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Keeping the black dog at bay
March 30, 2011 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Steinbolt1 battles with depression. On his Tumblr blog, he chronicles his week-long stay in a mental health facility somewhere in the American Midwest. First installment can be found here. There's two installments per day of his stay, and he posted part two of day four two days ago. And, by the way, he's currently feeling a lot better.
posted by Harald74 (13 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somewhat related: Mike Shaver's blog posts about depression. Different experience and voice than Steinbolt1's blog, but personal for me because he's a colleague in the open source Internet world. Mike's the VP of engineering at Mozilla and a very capable engineer. I admire his speaking out so directly. i also admire his technical skills and productivity, he's one of the good guys.
posted by Nelson at 7:00 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like I need a little context—who is Steinbolt1?
posted by limeonaire at 7:28 AM on March 30, 2011


Just a voice on the Internet, as far as I know, limeonaire.
posted by Harald74 at 7:36 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's right about one thing: "A major earthquake in Japan. Problems in Libya. Britney Spears releasing another album. This tells me that the Mayans were correct about the apocalypse, but were off by one year."
posted by blucevalo at 7:36 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


From what I can tell from the entries, he's just a normal dude who suffers from hellacious depression. He really nails the tone of constant low grade self criticism that is so prevalent, and so 'normal' for those who suffer mental illnesses. Pretty interesting stuff.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:37 AM on March 30, 2011


I kept a journal under similar circumstances but it was nowhere near as coherent as this. Thanks for posting.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:23 AM on March 30, 2011


Many people who suffer from depression are entirely normal. In fact, they can get very, very good at hiding it and living with it for a long time. Narratives like these are helpful, because they normalize the experience of someone struggling with an acute depressive episode. There are people now who I worked alongside of everyday, or lived next door to, who were shocked when I came "out" about my decades long battle with depression.

I've outed myself before as someone who had a history of struggling with depression that was inherited through a combination of nature/nurture. And I'm someone who was damn lucky enough to receive the best of health care through work benefits and who eventually found the right combination of treatments so that there are days--wow, weeks, months--where I forget that I used to have to be conscious of managing my symptoms every day. Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has access to adequate health care.

Someone asked me once what a depressive episode was like, what was it like to be that sad. I had to explain that, for me, depression was the opposite of sad. It was an absence, a chasm with nothing in it. It was emotional amnesia. It wasn't that you didn't feel at peace or feel pleasure or feel happy. It was that you didn't feel, period. You could not remember what emotions, aside from pain, felt like. And having hope relies on a bit of memory of how good things WERE at some point in time, so you can hold on to imagining that they could be that way again. But without hope, without being able to project yourself into a future state or having memories of any painless emotional time, you are staring down a a years long path of only feeling like you feel RIGHT NOW. And that can feel unacceptable. Oh yes, and the physical pain, there IS physical pain but you cannot describe it to others well enough. It is not like the pain of a stomachache or a cut to your flesh. It is pervasive, it invades you, sleep does not provide relief from it, you wake up with it and carry it around with you every minute.

Like I said, I was one of the fortunate ones. I sat, blank faced, in front of my doctor years ago and told him after years of struggle and ramp-ups and withdrawals that I had reached my limit on med changes, that I couldn't experiment with what would work anymore, that I was too tired, could not carry on. And I meant it. He looked me straight in the face and said matter-of-factly, "You don't have to have the energy. That's my job. I have the energy for you." That guy. He is my hero.

And when we did find the right combination of treatments, when my feelings of being, well, completely normal stretched in days, weeks, years, then I understood that I didn't have to thrash around to find a way out. That my job was just to hold on long enough to get beyond it, to let the practitioners do their jobs, to give things a chance to work. I don't want to oversimplify it, it was horrific at times.

I don't know why I'm writing this here except to chime in with, yes. There needs to be more talk about this. The silence and the stigma is part of what makes it worse. We need more stories.
posted by jeanmari at 8:38 AM on March 30, 2011 [35 favorites]


Just a voice on the Internet, as far as I know, limeonaire.

That's cool. I was just curious—I didn't know if it was someone everyone but me had heard of or something!
posted by limeonaire at 9:30 AM on March 30, 2011


We Tumblr users just call them a “Tumblr” or “Tumblrs", or, if you hate caps, a “tumblr”. It’s short for “tumblelog”.
posted by CipherSwarm at 10:44 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Mike Shaver's blog, describing the horror of mixed episodes:
"That is some confusing shit right there: you feel driven to DO SOMETHING, but have no actual energy or motivation; fatigued without being able to sleep much; incredibly distracted and irritable; very likely to keep buying games during Steam sales without ever satisfying the novelty craving. The last one may not be in DSM-IV."
At this point I eyed my Steam game list nervously...
posted by pharm at 11:29 AM on March 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


My life has always been great. Great parents, financial security, plenty of food on the table, loving parents, a warm bed, encouragement, and awesome parents. There is no reason why I’m mentally ill, other than it being genetically induced. I’ve had many problems, sure, but I’ve always been able to climb out of them with plenty of support. No explanation what-so-ever. I felt bad because all the opportunities I’ve had were pushed away from a mixture of laziness and stupidity. No bad life what-so-ever. Maybe my depression was telling me that the only things I can do well are being depressed and feeling sorry for myself. Maybe that’s just the way it is for me. I should kill myself now. Get it over with.

I know exactly how this feels and this is one of the reasons I hate the term "worried well."
posted by sweetkid at 12:21 PM on March 30, 2011


Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has access to adequate health care.

True that, ...and it isn't always just access issues, for some even the most successful treatments don't always work. Still I hold on to some glimmer of hope as I'm able.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:02 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Update: the blog appears to have been removed. I read up until day 6 as of a couple of weeks ago.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2011


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