Author Archives: Miss Misery

About Miss Misery

I am a miserable, depressed, borderline, sonofabitch.

You Need To Exercise.

*Disclaimer: It seems I’ll always have to mention that yes, I realize my posts may be all over the place. Yes, there may be run-on sentences. But I’m suffering from depression, I have a hard enough time just having the motivation to write.*

wpid-wp-1420772469604.jpegRecently, I have been attending physical therapy for my neck to help strengthen the muscles in my back and shoulders that support my neck in efforts to relieve some of the pain and flare-ups from my Chiari 1 Malformation. I have been going twice a week, every session having different exercises or massages, for about a month. During this time, I have noticed that my depression has lifted if only by just 10%. I still feel an overall malaise; and every time I arrive for PT, I feel weak, tired, and dizzy-and this is before I start my therapy. Aside from the physical activity that I’m assisted with, the routine of having to be somewhere at the same time every week has given me a sort of sense of purpose. This is a huge part of alleviating depression.

I started my session off by warming up – today it was five minutes on the arm bike. My biceps, triceps, and other surrounding muscles were already shaking; and my shoulder joints were beginning to wake up and yell at me to stop before I became so much in pain that even turning the wheel of my car would elicit sharp pains that would radiate down my arms, leading me into panic mode wondering whether or not I’m having a heart attack. Of course, I wouldn’t be. But, I was smart this time around. After wall push-ups (on my toes!), planks on my knees, stretch band exercises, and various one-pound weight training movements with my body bent at the waist, leaning over on an exercise ball propped up on a massage table, I asked if I could sit with some ice. Although my middle back is starting to hurt, it’s probably largely in part because of my horrible posture, something that physical therapy is trying to straighten, strengthen, and prevent the melancholic curvature of my spine. The signature curvature of someone who has been depressed for 20 plus years of their life and can’t find the will nor stamina to sit upright for 10 minutes. I was shaking. Throughout my entire workout, I was shaking. My physical therapist noticed this and would constantly ask if I felt I needed to rest before continuing, or if I felt okay enough to start the next set.

My revelation came to me this morning, while in the shower, when I realized something that could very well decrease psychopharmaceutical sales. What if psychiatrists prescribed physical therapy, two to three times a week at half hour sessions, for patients who have been immobile and bed or couch-ridden because of depression? Even if the patient had a hard time following through with take-home exercises (of which I’m guilty), working with someone a few times a week who is aware of the patient’s disability and understanding of the limitations that a person has, would be greatly beneficial to that person with depression, even if the overall improvement is 10 or 20 percent better. For some, they may fall back into old ways of sitting or sleeping all day, but others may take the opportunity and slowly rehabilitate their body into movement, and build strength.

I have been sitting and have been near bed-ridden (at times actually bed-bound) for over two years now. I have gained 80 pounds during that time and lost so much muscle that walking a few blocks makes my legs shake. I’m so weak at times that any type of extended physical activity involving my arms and reaching above my head causes me to shake uncontrollably. Ultimately, I avoid these types of activity.

I certainly don’t want to claim or rather, proclaim, that “If I can do it, so can you,” because this is not the case. With anything. If there is one thing I hate about motivational speakers it’s the assumption that just because their back story and journey to where they are now had been so grueling, they expect that others have no excuse to say that they can’t do the same. No one is above anyone and certainly no one’s misery and hard times are more difficult than everyone else. Yes, I hate where I am at; and I hate even more the depression I experience every damn day, but I never once compare my misery to someone else’s, and if I do, it’s in a more self-deprecating-typical-depression kind of way. I look at another person and think that they do have it worse than me, so why the hell am I attending all these self-pity parties all the damn time?

