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Oct 01 2012

Some Scattered Thoughts on Depression (Mine)

This is a follow-up to an earlier post about my depression, What’s Been Going On. Please note: These thoughts are just about my own experience with depression. They are not an attempt to express what depression is like for anyone other than me.

Scattered Thought #1: Writing seems to be one of the things that makes me feel better. I’m also, however, having a hard time finding the motivation to write. Very unusual for me: I’m normally very excited about getting out of bed in the morning and getting started on my workday, and usually my main frustration with writing is having more things I want to write about than I have time to write them. I’m also having a hard time staying focused on the actual writing part of writing, even when I do muster up the motivation to get started.

So my new technique, for the time being, is that if there is any topic that engages me or that I’m excited and motivated to write about, that’s what I write about. And today, I’m feeling motivated to write about the depression itself. Hence, this piece.

Scattered Thought #2: Memo to self: You actually enjoy lifting weights. Right now, anhedonia (the inability or difficulty to experience pleasure) is one of the biggest and worst symptoms of my depression. The things that I generally and reliably get pleasure from are not giving me pleasure, or are not giving me much pleasure. This is affecting me in nineteen different ways: interfering with motivation (what’s the point of doing anything if it won’t feel good?), sleep (I can’t shut up my brain from perseverating on painful thoughts by distracting myself with happy or comforting ones, since my usual happy and comforting thoughts aren’t calming me or making me happy), etc.

But Ingrid and I made it to the gym the other night, for the first time in a few weeks… and I was getting deep, serious, thorough pleasure out of pumping iron. I felt entirely present with my body, and was enjoying my body, in a way that’s been very elusive for me lately.

So memo to self, because writing it down will help me remember: You actually enjoy lifting weights. So don’t just do it because it will help the depression in the long run. Do it because it’s fun. It is one of the few things right now that you actually like doing. So keep doing it.

Scattered Thought #3: I’ve started therapy. I know many of you will be happy and relieved to hear that.

I’m already feeling somewhat better, having started therapy. I don’t think it’s the therapy itself, per se: I’ve only had one session so far, that’s not nearly long enough to make a therapeutic difference yet. But there’s something about knowing that I’m starting to get help, knowing that I’m in the process of getting help, which I’m finding to be a big relief. It’s like when you’re sick with a non-mental illness, and you start taking medicine for it: you sometimes feel better right away, before the medicine has had a chance to kick in. Just knowing that you’re probably going to be feeling better soon can make you feel better. It does for me, anyway. And a lot of what my depression is centering on is feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and the self-perpetuating de-motivation circle of depression itself… so the simple act of taking steps on my own to make myself feel better is, itself, helping.

At the same time, I’m having some anxiety about having started therapy. Being in therapy means I actually have to delve into some of the ugly, scary, overwhelming feelings that I’ve been barricading myself against. I don’t think this is universally true for everyone, I don’t even know how common it is: but I think for me, when I sink into a depression, it’s often my brain’s way of barricading myself from feelings that I can’t manage. It’s like I turn off all my feelings, so I don’t have to experience the horrible and overwhelming ones. (This may be one of the differences between situational depression and chronic depression. I don’t know. Thoughts?)

Scattered Thought #4: I’ve also started the process of getting on meds. That may take a little longer, insurance being what it is, but I’ve started those wheels turning.

I’m feeling relief at getting that process going. But I’m also finding myself having some resistance and anxiety about starting meds — more so than the abovementioned anxiety about starting therapy. I’ve never been on psych meds before (although in retrospect there’ve probably been times when I should have been) , so some of this is just anxiety about the unfamiliar. Also, I know psych meds can have less-than-fun side effects, and it can take a while to tinker with them to get the right drug and dosage… and I’m feeling apprehensive about that process.

