Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I am clinically depressed.
How much of each thought, each action, is the real me, and how much is the distortion of the depression?
I get so easily irritated, I am so quick to blow up. I give up on things so quickly... it's just not worth the effort. But would the real me - without the filters of depression - be irritated by this, or angry at that? Would the real me give up, or is it really something that should be pursued, something I should try to fix.
My husband came home from nightshift this morning. He was being sweet, trying to rub my shoulders. I was just irritated that he was in my way - couldn't he leave me alone until I finished what I was doing? But I have to question... reacting this way is not going to lead where I am trying to steer this marriage. Maybe the real me isn't irritated, maybe it's just the depression talking. Or maybe the real me just needed a few moments to finish what I was doing?
He left something on the counter. Should I complain? If I do, he will get defensive. If I don't, there is no way for him to know this bothers me. I don't have the time or energy for an argument... but this is another barrier between us. What would the real me do? What is the best answer to get me where I want to be?
Oh my god, for someone with so little spare energy I spend an awful lot of it fighting with myself. Fuck I hate this.
My kids were arguing tonight. I intervened once, but the argument flared again almost immediatedly. I intervened a second time, but they continued to bicker. I had no patience. I shouted, I sent them to bed early - more than half an hour before the regular bedtime. My youngest was very upset... disappointed that he lost his story. I already feel bad for shouting. I know that I am too crabby tonight, but I am also so tired, so worn out. I said goodnight anyways and left him feeling torn. Did I overreact? But backing up on a punishment is not a good precedent to set. And I did give them chances. But I still feel worse than before. I want to cry.
Fuck this is a shitty place to be. And I HATE that I can't even trust what's inside my own head.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
But hey, since no one is reading this anyways, it doesn't really matter - right??
So, in the past 3 months I have been diagnosed with Depression, refused to take medication for it, and begun both counselling and marital counselling sessions.
It is difficult... things in my marriage are improving, slightly, it seems maybe just because we are attending the counselling sessions. I don't know if anything actually IN the sessions is doing anything. Maybe it is just the idea that we are focussing harder on trying to make things work.
Part of the difficulty is me. The counsellor began the very first marriage session by telling us we had to figure out what we thought was wrong, and then identify what our partner could do to fix it. If no action that the partner takes can repair what is wrong, then it is not a problem with the other person, it is a problem with us.
So I begin to see that a lot of what I see as wrong with our marriage may be caused by, or complicated by, the things that are wrong inside my own head.
I don't feel the connection with him anymore, I wonder if I even know who he is anymore... but I have completely lost track of who I am inside.
I have difficulty trusting him, believing in his motivations for change... but right now I am having trouble trusting anything that goes on inside my head. If I can't decide what I believe about my own thoughts, what can he do to make me believe him?
How do I aim for a happy marriage if I can't figure out what happy looks like for me?
Depression is like the opposite of Amnesia. Amnesia takes the past away from you. You cannot remember what happened yesterday, last month, or last year. Depression takes away the future. You cannot envision what you want to happen tomorrow, next month, or next year.
Friday, October 7, 2011
When I went back to seeing a diabetes team (nurse, dietician and endocrinologist) over two years ago, they asked me if I thought it would be helpful to see a psychologist.
At first I resisted - resisted for nearly a year - but eventually agreed, so they put in a referral.
The first referral fell thru completely.
I missed the phone call looking to book me the first appointment. When I called back, the receptionist couldn't find the info for the referral, and I didn't know how to explain what it was supposed to be for.
The nurse persisted, and eventually got me a few appointments with one psychologist (who had to go on maternity leave after about 4 visits) and then another one. We explored the issues. I very slowly and gradually began to open up.
From the very beginning both psychologists asked if I was depressed, suggested medication. I vigorously denied it. Yeah, I get upset sometimes. Doesn't it make more sense for it to happen more office in front of a psychologist who is asking the tough questions about emotional issues?
I explored the idea that there are problems in my marriage. I have been feeling more and more distant, more disconnected with my husband for quite some time now. The more I investigated my feelings, the more obvious the problems there seemed.
But along with the marriage dynamic other problems, other issues that had always been present were dragged to the forefront.
I have never been a social butterfly. Issues with bullying long in my past have left me uncomfortable with strangers, and I don't make friends easily. Questions from therapy began to make me see how I avoid social situations - and becoming more concious of how I avoid them did not make it any easier to confront this, or to take part in gatherings I might have tolerated briefly, uncomfortably before.