fa1e37f8ba5f6f34aa5ef8c488f2220f.jpgSo, one idea I have (if I can conjure the energy) is to put out an honest book on exercise and depression and how to get from point A to point B (rather how to drag and claw your way from point A to point B). I would take care not to include self-pity stories nor “If I can do it, you can too” stories, but rather just talk about my personal experience with depression and physical activity. I have been thinking about this on and off for a while now, wondering what the key thought is to getting off the chair, or out of bed, to doing the slightest of exercises to start your body moving. My head is plagued with so many fucking doctors rattling off how I need to exercise, take the dogs for a walk even for a few blocks, or start by lifting weights; or, after telling them that I completed the P90 program twice, “Why not start the P90 program again?” The problem these doctors don’t understand is that, for someone who used to workout at least five, if not six or seven, days a week, have two jobs, and energy to have craft fairs every weekend AND have a social life, starting an exercise program with the past mocking me in my head is simply not an option. Although I know that if I was going to start again I couldn’t pick up where I left off with 100 sit-ups, lifting 20 pound weights, and dancing on the treadmill for an hour, there is still a part of me that when I try to pick up that dumbbell, even if it’s only five pounds, in my depressed mind, I see my former body, 100 pounds of fat lighter, and an unknown amount of muscle heavier. And so, in order to write a successful book, or rather, the book that I want to write, there has to be a conclusive, concrete thought process to look at where I used to be and accepting where I am now. And to be clear, the accepting part is NOT the thought process that I want to focus on. Acceptance is hard and frankly, redundant and overused. I want the readers with Major Depressive Disorder to read this book and think that, “Okay, maybe I could try this,” or, “I feel that way, too,” or, “I get the same responses from doctors and TV advertising.”

Perhaps I could even start a program that becomes so widespread, perhaps nationwide, that insurance companies approve the use of physical therapy as an alternative or additional form of “medicine” for those who are depressed. Level of depression need not apply. If you’re depressed and stagnant, you are automatically qualified. Force the doctors to put their money where their mouth is and prescribe exercise for their patients. You cannot expect a depressed patient to begin an exercise routine on their own when they already think so little of themselves.

I hope with my next month of physical therapy, that I can be motivated to exercise on my own, and hopefully it will lift at least 10 or 20% of my depression. Anything would make a difference.

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I have no title.

This isn’t meant to be one of those woe-is-me posts. It’s simple. I am depressed. I have Major Depressive Disorder. I have Dysthmic Disorder. I also am realizing that WordPress has changed their format slightly and it’s bothering me to all hell.

Yes, I feel alone. But I know I am not. However, when I try searching for sites, blogs, forums, anything about people who have had enough of depression, it’s usually because of relationship problems, problems with school, problems with fitting into society. I get that. All of those things are incredibly hard to deal with when you are depressed.

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Can you find the real smile?

But where are the posts about people who have been dealing with depression since they were in grade school? I can almost pinpoint the year it all began through my school photographs.

I put this collage together years ago, so pardon the outdated font and color choices. It’s funny, though, how I can remember something from every photograph. The necklace from kindergarten, the red bow from first grade. The elastic ponytail from second, and every shirt from there on up. The glasses, and the necklaces, and the headband, and the earrings. If I could fit into them, I’d probably wear some (if not all) of those sweaters today.

I’d say by at least second grade, something started to go wrong. I can see it in my eyes. Definitely by the eighth grade, I have bags under my eyes and years of anxiety and depression have already begun to make themselves at home. I was miserable.

So here I am. It’s 2016. Those photos were 20-28 years ago. How many more years can I go on living in complete misery. Because despite times of perceived happiness and motivation, there was always something underneath it all that was digging at my insides. This unhappiness that has ultimately paralyzed me my whole life has now left me wondering if I even have a future. I could never see my future when I was younger, maybe I could have planned for it, but I could never see myself having a future. Now, I really cannot imagine myself doing much more than I am at this very moment. Day-to-day living, struggling with depression, doctors, trying to keep the household going, worrying about finances, the list goes on. I see so many people going to work, having a job, making money, having some kind of routine in their life even if their work schedule may not be consistent. I have two things consistent in my life: a weekly (if I’m lucky) therapy session, and a monthly medication appointment. Otherwise, it’s a struggle each day trying to decide whether or not that particular mood that I may be feeling will be the lasting mood, and how can I make the most (or least) of it?