But I’ll be honest: Some of it is that I’m feeling a certain… shame isn’t exactly the right word, but something close to it. I feel like, once I start taking actual psych meds for depression, it’s like I’ll have “Mentally Ill” stamped on me forever. I’m finding that hard to deal with. I know that’s ridiculous. I’ve acknowledged for years that I’m subject to situational depression, that I have to take steps to manage it when it crops up and keep it at bay the rest of the time. I’ve even gotten the official medical diagnosis from doctors more than once. But I’ve never been on meds before. And there’s something about the prospect of being on meds that I’m finding hard to accept. I know that’s dumb. I have approximately 857,768,454 friends who are on anti-depressants or other psych meds, or who have been at some point or points in their life. I don’t think any less of them for being on meds. In fact, I think more of them for taking care of themselves. But there it is. Going on psych meds feels weird. Not sure what to do with that.

Oh, which brings me to:

Scattered Thought #5: I want to say a giant Thank You to people who have been writing publicly about their experiences with mental illness. My good friend JT Eberhard especially. I do have this stupid resistance and sense of stigma and something-like-shame about being on psych meds… but I have much less of that than I would have had, if it hadn’t been for other people being willing to write about it, and speak about it publicly. The more people who are willing to speak and write about mental illness, the more the stigma gets de-stigmatized, and the more mental illness will be seen — by the people suffering from it, and by the people around us — as… well, as an illness, no more shameful than cancer or heart disease. The people who have been doing this have definitely made it easier for me to just fucking well get over myself, and seek out meds and other help despite my irrational resistance to it. Thanks.

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  1. 1
    Miriam, Professional Fun-Ruiner

    Regarding your last paragraph: you’ve basically summed up EXACTLY why I write about having a mental illness. The more of us do it, the harder it’ll be for them to demonize and stigmatize us, and the easier it’ll be for others to seek help.

  2. 2
    Ellen Lundgren

    What Miriam said. It was scary for me to first write about my dealings with anxiety and depression but I’ve gotten over it as you say, and I’ve had more positive feedback of people saying, “Hey, me too,” or asking how they can get help instead of the negative feedback I feared. I think that’ll likely be the reaction in general which is why I think more people need to talk about, because it is a totally normal thing that YOU CAN FIX.

  3. 3
    Anj

    Your last paragraph is exactly how I feel. I might not write about my own mental health issues, but I am happy to explain to people about APD or anxiety,and my very odd food thing. I have spoken to people on support boards from around the world who are unable to even tell their partner, family or boss because of the stigma of mental health issues, so I figure that if I can explain to one person who changes their view, then I can put up with strange looks when people ask “So what is wrong with you, you dont look ill”, and the “Oh, everyone feels like that, its no big deal” comments.

    As ellen said, I have quite a bit of positive feedback, and people saying “Oh, I know someone who had something like this”, or “I have had those anxiety feelings too”.

    For me, it is no more shameful than having a physical condition, and no one would feel ashamed to say “I have diabetes” or “I have asthma so I need to take this medication”.

  4. 4
    fullyladenswallow

    Hi Greta-
    Thank you for posting this along with the piece on your father. Sorry to hear that it’s rough for you. It’s helped me ponder my own situation, not just with my own depression, but also with my relationship to my own parents (now deceased for some time). It’s also become apparent to me how much religion has played a negative part in all of it- Catholicism has no redeeming qualities for starters.

    Depression indeed is a shitty experience. The best analogy I’ve heard was from an author (whose name I can’t recall) likens it to breaking your leg, knowing that you’ve broken it, but also knowing that you have to walk to the doctor to get it fixed- the very thing you’re suffering from, slows you from recovering.

    Yes, meds and therapy are very good things. It’s good to hear that you are seeking them straightaway. I’ve been on Prozac / Paxil since the late 80′s and I don’t think I could have carried on very long without them. But I see them more as playing-field-levelers where the actual therapy is what helps you toward the goalpost. That’s what seems to be lacking to me most with the current health care situation- adequate mental health coverage. Once I have a job again, finding a good therapist will be my first priority.

    Thank you again for sharing in spite of the discomfort. It is much appreciated.

  5. 5
    georgewiman

    So sorry to hear you are feeling depressed. I’ve struggled with depression all my life, and to me it’s one more argument against Intelligent Design. Why are our brains wired this way? Even good things seem bad. People give you a compliment and you feel worse. What the hell?

    Hope the positive steps you are taking brighten your outlook soon. Lot of us out here in the world love you.

