Friday, March 30, 2012

I find myself poised to procrastinate. Actually, I'm already putting things off, the question being how thoroughly I will procrastinate. Will I convince myself to attend this social event late, or will I hide out with my computer, some lame excuse about doing homework (the class website is open in another tab), and my own weariness and desire for comfort. SSRI #4 seems to bring with it extra tiredness (funny how quickly I forget that I was exhausted before I even started SSRI #4). I crashed around 4 pm for an hour and a half nap. That was nice. But sleep doesn't seem to take away this weariness.

What I need to do is go over to the coffee shop and show up at "Deaf Coffee Night." I need this for one of my classes. But I've never gone before. What do I do, just show up and interrupt? Pull out my Puerto Rican accented, Utah State University "educated" ASL skills and hope I don't sign any swear words on accident? Bring along my OCD brain so that it can pile guilt on me for anything that might possibly be almost construed as a mistake?

Speaking of which, I got a homework assignment yesterday afternoon at counseling. My counselor wants me to keep a tally of how often I think about my "bad Christian" concerns (the, what-am-I-doing-wrong-that-has-me-so-depressed-I-must-be-in-rebellion-against-God concerns). I didn't want to keep such a record. Sounded as ridiculous as counting how many times I wash my hands (hmm, I wonder why the comparison). The worst part not being the counting, but the mandated "reduction of episodes" the following week. As in, After worrying a total of 17 times the first week, I must limit myself to feeling anxious only 10 times the following week. Forget the therapy! Can't I at least be miserable in peace?

I decided to divide the issue, since I'm not sure if category B fits with my counselor's request to record category A thoughts, and I wouldn't want to make such a big mistake, nor would I want to misrepresent myself and have her thinking I'm despairing over my depression-religion connection concerns more than I actually am. So category A thoughts are along the line of what-am-I-doing-wrong thoughts. Category B thoughts are "is-this-a-sin" thoughts. The results of my afternoon from 3:10 until I went to sleep are very telling. Three "what-am-I-doing-wrong" thoughts, and ... twenty-four "is-this-a-sin" thoughts! That many "is-this-a-sin" thoughts must be a sin in itself, you know (add tally mark). And then, it is as if my thoughts start mocking me. Like when I have ninety marks and I really want a twentieth mark to round things out. Or when, once started, my brain generates more and more possible sin diagnoses. It was ironic. And irritating. Like,"Brain, could you stop now? This is a ridiculous number of times. I bet even my pastor could recognize that, or maybe even that nice gentleman that assured my that my conscience couldn't lie."

That was a funny assertion. I'll grant a technical agreement. And then add that, even though my conscience doesn't lie, I get pretty good imitation "convictions" that are lies. (24 danger signals from my conscience in one evening? Not saying it wouldn't be possible, but... And did I mention the half hour of my evening spent agonizing on the sinful/sinlesness of making a purchase at the store?) (Ironically, "sinlessness" is not a word recognized by the spellcheck.)

Of course, we could go with how "saintly" I am with my "tender conscience." Kind of a bit like Martin Luther, maybe? Like the Martin Luther thought to have OCD in addition to depression? But then again, if I am so "saintly," why do I keep doing these "possibly sinful" things? And hey, shouldn't my conscience have gotten harder by now, just like I've been warned ("if you go on sinning, your conscience with become hardened and stop warning you so easily"). Why hasn't the thing shut up by now? Then again, hasn't it? Haven't I been increasing my number of "lies" when I don't add sufficient qualifying words ("probably completely," "nearly completely," "cleaned almost every square inch of the floor but I did skip mopping the closet, so maybe I didn't really finish cleaning the kitchen"). And my "conscience" has gotten a bit harder - I'm not in quite as much distress when I "lie" by not including all the details.

Maybe I should just... make an approach to the Scarey Social Situation. I've got to do it. Or could I pass the class with a lower grade without it? Or do it all over the internet with the lovely webcam? Or just make myself go. I could just - get some coffee, and if I'm too scared, I can just leave then, but at least I'll have made it into the room. Good plan. Escape route planned, maybe the anxiety will be lower. But what if they think I'm rude for showing up late? They might think that, you know. Lateness might equal rudeness in deaf culture where I currently live (it didn't in Puerto Rico, but I'm not in Puerto Rico any longer). I guess I'll have to take the risk of being rude at some point. Isn't that funny? I bet not everyone has realized that to interact with another person, you must risk being rude. But I'm pretty sure it's true. Or at least, will feel true to me.

Happy Friday! Writing makes me feel a little better about myself. Maybe that will help me go... right after I look up one more thing on the internet.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Yesterday, I was unbelieveably happy. Probably had something to do with the big blue sky and warmer weather. Even non-depressed people seemed revived by the weather. Then, also, there were a few times when I felt close to depression and close to a happier outlook. For the day, I was able to switch to the happier side. Hurray!

