Friday, October 06, 2006
In late June I decided to try Lithium. I was so scared to try this med for some reason. Once my dose was at 900mg I began to feel okay, then at 1200mg I felt really good. My mood had not only leveled off, it had lifted. I had some fatigue, but I could sleep in the afternoon and that seemed to help. I felt good for a few weeks, then I became sick (cold/flu...really awful cold symptoms). For two weeks, even while sick my mood felt good. Then my mood crashed.
I thought the Lithium stopped working, my mood kept getting worse. My pdoc said it was working, but could not manage to help my really low lows. Since then I have not felt good. I feel really bad right now. pretty much as bad as I have ever felt. What the hell???
Why do I take medicine if it makes me tired all the time, makes me stunned and and only works sporadically, if at all? I have been thinking a great deal about dying. I feel like I am never going to be well for an extended period. I feel like I cannot cope with life. I cannot even manage to keep my house clean. What makes me think I can turn my life around. I thought Lithium was supposed to level off my mood swings. That is simply not happening and I am soooooo fucking frustrated!!!
Friday, June 23, 2006
I am out of my mind. I stressed out since my last session about being left without any financial means to take care of myself if I lose my insurance coverage and/or leave, my job. My thinking is like this...
- I become well.
- I lose my insurance,
- I have a choice..return to my old job (but it was contributing to my not being well), or find a job that I can manage to do and stay well
- I have another episode once I leave the job I have and it's insurance safety net (I have had so many depressive episodes...this is an inevitability)
- I end up not being able to work again, but this time I have no insurance
- I end up on the streets because I cannot support myself
Dr X. and I discussed this "catastrophizing" today. He asked me how likely it was that I would end up on the street...To me it seems completely possible...I imagine my husband leaves me, my family gives up on me, I run out of money...and there I am.
He asked me to think about Canada Disability benefits and could I live on that...I receive these now, but it is a very small amount of money and the city I live in is very expensive. Dr. X. says he has patients who live in the city and manage on a disability income. He says there is a safety net under my tightrope. I need not worry about ending up homeless. It will not happen. God, I wish I could feel safe. I wish I was not so afraid of change.
I had a dream last night that I was talking to my GP about how I was going to find happiness. In the dream I discovered I would be happy if I bought a motorcycle. I did not think much of it until I told Dr. X and he said, we associate motorcycles with a certain degree of risk (especially driving in this city)...maybe my dream was telling me happiness would be found only if I am willing to take some risks.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Then I do not know what happened, but all sorts of negative thoughts started to creep into my session. Suddenly we were talking about my fears of being spied on by the insurance company and then Dr. X. said "Prepare to be cut off. When you are well it will be an inevitability"
Now I feel extremely stressed out. I know I will be cut off insurance if I become well, and I do not want to let my fear of being cutoff stop me from becoming well. However, my biggest fear is that I will become well for a while and then leave my job and get cut off insurance and then relapse into depression again and be both depressed and unable to take care of myself financially.
After my session today I came home and started worrying that Dr. X. is not going to give me enough time feeling well to be sure I am well enough to begin looking for work again and will be able to remain well in the long term. Argh! I hate my brain.
Friday, June 16, 2006
I decided to come up with two types of responses. The first response to each question is based on my being very private about my mental illness. The second response is an honest, very open answer based on my experience with depression. As I wrote the "private" responses I started to think that in being secretive I was allowing myself to feel stigmatized by my illness. I would not be afraid to say "I have MS, that's why I can't work"...so I am not going to be afraid to tell the truth about being mentally ill.
Here's my list:
Why did you leave work?
- I became ill and was unable to work. or...
- I have an illness called Major Depressive Disorder. In me severe depression and anxiety make me feel very unwell. This made it exceedingly difficult for me to work in a high paced, high stress environment where the expectations and environment aggravated my illness.
You don't look sick.
- There are lots of illnesses where people look fine, but are unable to work. They are called "invisible disabilities" or...
