Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Do I smell depression in the air?

I have succumbed to the necessary evil of placing the poison cartridge into the RAID device and plugging it into the wall so that the mosquitoes would stop chewing on my flesh. I was warned about it when I got here and I was told not to sleep with it or else I'll wake up stoned. I have just had it with the mosquitoes here, especially with all the diseases floating around China that can be transferred by a carrier mosquito bite. Today I saw a man walking around with a surgeon's mask and it reminded me of SARS and it got me scared that these things could be floating around the China ecosystem.

I stumbled upon a blog that caught my interest. The name of the blog is Nice Jewish Girl. This site frightened me more than anything, because I am not too many years away from her age. However, what frightened me was that I didn't even need to read her whole blog to know what she was saying, because I felt that her words could have been written by me about myself. I got chills when I read about her experience of being single and how it landed her in a doctor's office for depression. I have a secret fear that I am not too far away from that myself.

In her post, she writes an interesting comment about how Rabbis tell baal teshuva (newly religious) boys and girls to stop being physical and they do, just as I did. However, without some kind of way to fill the gap of the suddenly missing intimacy, there remains a void which eventually alienates that pious individual from both the members of the opposite sex and himself or herself, as sexual activity is no longer part of that person's life. Sure, a person can hire a prostitute or do something cheap with someone, but realistically for moral, health, and psychological reasons, no normal person will do that. At least I wouldn't.

Even if the fear of getting caught were erased, I still couldn't do it because then I would have to lie to my wife when I got married because I wouldn't have the heart to tell her that I couldn't deal with being single anymore, so I fucked a friend or I hired a prostitute, or I found a girlie to have meaningless sex with. I'd rather deny myself all physical contact as I have been and spare myself the need to lie to someone later or worse yet, to actually tell my wife about these experiences if they happened. I would rather not give in to my temptations at all so that I wouldn't lose the moral integrity later on when I did tell my future wife what I did.

For that reason, I stay alone night after night, and counting now five years of being shomer negiah (absolutely no physical contact with a woman) -- a 180 degree change from living a normal life with a girlfriend, movies, dancing, and dinner dates. This lack of all that has probably had an effect on my emotional state. In the "Nice Jewish Girl" blog, it almost led her to suicide, but rather it led her to get medical attention for the depression that developed.

Which brings me to my thought. I wonder whether I am what some would call clinically depressed. Any test I have ever taken since becoming religious has pointed out that I experience severe depression on a regular basis. Yet, I am one of the most balanced people I know, and it seems like I am like all of my peers. Could they all be depressed too? I am productive when I need to be, and I am social when I need to be. Yet when I don't have a responsibility to be social, I am alone in my room in solitude, whether it is at a hotel room in China, or whether it is alone in my room in my dad's house. I often wonder whether I should get medical help, because anything and everything that people have written about depression seems to apply to me. I can spend days alone without going outside to see sunlight, in fact, I accidentally often do. I'll want to take a few hours off, and I emerge days later not knowing what day it is. I've been happy for Shabbos these past few months, because it seems to come every few days instead of at the end of every week. However, I would not describe myself as sad, just a bit numb and indifferent. I am able to distract myself from any bad feelings that enter into my mind because I don't find value in wallowing in my own self-pity.

Anyway, all this talk about depression is just a question that I ask of you because you've been reading my blogs for these past few months and I value your opinion. I am not changing any life path as I thought I might last night, nor am I breaking away from law school, nor am I becoming a heretic to religious life in order to pursue the life of an opera singer... just yet. I have the tracks of my life laid out in front of me, and I am the locomotive driving at full speed down this path that I have chosen.


Rowan said...

I sensed yesterday that what you were writing about was inner turmoill and that you were soul searching, looking for answers.

I suffer from clinical depression. I think I have ALWAYS known it was there. For years, I thought that there was something wrong with me. I was ashamed of it though. I am a perfectionist, a Type A personality, a social (sometimes) person who prefers to be alone a lot of the time, and someone who relies on reflection and the past rather than the present. I'm introspective and an introvert. I have always found solice in melancholy.

If you think that there is a chance you could be depressed, go seek your doctor's advice. I wouldn't just say that, I don't exactly love doctors and I know it would be really hard - maybe the hardest thing you'd have to own up to to this point.

There are many degrees of depression, mine is labelled as "significant". I found out I was medically depressed when I was unable to sleep more than 1-4 hours a night and was still going on steady like this for 3 months! I had no idea at that point that this is what was causing my lack of sleep, but then they have a standard set of questions they ask you, and based on that, they prescribe some drugs for you. I was also asked by a different doctor to check myself into anger management. This brought about images of Jack Nicholson singing "I feel pretty" but, I realize it was worthwhile advice. My family doctor feels to this day that this is unnecessary, and he changed my prescription, and now Im ok. I'm even using to track my moods, and there does seem to be a corelation between my sleep deprivation and my irritablity/depression level. I'm keeping on it, but medication has helped me stop myself from suicide. Maybe that is all you need? An example of the sort of questions you can be expected to be asked can be found at:
In the end, it is you that needs to decide if you are depressed, but judging from what I know of you, there's a possibility. Incidentaly, I tend to find depressed people very poetic and beautiful, like you!

Rowan said...

ps, this girl sounds nice, any chance you are she are close enough in religious beliefs to get together as a possible husband/wife situation?