Saturday, September 04, 2010


What the fuck is the matter with me?

It's a pattern. I see it. I just can't seem to stop it. If I take the drugs that keep the black dogs away, it's like I lose so much else that matters to me. I can't write when I am anesthetized, I can't taste food. Can't find anything all that funny to laugh about or feel much of anything except a dull sameness. It's like...I'm neither here nor there when I take the drugs.

If I don't take the drugs, I feel my life, but then, yes...the black dogs come loping in at intervals. They stretch out and walk with me everywhere, looking up at me, not wanting to hurt me, not protecting me from anything, just...there with me. And I go into this dark place where I feel awful and can function, but just barely. Bing takes the brunt of those dogs and I know she worries, hates the whole thing. She pleads with me to take the drugs to keep them away not realizing that when I take those drugs, I lose the real me.

I long ago noticed a pattern. It all started with the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. When it is in remission, all is fine. I am alert and happy, goony birdy and sometimes silly, sometimes serious, sometimes strong, but always there. Then the RA flares and everything hurts. For days, I can barely walk without a cane. My joints swell.

It eventually recedes and I breathe a deep aching breath of relief. And then...I will be sitting happily reading a book, writing a report, or even just washing a pan in the sink and I will see them.

The black dogs. The depression.

They lope towards me, sometimes stopping and in my head, I am willing them to back off, go away. Sometimes it works and they go away, looking balefully over their shoulders at me. Other times, it doesn't work and they come closer and I can't back away really. No place to hide.

Best to just let them come in and be with me.

I see the ache in Bing's eyes. She sees them coming through me. She reaches for my hand. Tells me that yes, she is right here. It will be fine. Just relax. She has things covered. Just come back. Please come back soon.

Part of me wants someone to shake me good and hard and tell me to just snap out of it. Another part of me begs for someone to just tuck me in and then get in with me and hold me, hold me, hold me until it is over.

I can't take the drugs to keep them away so must endure their presence.

I function. I go to work. I take care of my child. I am fairly good at acting out my life. Except with Bing. She knows me well and knows that all my strength is going to parent Liv properly. There is not much left for her and she accepts this, waits it out. But her eyes watch me. She worries that one day I won't come back.

I always come back. But, it takes time. And in the meantime, I am no picnic. Sorry. So sorry.

Thank you for staying, baby.


Rebecca said...

Sending you love, and this:

Anonymous said...

I live with those black dogs as well. I take only a quarter dose of my anti depressant, anymore and I can't stand the side effects. Usually the quarter dose works pretty good but sometimes it fails as well. Exercise works the best for me, hard exercise that pushes me to the point of exhaustion but you can't really do that with RA. Maybe just try a lower dose.

Otherwise, just sending a hug. I know from whence you come woman.

C said...

i feel badly for you maria... RA is a fucking suffering illness. i have it too but the fibromyalga is worse. have you ever looked into IV infusion of Remecaid? i know some people who do it and it has helped them alot. jus' saying..

bing loves you the way you are. diane puts up with alot of shit from me due to my never ending illnesses.. and yeah i feel really bad that she has to take care of me so often, but you and i would both do it for them, because we love them. try to think of it that way.. it helps me with the guilts and the anger and frustration about it. the thing is, you cant help it. and bing would rather be with you as you are, than without you at all. well thats what diane says but i bet bing would say that too.
so dont be so hard on yourself.. honey, your'e doing your best. maybe some of your meds need to be switched to avoid the side effects you speak of.


happy labor day weekend- 3 days off yeahhhhh

lyon de clarasvals said...

Hang in there Maria. Easy to say I know. A light steady exercise is the one thing that helps me. Pain or lots of sweat and those endorphins kick in then drop down hard.

Laurie said...

Hi, Maria. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been enjoying reading it. Wanted to comment because this topic hits close to home. I've been on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds for about a year now. I avoided them for as long as I could, but it was getting to be more than I could handle. They seem to work, but sometimes I wonder. Do you think your dosage may be too high?

Anyway, just wanted to let you know you're not alone. My gf doesn't know how to deal with my emotions when I'm down so I'm glad to hear your sweetie is supportive of you during these times.

