Tag Archives: depression

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I put this collage together years ago, so pardon the outdated font and color choices.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.

 


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.


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?


Fluffy Butts and Cheese Sandwiches

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Hello world.  Goddamn I’m lost.  I have no idea how to start or how to finish anything.  I only know how to work on something.  Even then, I procrastinate.  So maybe I’ll just jump right in and hopefully as posts go by it’ll start to make some sense.

I’m currently unemployed.  What better time to sit around and finally get to publishing a weblog that I’ve always wanted to start.  Here I am, once swimming in ideas to write about, now an empty void.  The two things I think of most these days are food and knitting.  It could be worse I suppose.  I could be a meth addict.  Still, the days I keep are long spent on the couch, in my unwashed pajamas, stuffing my face with Cocoa Pebbles and cheese sandwiches, and knitting until the hand I slammed in the door jam to the chicken run hurts too much to lift a needle.  I am productive, you know (not Lather productive…); I try to do the dishes, the laundry, my homework, pay bills, feed and poop the dogs, and visit the girls.  All while suffering from a deep melancholy so debilitating that despite three hours of contemplation, nine time out of ten I decide to stay at home rather than leave to get a coffee every day.

I want to get something out in the open.  Something that I’ll keep referencing from here on forward, so it’s only befitting that I introduce it within my first blog entry.

I have a mental illness.

There.  I said it.  Just like, “I have cancer” or “I won the lottery” or “I have a cheese sandwich”.  I mainly suffer from Dysthymia, a chronic form of depression, which started when I was very young.  “Ever since I can remember” has always been my reply to any therapist.  The harder part is trying to formulate an answer when asked if there was any one event that may have triggered it.  Which leads me to thinking how boring my life was and worse – how I have no reason to be as miserable as I have always been.  Frequent monikers include ‘Moody Julie’, ‘Eeyore’, ‘Grumpy’, and my favorite, ‘Mopey Dick’.  It escalated to the point that I would be known to be miserable.  I followed my own fate.

During recent winter months, I have experienced many major depressive episodic flare-ups.   They just so happen to coincide with my unemployment and medication changes (more on that later).  It’s hard to say if things worsen because of the unemployment or if they would have gotten worse despite having a job.  Considering my track record, I would think there really isn’t one trigger to these flare-ups.  Although weather does play an important role.

It’s tough, not wanting to leave the house, and when I do, I find myself longing to be in front of the television, knitting, and drowning my thoughts with mindless TV shows and 1-star movies on Netflix.  I try to pinpoint the few times that I have slight relief and attempt to search for the one “thing” that sparked them so that I may replicate them, but I get nowhere.  This is because there isn’t just one “thing”.  There are a whole lotta little “things”.  The emotional instability, one of my many diagnoses, may cause these bouts of relief or it may be the intermittent doses of huge amounts of sugar.  Despite these moments of reprieve, however, I still find myself weighted down by that damn melancholy.


Because I have argued with David about whether or not to delete this post entirely and forget about writing a blog altogether, here is my fortune cookie advice for the week:

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