Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank You

  • Despite not sleeping and still being almost unbearably depressed I woke this morning with a clearer head. The comments people made on my last post both reinforced my clearer thinking and gave me some new ideas about how to help myself.

    Thank you so much for being so caring and supportive. It really helps me feel less alone, and less hopeless.

    So here is what I did/am going to do:
  • I called Dr X's office and left a message for him to see if I can get an appointment with him Monday, or if not, if he can send in a referral tomorrow for me to receive ECT as soon as possible.
  • I e-mailed him too in case the voice mail gets lost, because my phone is doing strange things right now.
  • I was going to wait until after X-mas to go in for ECT, but I am so depressed I need to feel better now. I am afraid about how hopeless and desperate I feel. I want my life back now. If they are able to fit me in now my Xmas will hopefully be happier. The hospital may not have any available ECT treatment times anyways, but I want to at least try to get in now.
  • My friend "E" (thank you!)went with me to check out doggy daycare, because my biggest concern has been what if I can't get home withing four hours of leaving my dog. He cannot stay in his kennel much longer than that.
  • Ends up it is only $23.00 for a half day, or $28.00 for a full day...not much when you consider how much it could help me.

I don't know why I did not think of doggy day care before. It makes so much sense: He gets exercise, care and companionship, and I can stop worrying about not being home on time, or not feeling well enough to walk him.

  • I sent an inquiry to a private home care company this morning to ask about availability, cost of getting someone to help me home from the hospital. If there are no other options I'm pretty sure some company can help me.
  • I am going to phone the nurse at the hospital tomorrow to see what my options are to be an outpatient when I have no one to take me home...I am sure others must have this problem. My Mom used to be a nurse and managed Home Support in her town. People were available to help with all kinds of things for patients. There must be someone in the system who can help me.

As you can see I at least feel a bit of hope right now. I feel like there is a way I can do ECT as an outpatient, it is just a matter of finding the resources available.

The one thing I am afraid of is that the hospital contact will be less than helpful...and will just keep repeating the written rules, saying something like, "the rules say I either stay in as a patient, or have a friend/relative be with me and take me home".

There are lots of great healthcare people out there, but for some reason I have come across more than my fair share of medical people who seem to treat me like I am the problem, and not that the system is not flexible to help people with unique challenges. I often feel like my having a mental illnesses causes some healthcare professionals to discount my intelligence and to jump to conclusions about me before they know my story.

You know how sometimes people working in a bureaucracy are unable to think outside the written rules and make exceptions, or find novel ways to get around a problem. If I hit that kind of a wall I don't think I have the strength to try to get the person to understand how important doing this as an outpatient is to me.

Anyways...thanks again for the comments and support. You got me thinking outside the box, which really increased my hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Closing in on Me

I have been having a massive anxiety attack over the past two hours. I feel like I can't breathe and it only serves to accentuate how out of control, and hopeless I am feeling. I feel like I am not going to to survive my depression much longer.

I cry as I write this, sob actually. I feel like it is over. I won't ever get better. I want so badly to be my old self. I want so badly to feel loved and cared for. I want the energy to love and care for others. All I feel is alone, empty, anxious, exhausted and so depressed I want to die.

Everyday, two or three times a day, I manage to leave the house, to walk the dog. I walk about 10 blocks, sometimes less, once in a while more. I go out rain or shine. I walk as much as I can, because I know, even if it is raining the fresh air, and the light is good for me. Even if it doesn't feel good to walk, I pray it will help me get better. All I want is to get better.

I do it too, because the dog needs the exercise, and I love my dog., and when I bought him I became responsible for his well being. I love him so much, but sometimes caring for him seems so hard, at times almost impossible. I sometimes think I can't handle having a dog. I can't manage without a dog though, because he stops me from killing myself. Without him I would have committed suicide. When I think of suicide my plans always start with how to protect him, to make him safe if I go. I don`t think anyone would love and care for him as much as I do.

So I keep walking the dog.

It takes me a couple hours to talk myself into the morning walk. I sit and browse the paper, always reading the obituaries for any sign that people like me, people who can't handle life, exist. I so desperately want to be understood and to understand.

I am so exhausted I feel sick. I feel physically ill. As I start my walk I keep saying, "one more step" to myself, in my head, because my legs are so tired and I feel physically unwell, and I don't think I can walk for very long. I tell myself I can go to bed when I get home, to keep myself going. The walk ends. I go inside and sit down. All I want to do is go back to bed.

