Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New year's resolutions when you are very depressed

Well, the holidays are here! My dad likes to have everybody share new year's resolutions or goals for the new year and thanksgivings ( or how we did on last year's goals).

And i dread it. So i thought i'd go ahead and get the sarcastic version out of the way and hope I'm feeling better when the real day comes.

Thanksgivings: I'm thankful that I'm alive - no, wait, maybe not. I'm thankful for psych meds. I just wish the ones i take would work better. I'm truly thankful that the latest medication doesn't have me lying in bed afraid I'll throw up. There! Look at that! A real whole-hearted thanksgiving! Now if only psych med conversations weren't a bit on the taboo side. But that's why I'm writing here, so i can be free of such restrictions.

Goals... "Stay alive" is the one my counselor mentioned when guessing what my goals might be. Well, i was kind of in more than a bad mood, so i wasn't sure i agreed even with that. But staying alive really is my goal, even though i don't always think i want it. My goal is to beat this depression and steel my life back from it.

It's been an exhausting week. News of changes at work were the last straw for my already disintegrating mental health (i was already having trouble eating and sleeping). I was on less serotonin- increasing medication than i have been for probably about five years ( maybe excepting last spring), with no appointment to see a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner for another three weeks.

I tried out the new mental health crisis center in my area. They were nice but i had to push to get the help i needed. And I'm not so good at pushing for services anyway, let alone when my mental world feels like it's in jeopardy. But one nurse was particularly helpful, so melting into tears was a sufficient way to get help after i had progressed to the part where they let their clients sleep or read or do puzzles or whatever. She helped me come up with a plan to try to get into the doctor the next day.

I didn't see the doctor i wanted to see, but i did see someone, who prescribed another antidepressant. This antidepressant may or may not work, but at least there is a chance that it will work.  I needed that chance, that but of hope, to start right away. (i took the day off work to try to see a doctor despite not having an appointment.)

Today, i was back at work. I did okay, but one of my co-workers could easily see i wasn't back to normal. In a way that is nice, because they can see I'm not faking my illness. But it was a bit disconcerting to feel myself being less put-together and having less energy than normal. Even feeling a bit sick, probably just from being so worn out.

Oh, and the psychiatrist i saw said if i gained more than five pounds on this new medication then i should quit it. Only five pounds! At Christmas time! When I'm trying to get past lack of appetite from depression which basically means i have to force myself to eat. And when i have to make myself eat, it is hard to know how much to eat! So i could gain weight because I'm not sure how hungry i am, unrelated to med side effects! I'm wondering if being slender is important to this doctor, more important to him than to me. I'd rather gain weight than stay at yesterday's level of depression. ( I'm trying to avoid checking how depressed i am today because I'm afraid it would be the opposite of helpful to think about it.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Overwhelmed with the good and the sad

Well, i tried the new antidepressant and i felt sick. Like bad enough i didn't want to take it again and have to work the next day.

So this week, just reminding myself that I'm currently free of those side effects is enough to make me a bit happier.

But i called my psychiatrist-for-now. It took him over 48 hours to call back, but he did. And he was nice. Somehow, people surprising me by how nice and understanding they are can leave me feeling almost like crying. He said if he were me, he wouldn't want to try the medication again. (He also said that medication was my last great option - if it didn't work, we have other combinations to try, so not hopeless, but as "the last great option", it would make sense to try to put up with moderate side effects. I'm not sure how disturbed i should be by that comment, so i think I'll just chalk it down as an intriguing observation.) He basically said he would respect whatever choice i made, whether to try the medication again or give up. He also told me i could open the capsule, mix it with applesauce, and take half of a dose; a possibility i was not aware of.

And he told me to maintain my current dose of the medication I'm trying to get off until my dizzy flashes go all the way away. I'm afraid that could take a while. But at least that will relieve me of needing to change both doses this weekend. Well, it's an acceptable weekend for feeling sick ( if there is such a thing), so I'm planning to give the new medication another try this weekend.

And maybe this psychiatrist isn't as bad of a fit as i thought. Which is a bit of a problem because i had decided to try another doctor but now I'm having second thoughts. Maybe this psychiatrist is fine after all. So now i have another choice to make, which is really annoying. I don't like the pressure of trying to make the right choice. And i have to make the choice early enough to get the time off work needed for the appointment.

Of course, right now I'm exhausted anyway, so a kind voice answering part of my medicating predicament is very highly valued and the details that will play in to my future decisions are scattered and possibly out of proportion.

And all this after my counseling appointment, the one where i feel a bit despairing of the possibility of therapy helping much right now. The one when my therapist brings up the EMDR topic again - something I'd have to see another therapist for. One where I'm torn between appreciation of the support i do receive and discouragement for lack of progress - especially when it seems like she's also seeing how deep in depression i still am.

Well, I'd better fold a few clothes and head for bed. Tomorrow comes very early.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"You sound good."

The lady who said it even knew that looks ( sounds) aren't always accurate. But apparently i "sound good." Probably because sleepiness and cheerful sarcasm make me sound much more stable than i feel.

But inside, i could cry. Except that would be too much work and emotional work.

