I am very reluctant to write about this. In fact, even as I write, I'm not sure that I will be able to post this screed, as I suspect that most people probably aren't comfortable hearing about this sort of thing. Certainly I'm not terribly comfortable writing about it. But for whatever reason – perhaps someone else out there is feeling what I've felt and could benefit from this – I want to get it on paper. So here goes:
A friend and I have joked over the years about "Scandinavian angst," which I took as nothing more than an odd, unfunny joke about, or rather on, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian folk. But I also knew that there was something there, something I've felt, and that my father certainly felt, even though he wouldn't have recognized it as such.
In my dad's case, Laura and I thought that probably he suffered from depression. My mom thought so too. He was completely joyless, played solitaire all day when he wasn't napping, and generally lived an unpleasant last decade of his life.
For the last couple of years I've realized that I've become very like my dad. I have been taking no joy in the things I used to love to do. I napped frequently, my diet was out of control, I sought home and privacy rather than being with people, I questioned my ability and my worth as a journalist and my limited ability as a musician, and I couldn't make myself do things I knew I needed to do.
For example, I went to a medical appointment for something important and was given a prescription I badly needed. But I couldn't make myself go to have it filled. Came straight home instead, the only place I could bring myself to go, the place I needed to go. It wasn't that I didn't want to go for those meds; it was that I couldn't go. Laura went and got them for me the next day.
Clearly, something was amiss.
I was troubled by what was happening, or not happening, and at the end of the day, I didn't want my behavior to be like my dad's – no offense to him, he had many admirable qualities. But he missed a lot of life's joy and for me, this would be unacceptable.
So I went to my doc and reported what was going on.
He asked a number of questions and then said, "Jon, those are the symptoms of depression."
He wrote me a prescription for a substance that increases the production of certain chemicals in one's brain that help produce a feeling of well-being. Trolling the Web for information suggests that science isn't exactly sure how/why the stuff works.
I came straight home from that appointment. Again, I could not bring myself to head to the pharmacy; just couldn't do it. Had it filled the next day.
But once I got my hands on the stuff? It seems to work, in a subtle sort of way. I don't know how much of an impact it is supposed to have, or whether my doc will adjust the dosage. These are things I will learn down the road. It's early days, in other words. But there is progress; it seems to be having an impact on the way I live life. I guess we shall see.
So, depression, the black dog, Scandinavian angst, whatever you want to call it, apparently there are effective treatments. I'm hoping that over time, mine continues to be effective.