Down but not out

Hello! It’s been a long time since I last posted. Thanks to those who’ve been reading the blog, leaving comments, and sending messages. And thanks to those who are reading this 🙂

Depression and anxiety have been kicking my ass lately. Anxiety especially. It’s funny, in a way: generally, I feel like I can control my anxiety pretty well, but when it gets bad, I become quite aware that my anxiety controls me.

I wake up anxious. As soon as my eyes are open, the anxiety sets in. My mind starts going a million miles a minute trying to worry about every little detail of every little thing. On occasion, my anxiety wakes me up in the middle of the night. It’s exhausting. I think that makes the mental illness harder to combat – sometimes you’re just too tired to fight.

Panic attacks have been a frequent friend over the past few months. The heart palpitations are always disconcerting, no matter how often I experience them. The palpitations aren’t a medical concern for me, but when my heart is thumping away like that, I can’t help but take notice. My poor heart works so hard for me; I don’t think I treat it well enough.

I’ve begun the process of seeking treatment. Meds and therapy again, probably. It’s slow going (partially because it’s a struggle for me to get anything done and partially because the health system can be slow if you’re not dying on their doorstep [I’m not complaining though; I might actually be dead if it weren’t for Canada’s socialized medicine). I’m not exactly jumping up and down at the prospect of treatment, but medication and therapy were a big help to me in the past, so I’m fine with trying again. Really, I probably shouldn’t have been off meds or out of therapy in the first place, but I wanted to try going without, and I was fine for a while. My brain caught up with me, is all!

In the meantime, I try to keep myself occupied – crochet, paint, read, cook, listen to music…whatever distracts me for a little while. I’m taking things day by day. Today was a little better than yesterday. Maybe tomorrow will be a little better than today. I can hope at least!

Hopefully you have a good day too ❤

 

 

 

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Negative Thinking

Hello, all! It’s been so long! I’m afraid I haven’t been in much a writing mood lately, but I figured I should check in and let people know I’m still alive. 🙂


I wouldn’t call myself an optimist. I like to think of myself as a realist. But, let’s be honest, that’s just a fancy marketing-type term for pessimist, isn’t it?

In the past, I have frequently and compulsively let myself mope and ruminate about all the awful things in life. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing with the depression; do I feel depressed because of the negative thoughts, or do I think negative thoughts because of the depression?

When I began treating my depression and anxiety, I had to confront my own thinking patterns. The negative thoughts were not helping me. If I wanted to be happy, I had to learn to think more positively, or, at the very least, realistically about things. Instead of telling myself ‘Today is going to be hellish,’ I had to begin telling myself ‘Today might be a good day; I won’t know until I get on with it.’

The change in perspective has helped a little, though it’s not a pancea. There’s a bit of a learning curve to it, but eventually it starts to feel natural to challenge the negative thoughts. I assume the eventual goal is that you don’t have all the negative thoughts to challenge, but that seems like a distant goal at this point.

Now, here’s my confession: sometimes I still let myself mope and ruminate and relish in those terribly negative thoughts. I do this for two reasons.

The first reason is that it allows for a cathartic release. Once in a while, I curl up in bed and think awful things and have a cry. Sometimes I feel better after. Not always. Sometimes I feel worse. But the times that I feel better allow me to justify it in my own mind.

The second reason is to combat anhedonia. I spend a lot time comfortably – or uncomfortably – numb. Sometimes it seems like I don’t feel much of anything. Letting myself think negative thoughts and feel bad for a while serves as a reminder that I do have feelings, no matter how well I manage to push them down most of the time. I wonder if this doesn’t make me a bit like an addict. Perhaps I’m addicted to feeling bad. I’ve spent so much of my life feeling miserable that there’s a certain amount of comfort in it. Still, I know this won’t help me to get better, so I try not to do this too often.

But let’s look on the bright side since that’s what we ought to do: at least I don’t mope all the time anymore. Any progress is good.

What I’ve been up to

Hello everyone! It’s been a while! I’m still alive.

A few people have asked for updates on my job search. Well, I’m still searching. It’s kind of a roller coaster (I want off the ride now…). I went through a series of interviews for a job that would have been a fairly good fit for me. I even got a bit hopeful that time, but it didn’t pan out. This was disappointing, but such is life, I guess. I just keep sending out my applications.

It’s very easy to get frustrated – with yourself, with the companies, with the society as a whole. I find myself wondering why I spent so many years in school when it doesn’t really seem worth it from a career standpoint (But don’t get me wrong, from an education and self-growth standpoint, I loved all those years of school.). I find myself wondering why the companies are asking for 5 years of experience for an entry level job. I find myself wondering why we put so much emphasis on people’s jobs (We so often ask people “What do you do?” even though it has very little to do with who they are as people.). I know I’m not the only person wondering these things; I know I’m not the only one who is frustrated. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun, but we all just keep plugging away.

What else have I been up to in my absence? I’ve been trying to separate myself from the internet a little bit. I love, love, love the internet, but it’s so easy to waste away a day surfing the web. I don’t want to do that, and I think it sometimes makes my depression worse, so I’ve tried to find some other ways to waste my time! I’ve been doing some exercise. I’ve been reading more books. I’ve been writing some books (Two of them! I was fairly proud of this, since I’ve wanted to write one since I was very small. Whether they’re any good still waits to be seen haha). I’ve been trying not to die in the humid heat of a Southwestern Ontario summer. I’ve been catching up with family and friends. I’ve been catching Pokemon. I’ve been eating way more potato chips than any human being should.