I force myself to stay up all day. It takes all my energy, and all my effort to not lay down. I try to find things to do to get myself out of the house as a strategy to keep myself awake. I can't lay down if I am not at home. I cannot let myself sleep, because I have not been able to stay sleep this past week.

I always seem to have some difficulties with sleeping, but it has been worse the past few weeks. I fall asleep at 11:30 or 3am I am wide awake and absolutely nothing helps me get back to sleep. I try laying there, hoping sleep will finally come. It does not work. I get up and try reading. At 5 or 6am I am still wide awake. I try laying on the couch instead of in bed. The dog cuddles up to me, and I fall into a deep sleep for a few hours.

Strategies: care for a dog, stay awake during the day, schedule activities, create structure, get outside, get sunlight and fresh air, leave the house; my life has become a series of strategies to help my depression...but nothing ever helps.

I still feel severely depressed. I still wish I were dead, every single day. Sometimes I think it is cruel for my doctor to keep me alive. It is cruel to keep me alive so I can be this depressed. Nothing helps.

I won't survive this much longer. My depression, coupled with my physical pain and its increased fatigue (I can't believe I could feel even more exhausted than I did before, but I do), complete lack of interest in food, or anything that used to bring some relief...I even canceled my choir and singing lessons this week, because I was too depressed and too fatigued to go...all this illness is too much for me to handle.

All day I tried to figure out how I could go for ECT as an outpatient. I can't see how it is possible. I have no one to take me home three times a week, after the procedure. I do not want to go in as an inpatient.

My boyfriend is completely against it, and I do not want to leave my dog. I do not know why, but my boyfriend cannot see how depressed I am, even though I explain it to him over and over, I try to be honest with him about how I'm feeling. I cry a lot. I have no interest in anything. My place is a disastrous mess. I cannot cook. I am to tired to do much...

Yet, every time he calls, when he asks me how I am, and I say, "I'm not feeling very well", he asks, "Why", what's wrong? I repeat, "I am depressed". "What are you depressed about"?

Argh...I'm just depressed!! I have worked for years in therapy to take care of anything I am depressed about, to build a life worth living,,,but I'm still fucking depressed...and I still want to die.

I have nothing to be depressed about EXCEPT the fact that I am depressed, want to die all the time, am too tired to enjoy anything for any length of time...and that length is getting shorter and shorter and shorter.

I will try to figure out how I can be an outpatient without someone to take me home...there must be someway for people who live alone, to get this done. If I can't get ECT I give up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Physically and Mentally Ill: Will this pain ever end?

I am not doing well at all, both mentally and physically. I feel so exhausted and fatigued that I feel sick. The pain in my hands and arms is getting worse too. On top of that my whole body aches in almost a flu-like way. I have no fever, and no other flu symptoms, but you know how your bones ache when you have the flu, I have a milder, albeit still achy, throbby painful version of the flu-ache.

Despite being so exhausted I cannot sleep, which makes me even more exhausted. I am also getting more and more concerned about my physical symptoms, because they seem to be getting much worse and I seem to be getting more symptoms. Last night as I tried to get to sleep I remembered that around the time my hands started to hurt/lose mobility I had used an powerful insecticide throughout my house, because a friend of mine had discovered an infestation of bedbugs at their house.

Although I never saw, and have never seen (thank god), any bedbugs at my place I was concerned some may have been introduced into my home on the clothes/shoes of my friend, so as a precaution I sprayed my place... (a lot...I was freaking out as I have a phobia of bedbugs and lice). I opened all my windows and door while spraying, but numerous times while spraying I was overcome by the fumes. Last night I started worrying that I have poisoned myself with the insecticide, and that is the cause of my symptoms.

On some level I know I should not try diagnosing myself, and should wait patiently to see the rheumatologist in mid-December...but I can't stop worrying about what is happening to my body. I just can't manage being physically and mentally ill.

My mood is also extremely low right now. Despite trying to push myself to do things I have cancelled my choir, and my singing lessons this week, because I feel so depressed and physically ill. I am so tired of trying to get better and failing so miserably. I'm not sure I can manage this much longer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Does a Depressed Person Look Like

The entire time I have been off work I have been sure that my insurance company is spying on me. This fear has caused me so much stress and grief. Dr. X. has really tried to encourage me to keep trying to play, smile, do things that I enjoy doing, despite both my depression and my concerns about the insurance company seeing me enjoying myself.

He says, act like they are watching you and do it anyways. I have tried really hard to do just that, but my worries about the insurance company misconstruing my joy in the moment, with wellness, and my ability to return to work, keeps me feeling terrified about doing things. It seems I may be worrying for a reason.

