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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Those Appetites

"I hate it when you're depressed," says FD.

"Me, too. But I hate it more when you're depressed."

He smiles. See, everyone gets this way.

Some of us still assess depression times three. "X 3 or times three" means no appetite for food, sex, or sleep. If a person can't eat, has no interest in sex, and can't sleep, we can safely say, Depressed X 3, unless there's another organic reason for those symptoms, maybe a medication that's responsible.

I know, I know, you're going to say that it's also common to do the opposite, have an increase in an appetite for food and/or sleep. And you're right.

Anyway. I had an exhausting day, including a meeting with a new advisory council in the community. It's an advisory council for an agency that educates educators and administrators in the community about a topic that tends to be depressing in general, childhood sexual abuse.

I'm new here (thanks so much, RZ) although not altogether new. When the community zeroed in on a childhood sexual predator several years ago, I helped break down the collective community denial. But I had to quit. When the going got tough, the tired got out.

But RZ got me back in as of a few weeks ago, and I went to my first meeting of dynamic, incredible people who are teaching safety to school and camp administrators, a first step. Teaching the kids, obviously, is the second.

I learned something new, too, about a website for mandated reporters in Chicagoland. It's online training for mandated reporters Virtually everyone working with kids is required to know this stuff in Illinois.

The meeting in the afternoon sort of drains me, as it might drain anyone, but I zip back to work afterwards (I have the car, these things do come in handy now and then) and see a bunch of people.

Home late, feel fine until the phone rings. The call is about an old issue I still haven't resolved, preferring conflict avoidance (who doesn't!). But now someone wants it resolved. It has to be resolved, and it has to be resolved soon. By me. The story, the players, the whole thing is full of spleen and basically knocks me out of the ring for the night. And unfortunately, I can't tell it.

I hang up feeling the worst I've felt in months psychologically, go to bed by nine, something out of the ordinary, with a Robert B. Parker book, Hundred Dollar Baby.

If you know Robert B. Parker, he writes page after page with dialog on the order of this:
"How can you eat tongue," Corsetti said.
"You know how intrepid I am."
"Oh, yeah, I forgot that for a minute."
"You make first yet?" I said.
"Detective First Grade?" Corsetti said. "You got a better chance of making it than I have."
"And I'm not even a cop anymore," I said.
"Exactly," Corsetti said.
The coffee came. Corsetti put about six spoonfuls of sugar in his and stirred noisily.
"Is it because you annoy a lot of people?" I said.
How hard is it to concentrate on this? (One Hundred Dollar Baby is about prostitution, by the way, or is it better to say Escort Services or even Sex Workers).

FD comes home late and I tell him about the new old issue and he tries to help me work it out, but he can't. Not really. None of his thoughts on the problem work for me, and my thoughts don't work, either. But it's comforting knowing he's got my back.

Sometimes when you're problem solving you have to accept that there may not be a good imminent solution. Sometimes the answer has to be to accept the problem for what it is, something annoying and stuck.

Except that I never really accept things as unresolvable. I'm in the profession of resolving.

Death I get. That I can accept. Illness, too, but not always. Other stuff? There has to be a way.

But, no matter how many heads you put together, just because you want to solve something doesn't mean it's going to happen. Like the problem of sexual abuse in a community. There we are, twenty-some smart people, no where near solving the problem. But we're closer to something of an answer now than we were ten years ago.

So I sleep on it, wait awhile, brainstorm again, mostly in my own head. Until something's right you're in no man's land, just feeling badly. But you rock on anyway.

Morning comes and FD's pushing breakfast on me and I'm gently saying No since it's only been a few hours since that feeling of probably never eating again. That's when he says, "I hate when you're depressed."

Technically the crisis is only 10 hours old. And it's not like I'm grousing or complaining or anything, either.

He lets it go, warms up a muffin, splits it, takes half, leaves the other for me. I snub it, go upstairs, do a little paper work, take a nap. I didn't sleep well the night before.

Before I blink it's 11:00 and I've got to go to work. I'm staring in the mirror wondering how to improve what I see when I hit upon a solution to the crisis. A quick and dirty, perfect solution, if only temporary. I feel a little better, jump into my biking clothes and pack up to leave.

But first I stop in the kitchen, wrap up the muffin. FD sees me. He's scavenging in the cupboard.

"I'm thinking PBJ, on rye. Not toasted. Marmalade." I say, "To Go."

"A fine choice," he agrees.

therapydoc

P.S. Now if we could only think up something for those guys on Wall Street, right?

27 comments:

RZ said...