Basically, I’m just trying to fill my time and not let the depression set in. It’s an everyday battle. Some days are harder than others. But today is an okay day! I hope you have an okay day too! 🙂

Off meds

Hi! I’m not dead! Quick update: I’ve graduated university (woo!), am enrolled in a college program (woo!), am currently off all medication (woo?), and have been living at home for the summer (no woo).

For now, I’m just going to talk about being off meds.

It’s kind of wild.

It took eight days of me being completely med-free before the suicidal ideation began. I spend time thinking about how nice it might be to simply not exist, but don’t spend my time planning how I might make this happen, so I think I’m okay. It didn’t surprise me that those thoughts came about (I was never entirely free of them when I was on medications, anyhow).

What did throw me for a loop was emotions! I guess I kinda, sorta forgot I had them or something? Without medications I feel emotions much more strongly, and I hadn’t realized what a dampening effect the medication had.

Case and point: I cried over a television show about a beaver. It was either one of the most pathetic moments of my life, or the most Canadian (I’m going with the latter.). I also cried over another show about an elephant. I rewatched Les Mis and cried so hard I made myself laugh! Honestly, I’m pretty amused by the whole business. It annoys me a bit, but once the crying is over, it’s funny how easily I cry now.

I get angrier now, too. Sometimes it feels pretty good to get angry.

On the downside, I’m more easily overwhelmed, and it’s much harder to feel happy, especially for any sustained period of time. I think once I’m settled into a new school year, this will get a bit better, since life is a bit rocky at the moment (what with the living at home and an upcoming move and whatnot).

Overall, I have mixed feelings about being off medication. Medication was definitely helpful to me for both my depression and my anxiety. However, it is nice to not worry about taking the meds, and filling prescriptions, finding a new doctor, the cost, etc.. At the moment, things are okay without meds, but I worry that I won’t always be able to handle things without them. I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes, I suppose!

Too Apathetic to Go Out

If you have mental health issues, you’ll probably be able to sympathize with me. Hell, even if you don’t have mental health issues you might be able to! I have been too apathetic to leave the house. I have basically just stayed in my room for a week. I really need to go grocery shopping, but I can’t work up the energy to go (don’t worry, I won’t starve yet). I could use a shower, and I really should be eating better meals, but I can’t get myself to do those things either. I should probably do some cleaning, but I likely won’t.

So, I’m doing the same thing I always do when I get like this: tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow…or the next day.

depressives, or at least “neurotic” depressives, are likely to perceive their parents as having provided an insufficiency of care and/or as having been overprotective.

from “Parental ‘Affectionless Control’ as an Antecedent to Adult Depression: A Risk Factor Delineated” (Parker, G. 1983 Arch Gen Psychiatry)

This is terribly interesting to me, since it reflects me as a neurotic depressive and my view of my parents.

Of course, the Parental Bonding Instrument used to determine parenting style is self-reported, and therefore it is difficult to say if “affectionless control” actually came from the parent(s) or if it was simply perceived that way. As well, it does not make parenting style a causal factor of dysthymia/neurotic depression, but rather, points out a correlation one might want to take note of.

Nearly half of …

Nearly half of people with dysthymia have a symptom that also occurs in major depression, shortened REM latency — that is, they start rapid eye movement (vivid dreaming) sleep unusually early in the night.

from the February 2005 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter

When I read this, I laughed as I said to myself ‘Not me! I don’t go to sleep early enough for this!’. Then I laughed some more because only I would tell myself a joke that bad.

I’m never calling it dysthymia again!

Dysthymia also goes by the name ‘neurotic depression’. No clue why I didn’t know that; I’m a little shamed of myself. But neurotic depression sounds far more exciting/frightening to me! I like it. I like it a lot. I don’t think I’ll actually switch terms, but I get a perverse sort of joy from knowing I have ‘neurotic depression’.

I know it’s not for everyone, having such a flippant attitude towards their mental health, but I figure ‘hey, why not have some fun with it?!’. I choose to embrace my madness. It doesn’t make me any better or worse than anybody else; there are a lot of other people out there with their own issues. It doesn’t make me weird. It doesn’t ruin my life (hmmm…although I could argue this one a bit). I just makes me ‘me’! 🙂

What about you? Are you like me, and just take your problems and run with them with a smile on your face (or at least some psychotic laughter)?

Mini update

So the depression got worse; for me, it would be called “double depression”, which is when your dysthymia slips into major depression. Joy, oh joy. So we upped the drugs. I’m currently at 300 mg of bupropion hydrochloride (Wellbutrin XL), and 125 mg sertraline (Zoloft). Additionally, I have been taking omega supplements (note: Dr. approved), I don’t know if they make a difference, but I figure my body could use it anyway…but I digress. The increased dosage has made a difference. I still feel the effects of the depression, but it is easier to get through the day, and that’s good enough for me, for now.

When I’m feeling a bit better, I’m hoping to get working of self-esteem, because mine is at an all-time low!

Ciao,
Michelle

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