Over on Shrink Rap there is a post that will scare the hell out of anyone who is depressed and on disability. It tells the story of how a woman placed photos of herself on facebook showing her having fun and vacationing. Her insurer removed her from disability benefits for her depression partially based on how happy she appeared in her pictures.

The article made my me outraged, but it was the 668 comments after the article that made my blood bubble and boil. I could not believe how little so many people understand about what it is to live with and try to survive, and recover, from major/clinical depression.

I organized the comments by "agree", and the fourth most common agreed upon comment was:
  • 525 people agreed: " is clear this woman is a scam artist".

Not far down the page were more unbelievable "agree" comments...

  • 262 people agreed, "...I hate to be cruel but from the facts presented, I'm leaning towards support of the insurance company's side. If she's ok to take trips, have parties, and go bar-hopping, how is she not ok to report to work every day? "
  • 212 people agreed..."Oops, looks like you got caught to me !!! Back to work we the rest of the depressed workforce of today"
  • 143 people agreed..."This woman sounds like a real go-getter"

How is it "clear this woman is a scam artist"? She posted pictures of a smiling self, enjoying the company of friends and a vacation on the beach. Do depressed people never go out with family or friends? Does major depression always preclude smiles, laughter and enjoyable moments on vacations?

I know for me, smiles come easily sometimes, and must be forced or faked other times. Even if I am severely depressed, I often find myself in situations where my mood suddenly lifts for a short period of time (when I teach art is an example). I have been so depressed I felt suicidal, unable to get out of bed, and was sure I was unable to get to my class...and then I walk through the door, see a student and my persona suddenly switches into high gear, and no one in the world would ever guess I was depressed. The problem is, afterwards, I almost always need to nap because I exhaust myself.

Does my ability to lift my mood mean I am not really depressed? I have wondered about this a lot. I cannot reconcile my depressed self with its thoughts of suicide, plans for suicide, hopelessness, and intensely low mood, with the persona that seems to be bubbly, personable and for some moments maybe even "happy".

I know that others have a difficult time believing I am depressed sometimes because I often am able to hide my sadness, or even become "unsad" for short periods of time. This has caused me a great deal of stress, because people are constantly underestimate, and often dismissing, how sad I am, and how much my depression impacts and continues to destroy my life, and my desire to live.

Another commenter writes, "If she's ok to take trips, have parties, and go bar-hopping, how is she not ok to report to work every day?" Can a person, who is truly depressed go on a vacation and enjoy any of it?

For me my depression often stops me from doing things, going places, being with people, but I still push myself to participate in these activities. Sometimes I even enjoy the activities I do. Can you believe I am depressed and actually enjoy some things? I do sometimes go away on a vacation.

Most of the time I still feel as depressed as I would be back at home, often the stress of being away from home is too much, but sometimes, the vacation provides me with moments of relief, and a break from myself. Do moments of relief mean wellness? Does it mean I can work?

Whether I am able, or not able, to work is complicated. When this depressive episode began I was severely depressed and somehow still managed to work at a job that required a great deal of energy and effort. My fear of losing my job pushed me to keep working well past the time I should have kept working. I struggled for two years to maintain my work, but near the end I shut down completely and would sit and listen to people at work explain things or discuss things...yet I could not understand what was going on anymore.

I know for me stress really triggers me and increases my depression. Currently I do some volunteer work, but only a few hours a week. I know I am not able to manage more than a few hours right now. Even with just those few hours it takes me a long time to recuperate.

I feel so scared I will not be given the time I need to get well, that I will be told I need to go back to work before I feel well enough to manage working. I question myself everyday about how it is that I am able to participate in life; write in my blog, volunteer, take singing lessons, see friends, yet am unable to manage working. I guess the simplest explanation is that the singing lesson is an hour long and then I can go home and sleep. My volunteering is a few hours a week, then I can go home and be alone, and sleep. My blog is just all the thoughts already in my head, being typed onto the page. It is cathartic for me to write...and then I can sleep. My friends know I am depressed, so I can just be most of the time.

I don't think that my sleeping after every little increment of work, at a job, would be very acceptable to any company. There is a term called "Presenteeism" that is replacing "Absenteeism" as what a company is not looking for. A person who shows up for work, yet is not well enough to fully participate in work costs companies a lot of money in lost revenue and work accomplished. The "Presentee shows up, does very little, and gets paid. It does not help the company to have a worker who is unable to fully participate in work.

