Monday, May 05, 2008

What I fear lies ahead

I was recently sent a troubling email indicating that depression is a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer's Disease. Like I don't have enough to worry about.

William Styron's daughter wrote a beautiful New Yorker piece about his life, including the last six years of it, which were "an ongoing disaster.... a cavalcade of emergency rooms and rehab centers." They tried remedy after remedy, including ECT and vagus nerve stimulation, to no avail. He was abjectly miserable, in almost constant agony.

I shouldn't worry about this now (especially not at 5:30 a.m.). But my grandmother has dementia and geriatric-onset depression, and it's extremely hard on my parents, with whom she lives. Will I descend to the same depths as Styron? If I never end up getting married and having kids, who will take care of me?

Then again, I'm not even supposed to be alive. If my mother hadn't found me less than 12 hours after my overdose, I would have died. I took a pretty whopping overdose, including about 7000 mg of Depakote. If you don't happen to be a pharmacologist, I'll let you in on a little secret: that's a lot of Depakote, which is pretty toxic. They dialyzed my blood three times, and when I stayed unconscious, some of the doctors (including Jerusha) thought I would never wake up.

But I did. And there seem to be no lasting effects from my "little stunt" (as Jerusha terms it, of course), aside from a minor tremor. I remember the doctor coming into my hospital room on my last day there, after a week in a coma, five days in the ICU, and seven days on the regular medical ward. Shaking her head, she said in a tone of amazement, "I just wanted to let you know that your liver and kidneys are fine, no damage whatsoever."

That was another minor miracle. A fellow therapy group member on the psych ward, who struggled with both depression and polysubstance abuse, let me know this was probably because I wasn't a party girl and didn't wolf down cocaine and alcohol the way she did -- I hadn't overworked my liver and kidneys, which filter and process toxins. Lucky me.

So maybe I'll go gentle into that good night, instead of raging and suffering as Styron did. Even if I don't, now is probably not the best time to worry about it.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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