I'm... So tired. I'm physically tired. And I'm fed up with this depression stuff. I'm at the point where i feel like I'm not okay (i.e. depressed) and that's the way it's going to stay until we find a good medication combination. Okay?!

Which underplays the role of therapy (but i felt like my therapist was mostly just putting in time to get me through to feeling better and then we'll do more "real" therapy work). It even underplays the chances of spontaneous recovery, seeing as depression tends to get better on its o own at some point, even if only temporarily.

I'm frustrated that the new psychiatrist i saw is the stereotypical psychiatrist, not in a particularly good way, and I'm not the only one who thinks that. I'm frustrated because it's sounding like the office is closing at which i saw the retired psychiatrist as well as the new- to- me stereotypical psychiatrist.

I'm frustrated because i want to be well already. Like last year!

And because I'm having budget/money trouble, but I'm a bit afraid of calling this guy who gives free budget counseling, because i heard him talk once, and he talked about identifying needs versus wants, and I'm afraid he's going to call some things wants that are actually pretty important to my mental health. And I'm afraid the budget will be too intimidating, and instead of absorbing the stress and keeping going, I'll have the "I'm depressed and i didn't want to be here anyway" response, adding fuel to my already depressed thinking. Moderate to severe depression might not be the best time to work on budgeting. But then again, if i wait until I'm "healthy," how deep in debt will i be by then?

And i keep wanting to go to bed happy. Now the tears have truly started. I don't want to go to sleep feeling like this. So i keep staying up late. Which leaves me even more tired in the morning.

So i just want to go to that crises center about to open locally, or to a good psychiatrist. Or even to my friend, but it's so hard to say this to a friend outside of a support group; I'm exhausted. I (presume I) look like I'm handling things, but I'm not. I'm exhausted. I don't want to have to keep holding it together. I want something to change. I hate not wanting to be alive. It's exhausting. It's not right. There is a better life out there, and i want it. Can't i just pull the depression out and kill it and get on with my life?

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Night time

I think night time is hard because it signals the end of the day, the conclusion remaining in inconclusion. The problem - whatever it is - still isn't solved. Instead, I'm still depressed, despite my strangely recurring hope that it will be gone. This depression remains, and will most likely still be with me in the morning. I get to look forward to another day with depression, and that is depressing.

Well, maybe that's it. I keep trying to figure it out. Meanwhile, I'd better eat and go to sleep, since sleep can make tomorrow a little better.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Present tense anxiety

So I'm back in the insert-the-worst-word-you-are-willing-to-say-out-loud-here place where i wait to find a successful medication mixture with which i can attain reasonable health. The key word, of course, being "wait." This is the lesser known waiting period that happens over and over again between starting a medication and waiting to see what will happen, and if nothing too terrible happens, then you raise the dose again and wait to see what happens.

I've been in this state for over a year since the last successful medication mix. Hopefully that means that within the next two years we can find the next successful mix. That is indeed hopeful, except when the psychological pain gets to me and I've had enough. Then is that sobering moment when i realize that modern medicine... really can't do much until the correct med mix at the correct dose kicks in. Well, maybe they can, but they aren't really fond of using the quick-acting anti-anxiety medications that can be addicting, and i am usually a bit afraid of them anyway, and i need to remain alert enough to drive and all, so i wait.

But really, i mostly wanted to comment on anxiety. On my anxiety, to be specific. People talk about anxiety being future-focused. You know, that sinful worrying about the future.

Well, to my counselor and perhaps other people's sadness, i try to keep my view of the future short. This is because i am pretty sure i can handle a few more months of depression, but another 40 years? (Or 60, since ladies in my family seem inclined to live long lives.) That is depressing.

But when OCD comes up, it always has a "right away" component. Or even a past component? Did i offend someone with what i just said? Should i apologize right now? Should i check the rear-view mirror right now to make sure that was just a pot hole i drove over? The future is more vague. What if i do something terrible and something terrible happens? How can i stop it right now?

Generic, nondescript anxiety, perhaps typically called free- floating anxiety, is also pretty immediate. Fear that something terrible is happening. Fear that i will do something to cause something terrible to happen. And the worst part of that would not be the terrible experience so much as knowing i had caused it.

So just maybe, here is some of the difference between the physical anxiety illness that happens, and the choice to worry about the future that is not recommended in the Bible.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New normal?

On the positive, i got a new job. On the negative, change is still hard. Oh, and shall we mention the new theater for ocd and anxiety to perform in?

I'm now a teacher's aid at a child care center. This means cleaning. Just me cleaning. When I'm around others, it is easier to prioritise ocd into the background. But just me and the room to be cleaned?

I'd like to say i haven't done badly, but am reminded of when i was a kid and timed how long it took me to wash one plastic mug. Drum roll please! Doing my best to pay attention and work at a good pace (my mom attributed my slowness to me daydreaming), it took me five minutes to wash a plastic mug.

Well, i wash dishes faster nowadays. (At least 5 minutes per mug is an easy record to surpass.) Lately i think indecision has slowed me down more at work. To vacuum first or mop or wash dishes or clean the bathroom or take out the garbage. All this with a breath-taking fear of making the wrong choice.