Anyways I ramble...but I want to show that people who are severely depressed can sometimes lift themselves enough to do things others might perceive to be impossible to someone who is unaware what depression is really like. This just points to the resilience of the people pushing themselves to help themselves move towards wellness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kinesthetic Meditation

Inspired by another blogger's post, "Quicksand and a Mandala", I have decide to open a new blog that focuses on activities that help me learn to heal. Throughout my therapy Dr X. has helped me create in my life, a theme of activity based healing, by developing what he calls a "benevolent schedule" for myself. My new blog is a celebration of how doing can affect my thinking, and in turn help me heal.

Please add my new blog "Kinesthetic Meditation" to your blog list. I will continue to write on this blog, but will keep this blog focused on thoughts, ideas and feelings, and my new blog focused on activities I enjoy, or that inspire me.

Thanks for the inspiring idea Harriet M. Welch!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anti-Psychiatry, Anti-medication; Thinking Critically about "Antidotes"

I suppose my post today is about thinking critically about any medical treatment you choose, or do not choose. It is about deciding for yourself, maybe with or without someones help, what you are willing to try to achieve your mental health goals. Please do not decide not to follow your psychiatrists treatment plan simply because someone told you someone, somewhere, but they can't remember who or where, had a bad reaction to a particular treatment. Some people have bad reactions to aspirin, it doesn't mean everyone should stop taking, or never take aspirin.

I've noticed more than average antimedication, antitreatment, antipsychiatry comments on my posts lately. Generall,y my first reaction when I read these comments is to become annoyed and brush off the comments as antipsychiatry propaganda or unbalanced, undereducated opinion, or opinions not informed by facts.

I am aware that some of my reaction is a reflection of my own irritation that the treatments I try aren't working. Some of my reaction though is worry that someone, who may really need help for their mental illness, may read the comment and without thinking critically about the other side of the information, might decide they are too afraid to seek treatment, or try a particular treatment.

Today I began thinking that the people/person writing the comments may have had some very bad/awful experiences of there own in psychiatric treatments,; either with the treatments themselves, or the medications. I suppose if I were not completely confident that I was being treated in the best manner possible I might feel that way too. I hope, if people have had bad experiences with their treatment for mental illness, that they find the power inside themselves to find a therapist or psychiatrist that they feel they can trust. I know for me, when nothing seems to help, just having a psychiatrist I connect with on a very deep level helps me keep trying to get better.

I am sorry to see people are having/or have had such negative experiences with their doctors, or medications, or other aspects of psychiatric treatment. It is ironic that although I do not seem to get better, I feel absolutely no anger, or annoyance or fear that I am not receiving the best care possible. You would think after so many failed treatments I might be anti-medication, or anti-ECT, or anti-therapy. I am not. In fact I feel that being treated with so many things has helped me learn about all the treatments available to people. It has also taught me I am very blessed to have Dr. X as my therapist/psychiatrist: very, very blessed.

I read somewhere (Maybe in a book called "Bipolar Disorder: A guide For Patient's and Families", by Francis Mark Mondimore, M.D....great book by the way IMO) that people used to die from being manic. Given there were no mood stabilizer to slow them down they would sometimes just collapse from exhaustion. Given how little was available to help people with mental illnesses even 30 or 40 years ago, I find it remarkable how much has been, and is being developed to help people now.

Some of the comments lately (and in the past) focus on how dangerous the side effects of a particular medication or treatment can be. Part of my difficulty with some of these comments is that they often relay unbalanced, inaccurate, or highly subjective "knowledge". For example, one commenter wrote:

"Antipsychotics are very dangerous drugs and can even cause Parkinson's disease and Tardive Dyskinesia...Many psyche drugs can cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system...ECT causes memory loss - BRAIN DAMAGE....It has been my experience that most people are depressed for a valid reason...It sometimes goes all the way back to childhood. For someone who is considering incurring brain damage to rid themselves of a problem, I would ask this: What unpleasant truth are you willing to damage yourself in order to hide?" (from, ECT Media Portrayals of Depression comment)

(Note: I am using this particular comment as an example because it covers a range of concerns similar to many of the comments other people, who suggest psychiatry/psychiatric treatments don't work, are dangerous etc., often make,)

My understanding of some of the above treatments considers some of what this commenter has suggested. Yes, I believe use of antipsychotics should be carefully considered, because there is a potential for side effects such as Tardive Dyskinesia, and other unwelcome/dangerous side effects. As a patient I need to decide if my illness warrants taking the chance with the side effects of the medications I try. I have decided that for me, the pain of my continued depression, is far worse than my fear of a side effect that I may, "potentially", (not "necessarily"), experience.