  6. 6
    jayarrrr

    Re: Scattered Though #4.
    Greta, don’t sweat trying meds. Sure, there’s going to be people posting here warning you mot to let “Big PHARMA” “poison” you, or beseeching you to try Fuzzy Wombat Weed or Deepak Chopra’s toenail clippings or whatever, but for me personally, I couldn’t function with a daily dose of Welbutrin. I have Dysthemia, which is a chronic low-level depression. It’s treatable with medication. I have tried to “wean” myself off the meds in the past with the result that I alternated between crying jags and screaming at people and throwing things. Welbutrin will be a part of my life as much as the low-dose aspirin or my insulin pump. Hang in there, it gets better, and big thumbs up for seeing the doc and starting therapy, too!

  7. 7
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I can relate so much to this, on all levels and points.
    I’m not on psych meds but other meds that greatly influence my mental health*. And although it was hard to accept that my body is “broken” and that I will be on medication for the rest of my life, I’m somehow glad that I’m not on “psych meds**” and that I can get the counselling and therapy via my university so it won’t show up on my records. Because the stigma still means that I’m weak and can’t deal with stress and am vulnerable and therefore a bad hire when actually given the prevalence of mental health issues it should be a plus when somebody knows to take steps before a complete burn-out or heavy depression sets in with probably months on sick-leave*** and frequent times out of work

    *Actually, my mental health problems made it much harder for me to spot a (speaking in the language of dualism) physical condition that affects my mental wellbeing

    **Since my medication greatly affects me mental health, they are in some respect. Only they don’t count as such

    ***Socialist commie Europe here where employers can’t just get rid of you.

  8. 8
    picklefactory

    Lifting weights has been helping my mental health for years now. It’s good for me, goals are easily quantifiable even if they’re hard to reach, I get a sense of accomplishment every time I lift even if I never can quite lift as much as I’d like.

  9. 9
    carpenterman

    I greatly empathize, Ms. Christina. I too suffer from depression, and can relate to what you’re going through. It sucks. A few observations:
    Keep lifting weights. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to feel better. And it’s much easier to fight the depression when your body is strong and healthy.
    About the meds; I fought taking an anti-depressant for years. It seemed like… weakness. As if I was giving in by admitting I couldn’t handle my problem alone. Also, there was the nagging thought that it was a path you couldn’t leave once you started down it. “Does this mean I’ll be doping for the rest of my life?” was a question that worried me. And indeed, I still don’t have an answer.
    And there are side effects. My anti-depressant gives my seriously weird-ass dreams, for example.
    But you know what? You get used to it. People are adaptable, and after a while, your meds just become part of your routine. Get up, make coffee, take vitamins and little white pill, holler at cat to get down off counter… just another morning. It doesn’t change who you are; you don’t go from “I am myself” to “I am a person who takes psycho-active drugs”. It’s still “I am myself”.
    And don’t expect a miracle. The meds help; they don’t cure. You’ll still have to work hard to fight the depression; you’ll just have another weapon in your arsenal to fight with, that’s all. Another reason not to fear them. (And it is fear; don’t hesitate to call it by it’s right name. There’s no shame in fear; only in letting the fear dictate your actions.)
    Good luck, Greta. Hang in there, and all those other cliches. Remember, you are not alone in this. This is a fight you can win. I know.

  10. 10
    researchtobedone

    You’re awesome. And you’re right, the more of us who do write about it and deal with it head on, the less stigmatized it will be. If you can, focus on that instead. Less “now I’m stigmatized, too”, and more “Now I’m one of the people making it a little easier for everyone else who has to do this in the future”.

    Also, it helps me to think of meds like a crutch. Going through this much tough shit all at once, it’s the mental equivalent of overtraining, and at some point something was going to get sprained, and it did. So use a crutch. We don’t blame people who need them for a leg, and we shouldn’t think any different for people who need them for their brain. Sometimes a crutch is the best thing an athlete can do for themselves to heal from an injury. Sometimes it’s the best thing for healing a brain.

  11. 11
    Nothing

    I find it curious how every little detail described by JT, Al, and Greta about depression applies to me although I’m not at all depressed, just a lazy bum.
    Now, surely sooner or later I’m gonna “an hero” but it has to do with nihilistic views rather than depression. You guys are all awesome though.

