Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fatigue and Depression

How can I love my nieces so much, yet feel relief that they have gone home? I am exhausted. I feel physically sick and I am so tired. It is not a sleepy tired, but a feeling like my whole body can hardly move. I'm shuffling my feet an just sitting here staring off into space: wasted.

Fatigue and exhaustion are a huge part of my depressive symptoms. I can be up, really up if I have to be; like with my nieces, but the cost is huge. As soon as the occasion for which I need to be strong, up and projecting a happy me is over I feel almost like I am going to collapse.

I was severely depressed (as part of this MDE) for the two years before I left work. I worked as a facilitator/teacher/program development specialist for a large corporation. My job was high paced, challenging and full of social contact via courses, classes, management training, management of a training team etc.

I would cry all the way to work, stand at the crosswalk thinking intensely about stepping in front of the oncoming bus, visualize myself hanging myself in the handicapped washroom; and then step into my work building and be "on", bright, happy, outgoing, welcoming, caring, kind etc, etc. towards every single person I met.

When I left for the night I could barely open the door to leave the building. I was that exhausted. I would get in my car and speed as fast as I could, praying my car would lose control and I would die. I would get home and hit my head over and over and over. I was so angry with myself for being unable to extricate myself from a job that, while I was that depressed, was literally going to kill me.

I still have the same patterns. I cannot help but make myself into the "happy" person I believe others need me to be when I am around them. The trouble is it takes so much energy to be that person that when I leave the scenario/person to go home I want to throw up I feel so tired.

I think what I do is called a "reactive mood". From what I understand it, and the fatigue, are markers of a subtype of depression called "Atypical Depression", along with other symptoms I have like eating more and gaining weight when depressed (vs. the person who stops eating when depressed) and wanting to sleep much more.

Fatigue was the reason I sought help from my family doctor. It is always the first thing that happens when a depressive episode sets in; and that, and a decrease in eating are the first things to go when the MDE begins to wane.

Despite my medications lifting my mood enough for me to manage a bit better, the side effects of the medicines are keeping me fatigued. I also am still having huge problems with mood lability and the "reactive mood--->fatigue" cycle.

My nieces are so beautiful and soul enhancing, but I made the right decision to not have children. You would not believe how much I love and adore my nieces. However, if I had to take care of children 24/7 I am certain I would die of exhaustion. I also made the decision to not have children because my family has multiple people in it who have bipolar disorder, or major depression, or anxiety/panic problems. I seem to be a mixture of all three and I just could not bear passing these on to another human being.

I am certainly not saying people with mental illnesses should not have children. I marvel at the love and attention many of my friends with these illnesses are able to provide their kids. I am just saying for me, I could not manage that responsibility, no matter how much I loved my kids. I can barely take care of myself much of the time.


jcat said...

My twin!!

Polar Bear said...

I do understand the fatigue. I did a bit of that, I think when I had a teaching job many years ago. I would go and stand in front of my class and "perform" like a monkey, and at the end of the day, I would be so exhausted I would retreat back into my apartment, unplug my phone and collapse into my bed.

It's great that you love your neices so much. And it's also good that you know what your limitations are, as far as having your own children goes. I would never have kids either, but for different reasons.

Please rest up. Take things easy for a while. Be good to yourself.

The Silent Voices in my Mind said...

I so understand the reactive mood stuff. I am like that too in a lot of ways. My kids see both sides of it and it confuses them so much. For example, the phone will ring. I pick it up and look at the caller ID. If it is anyone other than my husband, I end up closing my eyes and making a few deep breaths before I can make myself answer it (if I can make myself answer it at all). But if/when I do, I'm all cheery and peppy.

My daughter asked me about it one day. I didn't know what to tell her. So I told her the truth - that it takes a lot of energy for me to talk to people sometimes. She didn't understand.

I guess it's another one of those things that you don't get unless you've been there, done that.

Aqua said...

Thanks Jcat, Polar Bear and SV. It's good to know I am not the only one feeling this overwhelming feeling.

Michelle said...

Wow as I read more and more of your posts I realize how eloquently you write about so much of me! I too eat more when I am depressed, fight fatigue all the time (being type 2 diabteic doesn't help) and also am childfree. The irony is that I chose to be childfree and then found out I could not have children due to a cancer I had when I was 3 years old. Thing is I was mad/sad as anything when I found that out - damned that my choice was taken from me even if I didn't want it - that whirled the depression right back around me. My neice was born last year and I love her to smithereens too! Thanks for sharing so much of your tale.

Aqua said...

Hi Michelle,
Part of the impetus for my writing this blog is to create a community for myself of people who are struggling with or working with similar issues to me.

I am fascinated daily at how much I have in common with other bloggers with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It makes me feel less alone when I read others stories.

I really struggle with being angry about "my life" and its choices being taken away from me. I am trying hard to work towards acceptance and an understanding that while choices have been stolen from within the framework i have been dealt there (hopefully) are choices I can make. I haven't figured out exactly what those are, or how it works, but my goal is to use and realize the choice I do have left.
Take care,

Dr.Liz said...

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