As for "ECT caus[ing] memory loss- brain damage": I understand that memory loss is a fear, and sometimes. or for some, a side effect of ECT. I have had ECT though, and while I did experience some memory loss around the time I was receiving the treatments, I don't believe I permanently lost any memory. I could be mistaken, given that even when I was experiencing short term memory loss while being treated with ECT, it was not me who was noticing it. It was my family members. I couldn't remember, what I couldn't remember(...ha, ha.) Regardless, my choice to try ECT was informed and in fact it was my idea to try it. People underestimate how severe depression can be, and how hard it can be to treat sometimes. My depression was severe enough, and treatment resistant enough for me to decide that even if I had memory loss from ECT, it was worth trying a treatment that was shown to be highly effective in treating depression. I was willing to lose a few memories for the hope of feeling better mentally.

Last, but not least, this commenter, and others with similar concerns, has suggested my depression continues because of some "hidden", or unresolved "truth" from childhood. The truth is I had parents who were at times imperfect...imagine! Like everyone mine childhood was not perfect. Maybe at times my childhood experiences were devastatingly awful, but at times, in fact I'd say most times I had it pretty good. My parents loved me and tried to be good parents. I do have difficulty accepting and understanding some of my experiences in childhood, but I have worked hard in therapy to learn to manage, understand and for the most part accept and forgive some of the bad things. While sometimes I wonder if I have some deep dark hidden secret in my brain somewhere...locked away so deep that I cannot remember...I feel pretty confident that is not the case.

I work hard in therapy with Dr. X and I worked hard in therapy with every therapist I saw. I am open and able to articulate my feelings and work through my experiences. While my depression often makes me ashamed of things, when I am in therapy I work hard to ensure any shame about any memories or experiences is challenged and dealt with. It is not likely that my brain has hidden something from me, some deep dark secret that I cannot face. I feel pretty confident I could face any truth in therapy, especially with Dr. X. because I know he accepts me anyway I am.

For me there is no deep dark past that is keeping me depressed. My depression is keeping me depressed That's it, and I will do all I can, use any and all weapons available to me in the psychiatric arsenal to fight that depression. Of course I will learn about any of the medicines and treatments before I agree to try them. For me though, rejecting theses treatments outright because I am afraid of what I don't know, or because I hear bad things about them, or because I hear/read about other's bad experiences, is not my way of doing things. I try to check out all sides of the story, learn as much as I can, read balanced information, look for scientific information and then make a decision based on as much fact, and as little conjecture as possible.

I know no science is perfect. Mistakes are made. Drug and treatment side effects can be devastating ands sometimes permanent. Companies selling things like medication, treatments, help etc. sometimes lie and cheat. Pharmaceutical companies' studies are sometimes falsified or sometimes only positive drug trial outcomes are published. There are good and bad therapists/psychiatrists, and people in general, out there. It is not easy knowing what will or will not help or harm you.

I believe all we can do is try to find a psychiatrist/therapist whose education, knowledge and experience we trust, take the responsibility to look into treatments offered to us and try to understand the pros and cons, and decide for ourselves what we are willing to try to help ourselves become healthier. For some, they will decide no treatment is the best treatment for them, for others they will willingly try anything their psychiatrist suggests. For me, I will try any treatment that my psychiatrist thinks might help, if I feel is more likely to help me than harm me and I can see that the potential for benefits outweighs the potential for unacceptable side effects. We (my pdoc and I) may not always make the right choices, but they are well thought out choices and the choices I am willing to live with.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Physical Pain

I don't know if I do this because of my depression...I will get physically unwell/sick, or get an infection, or have pain, or whatever physical problems people get, and I leave it and leave it and leave it until it is so bad I am certain it is real and I'm not just imagining it. It is like I don't trust my judgement about my own body, or I think I'm being hypochondriacal, or maybe I just try to deny there is a problem.

There is a problem. About 3-4 months ago I started feeling like my fingers were losing mobility. They were stiff and I was having trouble opening packages, and jars because they were so stiff; especially in the morning, or after laying down.

Over the past few weeks my hands have become so sore and stiff at night that I cannot even bend my fingers, or pinch them then together enough to pull my covers up, or fix my pillow position. I have been using the palms of my hands to pull things up, and move things around instead.

A couple weeks ago I realized that this stiffness and pain had to be real and was getting much worse at a very rapid rate. I told Dr. X finally. He ordered some blood tests (inconclusive) and then told me that I needed to see my family doctor for more tests or something?

My first thought when the tests were inconclusive was that I am imagining the pain and loss of movement. (Why I would do that I don't have a clue).