  12. 12
    SnowyBiscuit

    Greta, having something bad happen to someone you love, coping with its fallout, and having no control over any of it can certainly trigger a depressive episode. One’s emotions can only process so much.

    I have dysthymia and major depressive episodes. Neither is fun. But the meds do help — were it not for SSRIs/SNRIs, I might have cashed it in years ago. I am lucky and never had any terrible side effects from the medications, and hope you are as lucky. (Right now, Cymbalta helps with depression and chronic pain, which is a good thing.) But do know that even if one med gives you side effects, another may not.

    A suggestion, if I may. While being treated for depression, have your thyroid levels monitored, especially if you are not responding to meds or don’t seem to be getting better. An underactive thyroid can cause or exacerbate depressive symptoms. You can imagine the mess if both your emotions and thyroid are not functioning optimally.

    I don’t have any big coping hints beyind doing whatever makes you feel better and doesn’t harm you; playing with the kittens (feline therapy is GREAT, and laughter always helps); being gentle with yourself; and knowing that others understand where you’re coming from. A hell of a lot of people have been there and are there now.

    Which is all a fancy way of saying: We got your back.

  13. 13
    beadknitter

    I want to add my voice of support for you. I have Panic Attack Anxiety Disorder. I take meds for it every day. I used to feel horrible about the meds. It’s a mental illness. I should be able to deal with this without meds. I should be able to think my way out of this is what I thought. I actually stopped taking the meds for awhile, which made me much worse. The fact is that the brain is an organ, just like the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. Mine is unable to make a necessary chemical that would keep my body and mind in balance. The medication replaces what my brain can not make. As my doctor put it “if you had diabetes, you would not feel bad about taking insulin. It’s the same thing with your brain.” I am thankful every day for the meds. They gave my life back to me.

  14. 14
    gemfire

    Just one small comment – Are you sure you need the meds?

    I recently had a problem that required me to see a psychologist and I stressed a lot over the idea of taking medication. Thankfully, the doctor never prescribed any (she never even mentioned a need for any.) I wasn’t suffering from depression, however, and I’m very aware that different ailments require different treatment.

    Still, you should be certain that the meds are necessary before you find yourself stuck taking them.

  15. 15
    brianwood

    “It’s all in your head,Brian.” Well, yeah. Since 1963. Alcohol, ineffective meds, talk therapy. But I got through it. I now have meds that have worked pretty damned well for six years.

    I think about suicide every day, but in a positive way: If worst comes to worst, I have an out. I have a rational way out. (And don’t tell me it ain’t rational.)

    As they say to the gay kids: it gets better.

    I’m old, so perhaps it’s easier, but I’ve always told people rather straightforwardly when the topic arose: “I’m a depressive and an alcoholic. That’s the way it is.”

  16. 16
    busterggi

    Personally, after decades of chronic depression I still sometimes feel jealous of those with bi-polar disease, at least they have some variety.

  17. 17
    kimberlyrose

    Thank you for this post. I struggle almost daily to deal with feelings of sadness and anxiety. I cope with me by using exercise, dance, orgasms ( on days when I feel really bad, I see them as an affirmation that there is something in life that feels good) hiking in nature, my dogs, support groups, as much fresh food as I can make my lazy self eat and Facebook. I took meds for years, but for me, it was time to get off them about 5 years ago and see if I could manage differently. (I can’t say if they helped me then or not.) I have big memory gaps from those years…I mean really–loss of memory. I took most of them at one time or another. Last one I took was Effexor, and it gave me brain zaps when I withdrew. Welbutrin was pretty good, until it stopped working. Actually, it was a doc that said it wasn’t working. who the hell knows. I was also a pharma rep for the company that made Zoloft. So, I feel pretty well armed with knowledge, both medical and personal.

    The important thing is that you feel okay with whatever you do. Cuz whatever you do is okay, as long as you’re not hurting yourself, right?

    Good luck as you find your way, and thanks for coming out on this one too!

  18. 18
    JT Eberhard

    Love you. You’re brave and as strong as ever.