It’s a shame that so many others go through this same feeling, and it’s even sadder that some of them may not have the fortunate support of loved ones to get them by during the hard times. When the psychiatric hospitals are filled, you’re rejected by Social Security, you can’t afford health insurance, you have little to no income, savings, or housing, you end up on the streets. I know how fortunate I am. I am extremely appreciative of everything I have, and I never forget what the people around me do for me, but since the illness is so much stronger than I am, I can’t help but feel like a burden.

I should stop here before this blog really does turn into a woe-is-me story. I just want there to be other options than the ones I keep to myself. It’s not that I’m putting more focus on them rather than trying to get better, it’s that I am exhausting my resources of trying to get better.

All I want to be able to have, and keep, is a damn job.

 


Testosterone, Electrodes, and Depression

Laboratory rat

Because I’ve been broke and at near-wit’s end about my lingering untreated “emotional issues,” over the past few years I’ve participated in a few clinical research studies.  I have been slightly less than desperate to make money as well as try new forms of treatment to see if anything would break through my stubbornness and alleviate some of this debilitating melancholy.

My first experience was simple: fill out a lengthy questionnaire and donate some vials of blood for testing. The study was to determine whether or not there was a direct relationship between genetics and anxiety. There was monetary compensation (my main motive) as well as a follow-up questionnaire that you completed at your leisure and later sent in (with another compensation). The hardest part of the study was emotionally dealing with the consequences that come from evaluating your past and present state of mental health. This sounds easier than done. Anyone who has had a psycho-evaluation knows how personal and emotionally draining it can be.

images (1)My second experience involved the antidepressant effects of testosterone when administered to women with Major Depressive Disorder. (Note: I was assured that at every weekly visit the blood they sent to the lab would be monitored to make sure my levels did not exceed the otherwise normal amount of testosterone.) This was a blind study; there was a 50 percent chance I would receive the active testosterone cream and a 50 percent chance I would receive the placebo. Either way, the lotion had to be applied each night for about three months. Each night I recorded what time I applied the cream, the amount I applied (which was predetermined by the study group), and any side effects that I may have experienced. I never noticed any side effects. David thinks my depression did lift, but only slightly. My participation fell around the time of year that the days grow brighter and longer, so my winter blues may have lifted a little on their own because of seasonal changes. As with the first study, the hardest part of this study were the extensive interviews each visit. I had the same packet of “self reports” to fill out each time, in order to monitor any mental changes. The questions involved changes in mood, appetite, sleep disturbances, and libido. The baseline visit was incredibly grueling. It was, of course, an in-depth psycho-evaluation which left me feeling more dreadful than before and hoping that I wasn’t receiving the placebo. They assured me that at the end of the study when the results were un-blinded, they would inform me what I was administered. I honestly think it was the placebo. But then again, I don’t hold much hope for anything.

Electric_chairMy most recent research study involved the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on Major Depressive Disorder, which was described as “a device to send weak electrical currents to your brain through your scalp.” The study was based out of the Mood Disorders Clinical Studies wing of Butler Hospital in Providence, RI and included 12 treatment sessions followed by 2 interview follow-ups.

The process was simple, although strangely similar to a death-row electrocution.

