With dysthymia, you may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. People with dysthymia are often thought of as being overly critical, constantly complaining and incapable of having fun.
While I’ve made this web site mainly technical over the past few years, the domain name is still james.roomfullofmirrors.com (jrfom.com is the short form). If I don’t write about myself at least occasionally, then the domain name means nothing. If that’s not why you read this site, then you may want to skip this post. Also, this post may ramble a bit…
A month ago I went to my doctor for a routine check-up. While there, I asked him how often is it normal for someone to feel depressed. He asked me a series of questions and diagnosed me with dysthymia (now persistent depressive disorder). I had never heard of this disorder before that diagnosis. He prescribed Escitalopram to me, along with some other suggestions, and I’ve been taking it over the past month (starting the full dose every day tomorrow). It is said the drug can take up to six weeks to really take effect, but I feel that it has already made a tremendous difference. So I am writing this post to raise awareness of this disorder, as I think it may be more prevalent than the statistics claim. Everyone has heard of stuff like bipolar disorder, but dysthymia less so.
Of all the definitions I have read for dysthymia, the quote that leads off this post, from mayoclinic.org, strikes me the most. It sums up me in two short sentences. As I described it to my doctor, I have felt, for as long as I can recall, that I have had to fight off these feelings, or try to correct these behaviors, every single day. It got to the point that I was physically exhausted and mentally drained from the struggle, and just could not go on without asking a professional’s opinion. There’s just no way that is how everyone feels all the time.
Prior to this medication, I had reached the point where I did not care about a single thing. I went through my daily motions just to keep on existing, and no amount of distractions (“toys” as I’ve called them, e.g. video games or synthesizers) helped to pull me out. For example, I’d sit at work, pushing myself to do whatever needed to be done there, and daydream about going home and working on music. But by the time I got home, laying on the couch and watching pointless television until time to go to bed was way more appealing.
Occasionally I would succeed in working on music. And I think you can hear the dysthymia in my music; particularly in my most recent releases. It doesn’t matter if the songs are in a Major key, they all have some tinge of, erm, darkness to them. Truly, that’s the style of music I enjoy the most, but have I found the reason? I don’t know the answer to that yet.
But now that I’m on the medication, it’s like a different world. I feel, for lack of a better word, normal. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily happy, I’m not, really. That’s not what the medication is supposed to do. But I do feel more eager to do things (whether I do them or not; laziness is laziness), and have been much more productive than I have been in a long time. Before, I felt like there was a seething rage just barely contained that would unleash itself with little prompting. Now, that is gone; it’s inexplicable other to say that it’s just “gone.” Yes, I get agitated and a little angry still, but nothing like before. It has been a part of me for so long I think I almost miss it, but not really. It was the most draining part, and the part that hurt my personal relationships the most.
I’m scheduled to visit my doctor for a follow-up in three and a half weeks. Maybe the medication will have other effects by then. Or maybe he’ll ask me to try something different. I don’t know. I just know that right now, today, I feel like a corner has been turned. I feel like I can advance, and that I’m not stuck in a swamp of sadness; the luck dragon has descended and snatched me up.
If any of this post resonates with you, either personally or by reminding you of someone you know, I urge you to ask a professional about it (or urge that someone you know to do so). Living with persistent depressive disorder, if that is indeed what I have (and I do believe that to be the case), is an awful way to live.