Tag Archives: antidepressants

Sometimes I’m Sad Panda

16 Jun

This was originally published on Girl Go Glow, but I wanted it to live here, too. The timing is right to post it tonight. I let my meds lapse and have been trying to hold it together mentally for the past couple of weeks until I can get back to the doctor on Tuesday for a new prescription. I did what you should never do – took my meds all willy-nilly and let them lapse. I don’t know why I do this. I’m not ashamed of taking meds, I NEED them. But I think part of me feels some sense of failure that I have to have them at all to function properly. Like the real me is broken. This contradicts a bit of what I say below but that’s me, a walking contradiction.

On the worst days, I can’t get out of bed. The mattress becomes a magnet and my body morphs into a blob of iron. The bed is my safe haven, the darkness and blankets a shield. I’m surrounded by grayness and apathy. Zoloft. Therapy. Noting Triggers. Prozac. Negative vs. Positive Self-Talk. Mindfulness. Meditation. Wellbutrin. Breath Work. Affirmations. Citalopram. Visualization. Self-Help Books. Exercise. Sunshine. Worry Stones. Journaling. Lexapro. All of these are or have been in my arsenal. I won’t win, but I can maintain a truce sometimes.

I don’t purposely keep it a secret that I battle anxiety and depression. It is what it is, and it’s cool if it comes up in conversation. If I see a good resource, I’ll pass it along in hopes that others might benefit. It’s just not something I’ve spoken about in a public forum in a very long time. But as the co-author of a blog meant to empower others to live authentic and purposeful lives, if I can’t speak here about this huge part of who I am, then where and when can I? I SHOULD talk about it. Depression and mental illness are not talked about enough, as the stigma surrounding it makes evident. This stigma is real, and it bugs me that depression isn’t seen as a “valid” disease in the traditional sense. I mean, I can’t call off work and tell my boss that I can’t get out of bed because I’m consumed by sadness. It just doesn’t work that way and I’d prefer not to receive a call from HR. Yet for me and millions of others, depression is as debilitating as a migraine, the flu, or any other physical malady, but we have to pretend it isn’t and I’ve learned to hide it fairly well, except on the really bad days.

I don’t remember the day I was categorized or diagnosed as “depressed”. It seems to have been a gradual progression from childhood anxiety to bouts of depressed episodes in adulthood. I wasn’t what you’d call a troubled kid; quite the opposite. I did great in school, followed the rules, had friends, did the extracurriculars, all the normal stuff. I was shy and socially awkward except around close friends or family, but that’s pretty standard for introverts I’d say. I blame faulty genes for the most part and dumb luck for the rest. Research has shown that as many as 40% of people with depression can trace it to a genetic link and that those with parents or siblings who have depression are up to 3x more likely to also be depressed. Thanks, genetics, you’re a real pal.

So while the specifics of the beginning are foggy, I do recall the grayness getting worse as I entered the real world of career and full-fledged adulthood. Being an adult sucks y’all, no doubt. I remember coming home from the doctor one day in my 20s with a bottle of Prozac. Thus began my journey through the land of pharmaceutical wonders that I’d try for a while and then, due to side effects or tolerance or something, I’d switch to a new one. Make no mistake, I am not anti-medication. I am pro do-whatever-works-for-you. I’ll probably be on antidepressants for the rest of my life, and that is a-okay. For me, meds help with the surprise attacks of depression. Sometimes I can pinpoint triggers and other times there is no warning or obvious cause. One side-note – I do know that having a baby was one of the best and worst times of my life. Postpartum depression will knock you off your feet and is one of the many reasons hubs and I are one and done in the kid department (another post to come on this at some point). I can’t and won’t go through that again. Bottom line: Knowing your triggers is helpful for minimizing the damage but isn’t possible for me most of the time.