But that was yesterday. Today? Tired. Work was remarkably peaceful, compared to what could have been. But I was still stressed by the end. Then I wanted to sleep, but convinced myself that I'd rather play computer games. (I'm into one that's like Memory, but timed. I like to think that all the matching and remembering where things are is growing my brain in a healthy way.) Now I think that might have been not the most ideal choice. Then I finished putting together my beloved new bookshelf. It even looks good! (But OCD still has a finger in there questioning if it was a sin to buy the bookshelf, and is it okay to enjoy something that maybe I shouldn't have bought.) Then I rearranged my bedroom. It's looking good except for all the displaced stuff cluttering it. Then I tackled the OCD-inhibited schoolwork.

You know that yucky feeling that you have to make a decision and the OCD is involved so it's a loose-loose situation? I had to make some choices for this schoolwork. Counting time spent observing versus discounting time that the observed person wasn't sufficiently engaged in what I was supposed to be watching. OCD says, don't count too much time; that would be a lie (carry it to it's terrible conclusion? Discredits my whole degree. That's probably more likely than my teacher calling me on counting too much time). Tired me says, but count enough time. I don't want to do extra work. So we fought it out, and I've sent my paper in, after rereading the e-mail with directions about what to count and what not to. The directions weren't very clear, at least not for my OCD. Sigh. Some things land in the grey and still have to be recorded in black or white.

But the anxiety set off my avoidance. Which set off more computer games. Which I kept not winning. Which didn't help the depression that was already stressed with anxiety. So today was a normal day, not a spectacular, unbelieveably happy day.

I guess that's okay. Normal is okay (even if long term I want changes). And I did get things done. Not everything. Not the kitchen floor that needs mopped. But hey, I don't think my roommate mopped it last time, either.

I'm getting a new room-mate, hopefully. And I don't want to tell her that I have depression and OCD. I think I wont tell her right now. (OCD - shut up. Leave off the "are you lying" game.) It shouldn't really affect her much.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Today I slept until four minutes until I was supposed to take a test 10 minutes away. But it was at a testing center, not in a classroom. I called and got permission to come in half an hour late. Still finished the test well within what the time limit would have been had I started on time. The teacher gives two hours for tests that usually take me less than half an hour. Because I either know it or I don't know it. Multiple choice (I love multiple choice). Sign language tests where I have to record myself signing... I can take longer on those (but they aren't proctored, so I can choose my own start time and place).

Mostly, today, I slept. Not sure why. After my test was over around 11:00 am, I went shopping at three places, bought one thing, then went home, ate one cookie, and slept another three or more hours. I wasn't feeling good. Possibly a bug from work. More likely due to not getting enough sleep. Also possibly related to either the medication I'm getting off or the new one I'm starting. The one I'm getting off (venlafaxine) isn't one of the easiest to get off, according to what I've read and what the psychiatrist said.

And the one I'm getting on? It didn't have the warnings and all that most psych. meds have, so the pharmacist printed me out a bunch of pages - a longer med. guide. The kind that hasn't yet been summarized in the concise, print-on-the-back-of-the-prescription-paper kind. The kind that rates the dangers into "side effects," "contact your doctor if"s, and "seek immediate medical attention if"s. This one had side effects that were more likely along with ones that didn't have a proven connection. Serious and silly listed together. Also written in complicated words so that I wouldn't even know what the symptoms of some potential side effects would be. Which is okay. My short version of antidepressant side effects would read, "may kill you, watch for increased indications of suicide risk, if it makes you shake a lot, be somewhat concerned (but don't immediately panic since shaking isn't likely to kill you), if you get a really bad fever or other really bad flu symptoms, you probably have the flu, but you can call a doctor just in case you have an exciting, potentially life threatening "blah-blah serotonin syndrome somethingorother" problem. Most importantly, don't take the risks too seriously, because, after all, you really hate this stupid depression." But the long version the pharmacist printed out did cite a highly amusing reported side effect: "feeling different." I laughed. That was very funny to me. So, in case you also are trying the same SSRI that I am, be aware that it could leave you "feeling different." I sure hope it leaves me feeling different! Only I'm hoping for a positive difference, a less depressed difference, not an alien or zombie feeling. Then again, if I feel like that really cute alien that is pictured in one of the computer games I keep playing, it might not be so bad, because that is a really cute, cheerful looking critter.

This is my fourth SSRI, and I'm quitting my seventh tried-and-rejected psych med. It took me a few days to get over being really upset about starting my fourth SSRI, but I'm feeling better (or number in that cheerfulish numbness that comes with weariness, onset of cold viruses, and I'm not sure when else.