When I arrived for my first treatment, after another brief interview, I was instructed to sit in an office chair in front of a small table with a Dell laptop facing me. The whole procedure took place in a small office room, sparsely decorated, and with a window overlooking the psychiatric hospital grounds. A social worker who would be leading my participation throughout the process, along with an assistant, measured my head to find the central, topmost point. (They mentioned what a symmetrical head I have: 38″ by 38″. It’s really hard to find hats that fit.) These numbers were divided in half to find the intersection. From there they measured about 3.8″ to the right and left just anterior to my temples. They wet two sponges, warmed them in a microwave for about 30 seconds (purely for my comfort–their idea), and placed them on the two points they had marked. The sponges are each two thin blue pads held together at the corners, with a space in between to fit the electrodes. imagesA strap is placed under your chin, over the pads to keep them in place, and around behind the nape of your neck. Throughout the experiment the saline solution from the sponges dripped down my hair and onto my shoulders.  Since I redyed my hair one week prior, I accidentally turned a part of the towel they gave me blue. A week or two later I went to grab the towel they provided and noticed it was the same one, still with a blue stain. I was hoping they would have washed it by then. I guess I’ll forever be remembered at Butler Hospital as the girl who turned the towels blue. (I had a similar incidence at McLean Hospital last fall when my hair was purple, but that time I was inpatient and had wet my entire hair. You don’t always plan for hospitalizations and I had just dyed my hair. Oh well. I guess I’m leaving my mark of hair dye at every psychiatric hospital I’ve been to.)

During the treatment, you either received a fake or actual stimulation. They never alluded to the correlation between the sensations I felt and whether it was actual stimulation coursing through my head. The sensation felt like a burning/itching/pins-and-needles feeling, only tolerable. The feeling stopped as soon as the machine turned off and there were no residual effects on the way home.

As I sat there, hooked up to the tDCS machine, I worked on a Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT) computer program, watching videos and then applying the lessons to real-life situations. There was homework as well which was strongly recommended, but optional.

I finished the study, I completed most of the homework, and was later paid for my participation. Overall, I didn’t personally notice a difference. There was a time in the beginning where the lessons of DBT were helpful which in turn made me feel more hopeful, but once something happened in my personal life, that hopefulness quickly dissipated.

I wonder if my depression is treatment-resistant or if my stubbornness truly runs so deep that even I won’t allow myself to feel better. I could have just bad luck and received placebos for both treatments. Either way, they were interesting experiences and I would consider participating in future studies. I am, after all, becoming a regular at the Mood Disorders Research Clinic at Butler Hospital, even on the phone they know who I am.

 

(If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, check out your local hospital web pages or visit ClinicalTrials.gov.)


I don’t have an eating disorder?

Depositphotos_1583346_XL.jpg220. That is what the scale says. Either I need a new scale or I need new clothes. This time two years ago I was probably about 170. Even one year ago I was probably 190. So much regret. By September, 2014, I was 140. Most was loose skin, but I was happy to fit my hands, fingertips nearly touching, around my waist. I could see my backbone, I had chiseled cheekbones and a jaw line. I had thin wrists and you could see the tendons in my hands when I flexed them. I almost had a fly gap if it weren’t for the additional fatty tissue! For the first time since I was a teenager, I could buy clothes that said size 4 or 6 and size small. It was so much easier to find clothes to wear and I had a fun time doing it. (Especially at Savers and their awesome Alfred Dunner polyester clothes.) Now I’m back to where I was in high school, still wanting to dream my fat away. Wondering why I am this way and knowing ultimately it is my fault. It’s so easy to pass blame when you’re feeling shitty and eating frosting out of the container.

I can’t say that I had an eating disorder in 2014. So many things happened so quickly. I ate more than I ever had, it just happened to be all fruits and vegetables. I watched my calorie intake like a hawk and I was 100% more active than I am now. I was also on about six different antidepressant medications, was slowly suffering from serotonin syndrome, and ultimately lost my job because of a breakdown.

It’s taken me this long to write about this, but maybe I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, it was my own doing. Or at least most of it. It started when I downloaded the app Fitness Pal and would log every calorie possible. I was so meticulous and had my meals planned. On top of that, I was taking a colon cleanse pill every day. I didn’t work out excessively, the weight would just fall off. On the weekends I would visit my sister in Norwell and work outside in the garden and in the chicken coop. Underneath the heat of the sun one day, I nearly had heatstroke. On the days spent up north with the chickens, I allowed myself an iced chai latte. Full of sugar, I knew I would be burning off the calories by working outside, if not by sweating it out during the hot summer.

careerBut by the end of the summer, the fall semester at my school started and I signed up for a class.  I had a very difficult time concentrating at work and at school. By September I was nearly 135 lbs. My coworkers who at first complimented me on my weight loss, now looked at me with great concern. My skin was yellow and I started looking gaunt in my face. I had many breakdowns at work and ultimately landed myself in the hospital with an unintentional overdose of prescription medications.