Why do i care which thing i do first? Well, it might influence which things don't get done. What doesn't get done might be done by someone else, or left undone, and they might resent me for not getting my job all done. So i guess that is my fear, my co-workers unhappy with me. And/or getting fired again. After all, if i can get fired once (even if my being let go had very little or nothing to do with my actions), i can get fired twice.

So now let me continue some cognitive therapy. For one thing, I've got a pretty weak link between the choice of which task to do first and my feared consequence. For another, people being upset with me if i make the "wrong" choice isn't the end of the world. Although it is pretty sad... But there isn't really any way to ensure that NO-ONE will ever get upset with me, so... maybe i will be able to gather enough strength to fight the ocd/anxiety. ERP. Yuck! Oh, well. It just might prove worth while again like it has before.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Job searching with OCD

My previous job ended suddenly, without warning. They wanted someone else to teach my class, so after work Friday, i was informed and handed my final paycheck.

This happens, of course, two days after raising the dose of my antidepressant. This poor antidepressant is getting a pretty rough test; needing a new car, friend passing away, pet needing put to sleep, bronchitis, psychiatrist preparing to retire, and now unexpected job loss.

But let's try my "cursed" summer another way. I got a nice, newer car. My friend went to be with Jesus. I got 2 new guinea pigs. I mostly recovered my health after bronchitis, and now I have the opportunity for a change of work.

OCD makes for an interesting job search companion:

"How about this job?"

"No, you don't want that job. You might not be able to handle it. It's safer just not to apply."

"Okay, I'll keep reading. How about a job in food prep?"

"You're crazy, lady. We don't work in food prep. Remember your pizza job? Remember your contamination issues?"

"How about this one?"

"No. A mistake could be too serious."

"This one?"

"Pretty sure that will trigger OCD."

"Well, I have to apply for something!"

"Yup. Try for disability."

"Yeah, but i probably wouldn't be approved."

"Probably not."

"Well, I'm exhausted; i think it's time to call it a day."

"Good idea. But you won't get a job that way. And you've got bills coming, you know."

"Yup, i know, but I'm exhausted and going to take a break. I think I'll do some knitting and tv watching, maybe some coloring."

And thankfully, tv, knitting, and/or coloring are pretty distracting, overwhelming ocd's voice so that i don't hear it as much.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Frustration

I hate anxiety. And depression. But right now I'm busiest being mad at anxiety and the fact that i have it. Pardon my falling back to the child's protest, but, "It isn't fair!" Why do i have to deal with this anxiety if i want relief from it? Why do i have to fight it? I'm tired! I just want to sleep (but not go to bed, because then tomorrow will come, and I'm still trying to handle today).

But whatever the cause, be it medication related or from work stress or from my pet dying or my coming down with bronchitis (I'm mostly recovered) or my friend passing away (now do you understand why I'm fed up with this spring/summer?), the anxiety has reached the point where the prospect of continuing as is has become more intimidating than tackling anxiety in therapy again. Which tackling i hate, by the way.

So my counselor and i discussed it, and I've got one ocd exposure in process. And I've got the job of recording my anxious thoughts.

She mentioned again how an episode of anxiety shouldn't take more than half an hour before it calms down. But my anxieties like to switch all over the place, thus they don't peak the same way. I'll switch from one thing to the next to the next, forgetting the other things while i attend to any one particular thing, but quickly bouncing on. But the long and the short of it is, it's not working out acceptably for me.

So i shall once again embark on the dreaded ERP and paying attention and writing down the anxieties that I'd rather try to forget.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NAMI AIR anonymous support app

Through their magazine, i learned about NAMI's app, NAMI AIR. It lets you post anonymously, more anonymously than a blog. Much more anonymously than Facebook. But similar to Facebook, you can read posts from other people, only without a name or profile picture. Like Facebook, you can "like" something. But what about the sad posts? NAMI AIR is a step ahead of Facebook because it has a button like the "like" button that is the "hug" button. And because you don't know them and they don't know you and they can't even trace your hugs to your posts, it isn't awkward to hug a stranger.

There are two more options for responses. One is to leave a hashtag comment. There is a list of phrases or words for you to choose from.

The other option is the "me too" button, which in turn allows you to write a post "inspired" by the one you just said "me too" about. You can trace backwards or forwards through inspired posts.

This creates something like a perpetually available support group, and comes with a similar cost/benefit gamble; will the things people say encourage me or bring me down? Will some well-meaning person accidentally say something offensive? Will I get some much needed encouragement or ideas for managing my illness better?

They do have it divided into two groups, one for people who have mental illness and one for family members. Although you can switch between groups (they specifically recognize that you can qualify for both groups) you cannot post in more than one group at a time. I like this, because, while I'm sure family members sometimes need to discuss how hard it is to live with someone with a mental illness, this is not something i need to dwell on right now.

In conclusion, i really like this app. It has room for improvement, and i expect they will improve it. But for now it is one more resource to help get me through a rough time, and for that i am grateful.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dear Louisa

Dear Louisa, i know your name isn't Louisa, but it seems a little insensitive to use your real name on a blog post. But i really am writing to you, or to the idea of you, or the memory of you, seeing as i don't know if you get to read blogs in heaven at this point.

