I’m Enjoying Myself Right Now.. Am I Really Depressed?

I’22f4637m struggling.

There… I said it.

Getting up out of bed isn’t easy.
Getting dressed isn’t easy.
Reminding myself to eat isn’t easy.
Functioning like a normal person isn’t easy.

I don’t like this. I want to fight it off, but I can’t. I don’t have the energy for it. I’ve been like this for longer than want to admit. I don’t tell anyone because I don’t want to be a burden on them. I don’t tell people because I don’t like the feeling of knowing that people are worried about me.

I pretend to be okay all day long. I don’t want people to think there’s something wrong with me.

sad_emoticon_cryBut when I’m alone at night, when I know that everyone else has gone to bed. That’s when I take off the mask. That’s when I give up on trying to keep it together. Most nights I cry. I couldn’t tell you why if you asked. I just know that something’s wrong and I can’t do anything but cry.

I lay awake in my bed, under my blanket, unable to sleep. I turn on Netflix and find something to watch. Just to pass the time. I really don’t want to spend half the night just staring at the ceiling. I would rather have something to focus on than letting the thoughts roll around in my head. That can get to be dangerous. Especially because I start thinking about what would happen if I relapsed to self-harm.

The other night I was absolutely miserable. I was pretty sure that I was going to cry myself to sleep. I text a couple friends (one in NC and one in AL) but only one responded. So she and I talked for probably over an hour. I was telling her about how I basically don’t get hugs from anyone anymore. And I feel awkward asking for them, so most times I just keep my mouth shut and go without human contact. Which for me isn’t exactly easy, or comfortable. I was convinced that there’s something wrong with me. She kept telling me that there isn’t. I don’t think I ever fully believed her, or even do now.

That’s the thing when I’m struggling. I don’t believe things that people tell me. Even if somewhere inside me I know that they’re right.

I’m sinking back into myself. Isolating myself more and more. Completely faking it when I’m around people. Pretending like I’m enjoying myself. Laughing when I’m supposed to. It’s almost like I have to think about it. It’s more than the very minimal functioning that I want to do. The minimal functioning that I can get through and not feel completely exhausted.

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-participate-in-all-the-class-discussions-f2ee6bSure, I have my moments where I really do enjoy myself. Like in my comparative linguistics class at school. The teacher is hilarious and down to earth, and all the other students come from all kinds of backgrounds so they have different perspectives. It’s so much fun to listen to the discussions even if I don’t really have anything to add. I chime in here and there, and discussions keep going.

It’s those moments when I question if I’m just making everything up. All the negative stuff that I’m dealing with. Is it all read? Or am I just imagining it? I mean, if I really am enjoying myself and having fun and laughing right now, is it seriously possible that I’m depressed?

Yes, it is. I’m what I like to call functionally depressed. I can still function, but I have my moments when I just can’t. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody’s different. I have to keep reminding myself of that. There is no one uniform look for any mental illness. It’s possible to enjoy myself in a certain situation and be miserable half an hour later when I’m not there anymore.

I’m walking my path, not anyone else’s. What I go through is real. I can’t deny that. My story is my own. And I need to own that, however difficult it may be.

Update + My Thoughts

I finally have an appointment with a psychiatrist! Even better is that it’s the one I really wanted to see. Granted the appointment isn’t for a couple weeks, I still got in. And that’s the point.

I now have time to pull together all the medications I’ve been on, thev dosages, the side effects, etc.

I’ve also started a mood journal at the suggestion of a friend in Canada who’s also bipolar. She dates and times all her entries. Date totally makes sense because otherwise you’d have no clue when anything was written. Time can come in handy because certain moods may be more common at certain times of day.

I also want to be able to keep track of my moods so that when I go in for my pdoc appt, I have a record of things to show him.

It’ll make me look like I care about what’s happening to me. And it’s proactive. Meaning I did it without a doctor telling me to.

I’ve also started taking magnesium and fish oil pills in addition to my Seroquel. Hopefully the magnesium will help, alongside the Seroquel, in stabilizing my mood. The fish oil is something that can help control feelings of depression.

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I guess I’m just starting to be more proactive about everything related to my mental health in general. Which is a good thing. No one knows what kind of things I’m going through except me, so I have to be the one to speak up.