  19. 19
    larrygallagher

    I’m a grateful fan of your writing, and all I can say to all of your points above is “yep… yep… yep…” I’ve suffered from chronic dysthymia with occasional major depressive episodes and have experienced all of the symptoms and inner turmoil you describe above. I’ve also taken all of the same steps (exercise, therapy, medication) and IT WORKS! I remember how mountain biking (my sport of choice) felt like just eating dry dust for a while, but I kept it up because somewhere in the back of my brain I knew it was helping. I also find that my writing faculties are the very first things that go when I’m depressed. Editing & technical work seem a little more robust, but anything creative — pfft.

    And yes, all of those gazillions of people on medication – each of us had that first time, took that first step where we ventured into the unknown of psychopharmacology, risked being labeled, feeling like a “failure” of some sort. Screw it – it works, and when you’re feeling like your old self again you’ll be grateful.

    It does get better!

  20. 20
    Pyra

    I was 34 when I finally had a therapist and 35 when I had a diagnosis, and 36 when I finally had meds. The old days, watching my mom struggle with her illness and the doctors and ineffective meds made me shy away and try to handle my feelings on my own. The stigma from my mom’s family stuck with me far too long. I wish I’d sought help much sooner. The meds are far, far and away better than anything my mom took. I want to write and tell as many people as I can that it’s okay, and it’s not worth struggling with the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” condemnation. I am lucky enough to be bipolar II which gives me bursts of hyperactivity without the florid scenes associated with mania. Those spots were hard to give up to a more stable mindset. But to overcome the suicidal pain and anhedonia in the last 3 years has made a world of difference to my quality of life. The discomfort of coming-out as mentally ill, and having that stamped on my forehead, sometimes causing people to dismiss ALL my thoughts and feelings all the time, is quite offset by the treatments’ good effects. Good luck on your journey. I hope you find your effective meds as easily as I did.

  21. 21
    pemo

    Nothing@11: It sounds like you’ve internalized a lot of the cultural stigma about depression. I used to think that I was lazy and felt really guilty about it, but the truth is depression saps you of your energy and the cultural stigma and ignorance about mental illness is what makes you feel like a lazy bum.

  22. 22
    dianemccarthy

    I’ve been on Lexapro for two years now and I still go back and forth between being grateful that it’s working, and being ashamed that I couldn’t just power through my depression on my own. Every “coming out” story I read helps a little, and lately there have been many such stories among writers I like. The main side-effects I’ve experienced are weight gain (but not an unbearable amount), bizarre dreams, and yawning (?!). I got through my thesis and defense with almost no anxiety, which was FANTASTIC! I also have a new-found fearlessness that makes me utterly unafraid of heights (not that I’ve ever been afraid of heights, but now I don’t even get that “eep!” twinge when I look down), and I feel the urge to do adrenaline-junky types of activities that I’ve never wanted to try before. Or maybe some of that is a function of reaching middle age!

  23. 23
    Parse

    With regards to the meds (as if you needed an effectively-anonymous comment to tell you this), remember that you can always say “I don’t like what this drug is doing”, and ask your doctor for a different prescription (or blend of prescriptions). Though I’m on venlafaxine now (generic Effexor), it’s actually the third ‘cocktail’ I tried. The first made my emotional range much too broad – the ‘up-times’ were actually the first time I felt ‘normal’ in a long time, but the ‘down-times’ were far, far, far worse than I was when I was unmedicated. The second made me far too happy about everything – including times when I should feel sad, upset, or angry.
    What I’m on now occasionally makes me feel nauseated (especially when I take it after forgeting a day or two (over a weekend)), but it’s worth it to feel balanced enough.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that, like other medications, it’s almost expected that the first prescription you try won’t work out (though I hope it does!), and your doctor has other options available.

  24. 24
    joeylusk

    Nothing@11: If it is true that you’re merely a “lazy bum,” good for you for your honest introspection. However, in an effort to support people you acknowledge as awesome, you might consider abstaining from the comparative remarks. All people experience elements of every single mental illness, theirs just differ in duration and intensity. When you note that you have all those aspects but are not depressed, you unintentionally reinforce the cultural stigma and personal isolation experienced by those of us with neurological or emotional differences. As most who have worked diligently through their depression can tell you, implications of “laziness” are exceedingly insensitive, whether unintentional or not.