It did help to cry a lot in front of people on Thursday night. I went to the young adult group from my church, the one I often turn down due to wanting to go to the mental illness support group and/or due to it making me stay out until after 9 pm. But I missed church Sunday with my lovely headache, sleepiness, and dead car (thankfully, with jump starts, cars may have more than 9 lives). So I went, and discovered that the pastor who usually preaches on Sundays was going to be speaking that night. So, I listened to the first part of his lesson, then started crying. That worked out okay, because I walked into another room, cried silently, and then returned, having put myself back together. To my surprise, after that, the talking didn't make me want to cry; it made me want to talk to the pastor. See, there have been some things he's said that I've wanted to talk to him about. Things I would have said differently. My counselor has recommended talking to him about them, but so far, I never get around to it. So after the lesson was over, I actually went up to him and talked to him! Hurray! I hope he didn't take offense. Sometimes, when I'm depressed, I say things that, when I look back from a less depressed standpoint, aren't as big a problem as I first perceive them to be. I appreciated talking with him. Mostly, I disagreed with how he said things or with things he didn't say. So I had the pleasure of stating my own opinions. But at the end, I tried to soften my disagreements by admitting to the dead churches in my past that color my view of the present. So he nicely pointed out that I could be missing things due to focusing too much on other things. And I nicely agreed that that could be. At least I hope it was nicely. And he concluded that the legalistic view of God was wrong as was the happy Santa Clause don't care about sin so let's enjoy sinning view of God were both wrong and what we need is a relationship with God. And I concluded agreeing with him but started crying about the relationship part.

Because the depression seems to sit squarely between me and that "relationship." So we switched topics and I talked about depression with him for a while. Him and his wife, since she joined us then. The wife seemed to want to find ways to start fixing the depression, but after I questioned her about several approaches if she meant that that would cure my depression, she got really good at stating right off that her ideas were not intended either as complete cures or to imply any guilt on my part. Sweat lady, really. And another guy from the young adult group joined in, providing another first hand account of depression. His depression improved recently concurrently with spiritual growth. Lucky man. But between him, the pastor's wife, the pastor, and myself, we had an interesting discussion going. No cures, but I really didn't even want cures! I wanted understanding. I wanted support. I wanted to understand how Christianity and my depression co-existed, how joy and peace and depression can exist at the same time, because I'm not that interested in something that I can't have while I'm still depressed, because I'm not sure how long this depression is going to stick around. Besides, if I can't have joy and peace and depression simultaneously, how can my depression not be sin? And I don't think depression equals sin.

Anyway, many tears, a few prayers, and feelings of support later, we stopped talking and I left around 10, with myself responsible for the late night. Friday, I felt a little embarrassed about the thought of all I'd said and cried along with seeing those people again, but today I'm glad I got to talk to them. And even though I didn't exactly solve anything regarding my wording differences with the pastor, I feel better that I've discussed it. Now, I'll hope that if he is offended by what I said, that he can tell me so that I can apologize, because I don't want to spend much time in OCD worry about whether or not I've offended him or said something wrong. Wait, I already decided one phrase I spoke was not good. But I think it's one I should just move on from.

And now, I think I've written enough - no, wait. I started "My Book of High Fives," a notebook of entries of five positive things I'm thankful for or that happened each day. My counselor was in on the five things plan. I chose the double meaning title, and bribery is already involved, since I've told myself that I can put stickers on the pages that I write. I love stickers. Cat stickers, dog stickers, etc. My first two pages have been fun.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Negative self talk and trying to counter it.

I'm wondering how many times I've written about this. I could call it "stigmatism" issues. Only the spell checker doesn't like the word and is suggesting I write about my eyes and the problem one of them has (an astigmatism). I could call it "scrupulosity," which might not be quite accurate, but then again might be a little accurate. I could call it... I could forget a title, and just write about it (brilliant!).

