At 50 and change, I've managed to dodge many dreadful things that seem to happen to other people: ill health, an ugly divorce, being strip-searched on an episode of "Cops." However, I couldn't avoid the hurt and humiliation of being fired from a crappy reality TV show.
After 35 years of being a stand-up, three seasons as a sitcom writer and 14 years working in reality TV, I had never been "let go" and it made me question the fate of my professional career. Out of work and out of sync, I sunk into a deep funk, realizing that just how the effects of reality TV had altered the lives of others, it was now altering mine, and no manipulating, or fixing it in post was going to change my state of being.
I've always been a late sleeper, but never one unable to get out of bed. Lately, it's been difficult to find a reason to rise and greet the day. I wish I could be aroused as easily as my dogs hearing the crinkling of cellophane or the words, "Who wants to eat?" What forces me out of bed is the fear of becoming one of those lost souls on depression commercials who shuffle around the house in ill fitting clothes, twirling their unwashed hair, staring blankly out the window at the dreary day. Thank god I have good hygiene, great fashion sense and don't live in Seattle.
One of the downsides of being depressed is how unaffordable it can be. I've now added to my without pay expenses, a therapist, a psychiatrist and three prescriptions, two times a day. And the funny thing about health care … they don't care! They think your acute case of melancholy is some pesky rash that you'll wrap up in five visits. Really? I'd have better coverage at a nudist colony.
I've been to therapists here and there but seeing a psychiatrist was like being brought up to the major leagues, only not in a good way. My first appointment felt surreal, as the doctor was a middle-aged woman with scruffy hair, beige clothes and the personality of a sensible shoe, who looked more sullen than the people in the depression commercial.
Three hundred dollars later, I was given options as to which medication I could choose. "You can take Paxil or Prozac. Doxapin or Amoxapine. Effexor or Celexa, Nopramin or Remeron, Sinequan or Cymbalta." Aaahhh! How do I choose? By which one that doesn't make me dizzy, incontinent and suicidal?
After settling on the brand with the blurry vision, a perfect fit for my out of focus life, she wished me luck, knowing all too well the dance depressed people do in an effort to relieve their symptoms. Because there's no "one pill fits all." And who says the one you pick will keep working? For all we know, anti-depressants could be nothing more than a big tease, like a flirty teenage girl who won't put out.
I felt bad for my husband Tom, who was blindsided by my sudden battle with despair. How sad he must've felt when I didn't laugh at his silly dancing and juvenile jokes. How lonely that he dined alone after cooking us gourmet meals. How ironic that my husband—who can remodel a fireplace, replace a broken faucet and repair faulty wiring—couldn't fix me.
For half a year, I paced around my house trying to get comfortable in my own skin. Being social became more of a chore than a fun choice. And as someone who would never consider committing suicide, I was starting to understand how somebody could.
Friends and family offered unlimited amounts of unsolicited advice, not unlike a bad phone plan. Take plenty of fish oil, do daily downward dogs and read these 42 self-help books. But with no attention span to plow through the power of this and the healing of that, or the drive to drive myself to Yoga World, I knew the only way out of this shitstorm was to find something simple to boost my self-esteem and get me out of my head.
So, six months into ingesting too many milligrams that made me feel further from myself, I embraced my anxiety and weaned off of my medication. My psychiatrist thought I was crazy, go figure, but it was mayday on my mental state, and her method wasn't working.
Then a friend suggested running. I thought, what the hell? I had already logged many miles walking in circles inside my house. I might as well reap the benefits of doing it outdoors. So, I started to run. First a mile, then two. I joined a running group. Soon, two miles became 10. Without fully realizing it, my head had begun to clear. Maybe the only drugs I needed were my endorphins.
I smiled as I passed other runners and they smiled back. Was it possible that I was actually feeling good? Four months in, I completed my first half marathon with a medal to match! The joy I felt was real. After that, everything became easier because I had just crossed the hardest finish line of my life.
I think there's something to the idea of sending positive vibes out to the universe because just when I was figuring out my next career move, a great job offer fell into my lap. It was another reality show, but a competition series with stand-up comics where I was loved and respected.
Finally, the only thing blue in my life is my 10 pairs of denim jeans and blue rose tattoo on my belly. Now when my husband cooks a beautiful meal and hollers, "Who wants to eat?" my ears perk up with the dogs. Thank god, the man I adore didn't pack his knives and go.