These past couple days my fingers, hands, and my left arm are aching so bad it feels like my elbow is healing from being broken. Tje feeling in my lower arm/elbow is the same, just as painful, as it was the first few weeks after my elbow was broken...throbbing. My fingers ache.

Right now I cannot bend my ring fingers at all past the middle joint, and my movement is bad and painful at that joint too. The rest of my fingers have varying degrees of pain and stiffness...but my hands as a body part are rapidly losing mobility. I feel pretty scared about how fast this is coming on and because I don't know why.

I have an appointment with a specialist, but not until late December. If this rate of mobility loss continues I am getting afraid I will lose all mobility in my hands. On top of that, the pain is getting so much worse. I've tried Advil, but it doesn't seem to help. Warm water helps some, and the cold outside makes it much worse. Dr X said to exercise my hands, keep them mobile, but they hurt when I try to bend my fingers and now it is starting to hurt and feel difficult to move the larger joints at the base of my fingers. I can't even hold onto my dog's leash, I have been wrapping it around my arm.

I think this physical pain/fear is feeding a downward spiral in my mood...this is not what I need right now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sleeping Sickness

Sometimes you wake to a song that seems to be written for, and about, you. Here is what I awoke to this morning...

"...Like the sea, I'm constantly changing from calm to ill
Madness fills my heart and soul
As if the great divide could swallow me whole
Oh, how I'm breaking down"

"I awoke, only to find my lungs empty
Through the night, so it seems I'm not breathing
And now my dreams are nothing like they were meant to be
And I'm Breaking Down
I think I'm breaking down

And I'm afraid to sleep because of what haunts me
Such as living with the uncertainties
That I'll never find the words to say
Which would completely explain
Just how I'm breaking down

Someone come, Someone come and save my life
Maybe I'll sleep when I am dead
But now its like the night is taking up sides
With all the worries that occupy the back of my mind
Could it be? This misery will suffice

I've become, the simple souvenir of someone's kill
Like the sea, I'm constantly changing from calm to ill
Madness fills my heart and soul
As if the great divide could swallow me whole
Oh, how I'm breaking down

Someone come, Someone come and save my life
Maybe I'll sleep when I am dead
But now its like the night is taking up sides
With all the worries that occupy the back of my mind
Could it be? This misery will suffice

Someone come, Someone come and save my life

Someone come, Someone come and save my life

Someone come, Someone come and save my life
Could it be? This misery will suffice"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanks, I am Grateful For...

I am not doing well, but despite that I can see I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a warm bed, in a safe home. I have food and water. I have people around me who love me. I have a faithfully companion in my dog Skookum. I have a warm and loving boyfriend and friends who care about me. I feel so much pain, yet I want others to know I appreciate all they do for me.

  • Thanks to my blogosphere friends, supporters, commenters and readers for helping me out when I need someone beside me who understands. I cannot express enough how important this support has been to me over the years. I may not say it often enough, but you make a positive difference in my life.
  • Thanks to my 'real' life friends for being so thoughtful and caring; for holding my hand when I need it, and for being there both when I need a shoulder to cry on and when I need to share my exhuberance and joy. I hope I am able to repay your kindness. You are so important in my life.
  • Thanks to my boyfriend for loving me for me, for being so open with hugs and kisses and love. You are so easy to be with.
  • Thanks to my family, who, despite my fearing otherwise, tell me they will always love me no matter what. I am so afraid I will burn you out, but today my sister told me that would not happen. My other sister sent me a collage of photos of family members with "We Love You" written at the top. Thanks, I needed that. I posted it on my fridge so I can see it all the time.
  • Thanks to my husband who has accepted and forgiven my transgressions and is being very reasonable about our divorce proceedings. He has also been very supportive of me these past couple months...calling to see if I am okay and offering to help if I need it. It really matters to me that we part peacefully and kindly.
  • Last...but certainly not least, thanks to Dr. X. for sticking with me and being such a stable force in my life. I feel I can count on you to help me...even when nothing else seems to help. That support has been a literal life saver so many times. This morning, on my way top my appointment, I didn't think I could keep going. I can, and I will. Your carry my hope for me, in times like right now, helps me keep trying

Thank you so much,


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Hurts

I cried myself to sleep last night. This week has been like that. I feel overwhelmed by all the responsibility to get better, to help myself, and to move on in my life.

I feel like I think I try hard, but really I do not. I vegetate at home a lot. I stare at the wall half the day and wish I could change. That is getting me nowhere. This life is no life at all. It is hell.