I was just reading http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/03/they-just-dont-get-it.html and http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/03/depression-its-spiritually-incorrect.html, and reading some of the comments. People say things to people with depression, and people with depression feel hurt. Simple. Then there is the battle that goes on in my brain. I care what "people" say, but why? Why do I feel hurt inside when I'm told things like, "everybody feels that way," or, "if you really trust God and obey Him, you wouldn't still have this depression"? The "everybody feels that way" issue boils down to, if everybody feels this way, why can't I just pull it together and live my life! I mean, if the whole world is moderately depressed, why can't I handle feeling this way better? Why do I need medications and a counselor? It must be because I am weak. The thought that actually hurts is the thought that I'm weak. Other people thinking I'm weak shouldn't be too much of a problem, unless I suspect it's true but don't want it to be true. The same thing goes for the whole, "if you were a better follower of God, you wouldn't be this depressed" issue. It is annoying if my pastor tells me in the psych. ward that I should be able to hit the delete button on my disturbing OCD thoughts. It is heartbreaking to believe that I should be able to simply delete my OCD thoughts. It is annoying to be told that depression is actually a sin issue and not a mental illness, but it is heartbreaking to believe that depression is actually a sin issue and not a mental illness. So why do I read about Christianity and mental disorders? Why do I read about stigma and people's misperceptions (spellcheck doesn't like "misperceptions" either, instead endorsing "misconceptions")? I read it because I hope that the information given to explain to people why other people are wrong in certain ideas will finally convince my own brain that I am wrong in those certain ideas. I think, well, maybe if my mom and my sisters and my pastors and my friends all really understand what mental illness is and don't lay false blame, maybe then I'll really be able to discredit the fears inside of myself that the false blame may actually be true. So the person I most want to convince about all of this is... myself. Yup. And I have OCD, so we all know how easy it can be for me to convince myself that something I fear doesn't need to be feared. :) Hmmm, how do you do an exposure on that? "Take the risk" that I am an extra lazy, extra weak, extra disobedient-to-God person? Go ahead and see my counselor regularly and take the medications the Dr prescribes? I.e., continue what I've been doing, but maybe cut out some of the self judgements and cut myself more slack? Maybe.

On the judgement issue, we could talk about me and Seroquel. I was talking to the psychiatrist yesterday, and he was trying to remember why we had pulled back from 300 to 150 mgs. Did it make me too tired? Umm, no. I mean, sure, it maybe made me extra tired, but I'm pretty positive that could be overcome with time. I've gotten over the 150 mg tiredness, after all (well, most days?). No, the issue was that I didn't want to be on Seroquel. Because it's an antipsychotic. And I've heard of "people" (vague rumor that I could easily have gotten mixed up or even made up myself in response to some comment) who don't want to or wont take Seroquel or it's relatives because they don't want to be on an antipsychotic. I, of course, look down on "them" for being so... so... proud? Then I look at myself and realize, I am one of them. So I look down on myself, just like they said would happen when discussing hierarchies in therapy in the psych unit. Really, I dislike that I need Seroquel. I start questioning (after all, I have OCD; I'm good at finding problems). Maybe I don't need Seroquel. Maybe I'm just taking it because I am weak and foolish and am bringing up issues that I shouldn't, resulting in Drs prescribing medication that I don't need. Clearly, if I wasn't thinking about depression, I wouldn't even be depressed! (No magical thinking in my world; how about magical not-thinking.) Hah! Back to the starting issue.

Coping Method #81 (this is on topic, by the way): If you can't be nice to yourself, be nice to your friend's friend. So its largely word play, but it sure made my Monday evening more livable. I didn't want to be nice to myself. My friend Rebecca reminded me that there are people who care about me. So I decided to treat myself like I would treat a friend of Rebecca's (hmm, that's the way I would say it, but written down, the grammar is not right). It worked pretty well. Instead of making nasty comments to myself, I had to make sure Rebecca's friend got food for supper and all that she would need from me if I was her host. I told her not to worry about making some social mistake by saying something wrong - hey, we all do that all the time. Funny how nice I can be to Rebecca's friend.

And then the next day... Another friend quoted a friend of hers, "Never say something to yourself that you wouldn't say to someone else."

And another moment of self-condemnation,... A well meaning friend says she doesn't think I'm as different from "normal" people as I think I am. Maybe that is supposed to be a complement to make me feel better. Maybe it should make me feel "not alone." Maybe it's supposed to, ...? I'm sure it was a nice comment. But here is what I quickly deduced; you don't have any more mental illness that a "normal" person, which means that you are weak or lazy or both - and add in sinful, there, too - and because of your inferior abilities (or character), you feel sorry for yourself, can't handle "normal" as well as a "normal" person, and/or, oh, I don't know, insert some other offensive remark here, because I need three statements to round it out nicely. (And good job, OCD, for making the "and" an "and/or" just in case I'm accidentally but subconsciously intentionally lying.)

Now what was I saying about speaking nicely to myself? Oh, that was what my friend said. I guess I'd better be nice to my friend's friend if I can't be nice to myself. Only, if I keep that up, will I qualify for some other mental/personality disorder? Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want whatever title it would get me.