- People with Major Depression often have okay days/moments. In particular people with atypical depression find our mood lifts when we are in situations we enjoy.
What did you become ill with? Are you okay?
- I would prefer not to discuss my illness. I am working towards recovering my health. or...
- I have a mental illness called Major Depressive Disorder. I have had difficulty with depression my whole life. This episode happens to be really bad and long-lived.
What happened at work?
- Nothing happened at work, I simply became unable to work due to an illness. or...
- Work became extremely stressful and demanding. I tried numerous therapies, I tried cutting down my hours, but ended up working more than full-time anyways, I had competing demands from several different businesses, I moved locations to a place where I knew no one. With all these factors and my depression I simply became more ill and decided that leaving work was the healthiest thing for me to do.
Why aren't you getting better?
- I am slowly becoming healthier. I have good days and bad days. or...
- Contrary to popular belief antidepressants do not always work for all people. I am working with a doctor to find a medication and therapy that will help me.
If you can work here, why can't you work at the your old workplace?
- I am a volunteer and can call in and say I am unable to commit to my shift. Also, my commitment here is for 3-5 hrs a week. At this point in time I am unable to work a work week at the bank.
What have you been up to?
- I have been exploring ways to create meaning in my life. I am volunteering and taking some art courses. I am spending more time with my family.
Why can't you work?
- My illness is unpredictable. It would not be fair to my employer to commit when I am unable to predict my ability to work on a regular basis.
What do you do for a living?
- I have the means to take care of myself...so I try to do the things that make me feel good.
Why aren't you working? Why don't you work?
- I worked from the time I was 15 and at 40 I feel it is time to reexplore my options and discover a career that speaks to me or...
- I have an illness that prevents my working right now.
What do you do?
- I garden, and draw, meet with friends, walk my dog, visit my family, spend time with my husband, go to the theatre, to the VSO, recitals, art galleries...all sorts of things
Friday, June 09, 2006
You would think I would feel relieved now, having got it all out of me, but I feel sick about it. Despite Dr. X's reassurances that I have not destroyed his faith and trust in me, I feel really ashamed and embarrassed by what I do and have done.
Dr. X. said my embarrassment is a huge hurdle for me in many situations. He is right. I have this intense fear of being embarrassed, or made fun of. This really informs my anxiety and makes me quash myself into something I think others will accept and want.
I went to see the Shakespeare play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" last week. In it there is a play within the play casted by some seemingly inept actors. What struck me most was the joy with which the main "cast member", Bottom ,lived his life as an actor (even if he was a BAD actor). Nothing stopped him from playing out his melodrama exactly how he wanted to play it out.
I could see Shakespeare's intention was to make him look like the Ass he gets turned into, but on another level, on an existential level, where success is measured in terms of how you lived your life according to what you desire to do....Bottom was extraordinarily colourful, successful and so full of life (even in his "dramatic" death).
That is what I want. I want to be free. I want to be the wild me again. The me who lets loose, sometimes does stupid things, but revels in my being unafraid to make mistakes. I want to be bold again. I want to sing out loud when everyone is listening. I want to be okay with not being good at things I enjoy. I want to just unselfconsciously enjoy those things.
Right now....I am going to make a decision to just let it go. Just know that I spoke up honestly to my pdoc. I let him know what I was doing. What I was doing is a symptom of my illness on some level, but on the other level...the deception level, I told him what I was doing. So from this moment on I am going to believe we are square.
I am going to try right here and right now to get some of those things out, then if I can't bring them up in therapy today I will show this to Dr. X.
For a couple weeks now I have been having increasingly intense and anxious suicidal ideation. I have been feeling so depressed, but also anxious to the point of panic, and irritable to the point of rage. In these rages I have been hitting my head-hard with my fists...A couple weeks ago I flew into a rage when my husband was 1.25 hrs late for dinner. Right before he came home I started hitting and kicking the wall so violently I had huge bruises on my elbows. I felt totally out of control with anger over such a stupid thing.
