Friday, September 14, 2007


Depression is an insidious invader. It creeps up on you on stealthy feet, muffled by the sounds of daily life. Before you know it, a shroud is thrown over your mind that allows less and less light to penetrate into your consciousness.

What triggers the onslaught? Where does it get its first foothold. Why can’t it be stopped as easily as it starts. What defenses can be thrown up to keep it at bay? Why am asking these questions?

For the past few weeks now I have been “out of sorts.” I have little ambition. I can’t get interested in anything. I don’t care if the daily chores get done. I just want to sleep the day away. I don’t care to work in my workshop. I don’t care if I get to play golf again. I haven’t wanted to write or contribute to this blog. The fact that my favorite teams have been winning their games lately doesn’t pique my interest. I just don’t care.

I find myself worrying endlessly about things I have no control over. And I worry even more about the things I do have some control over. I look ahead and the future scares me. I look back and have too many regrets.

Parkinsons Disease is a root cause of my current lapse from happiness. PD is relentless in its quest for control. It starts out slowly and then it just keeps getting more and more entrenched in your life, until one day you find that it has more control over you than you have over it. PD spreads its tendrils ever farther into your body until it gains enough presence to ensure that you can’t forget it’s there. It only gets worse; never better.

My PD symptoms have spread to the left side of my body now where before only the right side was affected. Now there is no respite from the shaking and tremors that afflict my hands and arms and legs. PD complicates everything I do and causes other physical problems as a result of trying to move normally. I get sore and pulled muscles easily. Sciatica has attacked my right leg so that I can’t sit for more than a few minutes without discomfort. My neck and shoulders are always stiff and sore enough that I can’t find the one position that will allow me to relax. Nighttimes are a series of tortuous turnings between short lapses into sleep.

With this ratcheting up of PD in my life comes the fear of the future and what it has in store for me. How will I cope with this new reality. What will I do if Mary can’t take care of me? What will I do if by something unthinkable happens to Mary and I have to take care of her? What will we do If I can no longer take care of our house. What will happen to me when I can no longer drive? I can’t bear the thought of leaving this house that we have lived in for all our married life, where we raised our children, where we call home. But I know that the time will come when we will have to leave here and that scares me. The uncertainty of the future has me nearly paralyzed with fear.

All those fears, irrational as they may be, are the allies of depression. Those fears cloud my senses and allow depression to work its way deeper and deeper into my brain. I realize what is happening, but I feel mostly helpless to fight it off. Why, if I know what’s going on, can’t I just stop it and say, “I refuse to be depressed.” Why do I allow those fears and worries to take over my consciousness? I’ve always felt I was a strong-willed person able to control my emotions and capable of handling any and all situations that life coould throw at me. But lately, my confidence has been shaken by the strength of the depression that has gained such a strong grip on me. I don’t like feeling this way.

I have been able to hide this depression for the most part from Mary. She is the champion worrier of all time and I don’t want to burden her unnecessarily. And I certainly don’t want my two dhildren to be concerned. They have enough to handle with their own lives without my becoming a problem for them as well. So I “suffer” mostly in silence, trying my best to cope with all this. Fortunately, I can still see that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel so I know there is some hope still there. I’m trying. I’m trying.


Jonathan said...

You are the best dad a son could ask for. No matter what your physical abilities, that will never change.

Len Smith said...

I was sad to read this Bob , you didn't strike me as being depressed. The depression , in my experience , does go away.

Elizabeth said...

Getting your sleep interrupted is a major torture technique used in some prisons. Lack of sleep can turn days into daymares & depress the most hearty spirit.

The answer: naps! Sleep as much and as often as you like - your body can then cope with physical stress much better.

Another answer: outside stimulation, especially on a voluntary basis with flexible hours and locations so you can accomodate your disability. Coaching a football team might be a bit much : - ) but you have a lot of knowledge and skills to share.

Bud said...

Bob, this disturbs me quite a bit. I have nothing to offer in terms of how to beat depression. All I can say is that the other side of depression is something that is very much a part of you too. I hope you can find that side again soon.

Artistic Soul said...

When I get into really depressed moods, I find the only way to help myself is to fight it with little things. Often getting started on something very small helps my brain start to get out of that bad place. It can take several days of focusing on it, but eventually it works. Hope you feel better soon!

Len said...

Depression is a complicated little bastard best messed with via medication.
I have been chronically ill with COPD for 56 years , grew up in a part of town to be known later as "Little Beirut" and in general it was tough. In mylife have been stabbed , strangled, poisoned , burned, smacked , stomped , kicked and generally treated like a dog in China. Lots of reasons to get depressed . But when depression finally came to me the only help was medication.
I spent years studying the Psych game and I am quite sure that todays meds are the way to go. Talk therapy helps some people a lot but nothing can outdo chemistry when it comes to messing with depression.

These are my thoughts on the problem , hand in there shipmate .