Silly saying time. I have amused myself once again. Sorry if the joke is non-transferable. My depressed thoughts were going on as usual. The conversational style was present. "Blah, blah, blah, [depressed statement]." Then I have to respond to it. I've got numerous responses, one of my favorite being, "Oh, hello, Depression." (The depression doesn't seem to like that one because it discredits what the depression just said.) But this time, my brain replied, "Yeah, and if I believe that, you'll tell me another one." Then I laughed because it was so true. Of course, depression isn't too hindered by unbelief; it keeps chatting either way, but it can get worse if I believe it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

it's been an interesting weekend

Thursday, I saw my counselor. Not my happiest visit. I was being trouble and I knew it, so I tried to switch tracks and go right out and say my problem instead of arguing with her questions. I didn't have motivation to do anything about my depression, (aside from seeing the psychiatrist and taking my meds). She said, "That is a telling statement." She said that in that case, it would be harder, but she couldn't leave me where I was; she'd have to push or pull me out of where I was. That bothered me, not because she would push or pull, but that she would have to. I have taken some pride in the fact that I have actively fought my OCD and depression (even if it was in small actions). But I didn't want to anymore. Looking back, over the conversation, she did rouse some sort of desire to actively fight, but I was pretty discouraged to have needed to have such a conversation.

I also had showed her a picture I made about how I deal with a certain OCD thought. She asked if I still thought about that most days. Duh, of course I did! I'd been thinking those thoughts most days for over a year, except for that improved time I had in December/January. I find it discouraging those times when my therapist realizes in a new way something that I've been dealing with for a long time, something I've been trying to convince myself is normal for me and not a big deal. But I guess I find it hopeful, too. Maybe if there is a recognized, serious problem, she can help me do something about it. On the negative, though, we've "dealt" with this before, and I really dislike the, "replace it with another thought" advice. OCD thoughts? Let them exist. Depression thought that therapist thinks is particularly unhelpful? Replace it. "It's a bad habit; you need to change it." Mmhmm. Soon as I'm told it's a bad habit that I need to change, I feel guilt. And that is one thing I really don't need to add on top of the other depressive thought. Anyway, I've occasionally dabbled at the thought-replacement method, but I mostly just get upset with it.

So Thursday evening, I want to talk about my motivation issue, so I actually manage to get myself all the way to the support group for mental illnesses. And then? This is so sad; I didn't talk about it. Why? Because I didn't want to interupt and change the subject!! And when I had almost gotten myself to speak, a small group of people came in fifteen minutes before the end. Then I did the whole, I-should-let-them-talk-since-they-only-have-fifteen-minutes thing. So-and-so's issue is more serious; I should let them talk. Conclusion? I left without discussing my pressing issue and cried on my way home. Then I called a friend, and cried with her, and told her what I had wanted to tell them. She tried to help me understand that my issues were just as important and valid as everyone else's. She also convinced me to promise to take Friday afternoon off homework to rest and take care of myself. Then for some reason I asked if the evening counted as part of the afternoon. Was I not bold enough to take the evening off without her approval? Was I preemptively reassuring myself that I was telling the truth when I promised? Was I "manipulating"? I worried about my question for hours. "Manipulating" is a hot button tied to a past OCD attack.

Anyway, Friday, I took the afternoon off school (after dealing with someone over the phone regarding a school assignment). But I was surprised by the anxiety. You shouldn't have promised to take the afternoon off, and especially not the evening. Now you can't relax because you are so anxious. You should be doing schoolwork so that you would be actually doing something to reduce your stress. And so that you wouldn't feel the anxiety. You shouldn't spend so much time playing computer games; It is a waste of time. And so on and so forth. My friend even approved of the computer games! What was with the anxiety? Acting like it used to when I was a girl and got my birthdays off of chores and schoolwork and had this horrible feeling related to the limited time to enjoy and trying to use this free time right and worrying about not having it again for a year. Anxiety, you can be such a thief! And I let you? Anyway, I stayed up very late Friday because my depression/anxiety had me feeling yucky and I didn't want to go to bed feeling that way.

Saturday, I visited my family because I needed help with a 30 minute lab exercise for school. I had a great time. And I got to see the less than twenty-four hours old baby goats. This picture continues to give me a feeling of peace.

And the second picture is just so cute, too. I left my family feeling happy, feeling better for having been there. The depression rejoined me later in the day, but at least I had those moments.

Sunday morning I was greeted with another migraine/bad headache. They wake me up, the rude things! I'm hoping that getting off one of my meds will take the headaches away. I see the Psychiatrist this week. Anyway, I took an over-the-counter pain reliever and slept some more. I didn't used to get sleepy on this pain reliever, but I sure have trouble waking up with it, now. It didn't help that the headache was muted but still present. I went to leave for church around the time the service would start. My car, however, didn't start. Dead battery. My back lights have this thing about staying on even when I turn them off. I usually check for this, but sometimes I forget, and once or twice they've turned themselves back on. Either way, the car was very dead. So I went back to sleep. I woke up in the afternoon, and a neighbor helped me jump my car. So in some ways, my life is back on track. My appetite isn't, though. Usually, when the mental illness intrudes on my desire to eat, I still feel hungry, I just don't like the idea of eating. Today, though, even the hunger keeps abandoning me. Not sure if it's a bug or the depression/anxiety. I think I'll eat a nice, slow, substantial supper with a movie at home. Hopefully that will help.