It’s also important that I pay attention to what’s happening to me, emotionally and physically, because, again, no one else knows but me. Amd looking back I can also “attempt” to analyze what was happening in my head at the time. It seems like it’ll work so long as I can keep up with it. These two weeks are a trial for me in a sense. To see if I can do it. To see what it takes to keep this mood journal going. Hopefully it’s something, that like Nicole of The Lithium Chronicles, I can keep going successfully.

For now, I’m just trying to keep things organized and under control the best that I can. So please cross your fingers, and pray, and send good thoughts my way. Thank you.

Letter to Myself

Deaf You –

I know things seem really difficult right now, but they won’t always be. You’re stronger than you think you are. You made it through losing someone July, and you can make it through this too.

Finding the right medication takes time. Time I know you don’t want to spend on it, but you have to. And it seems like you’re close to finding the right one now anyway. I believe that you’re close to settling on a medication. That this one you’re on now, Seroquel, may even be the one. The only issue for you right now is drowsiness, and people seem to be saying that that goes away. Or maybe you just need to adjust the time at which you take it.

School is a stress that I know you wish you could avoid, but if you want to get into your program by the fall, you have to keep pushing forward. It’s hard now, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Family drama will never be something that you can escape from. Especially with how close you are to your mom. I hope that doesn’t change for you. It’s a wonderful thing to have.

Personal struggles aren’t really something I can tell you will go away or not. Those are thing that are going to change all the time. But if you remember how much of a struggle it was back in July when you lost her, you’ll be able to push forward. She should be someone that, even though not part of your live anymore, still gives you strength through memories.

Sincerely,
Someone Close to You

Medication + New Fitness Band + Snow Days

So, yesterday I changed medication … yet again. Now I’m on Seroquel instead of Abilify. For those of you keeping track at home, the list looks like this so far:

  • Lexapro (10 & 20)
  • Welbutrin (150 & 300)
  • Lamictal (25 & 50)
  • Abilify (5 & 10 & 7.5)
  • Seroquel (50 last night & 100 tonight & 150 tomorrow night)

I can’t believe I’m on my 5th different medication. It’s a lot more if you look at dosages. See what’s in the parentheses above. It’s insane…

But last night I went out and got a new fitness band tracker thing. It’s the Perfect Fitness IQ Band. I thought it would be a lot more confusing than it actually is when I looked at the directions in the box. But now that I’ve got it cooperating with me, it’s not too bad. I’ve got it set at a goal of 10,00 steps per day. Today I’ve gone 5,107 steps so far. Most of that was two walks around the block through the snow with my mom. It got us out of the house and we were exercising. However pathetic it may have seemed.

The snow has been great reason to stay inside. It gave me time to devote to compiling a list of everyone who’s submitted to Stigma Fighters and put their names and post links into one huge Excel spreadsheet. There have been 246 entries so far. I can’t  believe there are that many. I have so many of them on Facebook too. It’s amazing what a community Sarah Fader has created for those of us living with mental illness.

It’s always a great day to be a part of

stigma fighters

Medications & Bipolar

Trying to maintain a good attitude about everything when I’m struggling to find the right medication for my bipolar disorder is difficult. It’s not easy day to day, when I feel like everything is going wrong, to keep a smile on and tell everyone that I’m doing well when all I want to do is crash to the ground.

I’m starting to do better with my meds, but I’m still dealing with side effects.

The last medication I tried, Lamictal (generic: Lamotrogine), wound up with me in the ER. I took it two years ago, so I’m not sure what changed in that time. But I immediately stopped taking the medication – per doctor instructions – and started taking the Abilify 5mg for a week and then upped to 10mg.

I want to be able to say that I’m doing good with it, but it makes me sleepy all the time and I get dizzy too. Not like massively affecting anything dizzy, but it still sucks. Although there are times where I can’t do much of anything because my dizziness is so bad. My focus isn’t here so I can’t always keep track of something as easily as I used to. There’s worse side effects that I could be dealing with, I know, but any side effect sucks to deal with.

I’m not giving up on this fight yet. I really want to because it’s just too much to handle sometimes. But I know that I have to push through the difficult times in order to find the good ones. I’ve got people standing behind me pushing me along when I want to give up, so I know I’ve got good people around me.

Self-Image

Things haven’t exactly been the greatest for me recently. But a friend of mine has been helping me emotionally. I didn’t ask him to, it’s just what he does. He always has been like that.

