I don’t want to be an inpatient.

i’ve done some more reading about ketamine for depression and it seems like it works well, and works fast. The bad part is the idea of becoming an inpatient for it – I am barely managing as is, and I can’t see having to participate in group therapy, go without a phone or iPad, being constantly watched, and not being allowed to do much of anything as being therapeutic.

If they are worried about social media, take the SIM card out, my iPad doesn’t have one anyway. Like why is watching TV okay or a privilege, and reading and colouring is ok all the time, but playing with a phone or iPad is not?  It seems some rules are for the convenience of hospital staff instead of primarily about patients?

I wish they gave ketamine as an outpatient thing but I guess I’ll see what he says in the next appointment and take it from there. Makes me nervous!! I’m tired of thinking about it; bed for me!

No more lithium, thank you.

I went into work today and it was really rough. I felt burned out 3 hours in and 6 hours in I had to tap out. Just brain-dead tired, even though I was taking breaks every 25 minutes (pomodoro method) and had coffee and music and conditions were basically ideal. On the way home I started to get seriously nauseous and I think I forgot to eat today. I have totally not been hungry but I think this is the same thing that happened that one day when I called the pharmacist – I just didn’t eat all day. I couldn’t remember on the drive home but sure enough, no dishes at home. I had a small piece of cheese but don’t feel like anything else. I was also going to stop at the grocery store, at least for milk (basis of protein shakes and cereal) but noped out of that, it seems too hard.

So now I’m in bed, it is only 6:00 at night and this is the time of day I always tell my psychiatrist is the worst – when there are hours left before I can reasonably go to sleep but I’m “done” with the day for all intents and purposes.

I don’t know whether I will stop taking lithium now or perhaps five more days, just to show that I’m “compliant” and in case the psychiatrist wants more lab work done. It isn’t working, and has had plenty of time, is my opinion.

Reflecting on conversations.

I didn’t take my meds last night. I am thinking about taking them tonight. I just looked up “withdrawal symptoms” for both of the antidepressant meds and neither of them are supposed to have much in the way of symptoms (unlike fucking Effexor.) I don’t know. My energy is okay but I don’t feel like I have any perspective on my mood anymore. It seems OK to me, at least okay enough that I’m considering stopping my meds so it dips low enough for me to go through with suicide. On the other hand I was a weepy mess all night only three days ago. Maybe my mood seems OK when I don’t have to actually do anything, like leave the house or deal with people.

Anyway, I was going to talk about how bad people are at dealing with depression. I went out with a former work friend of mine earlier in December for coffee, and it was painful, like I had to act for the entire time and put on a phony smile and et cetera. I apologized at one point for being poor company but otherwise didn’t say anything about my mood.  Afterwards, I sent her an email where I thanked her for the Christmas baking she’d given me, and said that my mood had really gone down and my psychiatrist was thinking maybe we’d have to get me in the hospital for a couple of weeks to get things under control, so if I didn’t get back to her in January she would know I wasn’t just ignoring her.  (She had mentioned getting together in the new year when we met.). She responded with an email saying (in part) “Thanks for letting me know of possible future activities. Hope to see you when you’re free.”  Possible future activities?!  Like being committed to a psych ward because you’re so suicidal you’re ready to die is a “possible future activity”?!  I mean, I get that might be an awkward thing to hear but how hard is it to say “Oh, that sucks! Feel better soon!” Or some platitude like that?

So she’s off the list.  Next to get crossed off, I think, is the woman who’s been my “adopted mom” since I was a teen.  It was her place I went to on Boxing Day for dinner and I basically started weeping as soon as I got in the house (“I’m sorry, I’m going to start crying now”, I said, and then continued with full-on bawling after dinner.) I know she loves me and means well but she just doesn’t understand depression. I was so reminded of the Hyperbole and a Half comic by Allie Brosh, where she is saying “My fish are dead” and everyone around her responds with “I’ll help you look for them!” Or “Do you like bees? What about bees?” And not with anything actually relevant (“I am so sorry that your fish are dead and that you’re in such pain over it right now.”)