Firstly, i love you. I believe you knew that. But I'd like to tell you again, even though i understand it wouldn't change things.

And Louisa, i know i haven't called for a while. We were both going through a really tough time and i wasn't sure i was up to sharing burdens with you while both of ours were so heavy. I want you to know i wasn't upset with you. It's just i needed to focus a bit more positively. But I'm not blaming you for your struggle or for saying what you did. It's just that sometimes we have to take care of our selves, first. I hope you understand. I think you would understand.

But i love you so much. And you have helped me so much. And i wish I'd called you in April when i was doing better. Two(?) days after you died, i was thinking about asking you to go to the movies with me again. Then i got the call that you had carried through on your desire for death.

Louisa, lots of people don't get it. Of course, you already knew some people don't get it. People judge all sorts of ways. Not even maliciously; they're just trying to process, i suppose.

But even my dad, when i brought up your passing via suicide, he said something about how hard it is to make a connection with people. And i told him, no, that's not it. You had lots of friends. Well, enough friends. It was because your depression and anxiety hurt too much.

That is why, isn't it? That coupled with the depressed thinking, the distorted thinking that you would be better off dead. Are you? Is it true? I believe you were a Christian and are now with God. Sounds pretty good to me.

Don't worry; i know i can't go like you did. I'll stay here and keep fighting the stupid depression monster.

Louisa, it's so tiring fighting the depression and anxiety monsters. You understood that. I understand it. Louisa, i know you fought so long and so hard. I wish more people understood, if they could just understand without having to go through this dark journey themselves.

People are funny, you know. They basically tell me to grieve. Like it is a faucet you can turn on but shouldn't turn off.

My counselor keeps asking if I'm angry with you, and i start wondering if i have to be angry with you in order to grieve properly and move on. I'm angry with the lack of understanding in the general public on the matter of mental health related suicides. I'm angry about death. Death is an enemy. Pretty sure that is biblical. But you are such a kind, caring person who has suffered so much, how can i be angry with you? I'm angry about the act, i suppose. Angrier at the depression that preceded it. I wish you had held on a little longer. I miss you.

But i have to end forgiving, if it is even my right to feel offended. Louisa, i love you, i hope God is giving you lots of love and drying your tears.

I wonder if, seeing you that day, he had pitty on you and said something like, i know the depth of your struggle, Louisa. Evil led you to attempt suicide, but I'm going to take you home this time, because you have suffered long enough.

Louisa, I'm going to keep struggling. I can't join you yet, much as i sometimes want to. Hey, maybe they'll even find a cure for depression in my life time, like you hoped for me. Or maybe this current medication will make things easier for at least a while. I sure hope so.

And one day, not by suicide because i just can't do that, much as i might sometimes like to, I'll join you in heaven.

Louisa, I'm a little scared. How much choice did you have at the end, or was it like falling down a hill? What if my world turns black, again and again and again? I'm not perfect; i make mistakes, too. Will the depression monster finally get me for keeps on this earth? How thoroughly can the depression monster screw with my thinking? Am i safe, or do i need to put into place more safeguards? Because if this could happen to you, could it also happen to me? I think I should get my counselor's input. Only i think there must still be a choice. But maybe it wouldn't hurt to add a few more safeguards.

I love you, and i know you are in good hands, God's hands. Although i must say I'm feeling a bit confused about how God works right now. But i know you're safe.

Love, Abigail

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CAUTION subject might be triggering

I hate depression and anxiety. Let me fill this first paragraph with nothing so you have time to leave and read a happier post if that is a better way to take care of your self.

Depression and anxiety are robbers. They steal life. They steal energy. They steal joy. They steal time. They steal rest. They steal bits and pieces of life.

And occasionally, they lead to the stealing of a whole life. One of my friends, who has supported me many times, has left this earth from complications of depression and anxiety, if you will.

It is strange to think about, but our culture builds into feelings of guilt for survives, in a similar way to how modesty supporters add to the guilt of certain victims when they make the lady responsible for the man's thoughts in how she dresses. We broadcaste the stories about valedictorians telling how people saved their life from suicide by small acts of kindness, then command people not carry guilt for what they maybe could have done after someone does lose their life.

I know that a phone call from me might have bought her another few minutes of peace but probably would not change her date of death. A phone call can relieve a bit of depression, especially situational depression. But that is probably it.

And lastly, as a friend recently pointed out. I'm mad at depression and anxiety because i will not let them win in my life. They have already taken enough. Even if i give up temporarily, i have yet to give up permanently. Please, God, let me never give up permanently.

And I'm so grateful that my medication is working right now. It gives me a much wider margin of safety.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Time off work

My trouble with days off started when i was a kid. My mom gave us our birthdays off of chores and school work. Which was very nice and more or less the equivalent of an extra day off work as an adult. Like my three day weekend going on now.

And as a child, i was glad, but then i felt all pressured to use the day just right. The perfect choice of activities. Cleaning my desk or file box. Having fun and relaxing. Perfectly, so i didn't waste my once a year day off of chores and schoolwork (i was homeschool, so even a summer birthday meant a break from school). But all this pressure and anxiety over my free time really detracted from my enjoyment.

