Secret Pop

Oct 29, 2003

I'm bigger than this.

I took an online quiz about depression. I can't imagine it was written by doctors. The questions were so obvious. I felt like it was trying to entrap me into admitting I'm worse off than I am. By the time it asked if I think about killing myself, I thought, "Well, I THINK about it. But I'm a philosopher. I think about all sorts of things. I'm not planning to do anything." Internet quizzes are far too unsophisticated for my keen mind. Obviously.

Plus, I might just be keyed down over all the fire news. My family is safe. My friends have been unaffected so far. But I've been looking at pictures of people standing helplessly on the ashes of their homes and on the Union-Tribune online yesterday there was a list of streets and house numbers in Scripps Ranch, and it was just so sad to think that all those homes were gone. And when it would say "Such and Such Court: All homes destroyed," it just made my heart ache for those people. The entire town of Cuyamaca burned to the ground. And, yesterday, a local Los Angeles news reporter made some comment about how the San Bernardino fires may have just turned from a case of arson to homicide, with that typical local news emphatic pause before "to homicide." Apparently, four elderly people died of heart attacks as they watched their homes burn. I'm not sympathetic to the arsonists. Stone them in a quarry for all I care (but not to death -- I'm against capital punishment, for the record). But I was surprised that no one at the news station would have flagged the guy down and mentioned that referring to these deaths as if they had been murders might be a little sensationalistic. It just goes to show you that when you watch t.v., you can pick and choose from many different topics to get all riled up over.

But it's no mystery that all this loss and devastation -- and the nostalgic reconnection with my own family's house burning down a while back -- makes me sad. It's just that I'm pretty sure I was sad already. And I'm finding myself trying to pretend I'm not so people won't get sick of me. I'm sure everyone agrees this is the most important reason to seek assistance for what ails you.

I guess I have to admit that I was raised to frown on seeking medical or chemical assistance. Something about having a dad born during the Depression maybe. Or a mom born Chinese and invincible. Yeah. It's probably her more than my dad. When I complain of back pain after a three and a half hour drive in hellish traffic, she does big circles with her arms and says, "I never get back aches. What's wrong with you?" All with a triumphant grin on her face. She's very proud of her victorious health.

So, when I'm not feeling well, if there is an over-the-counter remedy for it, she's the first to buy me a dozen or so bottles or blister-packs. But if you have to go to a doctor, you're probably making it up. I guess that's the logic. Even though she has been afforded lifelong free medical care from my father's military service, she seems to think that only suckers go to the hospital. Suckers and weaklings.

Even when I've had convenient medical coverage -- even back in the days when I had a luxurious PPO that cost me nearly nothing to use -- I went to the doctor nearly never. Not even for the scheduled stuff you're supposed to go for. I'm really bad that way. And now, I've got an entirely inconvenient medical plan that requires me to go to the doctor in San Diego, so I just don't go. And as the maladies pile up, I am even more reluctant to try and make an appointment with whoever my primary care physician is. I dread having to tell him or her about all the referrals I'm trying to get. I assume I will seem like a scam artist or a hypochondriac. And I'm one of those idiots who thinks denial can be placed in the category of "treatment." If I don't tell anyone there's a part of my left leg that is always numb these days, maybe it won't turn out to be anything. Or I place myself in an imaginary, unhealthy peer group. Maybe everyone spends their entire day with their eyes burning miserably and a slight feeling of dizziness every time they stand up. Maybe everyone sleeps only 90 minutes at a time and can't manage to feel rested. Maybe everyone hates eating or drinking anything because of the immediate discomfort and self-loathing it inspires. Maybe everyone feels like utter crap, but they just keep it to themselves. And if I were to veer from that course of dignity and secrecy, I will be the one to spoil it for everyone. The jig will be up, and it will be on my head that we all have to go around admitting that we're quite uncomfortable really and not "fine" as the saying goes.

Yesterday, I took a handful of different medicines and supplements and vitamins and mysterious, smelly capsules. And by early evening, I felt worse than ever. And depression may very well be the tip of it. I don't think I would be surprised to hear a doctor tell me I'm depressed. Doctors prescribe for everything these days, don't they? I think if you go to the doctor complaining of depression, they pretty much take you at your word. I guess the surprise would come in having a medication actually resolve anything for me. With what I know of adverse effects -- mild though they may be -- I have trouble thinking I would be happier with a cheerful disposition and a perpetual case of drymouth or mild incontinence or nausea. This is a ride I've been reluctant to board. But I'm also tired of being jealous of everyone else I know who seems to be getting on all right. I'm not so bad off. But I'm never tip top. And I'm curious about what it would be like to be. Just once.

Maybe I'm smaller than this after all.

No comments: