What if you can’t tell?

Had another psychiatrist appointment today.  This dr is keeping good tabs on me, which is a good thing, I guess.  I see him monthly.  I guess I didn’t expect to see him that frequently, seeing how overbooked and overworked our mental health system is.  But, hey, I’ll take it.

My anxiety is through the roof.  The house is up for sale but we haven’t had any offers.  The new house is built, and they are in the process of putting in the hardwood floors this week.  Every other day I have a meeting with my partner, the designer or contractor, or a house showing. I feel like I’m going insane.

But then there are times when I’m fine. I feel calm. I feel okay. I wouldn’t say that I’m super happy, but I’m definitely okay. Unfortunately, these days, the days when I am fine are infrequent.

So today, when my psychiatrist asked how I was doing, I didn’t know what to say. How do I sum up that I feel mostly okay depression-wise, but not so okay anxiety-wise, but oh, it’s not all the time, but most of the time?  Well, I think that is pretty much what I said.  But what really sucks about having depression/anxiety is that my concentration is shit and my comprehension is sluggish.  So, self-assessment is not exactly my forte.  I try to “check in” with myself, to compare myself to last month, or two months ago, but I find it incredibly difficult.  Am I better than I was last month? Worse?  I think I had a good bump up when the remeron was increased, but the dr decreased the prozac, which I think probably didn’t help the anxiety. So today he bumped the prozac back up. The medication balance is very tricky. And frustrating.

So what do you do, dear reader, if you can’t tell if you are better or worse? I am looking for insightful ways to figure out myself.  What works for you?

p.s. here’s a great blog post. I love her language.  Three Things You Need to Know about Mental Illness.

By the way, I have decided I am vanilla bean ice cream.

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How to deal with anxiety.

TAKE your meds.

Geez.

You’d think I would have this figured out by now, but somehow my brain is hardwired to think I don’t need these pills.  I’ll be fine if I just take deep breaths, focus on a non-moving point, centre myself, use mindfulness, etc…

Guess what? Sometimes anxiety can’t be willed away.  Sometimes you have to rely on your medications.

Clonazepam

Clonazepam

I’m just learning this.  I went to the psychiatrist yesterday, and he upped my anxiety meds.  I had only been taking 0.5 of the clonazepam, but now I am going to take that dose twice a day.  That is not a large dose apparently, but just might be enough to keep me from having my panic attacks.  Now that selling our house and moving is becoming a looming reality, my anxiety is through the roof and I’m having un-precipitated attacks.  They were definitely getting worse.

You know those “keep calm” posters you always see? I need one that says “Keep calm and take your meds”!

Keep Calm and Take Your Meds

Keep Calm and Take Your Meds

Agitated

Wow am I having a few shitty days. I am really agitated and nervous the majority of the time, except for when I am really depressed. Today marks week 5 of taking wellbutrin on top of prozac. I know it’s supposed to take a while to achieve full efficacy but I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Then again, it could very well be the wellbutrin that is making me feel so agitated. One more week and I have my appointment with my GP, and I will get the recommendations from the psychiatrist and we can put a plan in place for meds. My guess is that I will restart the clonazapam (I hope so) and maybe replace the wellbutrin with something else. There is no doubt in my mind that the depression is improving but I’m still having these rotten mood swings. I am not bipolar, says the psych, but these mood swings seem pretty frequent to me. Maybe a mood stabilizer to even me out?

I am so goddamn sick of this. I am sick of being patient. I am sick of trying to get in to see my dr,  psychiatrist, psychologist.

My psychologist M says that I have to accept who I am. Why should I, when I feel so inherently flawed? Why should I accept this mental illness? Why, because it’s never going away? That’s just fucking wonderful.

Acceptance. Management. Patience. Mindfulness. Peace.

All that is fine and well, great concepts and all, but damn hard to put into place when you are ill.

It’s a damn catch-22. You can see more of this concept in Jon D. Allen’s book,  Coping with Depression.  Coping with Depression

It’s a great book,  but as he highlights, it’s very hard to do the things you need to do when you are sick.