Forward to the present, this is my first long weekend since whatever time off we had for New Year's day. And i have freaked out. All that pressure like i had as a child. And it multiplies itself, because the anxiety detracts from my enjoyment, which means I'm not "doing it right," so I'm upset with myself for being upset.

And i needed this break! I was exhausted from work. But the stress of extra time off almost makes me wish the day of was over...

Well, i was hoping that if i wrote it out, I'd come up with the cure. Instead, i still feel physically off from staying up late and sleeping through the morning and the resulting eating disruptions and probably the medication delays, too.

And my house is in its usual state of needing work. And I'm out of milk, so i can't have milk and cold cereal in the hope that such a staple meal would resolve my mental discomfort.

Well, maybe if i eat lunch and pay bills i will feel more capable of completing my mental instructions to "love yourself." Or maybe i can get out school supplies and start preparations for the summer program. Granted it is related to work, but it often brings me some joy and hope for the future.

My regards to all who are grieving a loved one this memorial day weekend.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Mother's Day Lament

People sometimes recognize that mother's day can be hard if your mother has passed away. Or if you had a rough relationship with your mom. Or if you are struggling through infertility. And they should recognize this pain.

But what about the single lady who just doesn't have a significant other nor a baby? What about me? What about the baby i wish i had?

On Valentine's day, i still have enough single Facebook friends to see at least one post about Singles Awareness Day. And we have a cute preschool party. And i buy myself a Valentine's gift.

But mother's day? I thought about buying myself flowers, but i already got some in a base from teacher appreciation week. And if i get the wrong flowers, they will aggravate my allergies.

And then there is medication side effects. Specifically being very tired. If i had a baby, people would understand. But hey, i live alone. There is no good excuse, aside from maybe insomnia, which, thankfully, i don't currently have. And guess what people say (meaning it has happened like twice so i feel like the whole world must agree) when i lament the fact that even if i sleep in and take a nap and sleep lots the next night, I'm still so tired. They say, maybe you slept too much. When they sleep too much, they feel super tired. Well, friends, i don't sleep too much during the week. I am a procrastinator for going to bed, so often it is around 7 hours a night. That is not too much. Then on the weekend, i try to catch up on sleep. Maybe you aren't supposed to do that. But either way, this incessant weariness is putting a damper on my mood. Well, that and/or my mood decided to dip. And this antidepressant is a little lacking in cutting the anxiety. And anxiety is exhausting and depressing.

And this was a rough weekend. And let me finish off with one more complaint.

This is about when you hear people's testimonies about God's work in their lives. When they talk about how depressed they were before they dedicated their life to God, or whole they were rebelling against God. And then they experienced God in some special way and things got better. I'm glad for them. Really, I'm glad they are feeling less depressed.

But this kind of story makes me want to cry. Leaves me wondering where i went wrong. I mean, I've been a Christian probably since before the ocd or depression really took hold. Hey, I was an over-seas missionary depending on people's financial support between (and during) bouts of stronger depression. And i know God is not a vending machine who gives out mental health if we just have enough faith and obey enough. But... I still feel sad when i hear these stories.

Seriously, i don't get this whole illness thing. Like, couldn't i do so much more for God if he removed the illness (and how about the medication side effects while we're talking miraculous healing). Isn't this enough experiencing of sorrow to enable me to be more compassionate with others? I mean, can't i at least have longer gaps between these bouts with depressing and/or anxiety? Couldnt i just take, say, a week or even a month long "refresher course" on how mental illness feels and then go back to having more energy and stamina and emotional resources to do more helping others instead of feeling like the proverbial sponge?

So instead, I'm one of those other stories, who will maybe help someone like myself, whose testimony is, "I'm sick and tired of this depression, and sometimes I'm even mad at God, and sometimes God seems out of reach or behind some invisible barrier, but i know he is still there, so I'm going to keep slogging through this irritating, exhausting illness whether it gets better or not, but I'm going to tell myself it will get better here on earth because it has before and because i need the hope."

Oh, and just one more thing; this last week and weekend got pretty tough, and I'm scared that the side effects and lack of effects of this medication are going to overtake the positive effects and pull me back down into the worse depression. Hopefully not, but pretty sure that largely subconscious fear is making this even harder than it would be otherwise.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Exhausted

Well, i got a new-to-me car. And got my old car fixed. And I'm exhausted.

The car search distracted me from my regular depression and anxiety. So now that I'm done, my old, familiar thoughts slowly filter back. At first they are like going back home or getting my old car back. They are normal, and i can actually recognize my life with them around. Then they slowly shift back to being irritating. That's just depressed thinking. Or, that's just my anxiety. Which leads to my more typical weariness as opposed to the weariness of finding and bargaining for a car, a situation that i knew would bring stress to even the most mentally healthy person out there.

This morning, i got that trembly feeling that sometimes accompanies medication changes (or even taking medication late, which could be the explanation this time since i slept in). I cold hold my relaxed hand up and watch my fingers move slightly of their own accord. I find this exhausting. Maybe because i fight it, maybe because moving that much (even in tiny movements) uses up more energy.