Feelings of stress from work, from home, from kids, from school began to pile up on me. I found myself near tears for seemingly no reason, and it recurred over and over for more than a week. In a moment of despair, I found enough clarity to realize that even though I loved my job I desperately wanted less of it, at least for this period. So I reduced my hours from full-time to 3 days/week, and bought myself a reprieve.
But the reduced stress did not bring back the balance and clarity I was hoping for. I found myself constantly irritable. My sleep was suffering - it took forever to fall asleep, I slept very restlessly, and it took more and more effort to drag myself out of bed every morning. I had heart palpitations, and stomach issues, and often felt like I could not breathe.
My psychologist told me he thought I was depressed. Faced with the mounting evidence not only in my state of mind, but the reactions of my body I felt compelled to agree. He then told me gently that this was more than he felt qualified to deal with - his mandate was to help people make the positive changes required to better deal with a metabolic illness (diabetes). He was not a counsellor specializing in depression or anxiety issues, and I would likely deal better with a psychiatrist or an MD who could prescribe medication. He is still following me to make sure I get the help that I need, but this was where the REALLY HARD part started.
He told me a psychiatrist would require a referall from an MD, and told me to go through my family doctor. I have a family doctor, but do not feel it is a very good relationship. She is not someone I feel comfortable talking with, and I have some leftover resentment from over a year ago when I went to her about the first of my heart palpitations and chest pain. All I really wanted was reassurance that this was nothing to worry about. Instead, she suggested that it was panic attacks (Not really what I was feeling in my head at the time. In retrospect it may have been the first harbinger of my current mental crisis, but at the time I was not willing to admit that it had anything to do with my mental health, and I resented her implication. Still do - perhaps even more if it means she may have been correct!) tried to give me a prescription for it, then nailed the coffin shut by finishing the exam with "you know these are signs of a heart attack. If it happens again, go to the ER." which provoked a thoroughly embarrasing emergency visit where I was diagnosed with heartburn (also something I don't - or at least didn't tend to suffer from).
So I made an appointment with my family doc. It surprised me how much a struggle it was to call to make the appointment, and how much my heart pounded and my head hurt in showing up for the visit. I managed to mumble out that my psychologist thought I was depressed and I should look for drugs or a referral to a psychiatrist. She asked if I wanted drugs. I told her that I would very much prefer to avoid that route. So she checked my symptoms and agreed that I was depressed, and wrote me a very nice letter confirming that fact.
I left the office, and slowly the results soaked in. The appointment was the exact opposite of anything I had hoped to get there. I didn't need a letter saying I was depressed. In fact one of the reasons I had resisted acknowledging for so long that I was depressed was because I was afraid of the possible repercussions of being diagnosed with a mental illness. What I needed was for someone to find me a psychiatrist and make me an appointment with them so I could begin to fix the problems in my head. And there was no way I would be able to go back to my doctor and ask her to do that. I was screwed there. On to plan B.
MORE FUCKING HARDER AND HARDER.
Plan B. He gave me a phone number for a service called 'Access Mental Health'. Telephone services for people in crisis. Was I in crisis? I didn't feel like I was in crisis yet, but I could feel myself getting closer and closer to a breaking point.
Sweating and shaking and feeling like I was swimming through drying cement, I called the number. It led to a recorded, voicemail message - if you need immediate help, call 911 or go to emergency. Then a voicemail menu to wade thru, then I was put on hold.
To be quite honest, the first time I called I hung up before speaking to anyone.
Then I called my family doctor and made the appointment for the stupidly unhelpful visit described above.
So after striking out with the doctor, I called again. I waited for a time and place I could be alone, fairly certain no one would interrupt or overhear. I used my cellphone, trying to keep my home line and my home life away from this thing. The physical symptoms of terror were absolutely present throughout the call. I don't know why but it was as if my mind and body were fighting against me taking these steps, against me trying to overcome the darkness that was invading my mind and creepingly consuming my life. The call itself was relatively ordinary, aside from trying to find the words to explain why I was seeking help, what I hoped to accomplish. The result of the call was another phone number, to be called to try to book an appointment with the local mental health services. They also gave info about urgent appointments, available for walk-ins on various dates and times.
I didn't feel (yet) that I needed an urgent appointment. I tried calling the phone number but it led to another voicemail menu, and not a real person to talk to but a voicemailbox, with the note that calls would be returned within 3 days. I just could not handle the thought of the message at that point, so I hung up without leaving one.
