more on Ed

Thanks, everyone, for the supportive comments. I'm feeling better now, six+ hours later. Coffee and a change of scenery helped me focus and actually get some work done.

I'm still figuring out what it means to identify myself as someone with depression -- it was actually a big deal for me to write the last post. I've been depressed probably most of my life, at one level or another (like most of the intellectual types I know). It's better in my 30s than in my 20s, and certainly better than my teens. But overall I'm mostly pretty high-functioning. And also fairly good at concealing it from anyone outside my closest circle.

I did a couple of years in therapy with good results maybe 4-5 years ago, when I was mostly concerned with relationship issues and their connection to my past. Good work in therapy and then entering into a healthy, supportive relationship really kept me on a more even keel for a while. Then over the past year and a half, I experienced a number of significant traumas/stressful situations involving me or my immediate family (illness, accidental injury, cancer), plus a death in my birth family and many related family difficulties. And of course I was undergoing tenure review all of last year, which in itself bumps you to the top of the stress chart. Somehow I muddled through the academic year. And then, the summer arrived, and my mind and body finally had time to deal with all that stuff. It hasn't been pretty.

I started back with seeing Dr Shrinky maybe 4 or 5 weeks ago now, which was the first step in admitting that this was harder than previous visits from Ed had ever been. She basically thinks that I have no serotonin left after the events of the past year. So I've started taking 5-HTP, an amino acid supplement that works on the serotonin system -- it's amazing stuff, and the first week or so I was on I was deleriously happy with how much better I felt. But I've been trying to finetune the dosage so that I don't get any side effects, and sometimes I go too long without it, and Ed glumps onto my shoulders. But I'm still depressed, of course, even with the supplement. It just helps me function and converse normally.

One of the hardest things for me, as someone whose work depends upon careful communicating, is that depression makes it really hard for me to talk to anyone. Which is why this blog community has been really important over this summer. I could still feel like myself, having you guys to talk to about academic politics or pirate quizzes or whatever. Part of me still has her shit together, and it's good to be in touch with that. But part of me doesn't. And the depression makes me feel ashamed and irritated with the fact that I am depressed.

I've been learning from so many of you, and have been so impressed with your honesty about deeply personal things, that I felt like I needed to try to overcome my wish to keep up good appearances. So now you know.