Aug 26, 2015

Post-vacation blues

My sophomore year at Alabama, I suffered a year-long depression. When I transferred to Johns Hopkins and my mood didn't improve, I made an appointment at Student Health. I told the doctor about my anxiety and the lump in my throat I felt when I woke each morning. She recommended the campus counseling center and gave me a card with the address, but before I left, she asked, "Are you on birth control?"

"Yes."

"Stop taking it."

I stopped taking my birth control, and my mood improved within a few weeks. It turns out that the birth control I was prescribed contained a higher-than-recommended dose of hormones due to a novel delivery method that was fast-tracked through FDA approval. There have been thousands of lawsuits after young women suffered blood clots, some fatal, while on the medication.

My depression was drug-induced, but, since then, I've carried the fear of looking down that dark tunnel again.

When I returned from a two-week trip to Salt Lake City (for work) and Bethany Beach (for fun), I felt down. Work was slow, as it is every August while we wait out the vacation schedules of Fortune 500s and we haven't yet launched into our demos for CES. I was still emotionally raw from the awkward and unexpected abuse that ended my last housing situation. I blamed myself for not sticking to my marathon training plan, and my window box flowers had died of dehydration while I was away. My gut clenched with fear that my low mood would flame into a full-blown depression.

My first week back, I forced myself to be social, but it didn't lift my mood, and I found it hard to get out of bed in the morning. The second week, I holed myself up with my crafts, Netflix, and my little yellow cognitive therapy book.

I rowed in the mornings, too. I liked the endorphin high, the women's chatter in the locker room after practice, and the slight aching soreness in my upper back.

Last night, I went to Brews and Board Games with my friend, Brad, and my new housemate. And for the first time in two weeks, I had fun. (I mean, I did not have fun actually playing the board games, which were mostly obscure fantasy games from the 1980's -- not my cup of tea.)

And guess what! My window box flowers came back to life.