All of this seemed to be surrounded by deteriorating mental and physical health. The realization that I was depressed - not just sad, not just going through a phase, but a diagnosed, definite mental disorder - had thrown my precarious mental balance completely off-kilter. I did not feel I could talk to anyone about it. The problems with my husband were worsening, I did not want to burden my kids or other family members, I did not have any friends close enough to disclose this secret. So I tried - and I think, failed miserably - to continue as best I could with a day to day life that felt increasingly out of control.
I took several long walks, not for exercise but simply to escape from home, family, and as much as I could from all the things I couldn't face, couldn't handle.
On one of these walks, I plunged forward far enough to actually leave a message - name, city, and phone number (cell phone of course). The phone call did not feel easy to make, but afterward it was somewhat of a relief, knowing that the next step was now somewhere within 3 days away, and for the moment, not my responsibility.
Only, there was no return phone call. I knew it was possibly my fault - maybe I had not been clear enough in the message I left, maybe there was a problem in the cell reception. But it was another body-blow in a process that was already one of the most difficult things I had ever done. I wanted to just simply give up so often. I'm not even certain exactly why I kept trying, but there didn't seem to be much for alternatives, and I wasn't quite ready for suicide yet, although thoughts of death recurred over and over, and I found myself oddly hopeful for a serious traffic accident or other physical health crisis to give me a different reason to take a break from reality.
I ended up at one of the urgent, walk-in appointments for the mental health services. Once again, an action required on my part that was REALLY FUCKING HARD. Like the emotional me was battling the rational me for control. Rational me just wanted to get better. Emotional me just wanted to RUN AWAY. Run where? Anywhere. Away. Hide in a corner. Drive where no one could find me. Just get into a spot walled off from everyone else and stay there. Not a sustainable course of actions, but emotional me seems to be short on what comes next.
At the urgent appointment, a counsellor listened, discussed, and analysed for me. I'm not sure what I took from that appointment. I left with the feeling she was pushing an agenda that didn't really apply in my case (I have problems with my marriage, but it felt like she must specialize in abuse, because she framed it all in terms of my husband mentally abusing me, which I still feel is not completely accurate, and not what I see in terms of his motivation) but she brought me to a point of decisions and actions with regard to my marriage that I had not reached before.
Frustrating once more, I could not progress from an urgent appointment to regular appointments. I had to call the number, and leave a message, and wait for a call-back to get a regular appointment. Why the hell is everything SO FUCKING HARD??
At least this time, leaving a message resulted in a return phone call. I had a small breakdown at work, and was sent home for the rest of the day betweent the urgent appointment and the return phone call. But I now have an appointment for follow-up mental healthcare. And I am moving forward.
I am cautiously optomistic. My mood seems to have temporarily risen back above the darkest depths that I reached in this struggle. I try not to consider whether this might be only temporary, or how much of an internal struggle it might become to show up for the appointment I have booked, or the last follow-up with my original psychologist to reassure him that I am getting the help that I need.
I just needed to vent on the struggle to get this far. Because it really was, and continues to be, VERY FUCKING HARD to reach out for mental help. And maybe some of it just shouldn't be this difficult.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I've complained before about my husband and his smoking.
The smoking bothers me, but there is also the question of trust.
We have had fights, when I ask if he has smoked in the house. There are little things that make me think that maybe he has. He swears up and down that he hasn't.
Today, I saw an empty pack in the kitchen garbage. We were away all afternoon while he was home by himself. He says he only smokes in the garage. There is a giant garbage can right in the garage, beside the door into the house. Why would he walk all the way to the kitchen garbage to toss the empty pack??
But I realized today, that it serves no purpose to ask him. The problem comes because the question even occurs to me. He can say yes, he smoked in the house. Then I am left with the choice to make a big stink about it, or to ignore it. Neither one feels like a win to me.
But the other option is for him to say no, it was an accident, there was no smoking going on in the house. Then I either have to believe him and drop it, or disbelieve and start a fight. The problem is, if I have to ask the question then I have a reason to disbelieve him already.
And I also find that I have another question I want to ask him. Unfortunately, I find myself in the same kind of dilemma, and that scares the shit out of me.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
It's hard to think of another sentence in the English language that is used as often, and almost never means what it semantically says.
More often it means "I don't want to care."; "I care too much."; or just "This hurts."
It is a defense mechanism. A blanket of distance enfolding a wound, containing painful truths. It means "I don't want to fight about this." Or maybe "I can't talk rationally about this because I am so emotionally invested right now."
I don't care because I want to shut down and not hurt anymore. I'm building a wall to keep the ugliness away from the world where it will splash out and create more ugliness.