There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. I recently started listening to a podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression. John Moe talks to comedians about their struggles with depression. Sarcasm and humor, self-deprecating and otherwise, are coping mechanisms for many of us. The latest episode featured Hannah Hart and a lot of talk about not feeling worthy; of having achieved fantastic things but not feeling like you did it or deserved it; never feeling good enough. If I recall correctly, Hannah said she might get 10 days out of the month where she felt normal and ok. That gave me pause and I thought about what my number might be; how many days do I feel NOT depressed? It’s hard to say, but I’d estimate that on average, I feel “good” about 15-20 days out of the month. That’s a lot of leftover days as Sad Panda Jenn. Yikes.

What’s a typical day in the life of Sad Panda Jenn you ask? I sleep a LOT. Can’t get out of bed and if I do, it’s a massive mental undertaking. I may or may not shower. I’m irritable or silent. Prone to tears. Withdrawn. Unmotivated and apathetic. Feelings of failure about everything. If I make it out into public, I don’t want to interact with people (actually, that’s kind of just Regular Jenn but it’s much more pronounced on bad days). I eat my emotions, so bring on the junk food. I feel like absolute shit about myself. Worthless. I sit in my car in random parking lots as long as possible. I become very internally focused. Voices in my head bully me and I believe them. I question every past decision I’ve ever made and fear future ones. I don’t understand how I can feel this way when I am so fortunate in life and there are multitudes suffering so much worse than I. It doesn’t make sense and brings a sense of guilt on top of the rest. I crave darkness and small spaces that wrap themselves around me (like my car or bed. I want one of those weighted blankets, but am afraid I’d never come out from under it.) I hate everything. I’m not nice to myself. A sometimes-helpful tip from my therapist in regards to this last one is that if it’s not something I would say to my daughter or a friend, don’t say it to myself. Treat yourself with the same kindness. Easy to say, harder to do. But I digress. All of this lasts in varying degrees anywhere from a couple of days to weeks. My method of coping is to use whatever I can muster from my above-mentioned arsenal and just wait it out. I will rebound eventually and then the cycle will start over. I do my best.

Doesn’t all this make you wanna hang out with me? I’m a real peach, eh? I know this post isn’t particularly positive or uplifting, but newsflash – neither is real life all of the time. Real life is hard and ugly and well, depressing. But it’s also lovely and beautiful and fun. What’s that saying?  Stars can’t shine without darkness.

Thanks for reading and please know that if you’re having mental health struggles, that you are in good company; I mean, I’m here, right?!?!? Know that it is ok to build a pillow fort and stay there all day if you need to. Take advantage of resources available to you and don’t feel any shame! Take meds, see a doctor or therapist if you can, meditate, volunteer to help others, journal. Develop your own customized arsenal. Reach out to people who get it, reach out to me, someone, anyone.

Just a few of the many resources out there:

That said, I don’t want to make it sound as if all you have to do is ask for help and the cavalry will come to save you. I know that depression can “mute your ability to reach out” as someone else put it after the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. This article, Stop Telling Us To Ask For Help. Depression Doesn’t Work Like That speaks to that better than I can. And that makes mental illness all the more tragic.

the latest

3 Jun

I’m more like Melancholy Melanie today rather than Crankypants McGhee. Progress people, it’s a slow thing sometimes.

Memorial Day weekend turned out nice. I won’t recap the details but here’s a list of sorts…family walk on greenway, family cookout and subsequent soccer playing, trip to the zoo, puppet making and puppet show, gym, toy mini cooper driving, park, meeting new neighbors who turned out to be old college acquaintance, hubs playing with his “new” car, container garden watering and oohing and ahhhing over plant growth, brunch with family, and movies with kiddo.

Kiddo and I are trying out a new church. So far so good. An old high school friend and his family go there and has helped show us around. Hooray for that because this place is big and I get lost. A bigger place seems to suit me though. Kiddo seems to like it a lot, as do I. So we’ll see.

I continue my quest to try every antidepressant medication known to mankind. I will be switching yet again tomorrow. My current brain fix is not covered by insurance and it would seem that it will cost me $130/mo, which is not happening. I will just be a crazy depressed cat lady rather than pay that every month. So doc is changing it to something else. I don’t even know the name of it, responsible patient that I am. Maybe I’ll read the bottle when I pick it up, maybe I won’t.