I feel like my brain is going to explode. I want my brain to stop. It will not STOP....it just keeps ruminating on all the negative things...flying from one bad feeling, incident, potential incident, to another.
I spent hours on Saturday counting medications I have hoarded (Epival 18500mg, Zopiclone 300mg, Gabapentin 7500mg reading about suicide online, looking up ways to commit suicide, thinking about how I could do it without hurting my family, trying to figure out where to do it. Yesterday I spent hours trying to find out if I would die from an epival overdose. I tried again today, but could not find the dose needed, only the blood levels...but I don't know how that works so not very helpful.
As my anxiety increases throughout the day I have these obsessive visualizations of stabbing myself in the chest with a really big knife. Over and over and over again, until (in my imagination) the tightness in my chest goes away, my whole upper body deflates and becomes relaxed again.
I started an Art Class (drawing) the other day and my anxiety was so acute I could barely breathe and started to have an anxiety attack where I almost had to leave the room I was so anxious. I started shaking (my hands and legs) and I could hear my vice quaking when I spoke...I just shut down and couldn't even think when I was being asked questions...like all I wanted to do was get out of there...it was so brutal. Every night I have this intense sense of rage and irritability going on inside me...there is so much energy behind it I feel like I'm going to blow up...and I do start spewing negative and angry words out towards my husband. I feel like I can't control the feeling...it gets worse as the night goes on, the t.v, or the sound of my husband chewing his food, or my cat's meowing make me feel explosive.
I want to tell my pdoc, but I feel so childish and immature, unbalanced, unworthy, labile...so embarrassed, that I have these thoughts, that I behave this way, that I treat others this way, that I have been deceptive (by hoarding medications)...especially the zopiclone, because I keep asking for more.
I am using the new zopiclone I get...(though it is not helping me sleep anymore). I keep asking for more instead of using the stuff I have hoarded from months ago...so I can save my stashed sleeping meds...so I have a way out or a means of relief if I cannot take it anymore. On Saturday I even thought I should just take 10 or 20 zopiclone....just to get some rest and some relief...not to die, but to calm down and let go.
In my last post I spoke of fearing abandonment by my pdoc. At the time he asked me if I had had thoughts of abandoning him. I took it to mean was I thinking of leaving therapy. Given how suicidal I felt last Saturday ,now that I think about it it maybe he meant "leaving"...as in permanently, as in suicide. I do talk to him sometimes about my suicidal thoughts, but I sense an uncomfortable avoidance of the topic when I bring it up, so I've been trying to let it go and not talk so much about it.
I recognize the counterproductivity of having all these medications around. They seem to entice me to use them. If they were gone I would have no reason to obsess about whether they would help me die or not, or whether they would relax me or not...they simply would not be here, so I could not use them.
I am going to print this off and try to talk honestly and openly with Dr. X about this. I will bring these meds to my session and if I feel safe I will give them to him.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
In regards to Dr. X. I am both scared he thinks I cannot be helped (I am starting to wonder myself) and afraid he is giving up on me. I spoke with Dr. X about my having difficulties with our therapeutic relationship because I see him so much like an authority figure. My Dad(authority figure) was a policeman(extreme example of an authority figure). I think my reaction to authority is very much related to my interactions with my Dad while growing up. I was gardening just now and I had an "ah ha" moment while thinking about what went on in my session this morning.
I have a great deal of anxiety when I am around authority figures, especially if I feel I am being judged in any way, or if I feel I might disappoint them. I will go out of my way to please and placate any authority figure, because I am afraid of the consequences of not doing so.
Therein lies the problem. The nature of a Dr's position is such that they are always judging, categorizing etc. your health...so I am intensely fearful of being misjudged and thereby being abandoned because I am seen as not needing help. I am also deeply ashamed of my inability to "snap out of it", or make some progress in my therapy. This shame and fear are intensified by my feelings of guilt for remaining so depressed for so long and my self blame for believing I made myself this way...that I somehow did this to myself, made myself sick.
