Depression is like the terminator, but not the slow and steady Arnold Schwarzenegger version. It’s more like the Robert Patrick design from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, that liquid metal that regroups if blown apart, twists and morphs into various forms in its quest to take you down, and is exceptionally fast, determined, and dangerous. You could be cruising along for weeks thinking that your meds are working (and they are) and then suddenly it’s on you like hot lead, crushing you with sadness. And sometimes you don’t know how it found you or how to take charge and battle it until someone points out the trigger or it’s revealed in therapy. That’s what happened to me over the weekend. I’d had a number of good weeks and then depression was back in all its horrible glory leaving me feeling as if stuffed into a sarcophagus of sadness.
Let’s flip back the calendar.
Months ago my college friends and I decided to get together in Boulder, Colorado to celebrate our 40th birthdays. Excited at first, I soon became agitated and nervous, unsteady and unsure. I began having panic attacks because without warning I WAS the college me, not the 40-year-old me, the boy who felt ditched for alcohol, whose desires felt secondary to his friends’ need to party all the time. I didn’t drink in college. I was too afraid, terrified that by losing control my since-corrected gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) would be exposed. And yet I wound up in a group of heavy drinkers I met Freshman year. It wasn’t all bad, but because I was depressed and frightened I was unable to seek out others who shared my likes: movie nights, baseball, etc. My friends are good guys but acted like college kids since, well, they WERE college kids. They were selfish, sometimes cruelly so, in regards to considering my feelings, and I felt I gave a hell of a lot more than I received. They all apologized over the years and I think it was genuine. I no longer blame them but apparently the kid in me still does. He remains mistrustful, fearful of getting hurt and worried I’d get drowned out like in school and eventually those feelings burst from my chest in anxious breaths and caused my fingers to tremble. Would my friends listen to my wishes to see the natural wonder of Boulder every once in awhile in lieu of getting wasted? Almost all of them are 40 now, but would they, now that they were together in a big group again for the first time in who knows how many years, want to relive their college years? The rational side of my brain said no, that we’d go to a Colorado Rockies game (which I’d requested to do when we first talked about Boulder), that we’d drive around and explore the picturesque town in addition to the expected drinking, that my voice would be heard, but the hurt college kid in me disagreed.I couldn’t commit to the vacation knowing that should I go, I’d (whether wanting to or not) “test” their sincerity. That wouldn’t be fair to them, nor would the fact that they’d have to be on edge around me in case I had a panic attack. So I pulled out of the Colorado adventure.
The reunion happened this past weekend. And that, Elaine pointed out, was the trigger that allowed my terminator to find me.
And so that pulverizing depression as I subconsciously second guessed myself. as I lay in bed completely unable to care for Sienna. According to Elaine, now that I’d “found my tribe” in the dad blogger community and been fully accepted for who and what I am (though I’m still shaky on that), that weekend was like breaking up with the old me and thus I was in some sort of mourning. I think that’s partly true. I think it hurt me that I feel more accepted by the dad blogger community now then I ever did in college, but I also think I was berating myself for not being fair to my college friends, for not trusting them.
Trust is such a tricky thing when you suffer from depression and have been stung as many times as I have over the years. You so want to give it, but you’re scared to. You want to believe, but your irrational mind won’t let you. You want and need almost tangible confirmation, but that’s impossible to get. Your damaged brain won’t let you take that leap of of faith.
Should I have taken a leap of faith with my college friends? Did I blow a chance to have an amazing time with people I haven’t seen in years, friends that might have mellowed from their partying days?
The fog of depression is starting to lift. I look at Sienna and Elaine and know they’re here for me, that they’re the most important things in my life. I also went to a dads’ night out courtesy of the NYC Dads Group and Baby Bjorn at a swanky hotel for the MLB All-Star game and cheered Derek Jeter on during his final appearance. I talked baseball and laughed and received hugs from friends knowing I was going through a rough time, that I was once more suffering depression. I received tons of messages on FB from dad bloggers across the world giving me virtual hugs. And I’m so thankful for that.
But at the same time I wish I’d had the courage to go to Boulder and place my trust in my college friends and I feel haunted knowing I might never again have the opportunity to find out.
Now back to battling my personal terminator.