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August 27th, 2015

The First Time

Due to going through a depressive episode now, I've been thinking about the first time I ever experienced chemical depression. I remember it very clearly, because it was so unlike anything else I'd ever felt. I was seventeen. I had just survived several terrible years at a school where other students told me daily how ugly, stupid, and worthless I was, but that didn't make me depressed. It made me feel bad, but that unhappiness had a clear cause and a foreseeable end. At seventeen, I had a group of good friends, a boyfriend, and a bunch of projects I was excited about. Things were better than they'd been in years, but every day I seemed to care a little less. Also, it seemed that nobody would help me. The sum total of my boyfriend's advice was "I think you need to get your shit together," but he lived three hours away and was never a big help with anything. When I tried to talk to my friends, they told me to talk to my other friends. Sometimes they said this while physically backing away from me, as if depression were catching (and I guess it may be, especially among teenagers). They still liked me all right at other times, but the moment I tried to tell them how bad I felt for no discernible reason and how scary that was, the conversation was over. I can't blame them; they were just kids trying to figure out their own scary new feelings. My mother sent me to a psychologist who said she would hospitalize me if I kept doing self-destructive things, so I stopped telling her about the self-destructive things I did, but I didn't stop doing them.

Eventually I left school, got more serious about writing, got a better boyfriend, and pulled myself out of that first episode, but depression is something I've struggled with ever since. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes not. Testosterone has helped more than any psychiatric drug, but it is far from a magic bullet, especially when situational factors (poverty, my mom's illness, the hype surrounding the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina) intrude. Right now I should be lighting candles for my clients. Over the past eighteen months, I've built my candle-and-root business out of nothing into a going concern. I'm proud of it and don't want to screw it up, and I don't want to disappoint my clients. But the principle behind setting lights is sympathetic magic, and I worry that depression will contaminate my candles. If I can't get rid of the depression, I need to learn to build barriers to keep that from happening.

I can't see myself starting to keep a regular blog again, at least not at the moment, but I wanted to put this somewhere I could keep track of it. Mostly I like the ephemerality of Facebook, but once in a great while I still want to point to something and say, "Here's what I think about this."

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