As I've written before, my life from childhood onward contained a great deal of depression. I was shy, though I covered it up so well that people didn't believe me when I told them that. I was hypersensitive to teasing and still have a humor deficit about that. In my teens I was socially awkward. Yet I loved to perform - my shyness and awkwardness fell away when I was singing, dancing or acting. And I had one hell of a fantasy life.
As an adult, for many years I was in an unfortunate friendship with a girl who dominated me emotionally. This led to steady depression and even more dependence on fantasies, two of which eventually became the novels I wrote in my 20s. I was five foot ten, bird boned, and weighed just 115 pounds when I won the part of the Fool in King Lear.
That was the start of several years of acting, both professionally and in community theater. It was also the start of the huge romance of my life, for it was during rehearsals for Lear that I met Richard and we fell in love.
My depression mostly lifted through the years he and I were together. We didn't live together because of his snoring (I had a sleep disorder and absolutely could not sleep through the noise). But 11 years after our anniversary of "falling in love," we decided we would get married. We were deliriously happy for a month - and then, suddenly, he died.
I'd been out of counseling for a few years at that time, and soon after his death I started up again. It was hard for a long time to adjust to life without him. My family was very supportive and so were my co-workers (I didn't have a lot of friends outside work).
Over the next 18 months I threw myself into my hobby, gardening and designing gardens, wholeheartedly. I was even offered a job as a designer by a woman who was starting out as a professional landscaper. That made me ecstatic! I wasn't thrilled with my day job any more, and the thought of being able to do something I loved full time was glorious.
Then the woman just stopped calling me. She didn't return my calls. She didn't do anything but send me a monstrously overpriced bill for mulch.
And that is when I crashed. I'd withstood Richard's death, but I couldn't deal with this crushing disappointment - betrayal might be the best word. For the first time my depression became paralyzing. I still went to work - having that structured section of the day made it possible to function there. But once I got home, and on weekends - nothing.
I remember sitting in my chair facing the television, my hands gripping the arm rests, thinking, "I have to get up, I have to do something, I can't just sit here, I HAVE TO GET UP." But I didn't. I just sat there, hour after hour.
Finally my counselor sent me to a doctor, who prescribed Prozac. I wrote about the effects in My Longest Hypomanic Episode.
I still wonder why I survived Richard's death only to crash 18 months later. Someone said it might have been a delayed reaction to his death, brought on by another huge loss, the loss of getting my dream job. (I can tell you that to this day I get angry when I see that woman's name in the gardening magazine she now works for.) Or maybe it was because unlike the period after Richard's death, I really had no support system for the new loss. Even my counselor was in a tough position, because she had introduced me to that woman.
Anyway, that's the whole story. Richard's sudden death undoubtedly played into my eventual breakdown, even though the trigger was something else. I'll always be grateful to Diana, my counselor, for seeing that I'd reached my limit and suggesting I try medication. I don't know where I'd be without it today.
Published On: June 28, 2012
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