My counselor has suggested i re-think through some stressful events and losses of my past. Do more "processing" and some grieving. Which, by the way, i tried for years after the events before slowly giving up on the idea. Somehow, i could never quite resolve the issues, at least not permanently. Thinking back didn't seem to help enough to be worth it. And even when i asked "professionals" how to "get over it," they didn't know. Maybe because it is more of a process than an accomplishment.

Of course, there is also the issue of my deeper depression bouts overshadowing it both in immediacy and in depth of pain.

So who knows. I usually prefer more cognitive therapy that doesn't depend on remembering and "dealing with" the past. But it is pretty undeniable that many past still influences my present. Just watch me freak out at church some Sunday (which actually hasn't happened as much lately, not to mention the fact that I'm pretty sure i hide it pretty well) and you'll know my past still effects my present. So maybe this time, visiting the past will help. If not, well, at least i can amuse myself by retelling stories from my past (even sad ones usually have an entertaining side).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

car trouble

I'm waiting to feel hungry for supper, but i keep eating more Easter candy. Somehow i think I'm working against myself here.

The latest SNRI might possibly be working. It for sure seems to make me tired and more able to fall asleep.

And then there is the monkey wrench. My dear old car broke. To the unsafe-to-drive point. To the point where the mechanic and my brother-in-law both suggest i begin looking for a new car.

Now, my car is a very important part of my normal. It gives me the freedom to leave my apartment whenever i choose. It carries a collection of items that i either never brought into my apartment or that i intentionally keep in my car in case i need them while I'm out.

But I'm looking to replace my car now. So part of me wants to search for this car with the tenacity of an obsessive compulsion.and another part of me wants to forget about it (avoidance, anyone?). And instead, I'm trying to strike a balance between searching for a car and giving myself time to relax and unwind.

It really messed with my plans for this weekend; i was going to spend it feeling slightly miserable from medication dose increase side effects. But all the stress associated with finding a newer car has really blurred the lines between side effects and stress effects.

And then, i didn't go to church tonight. I went this morning, first to church, then to bible study (it was afternoon by then). But tonight? I wanted to sit on my couch and search for cars and then take it easy. So i did.

And you want to guess what the critical part of me thinks of that? Well, maybe i would have had a very encouraging conversation if i had gone to church this evening, and now I'm out an encouraging conversation. Maybe work will be harder tomorrow because i didn't go to church tonight. And maybe I'll be extra stressed out this week because i looked for cars on Sunday. And maybe...

Maybe I'm running out of reasonable unpleasant consequences for how i spent my Sunday.

My thoughts are dancing on the fence between catastrophizing and chilling out. Maybe i shouldn't make such a big deal out of how i spend my Sunday and my money (i.e. trying to make the most responsible car choice with my money, particularly trying to avoid any possibly sinful choices, like borrowing money to get a good car, which I'm pretty sure is not a sin, but what if it is?)

P.S. My scrupulosity begs you to offer me reassurance, so please don't.

P.P.S. Maybe it isn't scrupulosity. Maybe i just have trouble believing anything different from things i picked up as a kid. Nonetheless, reassurance isn't likely to help either situation.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter, depression, and closeness (or lack thereof) with God

Words from Bill Gaither's song, "Because He Lives," are pretty popular among my Facebook friends right now. "Because he lives I can face tomorrow..." Basically, if i was a believer without depression or anxiety, it would be a lovely song. It still is a lovely song, but if I were to rewrite it today, it would go more like, " 'Because He Lives,' i will drag myself out of bed tomorrow even when i won't want to. Because he lives, I'll choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other, however slowly, but i won't quit, at least not permanently. And I'm going to trust Him despite all my feelings to the contrary and even feeling mad at Him, knowing that on some unforeseeable day in the future, either here or in heaven, my depression will lift and I'll be better able to appreciate that Jesus is alive again. I think you would have to turn it into a rap song to fit all those words in there.

Actually, I've had a pretty good day. I went shopping for some supplies for my classroom. (Embarrassing story; yesterday i went to a training about how to plan better with the goal of being a better early childhood teacher, and i ended up crying. At a 3hr training/class with people i didn't even know! Talk about being overly emotional! Depression is really taking its toll... Along with the stress of trying to be a better and better teacher...) Back to today, i had a pleasant time shopping, but i ended up exhausted. And i am not willing to let myself take a nap because that could make it hard to fall asleep tonight (i took a nap yesterday and then took a long time to fall asleep last night). So I'm doing well, but exhausted.

One more subject; certain people around me talk about how hard times bring them closer to God. This is frustrating when i apply it too depression, because in my opinion, depression is a relationship inhibitor, not a relationship builder. And besides, it can give me a foggy mind. One lady tried to explain it to me, saying that when people come to the end of themselves, then they are more open to God. That makes a little sense; maybe if my life was going great, i would not be as interested in God. But i don't think that is always the case! Maybe when the depression is gone, I'll feel closer to God than i would have otherwise. For now, though, depression is clouding my mind and seems rather unhelpful. If i want depressed, i could do more. I would have more energy for teaching. I'd have more energy for helping at church...