I’ve kind of been killing it with the diet and exercise thing the last few weeks. Retraining the brain to use working out as an outlet for whatever rather than sleeping and bad food. Results to be determined in time. It sounds good on paper though doesn’t it?

A few final randoms…I’m off to Pittsburgh for the weekend. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh so that classifies as an adventure on its own. The groomer shaved our lab (only the body, not head or tail) and he looks kind of bizarre. There is a battle in the neighborhood over the status of portable basketball goals. White people in the ‘burbs are ridonkulous. We have privacy slats along one side of our fence now. Again, another saga of burby white people.

The End.

my next post will be happy, I promise

25 Feb

IMG_20130225_121504_498A dear friend sent this article to me and I wanted to share. I cried and sniffled through it because that’s how I roll. But more than just tear-inducing, I found it to be succinct,  powerful, and more than a little refreshing.

Finding God in a Little White Pill

It occurred to me that I’ve been posting a lot about depression and sadness and yada yada lately. I don’t mean for this blog to turn into a mental health thing but I just post what I feel like whenever I feel like it and I’ve been feeling a lot of bleh lately, so it is what it is. I also don’t want this place to be all “mommy blog” or all one thing or that thing. Kind of like myself, come to think of it. I want Finnspace to reflect….me. The parts of me I wanted reflected here, that is. Now my brain is all like shut up Finn, you’re rambling.

That is all.

check your ambition at the door

21 Feb

So, I’m like the poster child for testing new antidepressants. Bah. I went to the doctor today about some issues with my current ones so we are switching again. Bah. It’s not as bad as it sounds I guess. This is only my 4th kind over many years. That’s not too awful right? Bah.

Do you read those informational papers that come with all medications? You know the ones that list all the possible side effects. Its kind of like trying to diagnose yourself using the internet. Have a scratch on your knee that won’t stop itching? Get thee to a physician STAT for amputation at the hip. Rash on your chest? Your boobs will drop straight off within days. Right eye twitching? Prepare for impending blindness. It will scare the everlovin’ daylights out of you. But today, for some reason I happened to look.

And just in case you get too big for your britches…

GrandNoted. Placing the world domination plans back into the drawer.

stupid brain

7 Dec

So “they” say that a person’s truer personality comes out when they’re drunk/drinking. I agree with that to an extent in that a person’s inhibitions are tossed aside and you might be more outwardly honest (and stupid) in many ways. With that in mind, today I wondered about meds, antidepressants specifically. Am I more closely representing my “true self” while on meds, or while off? Does it matter? Is it an assistance or a crutch?

Sometimes it bothers me that I use medication to handle my depression. Without getting into the society is over medicated debate, why isn’t the un-medicated me good enough? Why do I need this assistance to keep my moods relatively stable and irrational emotions in check? Am I that messed up that I need synthetic brain altering? It would seem so. That thought alone is freaking depressing! Irony is a fickle beast.

sad panda goes to the doctor

21 Mar

Verdict: gained 10 pounds in a matter of weeks, change in meds, follow-up visit in a month, encouraged to seek therapy.

Hello mid-life crisis. The next one that comes around I’m just going to buy a red sports car and be done with it.

It sucks to know that the real you is so broken and messed up that it takes outside assistance to right it.

After my appointment was over, I, ever a fan of self-inflicted punishment and misery, went to the park where I used to run and sat in my car pounding powdered doughnuts (what ten pounds?) and concentrated really hard on not mowing down all the runners with my vehicle. Kidding. Really. Mostly. A little. Tiny bit.

I told someone the other day that I’m surprised that I have any friends left, as bitchy as I’ve been acting. To be honest though, withdrawing into myself is kind of nice sometimes. I don’t particularly want to be surrounded by people right now. Being alone is ok. Sleep is my best friend. Healthy? Maybe not. But for now its good. Almost a relief. As are sentence fragments.

Anyway, I’m not sure how much more I’ll post about this. Maybe a lot, maybe a little, maybe none.

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