A loaded question.
It seems my last post was put up when there was still snow on the ground. And now there’s soon to be snow (that lasts) on the ground again.
So where did I go? Truthfully, nowhere. (Well, a couple trips this year, but that’s beside the point).
Over the last couple years, I’ve just felt generally bad. I was trying different things to reverse that and while it seemed something would work, it didn’t ever seem to be a catchall or last very long. And it got to a point where I felt defeated (which probably didn’t help either). I had an unexpected talk with a friend last winter which provided me with something new to try. So remember that post where I talked about a doctor visit? And how lucky I felt to have such a wonderful physician. I went to see her and we had a long discussion about my mental health. I’ve always had a good relationship with my physician, which is why I went to her for help. I trust her which is something that’s important to me.
I’m having trouble figuring out how to write this. I don’t want it to come off as a sympathy-seeking post or like I’m advocating the perfect answer to all your problems. I just wanted to share my experience and explain why the blog took a nosedive. When I considered never letting this into the light of day, I was encouraged to post it because it’s my experience and that’s what this blog is about in the end.
I spent about a month or so writing down reasons I felt bad. Well, reasons I thought I might be depressed. I took that with to my appointment. I was given some questionnaires to fill out by my physician as well. We went through both of them together, discussing why I might feel this particular feeling or how often I felt like that. My daily schedule was discussed, eating habits, sleeping habits, etc. It was incredibly helpful, she was as kind as could be and more understanding than I could have hoped. We talked about options and what side effects those would have. In the end, we decided that bupropion (better known by its brand name, Wellbutrin) would be a good fit for me.
It took some time to adjust. I had one massive breakdown (unfortunately, it happened during our trip in Florida) and I couldn’t pinpoint what the issue even was. It may have not even been medication-related but nothing like that has happened since -crosses fingers-. I also had a follow-up appointment with my physician a couple months later. I reported back how I was feeling since starting the medication. Generally, I was actually feeling better. Less bad. It was so nice to be able to feel less irritable constantly and if I was feeling sad, I had a real life, obvious reason to.
It did come with some less great side effects. One of which being I didn’t really have a mind to think creatively. Which is why the blog stopped getting updates. It was weird because it went completely out of my mind. I just didn’t consider that I could be doing a post, or a craft, or any sort of creative outlet project. I didn’t even notice it until Aj mentioned it when I had asked for his thoughts (somewhat recently) on what changes he saw over the last few months.
I also feel like maybe I’ve gotten a little boring; I can’t really explain why, but possibly it could be that I seem to have become more of a homebody. I’m more attentive to sleep and trying to actually get enough of it so I don’t stay out as late or I’ll say no to going out later in the night. I’m working (still) on getting into a good sleeping schedule so that I’m up earlier and not up as late at night when I’m mostly alone and all the bleak feelings and thoughts sink in.
So it’s a little bit of a double- edged sword. For the most part, they tend to even out.
On the bright side, I’m feeling generally happier, much less irritable and angry. I feel like I laugh and smile more often, Aj said the biggest thing he notices now is how I’m less angry. He said there used to be a 50/50 chance I’d come home from work angry or irritated, but that doesn’t happen nearly as often now. He also said that if I do get angry, it seems to manifest more as sadness. And if I do get sad, it doesn’t last as long as it might have before (although it seems like if I’m sad, I’m really sad, I guess).
I’ve been more prone to try things that would help me out, both mentally and physically. Exercise doesn’t seem as hard to start doing as it once did. That “psychomotor retardation” that often comes with depression is less apparent (sometimes still there, but definitely less severe). Same with eating better and having a more sustainable sleeping schedule, those come a bit easier.
I will say, however, that I think I’d benefit greatly if I also did therapy. I still struggle with strong emotions sometimes and I have trouble figuring out why or sometimes, even what the emotion is. I did try therapy a couple times in high school and I was able to figure out some interesting things about myself that I wouldn’t have known elsewise. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to stop going. I think I thought I had it all figured out. But that probably wasn’t the case. I do want to try again. It’s a little scary though, mostly because I can heavily relate to this comic:
But I really ought to be seeing someone again. It can be helpful and relieving to have feelings and thoughts validated. And to maybe find out why those feelings and thoughts occur. It’s definitely something I’ll try again.
I’ve been writing this post for a couple weeks, trying to figure out how to explain it all. It’s been difficult because it can be so hard to put words to these feelings when there’s really no point to them even occurring, if that makes sense.
Something I have learned is that depression can be very strange. The weird thing about it is that it’s not always just feeling sad. It can also be long periods of feeling lethargic or bored, feeling agitated often, being lazy, holding onto guilt, having a hard time making simple decisions. I wasn’t even aware of those types of symptoms until last year. It’s also a struggle because I hate the idea of being selfish or coming off selfish to others. It’s the fight between wanting attention but also feeling extremely uncomfortable when getting that attention. I recently read this quote that helped me understand those types of feelings a bit better: “Depressed people dwell constantly on self-recriminations about how bad (stupid, ugly, worthless) they are; there is a continual, critical internal voice tearing the person down, questioning every move, second-guessing every decision. . . . People with severe depression appear totally self-absorbed and self-involved. This incessant, negative internal dialogue fills the sufferer with intense shame.” That really resonated with me, because as negative as those things are, it’s still technically self-absorption and that ties in with some major feelings of guilt… so it’s almost like a never-ending cycle.
But it’s been really relieving to worry about something only to have those thoughts validated. Once you realize that a thought or emotion is valid, it becomes easier to restructure how you think about those particular things.
Within the last few weeks, I can definitely feel seasonal affective disorder starting to creep in so it’s been a little bit tougher lately. But I know I have people who care about me and even some friends who can relate which is really nice to have; to be able to have a back and forth about these strange moods. I didn’t think bupropion would fix everything, but it certainly has helped and I’m glad for that.
I’m still learning. I’m still figuring things out. Realizing that I have been depressed made things a little relieving, to know that the struggles aren’t normal and that just ignoring them isn’t going to help. But it also causes a lot more questions too. And I don’t have all those answers. It’s just nice to finally feel like there’s something I can actually do to try to “fix” it.
Thank you for reading. Now that I’ve come to realize there’s been a creative halt on my end, I can do more to change that. And that’s something I plan to work on.
To end this, I encourage you to read this piece by James Blake. I can’t relate to it 100%, but he does mention things I have encountered before and he has a better way with words than I feel I do. I think his message is important. And keep in mind that everyone you meet may have their own struggles and to just be kind. You never know what someone else may be experiencing.