Rabbit trail time! People don't seem to get that i need to take a break from leading music at church because of how severe my depression is. Well, maybe some do, and maybe those that don't seem to are really just wanting me to know I'm wanted. But i get the impression people are thinking, maybe if she helps lead music, her depression will get better. May i suggest that said depression might also get worse? My depression seems at least somewhat stress-related, and leading music is something i actually can say no to.

Rabbit trail over, but I've been thoroughly side-tracked. Here is wishing you a holiday with at least as glimmer of light, hope, and peace.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

what to say when someone with a mental illnesses melts down in front of you

I recently melted down at church. I blame it on the medication. :)

And someone took the time to talk to me and try to help. I'm pretty sure she won't find this blog at this point, but just in case; thank you. Your care meant a lot to me. And even though it got me thinking on things people have said to me that were very well meaning but perhaps a bit misinformed, i would far rather you say not quite the right thing than nothing at all. Actually, that is probably the most important point of this whole blog post. So feel free to stop reading now.

A good question is, "are you okay?" "do you mind me asking what is wrong?" "what's wrong?" This is my opinion, of course, so others might feel differently about the question. But me? Even if i don't know what's wrong, I'd probably like to tell you that. It's a very frustrating problem not knowing what is wrong with me. And i might have a guess of what's wrong (I'm exhausted; i just started taking a new medication; etc.).

And giving me time to stop crying enough to answer? That is awesome. The longer it takes me to answer, probably the more likely i really want to say something. I try to be confusing like that (just kidding; but i wanted to lighten this up:).

Offering to pray for me? I usually like that. Praying with me in person? I usually appreciate that. Simple is fine. There is just one caution i have; if you use the prayer as an uninterruptible chance to comment on what i should do, i might not appreciate that part. And if you are a Christian counselor using the closing prayer to make your point... Well, i might use you as an example of what not to do for the next ten plus years.

On the subject of medication; rumor has it that the question, "have you taken your medication?" can be offensive, so you probably don't want to ask that unless you have already cleared the question previously with the person you are talking to.

What i do get, when discussing the joys (not) of trying new medications, is the question, "do you feel better on medication or off medication?" i believe you mean well, but let's consider this for a minute. For one thing, no one can know the what-if of making a different decision. Do you think you would be happier today if you had taken a different job? Maybe, but how can you know for sure? You will never know how exactly you would feel in a different situation but the current clock time. The same goes for me. I don't know what the trajectory of my depression and ocd would look like had i never touched medication. Mental illness is not stationary. It often cycles, and it can get better or worse.

The path of finding the right psych med(s) can be long, difficult, and scarey. (Try reading the list of potential side effects and the warnings. No, better yet, read all that whole your brain is in the "I'm in danger, but i don't know why" setting, where it easily falls into, "I'm in danger from this medication that is supposed to help me.") If someone is struggling with side effects, they might need encouragement. Or silent support. You don't have to agree with their medication choice to support them as a person.

Oh, and the answer to the medication helping or not question; when the medication works right, it helps. When it works wrong? Then i might cry for half an hour at church (good thing i don't wear mascara).

Finally, i don't expect you to fix my mental illness. My Dr and therapist have been helping me for a few years, and im still (or more accurately, again) stuck in depression. I'd rather you be my friend. I've already got professionals helping me, but i can always use another friend.




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Crafting

Sometimes doing crafts helps. (I tried to upload a picture of my newest creation, but i failed several times and it is almost midnight.)

(And I've started the new antidepressant and am on edge and think that might be the medication. This could be a placebo side effect. Actually, I'm surprised such placebo side effects aren't even more common, considering the distorted thinking characteristic of depression and anxiety.)

Making an Easter basket helps, too. It might (not) surprise you, but my scrupulosity ocd (or my growing up experiences as seen through a child's distorting eyes - i.e. what i learned may not have between what was intended) does not approve of my having an Easter basket or candy-filled eggs. And the stuffed lamby on top might be even worse. But me? I'm getting some pleasure out of it, which is pretty valuable right now. (I also tried uploading a picture of my cute Easter basket with a stuffed lamby on top, but i failed at that several times. Or rather, my phone failed, or the internet, or the app, or whatever.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

First dose of my latest antidepressant

I've swallowed the first dose of my latest antidepressant medication. Because i can't remember what I've already written on my blog and because my phone is not loading did previous posts for me to check, I'll back up a bit. The last medication that i was on, i was on it for just under two weeks. It made me sick to my stomach, along with probably adding to my tiredness, and possibly messing with my mood in a negative way (more likely the side effects messed with my mood). So now I've been off of that antidepressant for a week and have picked up the next one my Dr prescribed. And now I've taken the first dose.

Will it make me more tired or more awake? Should i take it in the morning or evening? Will it give me any of the standard side effects? Will it give me the opposite of the typical side effects? Will it help my depression? My anxiety? Will it do nothing at all? We'll have to wait and see.

In the mean time, I think I'll test out whether or not it will keep me awake (so far, it is too early to know, but I've got plenty of tiredness built up through the day and week and month and year. Depression and anxiety are very tiring, as is being a preschool teacher. Goodnight! (Presuming i have the self control to actually go to bed soon.)

