The irony of the flashing message on the dashboard of the car did not escape me.
We were about to leave the parking lot of the Massachusetts motel where we had spent the night to drive to Connecticut to see family on the way home from our Vermont vacation. My husband turned the car on and there it was in bold flashing blue letters –
“Major Engine Malfunction. Reduced Power. Get Service Now.”
I would have laughed, but couldn’t summon up even a slight smile. For the first time ever, my sense of humor had left me. Perhaps it went on a vacation of its own? Somewhere restful like the beautiful deep lake in Vermont where we spent a few days in mid-August. The peace of which I could not fully appreciate because I was also experiencing a ““Major Engine Malfunction” of my own. My aunt and uncle and cousins in Vermont were kind to me. They sensed I was operating with “Reduced Power.”
My long-time therapist labeled it Depression – which I have never before experienced.
Anxiety, yes, that is a familiar condition for me. Years of it. (SEE the title of this blog.) But Depression? That’s been something new this summer. Feeling flat. Low energy. Sad on the sunniest of days. Not enjoying spending time with my grandsons at the beach (my usual happy place.) Dull, no interest and little appetite.
And I couldn’t write. Not a word. For weeks. The space formerly occupied by my creative self was blank. Not so much a writer’s block, but a nothingness.
The Depression kind of crept up on me in June, then steamed full ahead in July and by early August my therapist decided I should try a new medication. Which I did. And experienced a full set of horrible side-effects (which luckily for you I will not enumerate.) Poor timing as they put me in distress during my longed-for few days in Vermont. The lovely lake, the green mountains, the quiet of the woods, the water rippling at the dock; none worked their usual magic on me.
My therapist agreed I could taper off the new medication but wow, its side effects were persistent. I was still feeling awful on that bright morning in my old college-town in mid-Massachusetts when the car’s error message of “Major Engine Malfunction. Reduced Power. Get Service Now” eerily matched my own condition.
In the good news department: the car’s engine did not erupt as we slowly drove to Connecticut where the car got the service it needed.
My 94-year-old Dad always says that a problem is not a problem if it can be fixed by money. Lucky for us the engine was still under warranty and we spent little to have it repaired.
If only our personal engine malfunctions could be so readily resolved.
I am working on mine with the help of a new med, my therapist, my patient husband, and understanding friends and family.
And as soon as the space formerly occupied by my creative self resumes functioning, I will get back to writing – and taking classes and volunteering and enjoying the sunshine.
Waiting also for my sense of humor to return from wherever it went on its own apparently needed vacation. I will keep you posted.