The last few days have been troubling for me. There are various events that I could point to, various people who, wittingly or not, have added to the sea of troubles against which I must choose to set myself against or drown, a peasant of infinite space. But I shall not. Point, that is. I was told from an early age that it was rude to do so, even though this virtual world invites if not actively encourages it. I have been pointed at, and I have been traduced in forums where I could, had I wished to, retort in like manner. I chose not to, and still do so, I expect that any right-thinking person will recognise the signs of a partial account and dismiss these from their view. Likewise, when bile of any sort is spewed. Those who cannot see past the darkly sparkly bits? Well, I care not for them nor their opinions.
But the troubles which beset me are wider and deeper than the bleatings of a few. One of the things about PD that I sometimes forget was pointed out to me by my neurologist yesterday. While discussing the gradual decline in motor function, and the increasing vulnerability to physical injury to which I find myself prone, the topic of mood came up. He noted that while the obvious symptoms were physical, the gradually worsening gait, the loss of fine motor control, the gentle introduction of what will be my tremor, and all the rest of it, it must be remembered that PD is a neurological disorder. It is your brain fucking up. The soup of chemicals sloshing around the gray matter is changing, adjusting, and certain chemicals, namely dopamine, are becoming more and more rare. This leads to more than simply physical symptoms.
Reader, I’m depressed.
Not terribly, but enough to know that it’s more than simply feeling a little glum. I struggle to motivate myself to do most anything: even getting out of bed is becoming a little bit of a chore. I can barely place one creative word in the wake of another.
Now, PD is not something which lends itself to bouts of cheery optimism. After all, you see and feel your body crumble day by day. You walk up the road and you are convinced that everyone looking at you wonders why you’re drunk so early in the morning. You look forward not to a happy, healthy future, but one in which your physical self is gradually ground down, your personality squashed.
You become your illness. Not just to others, but to yourself.
It’s not simply that PD is a depressing thing to have, but that it can lead to depression itself, and a depression which sits, fat and heavy, upon your chest. Almost as if you’re being pressed … an old technique for proving testimony. If you insisted on sticking by your story when your ribs were cracking, then it seemed reasonable to think that you were being honest.
I see many things which weigh upon me. People with academic jobs with no publications. People who know how to sell themselves. People who play a role so perfectly. People who seem to hold cards I do not. People who paint me the villain when villain I am not.
These are the things which flatten, which allow the claws to get into my flesh, to hold me to the floor while the world seems to pile its weight upon me. I will not retract, so on the piling goes, and deeper the claws pierce.
If the disease can lead to bouts of depression, then the drugs themselves have their own problems. I am on Mirapexin, or pramipexole, a dopamine agonist. It is designed to stimulate the cells whose job it is to produce dopamine, the neural transmitter, to produce more. These are the cells in the basal ganglia which are dying. It’s like whipping a dying donkey. It works for a while. This drug has some weird and wonderful side-effects. I used to hallucinate regularly, especially with regards rushing, scuttling things in my peripheral vision, and mislabelling normal phenomena – seeing a spider scuttle to and fro instead of the shadow of the bathroom light cord.
Another side-effect, and here it’s drug and disease colluding in a ludicrous way, is that I combine obessive compulsive behaviour with an inability to focus. I get lost in the internet, and yet produce nothing. There are other problems with the drug which again combine with the disease to create situations which lead to nothing but trouble.
These problems, and the behaviour to which they led, are contributory factors to the troubles with which I find myself beset. The troubles which feed my depression. It is a vicious, internal circle.
I am ill. This is not an excuse, but a factor which needs to be taken into account.
I need help. And I think I’m ready for it now.
Clicking on the like button seemed the wrong thing to do, so I wrote these words instead
Very sorry to read this. As my Estonian uncle said to my 12-year-old niece (imagine gruff rumbly voice, quite heavily accented), ‘Life is a vale of tears’. Such is our family that this is a favourite anecdote which makes us all laugh fondly. My sister-in-law thinks we’re pathetic (and spelled it ‘veil’, which just set us off again) – but the thing is, he was right.
Having said which, hope you’re able to keep the black dog and spiders at bay as long as possible. I know it’s an uphill thing. x