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Those are the same picture. The one on the left is taken with my phone camera. The one on the right is filtered (with Glow) using an app called NoCrop.

I never realized how I can feel about myself when I put on makeup until someone says something to me. It’s odd. I want to feel good about myself, but it’s almost like I just don’t know how.

I’ve had two people compliment my makeup today. The weirdest part is that I’m not wearing anything but lipstick. No blush, no eyeliner, no mascara, no eyeshadow. Nothing but lipstick. It almost makes me feel good about my face if multiple people think I’m wearing more than I actually am.

It makes me want to wear makeup more often. Not like, caking it on. But just enough that I feel like I’m wearing some and someone might notice.

Lexapro – 10mg – month
Lexapro – 20mg – month
Welbutrin – 150mg – week
Welbutrin – 300mg – 3 weeks
Lamictal – 25mg – < 2 weeks
Abilify – 5mg – new

Trying to find the right medication is truly a process of trial-and-error. It’s time-consuming and incredibly frustrating. I’m on my fourth different medication in three and a half months. I feel like of like a guinea pig with all the meds I’ve taken. The side effects are probably what I hate the most. Especially when I was on the Lamictal. I had taken it two years ago and had no issues, so the fact that I had issues this time didn’t make sense to me. I had chest pain and shortness of breath, so my doctor told me to go to the ER on Friday afternoon.

I got there, signed in, and waited for maybe ten minutes. They called me back and took me into triage. They did an EKG – which I assume was fine because nothing was said otherwise. They did a chest x-ray – which I assume was clean because they didn’t say anything. They also did a blood clot test – which came back negative.

A random guy tried to hit on me while I was there too. He was only kinda cute. It would’ve been better if the doctor had tried to hit on me cause he was actually pretty cute. And he didn’t look like he was much over 30. They did the blood clot test after the chest x-ray. When I sat back down, a nurse called my name. I picked my head up and said, “yes?” She smirked at me and replied, “I’m coming to get you.” All the staff in the ER were nice enough, and they were trying to be funny about stuff too.

In the end, they basically chalked it up to the Lamictal I had been taking. However, they also gave me a prescription for an antacid, in case that was the issue, and a stronger pain reliever than you can get OTC.

When I take everything at once, like I’m pretty much supposed to, I wind up feeling a little loopy. I’m wondering how severely it’s going to affect me in classes this week. I’m hoping it’s not too bad, but I’m honestly not crossing any fingers about it cause there’s just now way of knowing.

Support? And Stigma Fighters

A lot of times, when I go to a friend to rant about something that’s bothering me, they try to fix the problem for me. But that’s not what I want.

I just want them to listen to me. That’s it!

If I want their help, I’ll ask for it. But when it’s just pushed on me, I get kind of offended. It’s not their fault, because their intentions are good. I just feel like I want to do things in my own time and on my own, that when others try too hard, it’s just … wrong.

I love my friends, I really do. I just wish that some of them would understand this.

Being part of Stigma Fighters has given me people to talk to who understand what it’s like, what I’m dealing with. They don’t push help on me. They’ll give me advice and their sympathy/empathy, but they can’t force anything on me. It’s kind of nice.

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How did I get involved in Stigma Fighters? There’s a, kind of fun, story behind that.

I’m not sure how I found the website to begin with, but I thought it was a really cool concept. So I wrote up my essay and emailed it to Sarah. A few weeks later, she asked me if I wanted to write something for her. I told her I had, but apparently she’d never gotten it – there was an issue with her email. So I sent it again, and it went up on the blog. Then about three or so months later, I sent her another piece – this time anonymously. After that we started talking more. In December, I had another post go up, my anniversary post.

Around that same time, I’d also had the idea of turning the blog into a book. I pitched it to Sarah and she loved it. So she put me in charge of pulling all the essays together as people said yes, and editing them. I only did that for a few weeks, before it was sent off to an editor at Booktrope.

But before it was sent off to the official editor, I got an email from Allie Burke asking if I would like to be the executive assistant for Stigma Fighters. It took me by surprise. I hadn’t expected that at all. I mean, I knew that Sarah had gotten all the paperwork done for Stigma Fighters to officially become a nonprofit, but I didn’t know that I would end up working for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, it was just a huge shock. I did accept the position.