It never goes away

Or at least that’s what it feels like. Today I woke up feeling down. My psychologist says that recovery is not a straight line uphill. That just because I feel a bit better one day, doesn’t mean I won’t have a sad day the next. No shit. Right now my good days are still few.

Anyway, I woke up down, so I made the effort to do things that would make me feel good (or at least okay). I went for coffee and had a nice latte. I shopped a little. I picked out new eyeglasses.

Still felt shitty.

Took a nap.

Still shitty.

Forced myself to do laundry and make the bed.

Still shitty.

It’s always there. The tears might not come,  but the sadness, that I can rely on.

Oh, and “sadness” is the most unsatisfactory word. There is no word that indicates the total sadness,  loss of joy,  and hopelessness that is depression. The word “depression” doesn’t even cover it.

Screw you,  dictionary. Screw you,  depression.

FYI: I’m new at this blog stuff and am just figuring out links and stuff.  This blog by Christy is good. http://sweetandsavoring.com/

The blog “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie is the best description of depression on the entire Internet.  Thank you Allie, for putting it into words for me. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/

If there was a pill to make you feel better, would you take it?

I met with the psychiatrist yesterday. He irritated me, taking his notes and deciphering me in 60 minutes. Middle-class? Check. No childhood trauma? Check. History of family depression and anxiety? Check. No eating disorder, OCD or mania? Check. You’ve got depression exacerbated by anxiety. Go away.

To be fair, he was thorough. But the problem is “I present so well.” I look put – together, I can sit and have a conversation with anyone, I save my falling apart for later. The only people who see me fall apart are my partner, sister, and therapist. So why should I expect the psychiatrist to see how anxious and depressed I really am? I look fine. My symptoms are not obvious.

He said that he would not have prescribed the wellbutrin, but he would have kept me on the clonazepam. He said he would write a recommendation letter to my GP, and that she would be the one to make the ultimate decisions, along with me. He pissed me off, because I think the wellbutrin is just starting to work. Granted I’m edgy, nervous and agitated, but I’m getting stuff done! For the first time in a month. I’m laughing again. I don’t want that to go away. I take ativan for when I’m really strung out. I used to struggle against taking them, because they can be addictive, but I won’t become addicted. I’m too careful and overthink everything. I’ll debate whether I should take an ativan for half an hour.

Would you take a pill if it made your life easier? That is the ultimate question. And the answer, for me, for now, is yes. I need to quieten the jumble of anxiousness in my head,  so I can rest. My mind races and races and races,  like the proverbial guinea pig in the wheel,  and I just need it to stop sometimes. So I take an ativan or a clonazepam and it stops, temporarily. It’s my saving grace right now.  So I don’t go completely mad.

In two more weeks I see my GP and hear what the psychiatrist recommends. Asshole couldn’t tell me and save me some grief? For fuck’s sake. I’m anxious enough, let’s just wait some more.

My mood is frustrated but hopeful.  Being pissed is better than being sad. The wellbutrin is starting to work. My therapist had “graduated” me to seeing him every two weeks,  an improvement over weekly. I have hope, even though trying to figure out meds and moods and symptoms and reactions is exhausting.

 

Depression comes with mood swings

I didn’t realize that depression comes with mood swings.  I thought depression meant you were sad all the time.  But it’s not like that, at least not for me. I have periods of intense clarity, times when I can go out, get out of my pajamas and wear nice clothes, put on makeup, go for coffee. I did that today. It felt good. It felt good to connect with a friend for an hour. But afterward the crash came. I was exhausted, spent.  It took all my energy to go to a cafe and sit there with a cappuccino for an hour. An activity that I liked, but which absolutely took the good out of me.  How lame is that?  I know, I know, bad self-talk there, but I can’t help but think of how much people are achieving, every day, and my big achievement today was to get dressed and go for coffee. 😦

It’s true that I felt good during the afternoon, but this morning I could barely get out of bed.  I was so inexplicably sad that nothing mattered. I cried myself to sleep last night. For no reason.  My partner was worried to death. I told her I just wanted the sadness to stop. I don’t intend to harm myself (commit suicide), but I felt so out of control in regard to my emotions, that it was something bigger than me, that I was just the vessel for this big monster of sadness that was taking over me.  Last night was a blur, and then most of this morning, probably because I was so exhausted from last night.