I think that's enough for today. :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a cold

I seem to have gotten a cold. I was hoping that my observing that I have to do for school would be canceled today, but no, it's still on. Nonetheless, reading and commenting on another person's post has me feeling better, so I'll go ahead and post on my own blog, too.

My depression was getting quite irritating Monday, but I got sick with this bug on Tuesday, which offset the depression. Sometimes when I get sick, the depression slides down the priority chain while I'm distracted by my immediate physical symptoms as well as by the daze or fog that tends to accompany such a cold.

I did exercise Monday, though. It was exercise done out of frustration, but at least the frustration fueled something helpful.

I'd better go eat and put on my "I'm okay" face for a few more hours (tried to keep it on at work, but my voice is all croaky, betraying me). (Try raising your voice enough to be heard by noisy toddlers and... sounding bad, but still hardly being loud enough.) (The croakiness kind of took away some of the sound of authority that the kids sometimes listen to a little better.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

rambling...

Today, when I went online to see what state my online classes were in, I was relieved to discover that I don't have anything due tomorrow! This is nice considering I probably had three or more hours of work to get what I thought was due completed. Three hours doesn't sound so bad when it is stated alone like this. That thirty minutes has to be done in a conversational setting makes it a bit more complicated... And there are decisions to make for writing up an observation, because my professor kindly answered my questions about what parts of my observation "counted" for my report by giving me some advice and concluding with instruction to "use your judgement." My OCD and I should have fun with that.

Speaking of OCD and my schoolwork, my counselor suggested that I use time limits to reduce the time that OCD issues with plagiarism/lying eat up. She suggested a timer for my slow, perfectionist cleaning, as well (last week, I took at least an hour and a half to clean my bathroom - but I didn't do it all at once; I divided it into pieces). She asked what I thought about a timer. I said I didn't like the idea. She seemed to take that as me saying no, though I wasn't exactly saying that. I was stating a preference, well, a strong preference. A timer seems to me like a ready way to turn up the anxiety level, though my counselor was hoping it would reduce my procrastination by making the task more reasonably sized.

Wow, I'm not even super hungry, but my brain is having issues that I would usually blame on that. I have that "sense" that my paragraphs aren't making very good sense. I can re-read them, and they seem okay, but I'm just not sure, because I feel like I can't keep the whole paragraph in my mind at the same time. Let's see; I could blame it on depression-caused lack of concentration, or I could put it in the OCD obsessing and checking and reviewing category, or I could leave it unclassified, which seems a bit messy, just like my writing seems.

Today, I have an amazing amount of tiredness. I felt it Friday evening, when I tried to dance in my living room for a little bit. My first try, I got tired out earlier than I normally would have in the past. Evidence that I'm not just making it up when I say that my energy is lower. Then Saturday, I resorted back to my "eat breakfast and go back to bed" method - it worked quite well. But I used the sleeping in to justify staying up late, and now it is Sunday and I am tired.

The depression has been irritating. Lack of energy, sometimes slight nausea, depressed thoughts, illogical anxiety, blah, blah, blah. Today, I dropped off some clothing I didn't want anymore to a thrift store drop off spot. Was rather upset after that short experience, because I felt like I had done something wrong, despite assuring myself that the man who received my "donation" wasn't upset with me at all. I felt that I hadn't done it right (as if there is a scripted way one must drop things off - the script doesn't include rain, and I'm sure doing it in the rain was a fault of mine).

My gloom continued into the library, until I came across some miraculous solution for depression on the Internet. Though I usually remain quite skeptical about such solutions, today it gave me hope. Whatever. I'll take a bit of extra hope, even if the solution doesn't ever do me any other good. Hope is a pretty nice gift after all. Somewhat miraculous, even.

Perhaps I should consider letting the anemia watchers know that I'm feeling weak. But then they might ask me to come in and get my blood tested. And then they would charge me however many million dollars such a test would cost (and I'm just talking about the co-pay here), and chances are pretty good that they would choose to conduct multiple tests at the same time, upping the price tag. Alternatively, I could continue blaming my brain chemestry. Sounds cheaper for the moment.

Yesterday, I played a computer game alot. In some ways, that seems very dumb to me, like a lousy use of time. On the other hand, it is about as effective as sleep in shutting up my depressed thoughts for a moment. That's pretty nice. I actually enjoyed it, despite the general gray cloud clinging to me this weekend. I like enjoying things.

I talked to my counselor about my being afraid I'm just making my problem up, or having unrealistic expectations with the whole medication thing. But she says that she can tell that I'm not feeling so well. She said that usually, when I'm feeling better, I have more energy. It is kind of a releif to know that my counselor can tell when I'm feeling worse by looking at me. Sometimes my depression seems particularly invisible, but it seems that it isn't to her.