Ok, I'll admit it, I'm blushing that I was sorta mentioned on your blog.
I'm sorry about how the day went, but am so grateful that you came.
Thank you therapydoc!

therapydoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
therapydoc said...

Yeah, you'll pay, dear.

It was great, the meeting the best part of the day in that masachistic way social workers (or psychologists, excuse me) get off on, thinking we're doing something. The kudos goes to you.

barfly said...

Glad you got over it, whatever it was :)

Anonymous said...

What kind of muffin?

Anonymous said...

oh you're so sweet, i'm surprised you even thought of the wall street people after your bad day. I hope solutions could come to my mind as fast as you get them. :)

Isle Dance said...

Thanks for sharing. I know you all have great resources like http://www.yellodyno.com but I thought I'd pass it along, just in case you've not yet seen it.

porcini66 said...

"...just because you want to solve something doesn't mean it's going to happen..."

Yep, yep, yep...I am finally, FINALLY coming to understand this! Grrrrrr...Banging my head against the wall for years with all of my "angst" and frustration that the world didn't then and won't now act as I (emphasis on I) need it to...it sure does take a lot of energy, yeah?

Thanks for writing...and for doing the child abuse work. It even helps me, now, after all these years, to see that someone cares and is trying. So, yeah...thank you.

therapydoc said...

Glad you got it. I wasn't sure that I said anything, honestly, with this post. Sometimes a person just writes to get it out of the system, you know?

Later I thought, write it don't post it.

Anonymous said...

PBJ on rye??? Yuck!

therapydoc said...

Fresh, soft, no seeds. For sure. Two days in a row.

Margo said...

"...just because you want to solve something doesn't mean it's going to happen..."
Ugh, too true. My weakness.

therapydoc said...

Empath gets this weakness from me. I was at this meeting and the keynote speaker passed around a brain teaser. We're all beating our brains to figure it out. No one in my group does. The leader asks, So what were your feelings doing this exercise?

I said, "I kept thinking, just gimme a couple of DAYS!"

Dream Lover said...

therapydoc,

so glad to hear about a marriage where you can be real ("I hate it when you're depressed") and kind. So glad he's got your back.

therapydoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Therapydoc, are you sure that was a real depression? Sounds like it only lasted 10 hours

Anonymous said...

Extremely Transient Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood?

Suggested treatment: Empathy, 1/2 muffin, PBJ on rye with marmalade.

(Sorry, still sounds weird to me, gonna have to try it sometime) :)

Miriam L said...

I liked this post. Felt real.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Every time I think I'm the only one...(depression, no appetite, unresolved stuff hanging over my head, blocking out the sun until I finally decide to go out and whack it).

Thanks for sharing, I feel human again.

lcsw mom said...

the comment you made about some things may just not have a solution really rang true. We as social workers get so hung up on solving things, and solving them quickly that it sends us for a serious loop when there is an unsolvable problem or at least one that needs to sit for a bit before becoming solvable. Thanks for that.

Deb said...

We all have our moments, don't we.

therapydoc said...

OH yeah. I like Anon's DX:
Extremely Transient Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

Anonymous said...

Just found out today my 69-year-old dad has Parkinson's, on top of his leukemia, my dog is 14 or so and is getting treated for cancer, my first dog's death crushed me as I'm not really a people person so I'm freaked out about that eventuality, I've got two non-lethal diseases, one of them pretty significant, the other is inconvenient, I've put off visiting a specialist for a year and a half about something indicating a possible developing cancer, graduated college 2 years ago and need to find a different job, I like my current one but cannot stay, I'm not really doing what I wanted to do anyway, but I'm not qualified for what I do like because of my persistent inability to care or apply myself, and I'm stuck in a holding pattern regarding my future partly for medical reasons but more because of laziness. People are getting frustrated with me for it.

Of the only two people I've ever felt comfortable talking to, one of them is now an ex boyfriend and the other is my boss. I can't talk to my boss about most of it though because of professional distance and because my family does not want me to discuss my dad's problems, especially not with someone who knows him.

I recently recovered from a few years of major depression staring in 10th grade up to sophomore year of college and again as a senior to 2 years after...probably to dysthymia but it's still a hell of a lot better, and my year of weekly therapy during the second incidence made things worse because I'd either think and obsess about it or completely numb out (adjustment disorder because of the illness, allegedly), plus therapy made me into an anxious wreck because I'm a private person (even benzoing myself up against my doc's wishes didn't mitigate enough), CBT made sense in theory but it seemed like it was trying to solve a problem I didn't have, and so I was never able to make myself commit to it, the buproprion may have helped but who can be sure, and I'm afraid to discontinue it.

