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


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.