I was thinking about when I was hospitalized a year and a half ago. It is finally making sense to me that I was there then (at least in part) because I wasn't as experienced in dealing with this persistant, deeper depression. My staying out of the hospital doesn't mean that I haven't been in as much pain since then. It means that I have learned that I can handle more pain without endangering my life. I've wished to go back to the hospital, but I think the biggest reason I still sometimes almost wish that is because I want something to change fast. But really, it takes longer than a short hospital stay to figure out what the right medication(s) and doses are. Really, my doctor and I are working on my getting better, but now we can work on it without my incurring thousands of dollars of debt in hospital bills (or re-experiencing the less-pleasant side of being in the psych unit). If my depressed thoughts and feelings go in the wrong direction and get too strong/I start believing them too much, I might go back someday. It can be the best option. But thankfully, I don't need it now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

med dose increase fails

I wrote out my nice little list for the day before going to sleep last night, but I did think to myself that I just might have a normal Wednesday, reading a book until almost the last minute and then dashing to the library for my sign language lab. Well, it happened. I got home from work and was soon reading a Love Inspired romantic suspense novel. I did manage to convince myself to call the psychiatrist today instead of putting it off for tomorrow or Friday. I did actually make myself a sandwich. And I read until I needed to leave for my sign language lab. Seems like there is some kind of mental block between me and exercising. It keeps not happening.

Anyway, the Dr. called back. We had raised my dose of venlafaxine two weeks ago, and he wanted me back in three weeks, but said if I couldn't come until four, then I should call him around two weeks. The schedule was too busy for me to come back in three weeks since I wanted a half hour visit, not a fifteen minute visit (the half hour ones seem like fifteen or twenty minutes, so I don't want to know how short the fifteen minute ones are). Anyway, when he called back, I explained my migrain-like headaches that I got Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday of last week and Tuesday-Wednesday of this week. They have so far gone away in about half an hour once I take pain medication and eat, so they haven't been too bad. Nonetheless, after hearing how often I've had them (hey, it's still less than fifty percent of the days I've been on the increased dose), he immediately said to go back down. Which was a let down. With my expert negative thinking, I realized that I'd wasted four weeks in finding the right medication. But with the additional clarity that just came in the last couple minutes, I didn't waste it all; I found out that venlafaxine is a problem for me at that high of a dose. So I did still make progress.

Now my can-give-me-migrains-every-day-or-two-or-three list of medications is two meds long. My first antidepressant did that, too. Only I got those headaches towards the end of the afternoon, every day or two or three, while these have come in the morning, every twenty three hours or so, re-starting around 6 am on Tuesdays and continuing the pattern for a few days. Weird. Why is it skipping the weekends? You'd think that stress was a factor or something.

Actually, I was also getting this almost shakey, physically ill feeling that maybe was anxiety, so that wasn't a very hopeful response to the med increase, either.

Ah, the pleasures of blogging. Now I feel a little better about the sad state of my medication? I am, however, still outside of the hospital with no need to seek one out, so things aren't too bad.

Possibly, I should do schoolwork, though. Or research a non-school-related issue that has come up.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

thinking

Tina's response to my last post (thanks!) got me thinking. Do I put things off because of the anxiety that will likely come with it? And then I took my American Sign Language expressive test that was due today. I read the English sentence, translate it into sign language, and record it through my webcam. But I was recording things over and over and over. I'd watch myself and think, my expression wasn't good enough, or, I hesitated there, or, I signed that too fast. I'd keep re-recording, feeling frustrated and upset, wondering if the depression showed in my eyes. But then I started thinking about OCD, thinking that maybe it was having more fun than I was aware of. Maybe OCD was secretly manifesting itself in my schoolwork. So I tried to only record things once or twice. Or three times... On one, I saved it without even watching it.

That's something I do when writing an English paper. If it has too much anxiety involved, I won't re-read it; I'll just send it in fast. Because if I re-read it, I might find mistakes. If I find mistakes, I might get caught in an OCD cycle trap, which I then have to take the risk to get out of. For example, today, I wrote a report on a lab I did, for another class. But I was reporting some things my aunt had said. So begins the OCD trap of paraphrasing accurately without plagiarizing. The double-danger set up that OCD is good at. If I am too close to my aunt's words, I'll be plagiarizing. If I'm too far, I won't be accurately representing her. And I didn't write down what she said when she said it yesterday, so I can't just straight quote it without once again running the risk of misrepresenting her (and all of these options are somehow worthy of considerable guilty feelings and anxiety. Really? Who cares? Except me, of course. I know I care, thanks to a malfunction of my brain - or is it the truth? - or is it OCD? - are we misrepresenting the facts here? Okay, now I'm exaggerating to make a point.).