So now I’m doing tasks here and there for Allie and Sarah when I can as I’m adjusting to my new medication (I’ll put up another post about that later – date TBD) and the new school semester.

Support Systems – Creating and Using Them

I promise I didn’t mean to run away from my blog for almost two weeks. It just kind of happened. That’s what depression does to me. It forces me to leave the things that I used to love – or rather do love. It renders me weak and useless. Just a body moving through the necessary motions of the day, at the most minimal level. I’m trying to fix that, but it’s not easy.

There are things that I would love to do. Like go out and take walks, or find DIY crafts to do, or actually get into books again, or be able to keep up my blog more regularly. I’m hoping that once my medication is changed, it’ll be easier for me to get back to things that bring me a sense of joy or accomplishment.

Because, honestly, the medication I’m taking currently makes me feel like I’m detached and being pulled down into a world where I don’t know where anything is. i’m drowning in emotions that I don’t ever want to experience. I look up and I can see everyone moving on without me, as if I had never existed.

I lay in bed at night wishing I could fall asleep. Yearning for dreams, whatever they may bring. I don’t care if they’re stupidly happy, or weird like I’m on drugs, or horribly sad. I just want to fall asleep and dream something. Something that isn’t connected to my reality.

I know so many people who would just look at me and ask a question like “well why don’t you just be happy?” I would then look back at them with a painfully confused expression on my face and ask “do you really know what depression is?”

They would probably give the same generic answer that everyone does if they haven’t experienced it themselves. It’s so hard to explain what it’s really like and have someone understand. But I found a link for a video of a girl explaining depression to her mom who just doesn’t understand it that makes me want to hug her forever. And there’s also a blog that I discovered a couple years ago that describes depression through words and comics.

I knew I wasn’t alone on this horrible emotional battle, but that’s quite often how it felt. People around me didn’t understand it, and I didn’t have the words to express myself. I tell them how I feel when I’m alone, but they look at me as if I’m speaking some foreign language because I don’t look like that when I’m with them. Well, of course. I put on a front when I have to be around people because I don’t want them to look at me and know there’s something “wrong” with me.

Recently, I’ve been building a support system for myself because I know that I can’t do this on my own. I mean, I like to believe that I’m strong enough that I don’t need to reach out to other people when things are overwhelming, but I know that’s not the truth. No one can fight this battle alone. Absolutely no one. We’re not strong enough. So I’ve been trying to slowly, and carefully, let more friends in to be part of my support system.

While I may have that support system, I’m still hesitant to use it. There’s so much that I don’t know how to explain to people. I can’t seem to find the words to ask for help sometimes because I know the other person will ask what’s wrong and I don’t have an answer for them. And I’m petrified that when I say I don’t know what’s wrong they’ll say there’s nothing they can do for me.

Maybe my new year’s goal should be to be more open with my close friends about how I’m feeling. Because they can’t help me if they don’t know.

Dear Depression –

Dear Depression,

I hate how you pull me down into an emotional mess of nothing. I have no energy and I don’t want to do anything. Just getting dressed is a struggle some days because of you. Nights are getting more and more lonely. I know I have people I can talk to, but I just feel guilty dumping you on them because you’re mine.

I don’t have an appetite like I used to. Some days I barely eat anything. Other days I eat entirely too much. I never know what each day is going to hold.

Things are too complicated with you. Some days you leave me alone and other days you cling to me like I’m the air in your lungs. I don’t understand it.

I was taking one dose of a medication before and it wasn’t enough, then the dose was doubled to the full dose and now it’s like it’s too much. It’s almost having a negative effect. But maybe that’s you taking over. I don’t know. All I can say is that I don’t like it.

I just want to curl up in my bed and sleep. Watch Netflix until my vision goes blurry from starting at the screen too long. I don’t want to worry about what other people think of me for admitting that I need help. I don’t want to admit that I need help. I don’t want people to think less of me because I’m struggling.

You are a horrible evil creature that has decided to take up residence inside my brain and I don’t care for it. I don’t understand what twisted kind of fun you think this is. It’s all kinds of twisted. I don’t know what to do with you. You’re taking away parts of me that I used to love. My desire to read has greatly decreased since you came in. My ability to write anything I feel is worthy of sharing has diminished.

I cannot wait until I have the right medication that puts you under its thumb so I can start feeling better finally.

Sincerely,
A girl who cannot take much more