Dr X. made it clear today he will not abandon me. Not now, not in the future, not even if I decide to see someone else for therapy. He said, I will always be free to see him as well if I decide to see someone else too.
He asked me if he was doing anything that was making me think he would abandon me? The only things I could think of were his taking me off the medication I was on and then readily agreeing with my not wanting to be on medication. I felt like "...well if he is so laissez-faire about the medicine, then he must think I do not need it, or it will not work for me, which MUST mean I am not sick, which must mean he thinks I am fake. Also, I sometimes sense a change in tone when I am having a really hard time...like he is frustrated with me. He says I do not frustrate him...
In the garden this morning I realized I am projecting my frustration and ambivalence about my treatment, my medication and my depression's resistance to treatment, onto him. It is me that is trying to abandon me.
I have set it up so if Dr. X. is too much an authority figure (tells me I need to do more, sleep less, take meds, set up a schedule, drink less, try doing the things I like to do, etc) I freak out with anxiety and panic because I feel pushed and fearful I will be unable to complete what is expected of me (and will be punished for not doing so).
If he does not act like an authority figure (ie. gives me no feedback, or does not react positively towards me) I feel like he must not care about me, or thinks I am beyond help, or do not need help...or I go to the opposite extreme and think he thinks I am a completely lost cause and there IS NOTHING he can do to help me.
It is a no win situation...unless I can stop seeing him as an authority figure, or learn to not react to that aspect of the relationship, or learn to "feel the fear and do it anyways". Dr. X. said to me today to try to do the things I am afraid of despite feeling fearful I will be judged. Do the things I am afraid of in spite of my anxiety. Acknowledge the anxiety in the moment and forge ahead like no one was watching.
I will try.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
So, all the way to my appointment I am thinking, "something has to change, I need some huge change to happen, I need a more structured day. I am not doing well with not working and having no structure"
I sit down and say to my pdoc, "I feel the same, depressed, tired, everything is just the same". He looks at me and says, "There has been a lot of that lately...sameness, maybe we need to shake things up a bit"...there's me thinking the same thing earlier, but I begin panicking when he says it. His voice reminds me of when he wanted to lessen our appointments to "shake things up a bit".
So we talk and decide I need a strict structured schedule. The first thing we do is set the sleep time. Outside this time I am not supposed to lay down, or sleep. Already I feel stressed out. I am so tired all the time I don't know how I am going to manage without a nap...this appears non-negotiable...so I acquiesce.
Here's my schedule:
7:30: Out of bed, have coffee, read
8:30-9:30 to the gym, swim, ride my bike or walk
1-4:00 Art (pottery, drawing, painting, writing)
4-5:00 Chores (housecleaning, grocery shopping, laundry etc.)
5-6:00 Make dinner
6-7:00 Eat dinner, spend time with husband
7-11:30 Unstructured free time
11:30-7:30 In bed...even if not sleeping...trying to get sleep patterns back
So...looked pretty workable yesterday, but I had a meltdown over it today. I could not get myself up, when I got up 1/2 hr late I could not get myself to go exercise, finally at 10:30 I managed to get into the garden, but by 11:30 I felt exhausted and all I wanted was a nap...Now I am supposed to start "Art" in 20 mins and I feel overwhelmed and really, really tired (read: fatigue and exhausted).
Anyways, I feel SOOOOO lame. It's not like I have a job or anything...these are just everyday things that people seem to find time for on top of work. I used to be able to work so hard and do so much. I used to work more than full time and then come home to the farm and work here for another 4 plus hours everyday....now I feel stressed out by this stupid schedule. Anyways, the one thing he mentioned at the end of our session was that if I messed up and missed something, or didn't do something to just get back on track as soon as possible...don't give up because I missed something. I'm glad he said that because my inclination is to give up...but I will try again.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Last week my mood soared for a couple days. I felt confident about my life. I felt like I could do anything I wanted. Then I wake up and that feeling has been replaced with a deep sense of despair and failure, lost hope and never ending sadness.
