I’ve been looking forward to this trip for so many reasons, the first of which was to see whether I could do it. I’ve been wanting to for years. And I may have a bit earlier, if not for a number (large number) of family incidents. But after a year of dullness marked the first anniversary of earning my doctorate, I felt that if I didn’t do something, I may as well just close up shop and wait to die. This is not an uncommon feeling for someone suffering from depression. I felt myself gradually slip into that state. I could see it coming – a great grey cloud of gloom muting, if not extinguishing anything light and happy in my life. Many things in my external world were quite good (did I say I finished a doctorate…), but other things, mostly things involving family were picking away at what people used to call my perky outlook.
Yes, I know I ‘allowed’ it to happen. But that’s just the thing about depression – it doesn’t need your permission. First, for whatever reason, your world becomes smaller. You make up excuses about not socializing and people cut you some slack because they can see your external problems too, and perhaps empathize from their own experience. “I don’t know how you do it,” or “you have so much on your plate right now,” are heard often expressions. Gradually, as you fall into the pit that is depression, you find that you are not socializing because you have “too much on your plate,” but because you’re afraid. When you do go out in public for social purposes or obligations, mostly you end up crying (sobbing even) in front of people you don’t know, and worse – those you know well. No one likes to do that. And it makes other people feel pretty uncomfortable as well.
Soon, even after some of the pressures of external problems let up (only some) and you have more time from temporary partial resolutions of your problems, the depression doesn’t just go away and you begin to see that you will never be able to go back to your perky Pollyanna past. Having had a perky Pollyanna past myself, I wasn’t prepared to deal with the perfect storm of crappy stuff that came my way. Not only were my Pollyanna reserves drained, the apparatus for ‘refueling’ myself was broken – smashed to shreds even. Given the circumstances the only thing I could do was nothing – and then feel really badly about it. Many days were just given over to the looming gloom. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t plan, – hell, I couldn’t even play! Most days I didn’t bother to get dressed, it seemed futile – given a cost/benefit analysis of the energy it would require to do it.
Even the sound of the phone ringing raised my anxiety level at least three points; answering would have been impossible without lorazepam. I rarely answered emails. I had nothing to say – or, better put: nothing I could say. I would list the things that caused anxiety (the root of my depression) and concluded that anyone else with this much negativity going on in their life would probably fare no better. Of course that didn’t help. Funny thing about depression: when you’re depressed misery does not love company – actually, not company in any form.
I could write much more on what it feels like to be depressed but I’ve only recently started to climb out of the pit and I’m seriously worried about falling backward. It’s not that I only look on the sunny side (after having relearned there is a sunny side) that keeps me moving forward, but the drugs – o, the drugs – that seem, at least for now, to be doing their job. My job in the recovery process is to do whatever I can to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
And so, back to the trip…
There were lots of other reasons to make this trip – too much snow in Nova Scotia when last year’s near record amounts were still fresh in my mind. A change of scenery is always helpful, and spending time with my much younger brother was also appealing. So I decided to cash in on a long-standing invitation to visit him, my brother. I agreed to accompany him home from his recent visit with our parents.
Oh, and ‘home’ for my bother is Grand Cayman. Enroute, he needed stop over in Tortola for a few days for some business meetings. I’m fine with that. Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands, and was his home until about five years ago. Although often invited I had never been there, so I thought – possibly – this trip could be an adventure for me. A badly needed adventure. A “most excellent” one – even better!