Then the cloud lifted, temporarily.  I went for coffee.  Then I came home, napped for an hour, and was able to make dinner.  Again, my self-critic says “big deal! You made dinner!”  That self -critic is sure a bitch.

I panicked this morning, when I looked at a bottle of pills, and thought, how easy it would be for me to take all of them and just go to sleep.  But I won’t.  I could never do that to my family. I’d be miserable for life if it meant they wouldn’t have to suffer. But damn, is it hard.  So I called my psychologist and made an emergency appointment for tomorrow morning.  No doubt I’ll get there, and he’ll tell me exactly what he’s been telling me for weeks, that it will pass, I will get better, than I have to exercise patience, that I have to accept the depression and realize that I can’t do some of the things I used to do.  But I CAN’T accept this!  There has got to be something else I can do.

I’m still on the waitlist for a psychiatrist.  Right now my GP is prescribing my meds.  My appointment in June 11th.  I pray the wellbutrin starts really sinking in soon, and then when I see the psychiatrist he won’t change the meds.  The med addition (or changes, what have you) are really difficult.  I have only been on this new one 3.5 weeks and I’m out of my mind waiting for it to work.  The sadness is incredible.  And the mood swings (which are mostly a swing in a happy direction, not manic or angry): I can’t tell if they are really mood swings or am I just having a few good hours? Of course one of the symptoms of depression is confusion, so sometimes I can’t tell if I’m overreacting, or what is going on.

Depression is a bitch.  At one point I looked at my watch and I couldn’t tell what time it was.  It was like I forgot how to read a clock.  Just fucking great. It was probably only a few seconds that I stared at it, but enough to panic me once more.  Will this ever pass?

Breakdown

I had a nervous breakdown. I might as well just say it like that, and get it out there, even though the words “nervous breakdown” make people envision someone pulling out their hair, shrieking uncontrollably, thrashing about in bed, and it wasn’t like that at all. It was much more… quiet. The psychologist I am seeing prefers the words “major depressive episode,” although those words leave a lot to be desired too; they are too clinical, and leave too much to the unknown.

So I decided to create this blog as a part of my recovery, to help me get it all straight in my head. Depression causes confusion and memory loss, and while they are not permanent symptoms, for me, they are one of the more frustrating components of depression.

The details are fuzzy to me, but somewhere around April 3rd of this year, I started crying. And I just couldn’t stop. It was all too much, all I could feel was a crushing sadness. Even when I wasn’t crying, it was only because I felt I had used up all my tears, and there weren’t any left. At first I tried to deny that I was sick. I went on autopilot. I thought I could ignore it. But I couldn’t. It wouldn’t go away. All I did was cry or sleep. I forced myself to eat. I tried to do normal things, like laundry, and baking, but even that was very difficult. I took no pleasure in anything. I slept a lot. I could barely get out of bed.

That was at the beginning of the month. The past 3 weeks have been the worst “depressive episode” I’ve ever gone through. I am very familiar with depression, having a combination of that and anxiety for roughly a decade. I have never felt the incredible sadness that I have felt this month, before. This time was different.

Luckily, I had the insight to know that this was a serious episode, and was able to get to my doctor. She added a new, atypical antidepressant to the one I was already on, and I have been on it since April 9th. I am also on a waitlist to see a psychiatrist and seeing my psychologist weekly. I am doing everything possible to take care of me. Things aren’t better yet, I am still moderate-to-severe depressed. It takes between 4-12 weeks for the antidepressant to take full effect, so it’s a waiting game now. But this past week I have seen some improvement, enough to have some clarity, perspective and hope. I’m really glad. Without hope, you really have nothing. And while this illness has won this round, I refuse to let it win for good.