Oh, for some unnerving history, I've actually taken one dose of this medication a handful of years ago. The night before I landed in the hospital. Only I was already struggling before i took that dose, so it probably had nothing to do with my hospital admission. Well, except that my primary care provider was the one prescribing my psych meds at that point, and i think he had me cold turkey switch from one antidepressant to this one. I think he told me that since they did the same thing, it should be okay to abruptly stop the one and start the other. If a general Dr told me that now, I'd be suspicious. Actually, at this point I wouldn't want to go to a family Dr for psych meds; I figure my case is complicated enough for a psychiatrist. For all of which, I'm still very grateful to that primary care Dr. When i started my first antidepressant, i was afraid, and it helped that a Dr i already knew and trusted had prescribed the medication.

Enough with the rabbit trails, self! It's bed time!

Monday, March 23, 2015

This morning, i actually woke up. Not just the half awake where you stumble through the morning routine with your head in a fog. Actually awake. Maybe a bit of my excessive sleepiness will go away as i get off of the last two antidepressant fails.

Then again, I'm still sitting on my couch as the freshly dried laundry gets cold. And my bills sit beside me waiting to be paid. Which doesn't mean I'm not less sleepy (how about a triple negative). Just means my whole life didn't magically sort out in 24 hours. Which would make me suspicious.

Well, one of the most recent things I've learned from The Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy Workbook (or whatever it's called; you get the idea) it's that i can intentionally do small tasks like picking up a few items around the house or paying bills to make myself feel better. I feel accomplished then, even if in just a small way. It is also a good distraction... I've used this technique to get past a crying spell (don't worry; i let myself cry first before rushing on). Anyway, this is the wordy way of transitioning from blogging to paying bills and/or folding the most wrinkle-showing of my clothes. Good night!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

another antidepressant down, and "you don't look like you're depressed"

And.... the next antidepressant strikes out, due to persistent nausea. It could have been worse; it could have stuck with me 24hrs a day. It could have made me feel sicker than it did. But it was bad enough that i left work early thinking i had the flu. (The psychiatrist did not think it was the flu, though. But my "what if" skills are still good enough for me to almost simultaneously worry that i actually have the stomach flu and will spread germs to others, and worry that i left work early when i wouldn't actually have thrown up, and thus could still have worked. P.S. if any readers are my co-workers; yes, i really did feel nauseous. And still do off and on. But I'm pretty sure it is a non-contagious medication side effect.)

Anyway, the Dr told me to stop taking this antidepressant. I'm hoping that means tomorrow will be a better day. And while I'm at it, I'm hoping that my extra extra tiredness will go away (i.e. be a disappearing side effect instead of an ongoing symptom of depression).

In the meantime, have you been told by friends that you don't look or act depressed? Because I've gotten that twice recently. Really lends itself to the (false) concept that I'm complaining about nothing. ("You know everybody gets sad sometimes." "Americans take antidepressants for any little thing." "I don't have time get depressed." And so on.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

And.... perfectionism strikes again. (Oh, but i can't write another blog post now; it won't be good enough. Besides, what do i have to say that i haven't already said?) 

Hmm... maybe i don't have much to say. That's okay. That is perfect for an imperfect post!

I am not thinking as straight as usual today. Despite sleeping the approved 8 hours last night. But I'd better head to bed tonight, just in case it will help me tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

my lame, sad story (depression plus medication side effects)

Wow, it's been months since I've posted. I started a new ssri this fall, worked up to the maximum dosage the Dr. would prescribe for me, still rated in the moderately depressed range (well, i had one good week, but evening it out with the week before, i still landed in moderate), and now I'm getting off that ssri and on a new antidepressant. This one is new enough that it is not available as a genetic, at least not in my country.

This one also has the super-power of making me feel like i have a mild case of the flu while permitting me to not be contagious. In other words, it makes me nauseous and slightly dizzy at times. And exhausted, although i don't know if that is from the medication or the depression that the medication is supposed to treat. In other words, unpleasant side effects.

And how am i? Grumpy. Why did the depression have to come back. I mean, my past run-ins with depression were long enough. I had gotten better enough to hope that i was past the medication trial and error game.

And then here i am, starting on yet another antidepressant, which is making me feel sick. The migraines we not fun with previous medications, but this is pretty bothersome, too.

In short, the nice happy facade that i like to keep up, it is crumbling. I'm ready to complain about my stomach and my depression and how unfair and upsetting this is.

Only I'm not good at sharing that. So i guess my smile is still making plenty of appearances. Not even fake; i am glad to see people. I do want to hear about their life.

But i really, really want to feel better. Really, really, really. Really!

But maybe i run out of words before i run out of feelings. "I feel bad. No, really, i feel bad. Did i tell you? On top of the depression, i have side effects that feel bad."

But what more is there to say? Whoever I'm talking to can't fix it. Well, except my doctor can and did tell me to go back to a lower dose. So maybe, hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

But I'll still have to wake up tomorrow morning and go to work. Do you know how hard that is? Kind of like opening a can of food with a can-opener is hard. Yup, that is how lame my depression gets. Or i get in the face of my depression,

But it will get better. It has before, so it will again, right? Thanks for listening to my sad story. Hopefully i will have a happier one before long.