A year later when I requested my medical records from McLean Hospital, they stated my physical appearance as underweight and anorexic. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, in my opinion. But, then again, it was an outsider’s observation. The patient is always biased against his/her shortcomings.

It is now May 19, 2016. I weigh in at 220 lbs. I am miserable, depressed, anxious, tired, weak, and full of frustration. I am not motivated at all. I am on less than half of the medications prescribed two years ago, and I’m still working on tapering off of them. I’m sitting in a Starbucks while someone, who I can only guess is a manager or district manager, interviews a potential employee for the new Starbucks opening closer to where I live. I have been saying for the last year that I would love to go back to working for Starbucks, but my illness is so unpredictable, how could I? No one would hire someone if they knew ahead of time that there would be inconsistencies in their work, despite the strength of their job ability.*

School is over for the spring semester. My new “job” will be to write a memoir over summer break. Despite the difficult times of having no motivation, I hope to have a rough draft by September. A very rough draft. Fighting my own demons and writing how I speak will be my biggest obstacles. So I will write in public in order to drown out my own negative thoughts and discouragements. Although I can hear someone whistling…

My side note of this entry is: There is a man sitting next to me. He is either picking at his nose and flicking it, or biting his nails and or cuticles and flicking that. I have such an urge to look over to quell my curiosity, but there is no way without being so blindingly obvious. And so I must take another clonazepam to help me through.

~Miss Misery

*There will be a follow-up post discussing the stigma against mental illness.


The Meaning of a Diagnosis

My whole cognitive life I’ve been struggling with the disabling question, “What is wrong with me?”

When I was young, I was told that I was a grumpy, stubborn child and that I never liked to be hugged. “You were never a happy child,” says my mother. (Yes, mom, you did say this.) But I’m glad she did, in a way, because it really triggered my thinking about what actually is wrong with me. Why should a 7-year-old be so frustrated with the way her clothes feel on her body? Why should a 7-year-old even be concerned with her body? But I was, and it caused me great anxiety which would later develop into a great depression and morph into a menagerie of borderline-bipolar-avoidant-yadda-yadda behaviors.

For a long time now, I have been searching for a tangible diagnosis. One that would sum up every one of my disabling problems. Having a diagnosis would mean getting to the crux of the matter. I could address that one, solitary issue; and in a perfect world, that would create a ripple-effect to the rest of my problems, slowly allowing me to be able to cope better and better with each arising situation.

But there is no one diagnosis. There are multiple. And they keep shifting. Daily. And it puts a severe damper on my creative writing.

For more than 20 years, I have been reflecting on my life, more specifically, my thoughts. I can comfortably say that I’ve been living in the past (in my head) for at least 15 years. I can’t remember if I lived in the present during grade school, but I certainly always looked towards the past after that. It’s a strange, not-so-romantic nostalgia that has heeded my living a life full of, well, life. And it makes me terribly sad. But I know tomorrow I will wake up, and I will continue to reflect on years long gone when I was a different person. This horrible cycle will continue day after week after month after year, until everything is a blur and the music that plays on my iPod creates such a strong atmospheric time-warp that just listening to something that I heard during the years when I wore 70’s dresses could actually convince me that I was alive during the 70’s.

The one awful thought, though, that frightens me most is: How much longer can I sustain living life in the past while constantly wondering how much longer can I take of the sheer melancholic world I’ve concocted for myself? This thought is the one consistent thought I’ve had. It is, ultimately, the beginning of the end. And has been. For 20 years.

And for the reasons above, I have always longed for that definitive answer. “You have ______________.” Even though despite the already numerous diagnosis I have had, I still cannot accept that I have a mental illness. I just want validation that this can’t be what life is about. Crying every damn day. Thinking up elaborate entrepreneurship ideas and failing miserably at them. Wanting just one good night’s sleep to solve all of my problems.