I'm off all meds except sleeping medication, because no meds have helped me. In fact, they have made me worse more than anything. We talked about my trying Lithium. The one major drug I have not tried, but I am afraid it will make me even more flat than I feel right now. I need something to boost my mood, not just flatten it. Anyways, I know I'm just complaining, but I am really struggling with having to live with this illness. If I can't get better, what is the point of the struggle?
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I was putting her taxes together this afternoon and I could not stop crying. I felt so angry inside I thought I was going to explode. I kept coming across pension and retirement information. All these books, pamphlets, worksheets to help mom prepare to retire. I was feeling rage over how hard she worked and for what???? So she could become terminally ill 3 months after she retired? So she could die 7 months after she retired. It is a load of shit. I know life is not fair...but this is just too much to take in.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Remember, I was distraught about being rejected in my last post. I obsessed about this all day and night for 3 days. Then Friday night I feel a change in my body. I am feeling extraordinarily wired, wound up, hyper...like I drank pots and pots of coffee. I cannot fall asleep despite having taken zopiclone and a couple extra strength muscle relaxants. I stay up until 2am and then fall into fitful sleep, waking off and on all night. Despite having decided to sleep in and catch a later ferry, (I am s/b going to see my sisters in my Mom's town), I wake at 6:30 am and feel energy racing through me.
My mind is racing...thoughts exploding everywhere...I'm having a hard time focusing/concentrating...but I feel such a rush of joy through my body that I do not care. My car breaks down almost as soon as I get off the ferry. I cannot find a garage. I have my dog and all my important belongings piled into the car...and normally I would be so stressed out/depressed/agitated in this situation...but today it seems like an adventure.
In this adventure I am talking to new people without fear, people are smiling at me and open to me. I feel accepted, cared for, attractive. In fact, I feel like I am a magnet to people...like everyone is attracted to me.
The world is different too. The colours of the trees, the sky, the ocean, everything, is intensified. It is as though everything is glowing and pulsating. I can see the life force in things. Even the car breaking down feels like an opportunity. It allows me to visit a new town....and the town is beautiful.
The above is SO completely opposite of my normal depressed experience that I cannot help but feel for a brief moment a switch in my brain was triggered...not sure why, or how...but god if only I knew, my life would be restored.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
I used to have pdoc appts on Tuesdays and Fridays. Then in late August last year my pdoc said we should try cutting back to once a week, not because I was better, but as an experiment to see if it would help me. Let's "shake things up a bit" were his words...see if less therapy impacts my mood. Instantaneously, I fell into a tailspin because I felt abandoned. Why would he see me less when I was feeling so severely depressed?
Well, I discovered my Mom was terminally ill the following week and his "experiment" went out the window. I moved up to my Mom's town to take care of her and could only return for appointments once every two weeks. Even with my Mom being so ill, overall my mood lifted. I knew why. While I was the one supposed to be "taking care of" someone, My Mom, just by being, was in fact helping me. She was such an incredible, loving and completely accepting person. I flourished around her, despite being desperately sad about her dying.
Anyways, When my Mom died in December I returned home. I began seeing Dr. X. on a regular basis again. I saw him twice a week for a couple weeks and then two weeks ago, when I went to book my next appointment, he said Tuesday was unavailable could I come Wednesday? So, thinking it was just a mix-up that week...I said sure. Because Wednesday was so close to Friday I felt uncomfortable asking for another appointment that week.
So on Wednesday I go to book my next appointment for two weeks from now (because I have to go away to do some estate stuff for my Mom...Dr X again asks me if Wednesday works for me. I just stood there feeling abandoned.
