all that you eat
And everyone you meet
and all that you slight
And everyone you fight.
and all that is now
and all that is gone
and all that’s to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

“There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.”


© Copyright [a long time ago] Pink Floyd, from the album “Dark Side of the Moon”