Stigmas against mental illness also frustrate the living hell out of me. As if it weren’t bad enough that I cannot accept my own shortcomings as a documented illness, society, too, doesn’t accept many flaws in personality as being a medical disorder. Even though there may be an actual name for my illness, if you can’t see the illness, it doesn’t exist. I’m better off calling out sick to work because of a common cold, than I would be because of a major depressive episode. And so I’ve lost jobs, walked away from jobs, and had missed opportunities because of this.

So, to me, there is such a heavy importance in having a diagnosis, because I could then start the process of accepting it and hopefully one day shout to the world, “I’m not an asshole! I have ____________________!!!!!”


Sadness Inside & Out

Monday night, David and I went to the drive-in theater to see the new Pixar movie, Inside Out. I laughed, I cried, I went emotionally numb, I was scared of my own feelings and then ultimately experienced an overwhelming sense of revelation to the inner workings of my mind.

SADNESS_Fullbody_RenderI was pleasantly surprised about the concept developed for the plot of this movie. The story follows the emotional roller coaster that is the prepubescent life of a young girl named Riley dealing with the struggles of moving to a new city, starting a new school, and leaving her friends and past life behind. The cast of characters that are the makeup of the young girl’s emotional mainframe each represent a primary emotion: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and of course, Sadness. Within the emotional universe where they live are lands of long-term memory banks, a train of thought, the subconscious, and Personality Islands including: Honesty Island, Friendship Island, and Goofy Island. There are valuable core memories and memories that fade and are subject to the clean-up crew who collect and dispose of useless, old memories (albeit leaving a few bizarre memories that most of us recall at the most unrelated moments–memories of information that would be useful to a pop-culture wiz who probably had been subjected to years of subliminal messaging). All of these memories are literally colored with their corresponding emotion that was present at the time: anger-red, disgust-green, fear-purple, joy-yellow, and sadness-blue.

Without revealing too much about the premise of the movie, there is a breakdown in the balance of the emotions; Joy and Sadness become a focus and get lost within Riley’s mind. Each consecutive emotional disruption corresponds with what life event Riley is experiencing; although instead of her actions controlling her emotional mind, the characters of her emotional mind quickly react and decide what she should be feeling at the time and how she should respond to certain stimuli. The entire movie is a metaphor in-plain-sight, allowing the viewer to think about their own emotional mind while enjoying a frolicking animated Pixar movie. I couldn’t help but wonder throughout the movie if the writers were themselves psychologists, and whether they based the movie off of the understandings of Mindfulness that is so prevalent throughout Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

I see absolutely nothing wrong with this.

The world needs more movies like this one, especially during times of great hardship. There are more tragic, sometimes preventable, causes to breakdowns in our family systems today and more impeding situations such as technology that stunt the healthy growth of a nurturing, balanced family. An emotionally needy child that goes unnoticed may develop skewed perceptions of future relationships and of his/her own self. Although Riley grew up in a balanced environment, she is still controlled by her many emotions that react to the situational changes in her life. This means that even though someone may have had an emotionally nurturing childhood, he/she can still be subject to irrational automatic thoughts. This movie encourages the viewer to reflect upon his/her emotional reactions and how his/her automatic thoughts may not be the rational ones.

My current research study is partially comprised of the teachings of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)–where you focus on your automatic thoughts and determine whether they are rational or not, whether there is factual evidence to support them or whether they stem from an overactive emotion. The Emotions in the movie react without rationalizing the situation. This causes a chain of events in the breakdown of the little girl’s emotional state until she eventually becomes numb.

We’ve all been there before. We’ve all been controlled by Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and of course, Sadness. Some people experience one emotion stronger than the others and this is what the movie teaches us: All of our emotions are Sadness_Julieimportant, and there is a time when focusing on one emotion over another is appropriate, but not to allow this to happen all the time.