I felt like he was surreptitiously working to push me into only seeing him once a week. He only works Tuesday to Friday so if I come Wednesday Tuesday is out and Friday seems too close. I cannot seem to get the thought out of my mind that, rather than have the big long discussion about how less is more, he forced my hand.
Now...there is a teensy part of me that is considering whether or not I am being totally paranoid, but the rest of me is feeling totally rejected and distrustful of Dr. X's intentions.
I feel "let go" at a time when I need him more than ever. I am, just in the past few weeks, beginning to fully grieve my Mom's death. On top of that I am continuing to have severe depressive symptoms. I am having non-stop suicidal fantasies, panic attacks, anxiety attacks and trouble with alcohol. I have been going off all my meds (with Dr. X's approval)and isolating myself worse than ever before. I feel detached from my whole existence...like I am watching myself in a really bad, really sad, really scary movie.
The same appointment he cut back my appointments to Wednesday he told me He would, "see me when I was depressed (or needed help), but also, he would see me when I felt well too." At that moment I felt safe. I felt as though I could let go of all my fears of him dismissing me or giving up on me.
What I don't get is this..."Why do I feel as though he slammed the door shut in my face? Why do I "sense "a disconnect between his words..."I will help you"...and his actions? Why do I "sense" he is releasing me, trying to get rid of me, trying to stop seeing me? Am I being paranoid?
Are these my feelings transposed on to him? (i.e. I feel like I deserve to be dismissed, punished for not getting better etc...so I believe he MUST be feeling that too). How do you tell what is real and what is not?
Saturday, March 04, 2006
I have been hibernating, avoiding, neglecting, etc. for some time, thus the no post/no response since January. I do not know how to keep going since Mom is gone. I realized the other day she was the only person on earth that I truly trusted. For some reason trust is an extraordinarily difficult thing for me.
I realized a couple weeks ago that I need to relearn trust. Not sure how, but I suppose my pdoc appts are the best place to begin. I waffle between trusting him completely and believing he is just placating me, or has some hidden agenda. This is me of course...not him...he has never DONE anything to make me distrust him. It all lays in my interpretation of what is going on.
Two weeks ago I told him I had a big stash of meds at home...just "in case". He asked me if I thought he would not help me, or provide me with medication if I needed it? It is not that...it is that I am unable to ask for the help, or the medications. I feel like I am "drug seeking"...or out of control. I also keep the medications so I have a way out if I need it...a dangerous and counter-productive plan when you are depressed.
The next week I felt compelled to bring the stash to him. He looked surprised at how much I had kept...and vocalized how seeing all this medicine must really have a psychological effect on me...i.e. seeing all the meds I have tried, all that have failed, all I have had dependence problems with, etc.). He was dead on. I had had a dream about this very topic (dependence and addiction to meds and alcohol) just a few days prior. Anyways, I felt like handing over my stash was all about giving myself over to him in terms of trust, my trusting he will help me when I need help. Trusting he will not let me suffer if I do not have to.
When I went to yesterday's session the TRUST theme continued. I really opened up and told him about my suicidal thoughts. I brush over them in sessions all the time..."oh, and I had s. thoughts", or "I've been super depressed and plagued with s. thoughts", but I never feel comfortable REALLY talking about the content of the thoughts. I feel like he does not want to dwell on them, or that there is something wrong about talking about the details.
When my Mom was alive I could call her if I could not manage the thoughts anymore, if they became too overwhelming, or began compelling me to act. So, without her here, I feel extremely isolated and scared when they begin their attack.
Yesterday Dr X. and I talked about the details of my suicidal thoughts. We openly discussed the macabre and gruesome imagery that swirls around in my brain throughout parts of every single day. We have decided to try to face them head on and do some CBT work around these thoughts. I left my session feeling so listened to. I left feeling I was not going to be abandoned or dismissed for having a mind full of bizarre, obsessive and intrusive thoughts. I felt so much relief for having opened up, and trusting it would be okay to do so.