The tired, old “Webster’s dictionary defines such and such as …” is such a cliché that I can’t believe people use it anymore. It is such a cliché, in fact, that my using it right now is going to be retro-cool! Like a man-bun or a Millenial wearing a fedora. And I got my definition from Google, not Webster’s, like the kids do.
Recently joining a Facebook TBI group has been a mixed bag. I have some experience with 14 years living with a TBI and almost 7 as recovering alcoholic, so emotional maintenance and regulation is by now old hat for me. I try to assure some members that suffered their TBI very recently that this journey, this saga, this Homeric odyssey (see what I did there?) is a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to allow yourself months and years and decades to adjust to this new normal. Well, Homer’s Jupiter must have been watching me and decided that I needed to be taken down a couple pegs because in rapid succession, he (or is it He? Not to be confused with Him , but do you capitalize a pronoun to apply to a Roman god [or is it God?] or is that a grammatical trope reserved for the Judeo-Christian God [I have to capitalize that “God” because I was raised Catholic and my father occasional reads this blog and Da didn’t raise no fools]) dealt me a 1-2 punch of emotional fragility that I could only ride out like Dorothy’s tornado.
Except this wasn’t a tornado. It was a cyclone, and the Google definition of cyclone (I didn’t lose you I hope) is “a system of winds rotating inward to an area of low atmospheric pressure; a depression”
It’s right there in the definition: a depression. I have been on an SNRI for a couple months now and it seems to be helping with the aftermath of my ex-girlfriend dumping me and me having to go on the family dole until I get some financial quagmires resolved in order to pay for a new apartment on my own and the 4 grand of expenses that go along with moving into a new apartment. But the first month went relatively well. Moving sucks and I hope to never, ever have to do it again because I’m not 23 years old but 43 years old and geographic mobility is pretty low on my list of priorities right now. But I worked out a custody agreement with my ex over the Golden Retriever we got as a puppy together. I originally wanted to give him away to a family of our choosing via some websites I had found but she wasn’t having it. After recalling all the research I’ve read that says people who live alone are much happier if they have a pet, and my new place and my stack of duckets not being big enough to get the Russian Tortoise I have wanted for years, I acquiesced after a couple weeks. Prudent move on my part, especially given incidents like the ones I’m going to tell you about.
In the interests of brevity, I’m gonna post the Facebook post I shared in the new TBI group. Here it is:
Hi all. So I have something I need to vent about and then I have a question about depression and anti-depressants.
I had a really hard week, and for reasons that *were not* as a bad as I took them. Sunday I went out on a date with a woman I met online and it was just kind of a blah date. Don’t get me wrong, it was a pleasant conversation and of course we both did the “we should do this again” thing before we parted company. Then she texted me 2 days later and said she enjoyed meeting me but that we weren’t compatible but she was sure I would meet that ”special someone” (word of advice: Don’t ever use that phrase if you’re trying to give someone the brush off. Ugh) Relieved, I texted her back and said I agreed with her, there just wasn’t a spark there and to take care. She then texts me *crucifying* me for *everything* from my dress to my conversation skills to my teeth (!) and she wasn’t interested in hearing any reply beacuse she wouldn’t read it as I would just be defensive and combative. So, me being me, I replied a very snide, snarky reply and then hardly slept that night. Then I broke down in the supply closet at work, doubled over in tears, the next day because of the things she had said to me. I mean most people would just shrug it off, right? Then I spoke to a resident at the facility and she assured me that it wasn’t me and given what I had told her (which was nearly everything about this brief romance) that it sounded like this woman might be more than a little unstable and I should be thankful I dodged that bullet. Suddently, I was perfectly okay again.
Until last night when I had an epiphany. I have lived alone many times in my life and never had an issue with it. The reason why I never had an issue with it is because I was a drunk and the bottle was a great roommate. Now, with almost 7 years sober under my belt, it occurred to me yesterday afternoon that the reason I was dreading being home alone was because the loneliness, the hulking black elephant of loneliness I knew was coming. So, instead I went to an AA meeting, only I got there 30 minutes early and the other person at the meeting house said the meeting would most likely be canceled anyway for a reason I won’t go into. So, after determining that there were no other meetings in town I could get to last night, once again, I broke down into uncontrollable crying for 10 minutes. Luckily, my parents lived in the same neighborhood so I went over there and they talked me off the ledge.
I take Cymbalta for mild depression, but this wasn’t mild. This was a lot worse over 2 things that were not a big deal! I hate taking an anti-depressant in the first place but most of the time, it seems to work.
I guess my question is how prevalant is depression among TBI survivors? My TBI was 13 years ago for God’s sake. Why did I get so upset over 2 things that were pretty minor, all things considered? Should I up my dosage? Try something else? Like I said, I hate taking “happy pills” but they do seem to make a difference, just not in these 2 instances.
Ugh. Okay, end of rant. Carry on.
Now, this is a closed group on Facebook, meaning outsiders don’t get to see what members post. But suffice to say that everyone in the group was so supportive and understanding and it was truly an occasion of overwhelming humility for me. Not just because of the meat grinder that this woman put my ego through. Not just because of warm blanket of inclusion I felt in getting support from total strangers (a phenomenon I have felt before on Facebook) This was different. This had the exact same feeling as walking into an AA meeting. Suddenly and overwhelmingly, I felt these people got it. Got me. All the haughty, slightly-overconfident self- assurance I’ve enjoyed lately because of my choice to work with other TBI and spinal cord injury survivors was thankfully shattered into a million pieces. At the same time, I have been overwhelmed with the sense of duty and obligation I feel towards other TBI survivors to get my new blog up and running because I want to provide my community of recovering alcoholics and TBI survivors with a completely informal, working-man’s sort of sanctuary they can go to and share in the lessons I have learned in my journeys and share their own. I want an interactive element on the new site other like comments and probably a Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/LinkedIn element where my fellow alcohlics an TBI survivors can interact with each other safely and free of judgement.
In keeping with the new normal way of doing things I have adopted in sobriety, I am choosing the positive spin on these episodes and soldiering on. I really hope some of you, dear readers, come with me.