Now when I find myself falling down into that deep melancholic hole, I try to picture(when I’m aware of it) my emotions as these animated Pixar characters, and which one is taking total control. It helps me to personify intangible feelings. If I can put a face to a name, I can work to organize and understand my thoughts and thought processes. So for now, I’ve put Sadness on my desktop, my cell phone, and on my shoulder. The artists at Pixar have created a tiny character that illustrates my depression almost perfectly–even down to my blue hair.


The Psychometer of a Polarized Emotional State

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I don’t know what lies more: depression or happiness?  The only times I can feel validated to the outside world are when I am zombie-depressed.  I sleep, I mope, I cry, and I think about suicide for comfort.  But what about the other end of the spectrum?  When I actually experience “good” days?

The other day, after a solid night’s sleep (aided by two Advil and a Benadryl), I woke up refreshed (as refreshed as I could possibly be) for the first time in years.  I climbed down the ladder of doom which I will inevitably fall off of one day, had my breakfast, my meds and vitamins, and sat down to check out the progress from the previous night’s homework escapades.  Then it hit me.  This strange feeling like something was inside my head trying to escape.  My eyes were holding steadfast against my lacrimal glands, which felt like they were nearly bursting at the seams.  I sat there, on my ottoman, ready to tackle the day, but also ready to spontaneously start uncontrollably crying.  What is that about?  I am only 32.  I am not hormonal.  I am not pregnant.  I am not menopausal.  There are no other explanations that made sense.

It wasn’t until today that I realized my depression/happiness-polarized life is in constant battle.  There is a majorly-depressed monster with dysthymia who is fighting with a happy, innocent 7-year old girl.  When I was seven years old, I laughed uncontrollably.  I had fits of laughter so intense my belly ached.  Now, when I reflect upon the enormity of my depression, how strongly it has taken over my life, and how it has become such a huge part of who I am, I wonder who the “real me” is.  Am I fooling those around me?  Is the Bloggess right?  Is it true that “depression lies”?  How is it that I feel more like a fraud when I am having those rare moments of happiness?

Case in point: David and I took the dogs to Buttonwood Park the other day.  The weather was gorgeous that day.  The sun was shining, the grass was freshly mowed, kids were playing on the playground, and I had just bought a delicious coffee/chai creation for my caffeine/sugar addiction.  We crossed the park to the arboretum and found a nice tree where David could sit on the ground with his guitar, with Max by his side, and I could lounge in the sun, trying to tan my unsightly appendages.  Then there was a brief moment where Pebbles playfully approached me.  So I did what any normal person would do, I wrestled with my tough 14-pound fawn-of-a-dog.  She growled, her tail wagging fervently.  I grabbed around her belly and she and I rammed our heads into one another.  It was pretty awesome.

It lasted about 30 seconds.

I realized it was time to head to my class so I got off the ground and righted myself.  I put my sandals on and looked around, taking in the scenery, the fresh air, and the awesome ball of burning gas that I can’t thank enough for bringing some color to these ghostly limbs.  But as I stood there, holding Pebbles’s leash, a huge wave of uncertainty and paranoia overtook my thoughts.  I was still there, in the moment, on the outside; but in the inside I was thinking, “I should be acting depressed.  I’m lying to everyone.  What if my therapist sees me?  What if any of my doctors see me?  They won’t believe me.  Am I happy?  I’m not happy.  I can’t go through this.  I have to go through this.  I should text my therapist.  Are my meds working?  Maybe I’m a fake.  Maybe it’s me that I’m fooling.”  Later that day, just like every other day, it’s always the same, “Well, there’s always suicide.”

I’m always trying to reach some validation through others and I find that at times I am actually trying to overwrite my current near-blissful state of being.  I am doing the exact opposite of what I should be practicing.  I am allowing the depression to convince me that I am depressed even when I am feeling okay.  Why is it such a difficult endeavor to allow myself to be happy and not feel guilty during that one solid moment in time so I can actually enjoy life?