According to the DSM, one of the symptoms of depression is “diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).”
When does indecisiveness become too much to handle, so pervasive that it would fit the DSM‘s criterion as a symptom of depression? When does indecisiveness cease to be a sign of careful deliberation and become a signifier of an underlying issue?
Among many decisions upon which I have recently vacillated, three appear to be of most moment: trying Seroquel, creating a Twitter account, and joining Canvas.
Regular followers of my blog will know that I’ve been taking Seroquel for a little over a month now. When my psychiatrist proposed giving Seroquel a chance, I hesitated. But why did I hesitate? For the past few months I’d been thinking that I might need a medication adjustment. Though Prozac and Wellbutrin worked well enough, I still felt as if I needed something more, something that could mitigate my sporadic episodes of self-destructive rage. On average, they happen only about every three months. Still, they present a threat to my security. I had been on the same doses of Prozac and Wellbutrin during my visit to the ER almost a year ago. The episode had crept up on me without warning. On the day it occurred, my self-loathing festered for several hours. I devised a plan to kill myself. Funnily enough, it was my indecisiveness that saved me that night. I felt caught between two choices: either I had to attempt suicide right then or throw myself into the ER.
In some situations, indecisiveness emanates from survival instinct.
But more often than not, indecisiveness hampers me. Let me return to my decision involving Seroquel. After my psychiatrist presented me with the possibility, my mind rapidly analyzed the pros and cons. Of course I need something else; I’ve been entirely sure of it for a while now. But how will it interact with my current medications? Will the mixture make matters worse? And what if, like Abilify, Seroquel destabilizes my life without giving me any benefits?
I told my psychiatrist that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Why, after so much certainty, did I shrink from this possible step?
Fear of the unknown, perhaps. I was familiar with my current regimen. A change could be disruptive, bringing too much baggage. Then again, I already knew that I needed some novel help from medications.
This is how my mind works, revolving the same possibilities again and again, with exhaustive repetition.
Finally, my psychiatrist claimed that he believed I would try Seroquel some day even if I decided not to right now. That sealed the deal. I replied that yes, I would take the Seroquel. Why?
Because the outcome now appeared to be a certainty. If it was inevitable, why not start right away? In a sense, the responsibility was out of my hands. If this were the wrong decision, it wouldn’t be my fault. Hadn’t the psychiatrist himself affirmed that it was an eventuality?
I think I’ve discussed that event long enough to confuse myself. What of my decisions to join Twitter and Canvas?
Though I did join Twitter on the spur of the moment, before then I had contemplated it for a couple of weeks. However, I’d always concluded that I shouldn’t do it. Why not?
Who would be interested in random little thoughts I have? Don’t people get enough of me from my blog already? I’d had the same sorts of thoughts when I’d started my blog. What’s the point of a blog if no one reads it? Who would want to read such depressing drivel?
Although it takes me forever to make a decision, when I finally do so, I stand firmly by it. Hence, I was not going to abandon the blog once I’d started it. If I do something, I want to see it through.
Perhaps this explains why it takes so long for me to make decisions. I don’t want to act unless I’m willing to fully commit myself to it. For that matter, I don’t want to make the wrong choice.
For someone who spends so much time on the task, however, I make decisions relatively quickly. I know that if I don’t make one, my thoughts will constantly dwell on the possibilities.
There was no harm in creating a Twitter account. Nothing catastrophic would happen if I did it. Thus, I might as well join Twitter.
How are we to know what the outcomes will be, anyway, without trying something out first? So what if I mess up on my initial attempt? That’s how I learn best. Would it be the end of the world? Probably not, although it may seem so at the time.
So what makes indecisiveness a symptom of depression? Why isn’t it merely the manifestation of a careful mind?
I suspect that the answer is a matter of degree. Does indecisiveness interfere with your daily life? Is it among several signs of depression that all interfere with your daily life? If so, it’s probably safe to conclude that you have a problem you need to address.
Being indecisive is sometimes debilitating. If all we did was sit around in perpetual indecision, we wouldn’t be living our lives. If left to my own devices, that would be me: sitting around all day merely thinking about doing something rather than actually doing it.
Therefore, I decide, though I’m not really comfortable with how I decide. I just take the plunge and hope for the best.
Just as constant indecision is problematic, constantly deciding without consideration is problematic. You haven’t fully acquainted yourself with the possibilities, which means you jump in unprepared.
I need a happy median, but I am unable to find it.
Until then, I will spend countless hours in the grips of indecision.
Obviously, I have decided to join Canvas. Why? Well, what would it hurt? Many of the other contributors must like my blog, as they read it. Even though in some ways my issues are different from theirs, I would belong.
I took the plunge.
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