Anonymous said...

the black dogs are everywhere. just take care of you, ok? ~

Katherine Van Leeuwen, Adult Services Librarian said...

Just hoping for better drugs to come along down the one should have to deal with this darkness. In the meantime,sending good vibes your way.

Velvet Sacks said...

Sending you hugs and wishing you better days soon. I've always told my daughters that the best thing about growing older is that you know you can get through difficult times because you've experienced getting through them in the past. It's when we're very young that we think the dark times will destroy us.

John Gray said...

Hummmm being told that this is all pretty normal.......DOSNT HELP MUCH does it.. but as a psychiatric nurse for many years This cycle of up down and darkness IS normal....
ride it out..... butyoudont need my advice to do that


LL Cool Joe said...

I think we've all taken a stroll with those black dogs.

Thinking of you.

Texan said...

Hope the black dogs retreat quickly for you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The first reference to the black dogs I ever heard was a Winston Churchill quote, although I was familiar with the concept. You would think someone would have come up with medications that don't have that leveling effect by now. I hope you're able to drive the nasty critters away soon.

I also want to thank you for mentioning Joshilyn Jackson in a previous post. I raced through "Backseat Saints" and then wolfed down "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming" and "Gods in Alabama." (Great title.) Now I'm waiting for the library to get me "Between, Georgia." I was unfamiliar with her work but she's wonderful!

Feel better soon, Maria! You are treasured by many.

MmeBenaut said...

Perhaps the depression is linked with the episodes of RA. Hell, that is enough to make you feel totally depressed, as well as dependent, when you have managed on your own so well all summer. The sheer helplessness that I suffer sometimes when I can't walk or I have irritated my back so that I exacerbate the nerve pain makes a slide down that slippery slope almost inevitable. So, I suspect we suffer the same. As you know though, I DO take my meds; this week my doctor suggested I increase the dose which I've done. Having endogenous clinical depression doesn't mean I can't function either; I manage but all the joy of living disappears for me too. I honestly don't know how you get by without any meds Maria. It must be really, really tough. Anyway, my heart is with you dear woman. And Bing is an angel for caring for you when you're so down like this. Hugs from across the Pacific xx

Trop said...

Hang in there sister. I really get what you are describing here, because it is a cycle I'm on.

I quit taking antidepressants after being on them 14 years. They just weren't working all that well for me and I felt like the things I lost by taking them were too dear not to have. So I quit.

It was like when Dorothy's house landed and she walked away from the drab sepia of her Kansas life to the vibrant technicolor over the rainbow. I felt emotions and feelings I hadn't felt in a long time. Elation! Excitement! Color! Energy! Passion!

The depression is there of course. And some days I'm a basket case. But those days are, luckily, outnumbered by good ones.

My wife understands. She knows she can't fix it, so she doesn't try. She knows nothing happened to set me off, so she doesn't go seeking a cause. She never makes it about her. She gets that depression just is. She's the only one I let see it in it's fullness. It's liberating not to have to shield her from it.

Anyway, I hope your good days far out-number your bad ones.

I have to work hard to keep the black dogs away. Mostly this is a mind-game thing... sort of like the way John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) learned to live with and ignore his delusions. I have learned to ignore the negative and self-defeating thoughts brought on by my depression. I avoid negative things (like my mother, who is negative about everything lately).

I have also found that a megadose of vitamin D makes big difference.

Your strength and resolve are an inspiration for us all.

zirelda said...

Better the dogs than drugs.

I would think so too.

Miss Healthypants said...

I'm so sorry, Maria--I'm sending positive vibes your way...take care of yourself...

Sarah said...

I am a regular lurker on your blog Maria, though I rarely comment. You have such a wonderful way with words.

I hope that the dogs soon depart, I know the feeling. Sometimes telling myself it will soon be over helps, sometimes it doesn't.

As someone with a partner who is regularly depressed, I wonder if Bing (or your readers) have any tips on how not to take it personally. I find it very hard to remind myself that it isn't my fault and that it will pass, because what if it doesn't? I also find it hard to not let it make me down as well.