But what do I do if the festering mess inside presses too hard against the barriers, oozes out of all the cracks. Maybe I need to walk away from everyone and everything and just be more alone.
I don't care.
Note: This post was originally written July 19. I saved it, not sure I should publish right then. Now?? I don't care. :P
Saturday, July 9, 2011
But he married ME. Although he kept seeing her. He broke it off for a while, when my first child was born, but that didn't last long. And it drove me nuts to find him sneaking off to see her.
There have been other times he has given her up, but he never seems too serious about it.
Maybe it's me. I have certainly never been accused of being a sexy, addictive bitch like she is.
I can't win when I'm pitted against nicotine for his affection.
We went out for dinner tonight, just the two of us (three of us), and left the kids with a sitter. He can sit through a movie in the theatre without sneaking out to be with Nicki. But in the less than 90 minutes we spent at the restaurant, he had to leave twice for a moment with her.
I just can't compete.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
And I know I am not the only one who has been hormonal while pregnant - my husband still teases me about the day I burst into tears after dropping my french fries all over the food court. I think I scared the poor girl behind the fast food counter, but at least I was visibly ready to pop and my outburst could easily be explained as hormones.
I even know that I am more susceptible to sappy emails at certain times of the month.
But I recently found myself in a place where I could stop at a stop light, and be on the edge of tears for no apparent reason. I could not even explain to myself WHY it might be necessary to cry, I only knew that I was on the verge of tears and there seemed to be no provocation whatsoever. Any quiet moment could find me fighting to contain the moisture. A few seconds wait for a computer program to load, or the moment after locking the bathroom door.
The most frightening part about it was not being able to pinpoint a cause. These were all random moments throughout my daily routine. They had nothing in common except that extra moment of inattentive thought, and I began to suspect that I was losing my mind. As I became more aware of these moments, they seemed to be more frequent. Did this mean that I was always on the verge of crying and just not paying attention to it?
The feelings continued for at least a week before I became desperate to understand what was going on. I searched the internet and found information on depression, recommendations for drugs and therapy, meditation, too much information and most of it the wrong kind (what else is new?). I am already seeing a mental health professional, who is supposed to be helping with issues regarding my health condition and supporting succesful management of the disease.
I resolved to present him with this problem at the next visit (luckily scheduled early the following week). I began to visualize the session, what I would tell him, and how he would respond. I envisioned everything from a response that this was normal, to an insistence on psychiatric hospitalization. The 'aha' moment came when I pictured him taking me off work for a medical leave. I realized that this was very nearly what I WANTED to happen. I love my job, I do not want to quit, but suddenly I realized that I wanted - I NEEDED - less of this job that I love.
It was still not an easy decision. Circumstances at work are already difficult. I love my job, I love my coworkers, but there was already more work than the available staff could easily accomplish. I knew that if I cut back my hours it would be like dumping more of that impossible load on friends I didn't want to hurt. But in the end I had to admit that the workload was harming me, and the alternative to cutting back would be to quit completely, which would be even worse for my friends than the choice I was making.
This is now my second week of reduced hours (3 days per week instead of 5). I appreciate the extra time for ME, although all the extra hours often evaporate into appointments and phone calls and things that need doing. But it is a relief to be able to find time for things that need doing, and not feel so often that I am sacrificing something else...
Friday, May 13, 2011
I still often feel empty... pointless. I have so much of everything I ever wanted, but it just doesn't seem to make me happy anymore. And I feel guilty that I am not happy with everything I have been blessed with. And it is really hard to talk to anyone about this... even my husband, even my friends, even someone whose job is to listen to shit like this all the time.
It doesn't help that I am sick again. Just another cold - stuffy nose, scratchy throat, and tired because it interferes with my ability to sleep. But it is starting to feel like I am almost never feeling well, and that sucks too.
It's hard to search for answers, something that will bring meaning back into my life, when I can't find the energy to do much of anything. It's been months since I cleaned my bathroom, where the fuck am I going to find the energy to search out the answers to questions I'm not even sure I can ask?
Books and movies make it seem easy. In a well-crafted plot, this is the point where my months and years of ennui would be compressed into a few paragraphs or a beautifully-scored montage, and then something special would happen and the story would begin to flow again. If I sit here drifting aimlessly from website to website, do you think that will happen to me?
Monday, April 4, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
I still love my husband very much, but I have become slowly more aware that the marriage I have now is not the marriage I had then, and is not really the marriage that I want...
