Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Deep Dark Hole

By this time, I accept fewer contracting projects, and of these, I pick the least physically challenging. I need the rest for my formerly encapsulated shoulders to heal and strengthen. I am lucky that, as a lone self-employed craftsman, I have the privilege of slowing down.  It also helps that my wife, Martha, has a great job.
In the spring of 2007, I developed a cold and cough that lingered for several months. However, the real story was my frightening descent into what I can only describe as the deep, dark hole. Very little light entered the hole, and no enthusiasm rose from it.  I was numb.  In fact, I could physically feel the despair. I was consumed by paralyzing bouts of anxiety and claustrophobia that were so bad I could not drive a car for any length of time without pulling over.  I had to get out and breathe.  I missed our daughter’s college graduation because I could not tolerate the three hour trip to Penn State.
Of course, I sought help from my family physician.  And, of course, I was treated for depression with pharmaceuticals.  And, after a time, 30 mg. of Paxil a day actually did relieve my symptoms.
I was convinced that the depression was triggered by some unknown mold that I had breathed in some dank basement on some jobsite. I like explanations, even if they’re wrong. My doctor was happy that his prescribed treatment was working, no explanation needed.
What neither of us knew at the time was that a part of my brain, the Substantia nigra, was dying. There was no easy pill to swallow to stop it.

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