Yesterday afternoon I had a short period of hope, that if I could manage to do all the things I enjoyed, or all the things I wanted to do, if I just did all the things that made me happy, I would become happy. Just the thinking about how to get myself, how to force myself, how to push myself to do, instead of just think about doing, exhausted and overwhelmed me. I feel useless, hopeless, helpless. Completely lost.

Last night I opened up the bag with all my hoarded medications. I want so badly to end this life. I wrote my sisters a note a few days ago. As I sat staring at all the medicine I tried to figure out how to exit and make sure my dog is okay. That, and the fact that I don't even have the energy to kill myself, is the only thing that stopped me. How sad...that besides my dog, my low energy and inability to do, is the only thing saving me.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Seroquel Side Effect

I am going absolutely crazy with one of the side effects of Seroquel. My legs are driving me mad. I take my medicine and then a while later I get this awful feeling in my legs (or my head ABOUT my legs) I can't tell if my legs feel awful, or if it's my head telling me my legs feel awful. It gets worse each time I increase my dose.

At first I described it to DR. X as a feeling like there are worms crawling inside my legs amking my legs feel like they need to move. The more I try to figure out what the feeling really is the less I think it is coming from my legs and the more I feel like it is a figment of my imagination (caused by the Seroquel).

The feeling is hard to describe...The closest I can think is that it is an obsessive need to move my legs, caused by my brain telling me moving them will make them feel better. If I try to sit still and not move it feels like the tension and need to move builds and builds until I can't stand it anymore.

Dr. X says maybe restless legs (but when I read about it they say that is painful). My feeling is not physically painful, rather it induced and intense and unmanageable irritability and anxiety in me. I feel like I am going to be driven even more mad than I already am.

Dr. X. has also talked of Akathisia. I don't really know what the difference is except from what I read it sounds like Akathisia actually makes your legs move...I am the one moving my is not an automatic thing...I can, for a short period hold back from is the intensity of the annoying feeling that makes ME (my conscious self) need to move my legs.

Can anyone shed some light on what this feeling is and if there is anything non-medicinal I can do to stop it. Right now I am taking larger and larger doses of muscle relaxants and Advil to try and stop it (I thought it was helping, but I think maybe I was imagining it helping me because it is not helping at all right now.

Please...if anyone can give me info please do, because now my legs are feeling annoying. Dr. X. mentioned medication, but I don't see him until Thursday...and right now I do not want to take any more medication.

Also, can someone explain the differense between RLS and Akathisia?

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Life Worth Living

I am so annoyed and irritated for so many reasons...but this time it was triggered by blogger. I just COMPLETED a post and went to put an image on as a finishing touch and all my edits to the original post (which was actually most of the post) disappeared.

I don't feel like writing it again...but my point was that unless I get my old life back...the one where I unselfconsciously sang out loud at the top of my lungs...I don't want to live.

...and I feel hopeless and pretty certain that life, the one worth living, is gone for good.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ECT & Media Portrayals of Depression Treatment Options

Dr Shock's blog is a wonderful mix of informative articles, videos and analysis of a variety of things from music, travel and art, to psychiatry and back. Of course, his focus is psychiatry, but the renaissance man in him shines through in his blog.

In one of his recent posts... "Illuminate Depression" he has posted a video about different treatments for depression. It is fascinating and talks about a variety of treatments. A big kudos to it for bothering to mention (unlike most overviews of depression treatments) some people's depression is treatment resistant.

I have pretty much given up hoping that main stream media will explain that depression is not always as "treatable" as they would have us believe. Nothing annoys me more than the statement "Depression is a treatable illness". It's the opening line of so many self help and depression information books...and for many of us it sounds like a lie. For me it creates an intense internal struggle within me about whether or not it is my fault I remain depressed despite trying several different kinds of treatments.

While the video is informative and interesting I found it very curious...and annoying...that the makers of the video included talks about all kinds of different treatments, some common, and some in the early stages of development, including rTMS, (which from what I understand has not been shown to be any better than a placebo***), yet it neglects to even mention Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT); even though ECT is a well-studied, scientifically proven, highly effective treatment for resistant depression. (***see this recent post in the blog "Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look" for a scathing look at the FDA's approval of rTMS and you will wonder how it was possibly approved)

It irritates me, (and does not help me explain potential treatments to concerned family members), when the media, either by negative portrayal or by leaving positive and informative information about ECT out of stories about depression treatments, subtly dismisses or devalues an effective and proven helpful treatment for resistant/refractory depression.

I feel confident I have informed myself about ECT as an option. What though of others who have not had access to any information about ECT except what they see, or don't see, portrayed in mainstream media? What about those who only ever hear negative information, or who trust that the books and videos the media are promoting and showing them the best, or the only, options available?