Anyway, maybe I'll do more thinking on that and come up with another plan-of-attack - I mean, exposure exercise.

The other thought I had when I was thinking after reading Tina's comment, was that I remembered something I used to do when I was in the hospital. As directed, I would write down a goal that was specific and attainable. I picked things like, "take a shower today," or, "Come up with three grey options for three things that come up." (Trying not to just see black and white. Things like, "I'm a bad person, - or I'm a tired, sick, but normal person, - or I'm a person having a bad day." Or, "maybe I'll play this game. Maybe that's sin. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's neutral. Maybe I could play this or that game or read a book.") Anyway, I want to go back to little goals, mine for today being to come up with positive thoughts to correspond with five negative thoughts (depressive thought versus, the sun is shining today).

Running out of time before the library closes...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"All or nothing thinking"

Seeing my counselor, my momentary opinion of myself fluctuated based on what I interpreted her to be saying. She'd say, “And you had to deal with that all weekend?” And I'd feel strong, because I had dealt with it all weekend, and fairly well, in my opinion. She said, “You need to just make yourself clean your guinnea pig's cage, because you have to start to get things moving again.” And I felt like a lazy slob. If only I had used a little self discipline and made myself do something, I wouldn't feel so bad, and my house wouldn't be a wreck. If it was that simple, what was wrong with me that I hadn't gotten it fixed? That made it seem so insurmountable?

I even tried to express this thought, asking if she meant that if I started, I'd get my whole house (apartment) cleaned, laundry done, pet's cage in beautiful order. She said, no, I might just get my pet's cage cleaned, and then I “should reward myself.” She said I still needed to start because otherwise the “wheel” wouldn't start moving.

So, with amazing partial comprehension, I returned to my outside life, leaving the little room where I actually dare spend an hour looking at my problems with someone else, hoping to find some solution, the room in which I remember why I'm so overwhelmed with my life and what I'm just not handling like I want to. Outside of her office, sometimes I can forget. I spend time focused on this or that and can ignore the overwhelming bigger picture.

At home, my roommate did reach the point of asking me to clean something (in the past, I'd get to it before she asked). So, with determination, I cleaned the shower. That was my down-payment on cleaning the whole bathroom. Then, of course, I was somewhat proud of my self. Friday, I got the piglet's cage cleaned, even vacuuming around it. And I took out the garbage from that the same day instead of waiting two weeks like last time. And I got myself to bed at a reasonable hour, allowing me to wake up on Saturday hours earlier than normal, giving me more time to get Saturday's tasks completed. With a load of laundry started, I watched my promised video (the reward for cleaning Freddie's cage). Even stopped the movie to put the laundry into the dryer. All is going well until... The movie finishes. Then I'm surprised to see that my depression hasn't vanished. I still don't want to eat lunch (though it is still early for that). I still have to “make” myself do things. This weird heaviness around me hasn't left. And then I realize that, even though my therapist didn't expect me to get everything done because I got one or three things done, I still did. I still believed that if I just started doing the work, that everything would be alright.

I keep doing this. I know in my head that the depression is an illness. But at the same time, I think I say that just to make myself feel better, thinking that the “uninformed” people really have it right; I'm just a lazy, pessimistic perfectionist, who obviously has idolatry problems (worshiping perfection or myself or something like that), also sinful enough not to “make” myself look on the bright side of things, foolish enough to concentrate on depressing things and thinking about myself and how I'm feeling (self-absorbed to a fault). Basically, I think, I'm just blaming my sin problem on a mental illness and taking medication to get rid of God's punishment/discipline. I should be able to get out of this myself, and if not by myself, with God's help if I would just let him/work with him. A year and a half of learning to have mercy on myself, learning that my brain could malfunction for reasons not dependent on my sins, all this hasn't gotten rid of the negative feedback that I've taken piece by piece from things people have said, interpreting it my own way, carrying things to unfortunate extremes. I'm pretty sure no one person ever said anything so unhelpful to me, no-one except myself. And I still don't know how to dissolve these false judgments that live in my head/heart.

And guess what? Even this feeling of guilt could also be interpreted as a symptom of depression, even as it simultaneously reenforces the depression already existing. Why do all the symptoms of depression have to have that reenforcing characteristic? And so the hospital psychiatrist's words come back to me, “You are your own worst enemy.” (Not sure how encouraging that is, seeing that am kind of stuck with myself.)

Another issue I have is with the changing face of depression. I recognize it when it's chanting certain clear cut lies into my brain. But then it turns around and takes a different approach. And I think, I don't have such-and-such symptom of depression, so maybe I'm not depressed. Maybe even though last time, it really was a brain malfunction, this time, it is just my personal faults and me not taking responsibility and changing my life. I realize that is about as true as saying a dog can't be a dog unless its fur is reddish gold.

Anyway, my laundry should be dry now.