I have read many articles on the WEB about Parkinson's and Dementia. Most if not all address depression. But nothing written comes close to how depression effects me. Most of my life I have been happy on the outside. Smiling, joking, involved with organizations, my job, friends, church. I had energy to do yard work wash and wax two cars, and still keep up with my wife, son, and friends. Then I was diagnosed with Parkinson's and Dementia. My view of illness has always been, how do we fix it. When I had a colonoscopy at age 50, and the doctor found a tumor the size of a chickens egg, my reply was, "How do we fix it?" I remember Dr. Keith Berger's look as I was waking up from by drug induced nap. He said," I found a tumor and it is ugly!" Well, what I have now can't be fixed and it is as ugly as that tumor to me.. Yes, we can slow it down, or so the doctors say. I think I disagree with that, based on what is happening with me. Or, if this is slow, I would HATE to see it progress FAST! Now again, I have not given up, although the thought has crossed my mind a time or two. But I am not a quitter, and I don't intend to start now with that bad habit. But just the same, I am depressed. Most folks can't see it from the outside, because my "Happy" face is on in public. A friend at church last Sunday asked me how I was doing, my reply was my normal, "Outstanding!" She replied, Sometimes I think you are just saying that and you really feel bad inside." She was right!
Depression has taken away from me the desire to do things that I used to like, even if I had the energy. Recently, I let the grass grow for two weeks! It looked terrible, but I just did not care. I have plenty of things to do, things that I enjoyed before, but I just don't want to do them. Work is becoming increasingly taxing on my mental energy and difficult. It takes a major expenditure of energy to look happy and well. And the organization I work for is going through a major reorganization. Change is definitely not my friend! One of the ways my Dementia has manifested itself is my inability to learn new material. So, new organization, new computer programs, new accounting programs, new time keeping programs, new, new, new!!! Did I tell you I have great difficulty learning new things. Is anyone listening!!!?
Then there is the inability to cry! That's right, I cannot cry. I wish I could, but for some reason, I cannot let my emotions out. That is a new problem since I was diagnosed. So, my emotions remain bottled up. When I was the Command Master Chief on the USS Caron, everyone used me to vent their problems on, even the Captain. One day he asked me, "Who does the Command Master Chief confide in?" the answer was no one. I was alone. And that is how I feel now. Not all the time, but all the time. I know that does not make sense. MY wife has been exceptional!! She is totally supportive. Tries to understand. Is not judgemental. And in all ways has been a model wife, best friend, and care taker. But I can see the stress on her when all I can talk about is what is going on with my medical problems. I talk about my Parkinson's and Dementia constantly. It is forefront on my mind! It's much like a child who wants something real bad at Christmas. All they can do is talk about that toy, show you pictures in the catalog, call the commercials on the television to your attention, and show you the toy in the store every time you go to the mall from Thanksgiving to Christmas morning!! It becomes pretty monotonous. That is what my wife is suffering through. Again, she is fantastic. But I sympathise with her.
MY best friend, Jerry, is magnificent. He keeps me going. He shares many of the interests I had before I got sick. Jerry has always been there for me. Through thick and thin. He has been more loyal than a brother. Jerry gets me out of the house, doing things, and he understands my trials. I could not make it without him and his wife.
Then there is my Church family. My Pastor and his wife are a great source of spiritual help and love. The entire fellowship is supportive, kind, and loving. So there is no shortage of folks that are ready to help. Yet, the depression will not let me be.
I feel as though I am trapped in a room with no doors or windows. The room is slowly closing in on me from all sides and there is nothing I can do. I feel defeated, helpless, and useless. When I am in public, whether it is work or social, I feel I have to put on a facade of feeling good, being tough, and ready to go the next round. The truth is, I would really like to sit out a few rounds before I get off the stool again. But, I just can't rest right now. Robert Frost wrote a poem that describes my condition;
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
© Copyright 2002 CyberSpace Spinner
I still have miles to go before I sleep. But less than when I started this journey.
Depression is relentless, all consuming, dark, isolating. I despise it, but just like Parkinson's and Dementia, there is no cure, just treatment. So, I will just have to fight on. Like I said, there is no quit in me.