We are not as close as we once were. Some of this, I think, is normal. The insatiable hunger to be together, to touch, to commune, is somewhat satisfied over time. The relationship evolves, expands, and other things can take up time/space/attention - not neccessarily in a bad way, but kids and jobs and life can sort of get in the way.
But I realized something this morning that disturbed me a bit. I censor my conversations with him. I am afraid ... of offending him, of his reactions to some of my thoughts and feelings, of the possibly negative interactions that may follow if I say what I am thinking.
When did this happen??
I know there were times that I could not wait to tell him anything and everything that swirled through my brain. I know we had fights, but he also surprised me, reassured me, with how accepting he was of the private person I had never shared to that extent with anyone else before.
Now, all I can see is how touchy he has become. I compliment him daily, and thank him without reservation for all that he does and has done. He has done quite an amazing amount lately, taking up without complaint the lions share of the housekeeping, meal prep and childcare, as I have felt overall fairly crappy and incapable for several weeks. But it seems that if I only make a comment that may possibly be interpreted negatively he snaps at me and rants about constant criticism. I try not to take it personally, but it hurts, and it makes me less likely to say anything at all. If I am bothered or irritated by something he does, I am more likely to bottle it inside. I guess that is easier to bear than a giant argument over how critical I am??
And with that subtle barrier, I guess other barriers have grown. I no longer feel as comfortable, as open with him as I used to. I don't want to lay my burdens on him, if his own are growing larger. I don't want to bare my wounds to him, because I am no longer certain that he will offer salve instead of vinegar.
The two of us trudge along, side-by-side, each slowly crushed by the weight of our own baggage. It seems ironic that the loads may each be lightened by being shared, but instead we flinch away from the sharing.
Even recognizing the problem does not seem to do much to help it. I could reach out to him, ask about counselling, even just make the effort to talk to him frankly again. But I don't. If I know I am holding back, why don't I try harder to breach that wall and share? But it is so hard. And I don't know if I have the energy to deal with the consequences, good or bad, of that looming attempt.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I am still a mom, a wife, an insurance sales associate, but I reject the idea that any of these are the whole of my existence, my only reason for being.
I used to dream of finding Mr. Right, getting married, having a family. I did not dream of selling insurance, but I did envision, in a foggy sort of way, having a job that I enjoyed and being successful at it. Now I have these things, to a greater or lesser degree, and I find that I am not ready to end here. To just be 'happily ever after'. But I look up from where I find myself, and suddenly the direction is not clear, I don't know where I'm going or what I should do to get there. There are so many directions I could look, but none of them really feel right.
I used to daydream about going into space, building rockets. I also loved (still love!) to read, and imagined I could write a novel. The attraction of those dreams is still present, but the obstacle of practicality has become suddenly more visible, more of a barrier. I do not feel that these are real goals anymore.
Searching for a goal without any real direction is a very listless, dreary place to be.
Hey anonymous internet, does anyone know what my purpose in life really is??
Thursday, February 3, 2011
through a link to a new blog:
The old blog I followed because her quirky sense of humor delighted me, following threads into zany depths beyond any train-of-thought derailments I had ever dreamed. And sometimes she posts utterly serious things that resonate deeply, and make me want to applaud.
The new blog was linked in a post about mental illness, and described fleetingly the story of a mother with two young children whose husband recently had a psychotic break and killed himself.
I followed the link, and read the first few posts... I guess in an effort to try to understand the meaning of psychotic break, and find out what, why, how this had happened. I got some of that information, along with a lot of the authors raw, uncensored grief and pain.
And I followed deeper, and stayed, and linked, and now I follow the new blog.
But I keep asking myself .... Why do I follow? Is my interest, my fascination, a normal and healthy thing? Or is it sick and twisted to keep coming back, immersing myself in the horrible truths of her pain and suffering? Is this the same as the contemptible urge to gawk at a traffic accident? Am I accomplishing any good by continuing to follow this story? Is it possible I am causing any harm, to my own mental health or that of anyone else by exposing myself repeatedly to this kind of sadness, this deeply resonant mental anguish?
I want to reach out to her, to tell her how I admire her courage, and wish that there was anything I could do to help, to make things better. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of other followers, most of whom probably followed before and perhaps have a better right to be there, to know her and offer comfort. And I am thwarted by the fear that I do not know what to say, or how to offer anything to this virtual stranger.
But I cannot tell if it is good or bad, only that I want to keep following. So I will follow, and see where it leads, and pay attention to how it affects me. And hopefully if it turns out that it is for the wrong reasons I will see for certain and stop before it is too late.