    Most of us with depression have gotten labeled with the blue “L” at one time or another, often in response to requests for help.

  25. 25
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    Greta,

    You have stricken on one of the most jarring elements of depression. We always think to ourselves “I should just do whatever usually makes me happy” but then find to our dismay that those things just aren’t making us happy at this time. It makes you feel confused, and lost. But that’s great that you have realized that lifting is giving you some joy. Stick with it so long as it gives you some positive benefit. You may find solace in other activities where you least expect. Whatever works. Anyways, on pretty much all these points you numbered here, you seem to be on the right track.

  26. 26
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    You’re not alone. I’ve gone through major depression and chronic disorganization. Meds are helping. Best wishes for your future improvement.

  27. 27
    Megillicuddy

    It took me fifteen miserable years of self-loathing to get past the idea that I should be able to pick myself up by my bootstraps and get over it. I don’t even take aspirin, and I was extremely resistant to the idea of medicating, because as someone above mentioned, it felt like admitting that I was a failure, too weak to fix myself and too ungrateful to appreciate my relatively comfortable life (depression didn’t count, of course).

    When, after years of therapy, I took an emotional nosedive I finally gave in. While I know everyone’s experience is different, I was lucky to hit the right meds at a moderate and highly effective dose on the first try and it changed my life. I think it’s hard for neurotypical people to understand that meds don’t make you euphoric, they just allow you to feel…normal. I imagine it’s difficult to fully understand what an unbelievable gift that is if when it’s your usual state.

    I actually started my blog as a way of exploring what this meant to me, reflecting on where I’d been and documenting the move forward. It’s grown into something rather different, but my experience and, really, ongoing struggle with depression inform my worldview in ways I never considered. But I now have the luxury of thinking about it from a small distance which still seems surprising and delightful when I think of it directly.

    Thank you for using this platform for this discussion. There are so many of us hidden in plain view, imagining that we are alone, adrift, wrong. We may all have different experiences, but there are similarities that come as a shock when you realize you’re not the only one to think that way or do those things. Keep talking; we all should.

  28. 28
    johnthedrunkard

    Poor Baby! (repeat as needed)

    At five years sober, I started to slow down. I didn’t recognize it but my then spouse forced me to seek help. Zoloft and then Cymbalta. Its been 19 years now. At this point I can’t really tell if the meds are doing me any good, can’t separate side effects from aging. Getting off cymbalta looks daunting.

    Be patient finding a drug that works for you. Don’t be in a hurry to get off of it–OR to feel like you’re stuck with it forever. Make sure your Dr is ready to supervise both the starting and stopping.

    Recent heartbreak (looking for a lost first love and finding her obituary) has given me a ‘real’ reason for feeling depressed. Actually the feeling is so overwhelming I don’t think it has a name. Regret, lost youth, romantic and erotic disappointment, rage at the lousy state of sexual love in a sick society…..

    I can still move. Walking, calisthenics, the kettlebell, mobility work. These are basic goods, keeping at them demonstrates again and again that what I feeeel and what IS are not the same. I never feel that I can pull 5 chins, but I always do.

    Love to you, the moggies and Ingrid.

  29. 29
    neilerickson

    Going on psych meds feels weird. Not sure what to do with that.

    For me, at least, it got a lot easier once I started taking them – I felt a very similar sense of discomfort when it came to the point that I felt I had to start.

  30. 30
    keelychaisson

    I’ve been on psych meds for more than four years, and it still feels weird. Especially because it is becoming more clear all the time that a large chunk of my psychological issues come from an interaction between the way I was raised and my particularly sensitive brain chemistry. (At least that’s the theory…. sensitive kid + invalidating environment –> borderline. Though at best, I’m a very atypical borderline).

    But my personal details aside… there is something fundamentally weird about taking drugs every day to function normally, and even more weird when the ‘normal functioning’ one is trying to achieve is largely mental rather than physical. We SHOULDN’T be made this way. Our bodies SHOULD work better. There shouldn’t be hundreds of thousands or millions of people walking around with atypical physiology that literally distorts the way they experience reality.