Anyway, Beth, we’ll call her, was clearly trying to be encouraging but it was So Not. She tried to say that I should forget about being a Ph.D. (or having a Ph.D. job) and just focus on how well I was doing with my current job!  My supervisor was happy with me, after all, wasn’t he? That shows he Really Values Me! Well for fuck’s sake, I’m doing the role of an undergraduate research assistant, so I should think he’s happy to get graduate level work at undergraduate level pay. It’s not like doing well at a job I am overqualified for says something about how special I am or anything!

Beth said that “maybe it was never meant to be” and a bunch of stuff like that and I tried to just let that slide off, because I wasn’t working in my directly-related Ph.D. Role when I became disastrously depressed in 2007(ish), nor when I got depressed enough to think ECT was a reasonable option in 2013. So it’s not that I can’t hack the stress of my career or anything, and there’s never been an issue with the quality of my work in any of my roles.  Thanks though Beth, for telling me to give up and settle for a shit entry-level job.

Next it was give up the idea of ever being with anybody, because a bunch of women in her book club are single too, and they all say they’d never want to get together with a guy again. Men take a lot of work to be in a relationship with, and blah blah blah. That’s all well and good but I can’t make myself want to be single because a bunch of women 15-20 years my senior say they like being single. And besides, even if I did want to be single, it would be nice to think it was out of choice and not because no one would date me if I was the last woman on Earth. So strike 2 for that one.

Finally she took on the disastrous decline of my friends, and tried to gently suggest that when I made a friend I needed to make “small talk”, as if I was meeting new people and saying HELLO I AM SUICIDAL AND NEEDY which I have not been. Most of these friends I have lost have been ones I have known for 3-10 years, anyway, and as my psychiatrist said, people just “moved on with their lives.”  But thanks, Beth, for the suggestion that I’m a social retard. Strike 3!  It sucks because I know she does mean well but I haven’t got the energy to try and argue against someone who is basically saying I am wrong for wanting what I want (a career, a relationship, friends) and should just give up my ambitions to be happy.

On the bright side, I started to clean my home office which has basically gone untouched for months, by the expedient of throwing shit away. I made more progress in an hour than I have done for the last year. I don’t know what to think about doing it – does that mean I feel better? Or does it mean that I’d like to have things tidy in order to be ready to go (which i would, but that wasn’t my explicit motivation for cleaning.). If I did feel better, wouldn’t I know it?  I don’t know…

One day left… aaaand I lost it.

Welp. We went to my sister’s house for Christmas dinner, and she had her in-laws there, so there were more strangers than people I knew there. I coped with two strong drinks and when we finally left I thought I’d made it through Christmas Day, but I thought too soon.  My parents and I got home to their house, and the phone rang right after we walked in. My dad didn’t pick it up because he thought my mom was getting it and vice versa. So it went to voicemail and I said to my mom that she could just hit redial for the last caller (she’s not the best at technology.) Suddenly it turned into a yelling match with my dad hollering at my mom that he thought she was going to get it and it rang so many times and so on and so forth. 

I don’t know why that was the last straw for me but it was – I’d mentioned earlier (probably more snarkily than I would like) that it was kind of stressful staying here because they yelled at each other all the time, and slammed cupboard doors, and that I liked things to be more mellow. Anyway I was really shocked at how soon it escalated into a screaming match – like can you just not say, conversationally, “Oh, I thought you were going to answer it. Guess I’ll call them back.”  It’s not a Defcon-3 emergency or anything.

Anyway, I lost it and yelled “Holy shit! This is NOT NORMAL for people to yell at each other all the time over nothing, like you can’t even say “I thought you were going to get the phone” in a normal voice?!” So my mom started explaining how she wasn’t really yelling, and my dad started yelling at me about how he thought his yelling was justified because my mom was closer to the phone, and it rang X number of times, and I was like “That’s fine but that doesn’t justify YELLING at each other ALL THE TIME! Staying here really sucks! If there was a bus leaving to go home right now I would be on it!” So my dad stomped away and my mom tried to explain how she tried not to yell but Dad yells at her and I said “Maybe you should get a divorce then!” which actually reflects my feelings – if you don’t enjoy being together and have an abusive dynamic, don’t be together. 

