Friday, March 29, 2013

Where I've Been

I've been a lot of places and seen/read a lot of things, but nothing prepared me for the "experience" I've been having for the past couple of months. Since a number of you have inquired about my absence from both The Daily Beat as well as Facebook and Twitter, I'm feeling some sense of responsibility to address such inquiries. Therein lies a dilemma, however, because of the nature of the explanation. I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, I like to think that I am a fairly straight-shooter, but on the other hand I also am sensitive to the TMI (too much information) phenomenon as well as the dangers inherent in self-disclosure about personal "stuff." And I absolutely hate (I know, "hate hate") drama, my own as well as that of others.

So, here is what I have come up with. If you want the gory details - insomuch as I choose to reveal them - keep reading after "READ MORE BELOW" at the bottom of this post. If you don't, don't, and be happy with what follows. (For some reason, Blogger wouldn't let me insert a "jump break," which would be the logical way to handle this.)

The short version is that I have been having some rather serious health problems - a variety, in fact - since early January. Serious enough, in fact, that I have been on medical leave from work since February 11. Because of the nature of those problems, I have not felt inclined to use the computer at all, let alone blog or use social media. Plus my mom's voice echoes in my head, "If you're too sick to work you're too sick to Facebook." This is, in fact, the first thing I've posted here or on Facebook or Twitter since February 11 (I think - close enough). Why? Read on . . . .

My current status is that I am orchestrating a partial return to work the second week of April and we'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I may or may not be active on The Daily Beat, Facebook, and Twitter. It depends on how I feel and if I have something to say.

So there's the nutshell version answering your kind inquiries, each one of which I truly appreciated and please accept my apologies for not answering them all personally. This will have to do unless you're willing to "READ MORE BELOW . . . ."


 -------LESS IS MORE READERS, STOP READING HERE-------




-------READ MORE BELOW-------

Okay. You've decided you want more information. If you are to believe the medical community, I am tunneling my way out of a Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode. If you want the sterile definition, you can click here for the DSM details. If you don't want to wade through the DSM, you can click here for some fairly coherent information from WebMD. Or, you can get William Stryon's book, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, and truly understand.

I offer these resources because I, like I imagine many others, see the depression drug commercials on TV and think to myself, "Just get up in the morning, put one foot in front of the other, and get on with it." Were it so simple. Depression is serious shit. It can be completely debilitating and it's difficult to treat. I harken back to when my brother died of AIDS at age 47 and Mom asked me what we should tell people he died from. "AIDS!" I exclaimed. "We need to put a human face on this horrible disease!" (This was in 1996.) Likewise, depression can hit anyone. And hard.

I won't bore you with my symptoms because I had (have?) all eight on the WebMD list to one degree or another. I'm not looking for sympathy, but I think it's important to share this information sort of as a "public service announcement." Call it penance for my long holding a superficial and stereotypical view of depression. If you have it, or know someone who does, you know whence I speak. If not, please do some reading and take my word for it: it's a life-and-death struggle. I don't say that lightly. Life-and-death, both figuratively and literally.

I mentioned a "variety" of health issues above, and don't want to leave that hanging out there like a big matzo ball. I had what I thought was the flu in early January - felt like crap the whole San Francisco trip - lost my appetite and never got it back until about 2 weeks ago, had all sorts of digestive issues, fatigued, general malaise, lost about 25-30 pounds (over 10% of my body mass), etc.

It would seem now, at least that's the theory my GP and I have, that most of my physical symptoms were depression-related. That is, psychological issues were causing real physiological pathology.

Oh,  I left out the contributing factors. Let's just say it was mostly work-related (stress) but also related to some health issues, not the least of which is my hand difficulties preventing me from fully expressing my musicianhood for the past year(s).

More details (e.g., treatment)? Not right now. I am pondering the utility of putting more in writing. Let's just say as a possible teaser that I now have an intimate and experiential appreciation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And some of Jack Kerouac's experiences in the Navy.

I think I'm on the path out of darkness, but it's a long road, and hard. I know you wish me luck.

Enough said.

Except think about supporting NAMI, both at the state level and nationally. I am.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

rick, i've missed. your side/slant/ opinion on many issues i study or pay attention to, some slightly some more in depth. your absence left a void. Thanks for the info, I understand what you say. I truly understand where you are, I will put you in my prayers and be thinking of you. 2012 was my year for CA, surgery and clear right now. My goal to be a CA survivor.. So my friend life is that Journey. As I write this the first shot of sun for the last couple of days is hitting me in the face. It is a sign.. Love ya man. AND THANK YOU.

mistybeck said...

Rick,
This fellow sufferer knows how hard it is to take up personal interaction, much less acknowledge this illness as bravely and square on as you have. The other side of depression, as in passing through it, has graced me with deeper appreciation of those who are unhappy or suffering, those who are gentle, and those who just stand by you. I know you have friends, colleagues, and those who love you best who will do whatever they can to be there with you and for you. I also know how hard and bleak and deadening it can feel -- much less the practical loss of executive function, energy, drive, etc. etc. If there is any way I can be of help, please let me know. I hope that it helps just to know that there are many friends who care. Best wishes for your continued recovery!

Anonymous said...

Rick, I'm sincerely glad that you are coming out of it. I too have suffered from various levels of depression, including one very heavy single episode about 15 years ago. What a strange thing this disease is... For me it is like surrendering my mind to some other force... it is no longer my own. As though my decisions are being made (poorly) by a big black entity. I will send you as much positive energy as I can brother. Richard Marsh.

Baltimore Colts fan said...

I myself went through about 55 years of a combo of major depressive disorder (multiple episodes, for sure), schizophrenia, ADHD, and Candida "yeast" infection before I was able to turn things around.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Thanks all for your thoughts and positive energy. I am making progress. The road is long, and hard, as I think I said.