Will some people with resistant depression, some who might be helped with ECT, miss out on the chance to become well because popular media at best has failed to share balanced, scientific information about ECT, or at worst is colluding with naysayers to portray ECT as either a dangerous choice, or a barbaric one?

I worry also that the lack of accessible and scientific information in the media about ECT perpetuates the fears and myths that exist about the treatment. In effect this may (and I am certain does) lead fewer people to see it as an option...even if they have tried many, many other unsuccessful treatments for their mood disorder. I also think the negative media, and lack of media, and especially lack of an unbiased media about ECT affects how willing partners, family members and friends are when it comes to supporting a patient's decision to try ECT.

The media, when they discuss and examine depression treatment options and leave out, dismiss, or malign ECT as a valid and valuable treatment option, is not doing anyone with treatment resistant depression a favour. In doing so the media perpetuates ECT myths, hysteria and misinformation.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


(Thoughts like this post are partly why I stopped writing for a while...yeah I didn't have the internet at home, but I also couldn't find the energy to make the effort to get outside my home and make my way to the library only a few short blocks from my house, to rant about my depression, anger and inability to get well. I don't know if my continued diatribe about my depression is helpful to anyone, myself included.)

I'm cranky, irritable and at times am feeling a rage swelling inside me. The anger is mostly focused at myself and my inability to manage to help myself get better...either by somehow influencing a/any medicine to work, and by doing the things I keep being told to do in order to get well...for example:
  • eat well,
  • get some decent, cardio exercise...other than dragging my sorry slow ass for a painfully slow walk with the dog...(painful for me, because even slow seems completely exhausting...and painful for the dog because all he wants to do is run.)
  • sit under my lightbox
  • challenge my thoughts
  • read
  • get my sleep schedule/wake schedule the same everyday
  • don't eat sugar, so many carbs, eat more veggies
  • take my vitamins

...yadda, yadda, yadda.

I feel like screaming I am so angry with myself for not being able to, or willing to, or trying to, or whatever the hell it something to save myself.

I feel enraged also, by all the "helpful" ideas in psychiatry/psychology that seem to presuppose some magic energy resource or will, or that the ability to motivate oneself exists in me, and people like me.

Maybe it's I think sometimes...that I am the only one who fails to get better, 0ver and over and over again Otherwise, why do people always tell me to do things that I can't seem to do because I'm to exhausted/amotivated to do them....because I have an illness that exhausts, overwhelms, and robs me of all your desire, ability, and motivation to actually DO SOMETHING to help myself.

If others with this illness have these same difficulties why the hell do doctors and therapists and studies, and papers and books and friends and family keep telling me to do all the things I feel unable to do?

Am I crazy, 0r does this sound as crazy as a hockey coach screaming at a tiny kid; who knows how to walk and run pretty well, but who has never been on the ice, or in skates, to speed skate, intuitively know how to handle the puck and get a goal when they aren't even able to skate yet; or like a doctor telling a person with no legs to just walk around the block a few times a day and they will feel better; or like telling Cinderella to go find a prince to marry when she is so busy trying to clean up after, and appease her evil siblings' and stepmother's demands, and to even just protect herself, that she doesn't even know a world outside her abusive existence exists.

SURPRISE! I am really depressed right now. I feel overwhelmed with life, and once again underwhelmed by my depression treatment plan. I am pretty sure that even if something helps it will only help a bit, or for a while, or it, like everything else I've tried will simply stop working. I am pretty sure I have lost my old life; my old me.

It's not acceptance I am feeling...but an internal rage at losing what I valued so joie de vive, my adventurousness, my wildness, my positive outlook (yes, I did say that...I used to have a pretty bubbly positive outlook about the awesomeness of life)...and my lust for life.

I do not want to live if it means living without those things. I don't want to continue taking medication, continue psychiatric treatment, continue existing, if it means I have to accept the dullness, ineptness, anxiousness, sadness, fatigue, blah, blah, blah my life has become.

My Mom used to tell me I would get better when I accepted I had an illness. I think I accept I have an illness. I just don't want it anymore and I feel completely helpless, and hopeless, that I will ever be able to stop my symptoms. was intensely difficult to write the word "helpless" in that last paragraph. I feel like I have fought so hard to try to help myself, but nothing ever works, nothing I do ever changes how I feel for any length of time...Maybe it's time to give up trying. It is this intense feeling of helplessness that enrages me. I feel like a caged wild animal. Caging an animal just isn't right. Wildness tamed is just a captive. No thing, no being, wants to live as a captive.