The Devil and the Allergist’s Daughter

This one’s for you, Kelsey.

The devil of the thing about depression is that no one knows what causes it. Clinically speaking, it’s an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Now, there are other kinds of depression, say, when life is hard and gets you down, or when you’re experiencing grief, caused by anything from a lost relationship, the death of a loved one or even the loss of a job. Those are bumps in the road, to be sure.

Depression, though, can happen out of the blue. One day you wake up and realize you’re cloaked in a shroud of gloom. So you give yourself pep talks. You tell yourself to “snap out of it.” You try various tactics; food, exercise, shopping, calling a friend. Nothing works. You re-examine your life and remind yourself there’s nothing to be depressed about. You look at friends who are battling cancer or who have difficult home lives and you say, I really have no right to feel this way.

Still, it persists.

It was a long time before I could admit to myself that what was happening to me was not my fault. I could find no reason for my sudden, inexplicable sobbing attacks. I could not bring myself to talk about it, or ask for help. I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about — simply cannot make the words come out of my mouth — but I’m trying; I really am. My whole life I’ve found it easier to write about that which I cannot speak, so here I am, writing my way through this.

An analogy: I once took a scuba diving lesson. I stood at the bottom of a deep end of an indoor swimming pool and looked up to the surface. I breathed, carefully, in and out. I felt utterly alone and was filled with anxiety over the effort it took just to breathe. Depression feels a bit like that. I would often wake up in the morning, mired in the pit of despair. My arms felt loose and heavily hung from my body. Everything felt flat. What I should enjoy, what I enjoyed in the past, I did not. I had, as Tom Hanks said in Joe vs. the Volcano, a brain cloud.

At the deepest point, when my family started to wonder what the heck was wrong with me; when my husband became profoundly affected by my sadness, I finally was able to drag myself to the doctor and start cleaning up this emotional mess. I’m being treated, as they say, and taking care of myself, as well. I hope by sharing this I will maybe nudge some other stubborn “everything’s fine on the surface” person like me, who’s really suffering on the inside, to get the guts and the energy to make a call and keep the appointment, to find out what’s wrong and start taking steps to recovering. I’m happy to report that I am already feeling remarkably better and fully expect that trend to continue. Tonight, at dinner, I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. I hadn’t done that in a long, long time.

There was a moment during some of the darkest days that shined like a star. The boy told me his friend, the allergist’s daughter had discovered this blog and read it in its entirety. He told me she was disappointed I was taking a break, and was looking forward to my break ending, and my next post. She, and all of you, have pulled me back here. I’ve missed you all.


About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
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15 Responses to The Devil and the Allergist’s Daughter

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for writing this, Marijean. I started treatment again a couple of years ago and it’s one of the best things I ever did for myself. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. We’re worth it.

  2. Jerry says:

    Bless you, Marijean, for writing as you did. I’ve had several friends who deal with depression and notice that those who bring it into the open seem to do best.

  3. cj says:

    We have missed you too. Very much.

  4. Welcome back. It’s good to “hear your voice” and even better to know that you are taking care of yourself and on the road to recovery.

  5. zuzuernie says:

    Okay, girl. I am so glad you got help. I so wish we lived closer so I could have helped you through all this since (as you know) I’ve been through it before and then some.

    As far as getting help, you so did the right thing. My analogy is this: If you have a broken leg, does anyone tell you to just “walk it off”? NO! So why is there a stigma to getting help for something that is completely out of your control? I’m proud of you.

    I agree with Elizabeth. You are worth it. Your family is too. I love you, MJ. Call or write anytime. Please. 🙂

  6. marijean says:

    You guys are the best. Thanks for the support. It’s good to be back.

  7. Jacque says:

    Glad to hear from you again I really missed you.
    With the boy going away your life is changing, alot!
    But as GH said “there is always a brighter tomarrow.”
    B&M are back and the pool opens in a few months you are always welcomed.

  8. Kurt says:

    When you don’t know what to say, maybe the best thing is to say nothing — but I’ll be thinking about and praying for you.

  9. Sarah says:

    Welcome back! I’ve missed your blog!!

  10. Kelsey. says:

    Can I tell you how excited I was to see an update? Ask the boy, I was giddy. (I think it showed in my excessive use of exclamation points over AIM.) I’d been religiously checking for a new entry every day for more time than I am willing to admit, and of course, the moment I stopped checking…

    But now I can be slightly awkward and say in my little, terribly fangirlish way, that you are amazingly brave and your writing is incredible and inspiring and witty and ________ [fill in the most flattering adjective.]

    I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from you =]

  11. marijean says:

    Thanks so much to YOU for inspiring me to get back in the game.

    (so flattered I’m actually blushing)

    the boy’s mom

  12. Debbie says:

    So glad you’re back. I’ve been a non-commenting reader for six months now, and I’m looking forward to having you back in my morning blog-reading routine.

  13. Laura says:

    I’ve learned: The journey is more meaningful than the destination. But the destination feels pretty damn good, and it should. Life’s ups and downs make us the human beings we are; the bumps provide insight, texture and context for connections with other people (the real reason why we’re here, I think).

    Cherish the memory of how you got where you are today. It’s what’s made you the strong(er) woman that you are. And enjoy the view! It only gets better as you climb.

    I’m so glad you’re back Marijean. I’ve missed your voice terribly.

  14. Susan says:

    I, too, have been a lurking reading for at least 6 months and am so glad to see you posting again. I applaud you for getting help. I’m glad you are starting to feel better MJ. Looking forward to reading you again!

  15. Ollie says:

    Over time the symptoms of depression got easier to handle as I developed an understanding of the disease, and tireless work on my self from a bunch of angles reaped enormous benefits. Would you agree with this approach?

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