Dec 29, 2013

My Triumvariate Balancing Act While Floating in the Ocean of Depression (2013 - a Year in Review)

Exactly 365 days back, I was happy - or I felt that I was. I was in the initial stages of a promising relationship, life was good, and I was under therapy. I thought I had everything under control. Finally, it was time to see whether I was dependent on my pharmacotherapeutical crutch.

Prompted by my shrink, under the umbrella of my "real" first short-distance long-term relationship, I decided to take the chance. Under the shrink's guidance, I tapered myself off of medications, with almost total compliance. Things seemed okay. The relationship, thanks to its realness and rawness, was giving me a lot of scope to test my endurance and limits. So was work, with the management at my office seemingly destined to stretch the employees to their physical and mental limits. In such phases, I get into the mode of trying to better myself, and I pushed myself harder. I thought I was doing well, coping enough to hang on to my biochemical mileu by very shaky threads.

In tandem, something else was happening. Under the pretence of the need for "space" in the relationship, whic was triggered by the frequent arguments, fights, six or seven 'almost-break up's, I started spending more time by myself, with my guitars in my apartment.  This, not too surprisingly, resulted in a rejuvenated phase of songwriting, thanks a lot to the freshness added by my new partner in musical crime.

This was the silver phase of an otherwise gray 2013, during which time I had the cushion of the remnant unmetabolized/uneliminated drugs in my body, along with a relatively acquiescent phase in the relationship. It lasted for a few weeks, two months at the maximum, after which the monster was unleashed. The feelings reminiscent of childhood and adolescence were back - fear, apprehension, exaggerated startle response, insecurities, self-loathing, self-esteem issues, excessive tendency to punish myself, self-blame, almost-delusions. So were behaviors, including anger management issues, rage, raising voice, and abnormal conversational mode. All this was made worse by the incredibly long hours at work daily, which seemed to get worse as the year progressed.

Around my birthday on the 7th of November, a series of events led me to my first real nadir of depression in about 18 months, driving me to consider whether it was worth living while being miserable and causing others to suffer. On a Saturday night, when almost everything around me, and everyone who I was communicating with, seemingly suggested that I was a worthless piece of shit, I decided to call up and check with the only person that I thought I could trust – Vinokur.

Of course, he was not aware of what was going on. But thankfully, I got the answer. That gave me the validation that I required. Within 12 hours, thanks to the persistence of my boyfriend, I visited the shrink and I was put on temporary medication. I went on to undergo a comprehensive psychological test, the results of which suggested a plethora of psychological issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, childhood abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety-related, and stress-related issues. In a blood test, I was found to have Vit D deficiency and hyperlipidemia, and an ultrasound of the abdomen revealed fatty liver.

At the moment, the shrink and I are planning on a comprehensive treatment plan, including behavioral therapy, meditation, counseling, and pharmacotherapy. In addition, I am in the process of consulting a physician for the management of hyperlipidemia and fatty liver. As I write this post, I am in the middle of my first real vacation after February this year. I am at Meherabad (off of Ahmednagar, approximately 6 hours from Mumbai) with Jay, after having invited by my friend Billiards. The calm and quiet of Meherabad along with the lack of work-related stress has been working for me, reinforcing my views that the countryside may be the long-term solution to my depression. Anyway, I hope this will mark a period of gradual improvement.

Plus, I realize that the pharmacotherapy, which gave me a very "feel good" period from mid-2012 to mid-2013, had handed me a very unproductive, in fact, disastrous, phase as a musician. I regret that it took so long for me to realize what was happening. In the last few months, I have tried my best to reinstate my career as a musician. Although the addition of rehearsals and related affairs add to the stress in general, there is no way but try to ensure that I follow the path that gives me most creative pleasure and satisfaction.

Here's to a very productive 2014, when I must juggle the three repsonsibilities - work, music, and relationship - while ensuring that I cope with my depression.

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