Everyone has heard of Depression. Because it sucks. And you've been there. And its a hole that you can maybe climb out of yourself or maybe with a hand up or maybe not depending on how deep and pervasive and chemical or situational... and hereditary. Still. We all know it. Familiar.
Everyone has heard of Mania. Because of celebrities and movies and sensationalization. The idea of endless energy and hallucinations and megalomania. Psychotic symptoms. Fascinating. Exotic. Unreal. But in reality far less exotic and much more nuanced than the tabloids would have you believe. Still we have heard of mania. And can recognize its more extreme expressions.
But Euthymia sounds mythical. Like the bright side of the world in a dystopian young adult novel. Leave your drudgery behind and cross under the river of skulls through the secret tunnel that leads you to the land of Euthymia. And it feels mythic. And no one has ever heard of it. Because it's maybe all a lie.
Euthymia is the magical Stable Mood State in which you are not Depressed or Hypomanic or Manic. You just are. Free to be happy or sad or angry or any of the other many colored emotions. But you aren't stuck in some stoopid bipolar state. Again the Dystopian novel. The Bipolar State of Hypomania. I could be the head of state. Ha.
Not to be confused with Euthemia who was a nymph struck down by Artemis's arrows after she no longer worshiped the goddess. I guess she was taken down to Hades by Persephone while still alive. Where presumably she was no longer euthymic.
I think I have had large stretches of euthymia. Really. But not lately. Not since probably long before I decided to stop being Depressed when I started this blog in May of 2013.
But there were long stretches of Depression I know. On and off medication.
I did have at least one crying jag while teaching prior to 2002. No kids yet. No antidepressants since 1990. My teacher friends sent me home. Debating about whether they should call Spouse. Or if one of them should go home with me. But there didn't really seem any danger. Just that I couldn't stop crying. I went home.
It was after that incident that I called to get back on anti-depressants. I remember the feeling of holding the phone in my hand and which way I was facing. It was my friend's room at school. I called after the kids left for the day. And I talked to the OFP to see if she could recommend a good Adult Therapist who could help me with my Depression.
And she said that I had responded so well to medication before that it was possible I just needed to get back on meds.
The first time I was on them it was of relatively (ridiculously) short duration. It is possible that I was only on antidepressants for a month during my senior year of high school.
I remember that I ran out while in China because I forgot to refill my prescription. And I wisely halved my pills and tapered down my dosage and was Just Fine for a long time. I think. Kind of. Anyway I was not debilitatingly Depressed anymore. I could think. And smile. And record long-term memories.
In college I went to see a therapist a few times when it seemed like maybe my Depression symptoms were coming back. Or maybe it was because I was using some eating disorder tricks to deal with my anxiety. Or maybe it's because a friend told me she was suicidal. I don't remember. I just remember that I didn't connect with her very much and when I tried to explain things I always felt like I was doing it wrong.
And it was my friends then who got me through things. I have amazing friends. I know how to pick them, you see. And even if they might not feel like they are that close to me, they... are. They just are. And when I am stressed but not too down I can remember conversations and interactions and little life-saving moments given to me by these friends. And they are still here for me.
When I am Down, truly Down, they could all be lined up true to life in my living room to tell me how awesome I am and I would just call down curses on their heads. And call them liars. And charlatans. And fools.
When I am Up, I would whirl through these gathered friends and laugh with them and make plans to do a thousand things and forget that I made the plans because I had already been sucked into another thousand things and then I couldn't see them at all because some infinitesimal speck of nonsense suddenly consumed me. Something unimportant in the grand scheme of things but to me Utterly Crucial and Must Be Done Now. By Me. NOW NOW NOW.
When I was Depressed before children I thought about running away. Or running off with someone. Someone who wasn't Spouse. Idle thoughts. Because I was in pain and these were drastic changes that might change things. But these were not real thoughts and I knew that. They are the same as my intoxication thoughts now. I know these choices would bring more pain in the end. Better to just stay in the mess I'm in than borrow more trouble.
Quaker, teacher, parent,