Of course, the way our family dynamics work, the yelling was normal and it was my calling it out that was not normal, so everybody being upset becomes my fault and I’m the one who was a Bitch on Christmas Day, and so like it’s my job to smooth things out by apologizing. Dammit!

I’m also feeling like a sack of shit for the way I acted at the psychiatrist’s last time – I’m going to apologize next time and explain that the idea of having to see my family just stresses me out beyond endurance, which understates it if anything. As this visit mercifully draws to a close, I’m starting to get stressed out by having a whole week before I see him again. With my therapist retired I’m feeling pretty isolated and like that’s a long time to go without any kind of, I don’t know, supportive contact. I guess I’ll take one thing at a time.

Fuck me, I’m not pulling it off.

I’ve tapped out for the night at 9 pm, saying I’m tired and want to be sure I can get up early for Christmas morning. It’s just so exhausting being at my parents’ house. They are so loud – they slam cupboard doors instead of closing them, yell at each other instead of speaking, run the garbage disposal (garbaurator? Whatever those are called) and dishwasher while watching TV and then turn the TV up to compensate, and let’s not forget nag endlessly. I’m drinking a Coke that’s NOT DIET?  I know that’s not “good for me”, right?  

I pulled out a nail file because I had a raggedy cuticle, and got a whole speech about “I hope you’re not going to file your nails right there on the couch! You’ll get white powder everywhere! You should be doing it over something! And the new floors!”  No, Jesus, I wasn’t going to file my nails, I was going to file one raggedy cuticle, but if it is a world issue then I’ll leave it.  The problem is, what can I do that won’t invite critical comment? Not drink a Coke or file my cuticles, or watch “National Lampoon Vacation” on TV… “This looks like a VULGAR movie,” my mom said, and that is when I bailed.  I wish I could just rent a car and drive back right now, but of course that would cause more drama than is worthwhile. I can only think that I’ve gotten through one of three days, I’m 1/3 of the way there, and remember to take my Dexedrine tomorrow.

Oh God, so long.

Almost through one day. Two more to go and then I’ll be on my way home. It feels like time is moving incredibly slowly, like each day is a week long. I feel like I’m on the verge of panicking when I think of it, so I am trying to just breathe deeply and find ways to make the time pass without noticing it.

I’m not enjoying anything, even things that should be enjoyable. And I certainly don’t enjoy my parents asking if I’m “working on my weight” or criticizing me eating, Jesus!

I want a time machine.

I am with my family (who are still assholes) until Tuesday. I wish it was over already. I am trying to think positive, that it is just three more days and will be over quickly. I didn’t get here until midafternoon and only made it through today by disappearing to take a nap for two hours and going to bed early. Being in a place I don’t want to be, acting out emotions I don’t feel, is so exhausting!

I also realized that for the first time, my therapist (now retired) won’t be there to talk me through it when I go home.

There is (often) help.

The more depressed I become, the more I blog. The more I blog, the more readers I get. And though I am basically a selfish sad-sack, I feel I should have some Public Service Announcement, so here we go:

Most depression is treatable! And not with hardcore treatment like ECT, either – I mean physical movement (I hate the word exercise as much as I hate doing exercise), counselling/therapy, and/or medication.

My case is an unfortunate exception, where I’ve got a strong family history, a seasonal component, and a history of abuse and trauma, among other things, followed by years of trying to find ways of trying to get on top of depression once and for all. I would really plead with you, if you feel you are depressed, to give yourself an honest and necessary chance to have it properly treated. Resources will depend on where you live, but some Googling or a chat with your family doc might be a good place to start.

To Write Love On Her Arms (www.twloha.com) is my favourite website about depression and some of the blog posts are truly beautiful. So please, if depression is new to you, don’t let it end your story without reaching out for help.

thanks for reading this.