For months or years the only thing I've been able to manage is the appearance of taking care of myself, just enough so that people write everything off to slobbishness or busyness (I haven't had about 5 non-family social engagements in the last 3 months, which is pretty active for me, and no--I don't desire more--point is busyness is a joke) and fear stops me giving therapy another shot or moving forward with the job, the ignored medical issue, and basically anything that could potentially fix some of my problems. So, potential solutions in sight, but doubtful I'll ever find the motivation to bother. Hopelessness? Who, me?

It all sounds bad to me when I write it out, but I feel like a whiner because I know how bad it's possible to feel (to some extent) and I'm miles away from that. Plus I don't really react to things emotionally for the short term, just through the occasional anxiety and anger, and probably the unrelenting procrastination, so at first glance it seems to me and others like these things aren't even affecting me. I show up to work most days and am able to laugh (which is my favorite defense mechanism, something I acquired after my first dog died, so much for faking it until I make it). Yet another reason I didn't do well with pouring out my alleged troubles to a stranger. Though I suspect therapy is what you'd suggest all the same.

And it's all still nothing compared to sexual abuse, but as you said in your most recent post, we are a self-centered lot.

therapydoc said...

Thanks Anon,
I'll reiterate it here, I'll reiterate it there, that everyone needs therapy, so of course check back in. What did FD Roosevelt say? Something about nothing to fear but fear itself.

I think that this self-centeredness isn't a bad thing, it's what we are, and a challenge, really for all of us, to try to overcome, try to see beyond our own noses. That said, there is such a thing as depression, along with another zillion diagnoses of real psychological and behavioral disorders that makes looking past our noses very hard to do, much harder to do than not.

The real point of the last post (and in my effort to be a writer in honorium to the writer it may have been lost) is that when we're engaged in something, anything, we're less self-centered, more accomplished, and if it's things like parents or puppies or elderly dogs, then we have purpose. YOU got it.

Whining is also good.

Anonymous said...

It was an intentional tangent from your point, following reading two of your posts, but sorry all the same.

I've been pondering it and I suppose I'm just going to need to hit rock bottom again before I'll have the inclination to try therapy again. Of course, last time in therapy I still didn't do anything about anything else, but maybe a different therapist would work. Who knows? There's a recent NYT article about phone therapy being effective and maybe something like that would work for someone like me--the only time I cried in that year in front of my therapist was when I was literally not in front of her, but on the phone. And I imagine the anxiety would be mitigated by the fact that escape is more of an option than when sitting across.

Anyway I've had my usual bounce back to indifference since I wrote that anyway...yes everything I said is basically true...but apparently I have some warped AA philosophy where I accept the things I can change. My real discomfort is my comfort with being an ersatz version of myself...which just isn't enough to fix anything. A resigned hopelessness I guess, with a belief that I really can't change. Bah.

Anonymous said...

And pondering some more, it's one thing to say everyone needs therapy, it's another to say therapy works for everyone and everyone is suited for traditional therapies. I imagine there's enough self-selection that as a therapist you wouldn't necessarily see the people who opt out, already knowing it wouldn't be right for them or they'd be too uncomfortable. Only way I reasoned myself into going is a last ditch effort before the return of my depression--even though I knew it wouldn't work out and I'd be too uncomfortable. Those with avoidant personality disorder come to this layperson's mind...though not necessarily the DSM's version. I've found Martin Kantor's book Distancing to come remarkably close to my experience...something in between a type II/III/IV avoidant whereas I is the only one people seem to grasp (I'm introverted, not shy). I fear the loss of freedom so much that I don't even like to schedule engagements, and hate having to go to them (they're usually okay once I'm there, but even that knowledge doesn't make me not abhor giving up my freedom for an hour or two--I've seen other literature on this as well). The subsequent fear of getting involved or dependent is, I imagine, why 1/2-3/4 of each of those sessions was spent with guided imagery to get myself out of a cold sweat. It was all pretty useless, and I'd already taught myself relaxation techniques so that wasn't really educational either. Yet, again, I was able to be vulnerable with select others, or when not face to face, so it's not something I feel I necessarily want changed, or to be forced into by a therapist.

Not sure if that made any sense. Eh, it is what it is.

If you haven't read any of Kantor's work on other avoidant types, there's a synopsis: http://www.tljones.co.uk/apd/distancing/DistRevX.htm

therapydoc said...

Nah, everyone can change and does, although it is imperceptible, sometimes. I find it a challenge to balance, accepting what is and yet wanting to rewrite it, working at a new script. But we go through it all the time, this act, and it's good to try out a new script.