    But there are. It isn’t fair or reasonable, but it is. Just like most of life. 4 years in, I still have complicated feelings about meds. But not so complicated that I don’t get up every morning and eat breakfast so I can pop my pills before work without giving myself a stomachache. Being human requires sometimes accepting imperfect solutions.

    I know you already know all this… in fact, I think I’ve learned a lot about acceptance and choosing my battles from hanging around here. I just want to remind you–sometimes it’s okay to move forward even if you feel conflicted. You may sort through those feelings or not, but whatever happens you are doing the best you can to take care of yourself, and you have people who care about you watching out for you. It’s worth it.

  31. 31
    jackjesberger

    Good writing Greta. Your brain might be making you feel like crud (stupid brain), but your still wielding it well.

    Fuck Depression…I mean really. Just fuck it sideways.

  32. 32
    crookedmongoose

    I had that feeling of “well, suddenly this must be real” when I saw my diagnosis written down for the first time. I’d been on and off of meds several times (for the wrong things, it turns out, which explains why they made things worse) but seeing an actual diagnosis typed out formally was kind of sobering. I’m not really sure why, but it suddenly seemed…irrevocable. Like even if I get better someday, this note will always exist. I am officially mentally ill. And that’s kind of a terrifying thing.

    Not that it’s necessarily relevant to your experience, but it might be nice to know that there people who also have kind of weird realizations or (what feel like) random hang-ups about things having to do with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

  33. 33
    anothersara

    I would be very careful about using those types of meds, especially since investigators have found that the science is sometimes manipulated (pharmaceutical companies can withhold unfavorable data, making the drugs seem more effective and/or safe than they actually are). I normally would not suggest reading the following article when you are feeling down, but I think anybody considering using such drugs should be aware of its contents:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/sep/21/drugs-industry-scandal-ben-goldacre

    This is another article which discusses the science process behind anti-depressant drugs (particularly relevant is the role of placebos in such trials):

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jun/23/epidemic-mental-illness-why/

    This is pretty serious reading. If you don’t think you’re up to it, you might considering getting somebody whose judgement you trust to read these articles for you.

  34. 34
    daenyx

    Coming to this post a bit late, but there’s part of it I really wanted to comment on – the feelings about starting meds.

    I’ve had issues with depression in the past that I tried to soldier through without really acknowledging it – it mostly worked because I was an undergrad and I just had to scrape together enough motivation to do my classwork and that was it – but in grad school it hit me like a ton of bricks about a year in, for several reasons, and it was really screwing me up. I went to counseling and that helped some at first, but then it started getting worse and worse despite, as my counselor put it, ‘doing everything right’ (exercising regularly, managing my sleep schedule, planning, etc). When things got so bad I was having panic attacks on the way to school in the morning just thinking about having to *do* things, I emailed her for an extra meeting, and that was when she suggested meds and I agreed, despite having much the attitude you describe about them.

    I know they don’t work so well for everyone, but when I finally got on mine, it was seriously like one of those stupid, cheesy Zoloft commercials where suddenly the sun comes out and the person is laughing and spinning around in a field of flowers, or something (though I’m on bupropion, not an SSRI, and I don’t really like sunlight or fields of flowers..). My brain was working again; I no longer felt like I had this wall between me and my ability to care enough to do things. It was such an enormous relief, and I’m *so* glad I overrode my discomfort with the idea. Acknowledging I had a mental illness was entirely worth getting back my functionality and my ability to enjoy my hobbies. I hope the same ends up being true for you.

    Hang in there.

  1. 35
    The Anechoic Chamber of Greta Christina | Debunking Denialism

    [...] the post linked in the intro to this post), (2) she has a history of clinical depression (see e. g. here), a mental condition which is known to be related to emotional dysregulation, (3) the cultural [...]

  2. 36
    On Being on Anti-Depressants Indefinitely, Very Likely for the Rest of My Life » Greta Christina's Blog

    […] the stigma, for sure. There is a stigma attached to mental illness and the people who have it. As I wrote before when I first started on anti-depressants: Once I started taking actual psych meds for depression, […]

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