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WELCOME!

This web is where I weave my wacky.

Enjoy.

 

 

I write about all sorts of things. To see a specific category, 

 click a link on the left or the tag at the bottom of a post.

 

 

Monday
Apr212014

Depression and ECT 45: What depression is really like

Let me educate you.

I have been fighting my illness every hour of every day since it got really serious six months ago, but I also know I've had this all my life. I fight and I fight and I fight and I fight. And anyone you know with depression is fighting too.

What is depression like?

First, the feeling. It’s a feeling that comes unbidden, that won’t respond to rational thought, and that grows and grows until you feel like it’s all there is.

“I know I have a good life,” I snapped at my husband a few weeks ago. “I just wish it would FEEL good.”

That’s the important thing to realize. It’s not that you’re tired and some caffeine will wake you up. It’s not that your back aches and a painkiller will help you. It’s a feeling that won’t quit.

The feeling includes anger, sadness, grief, hopelessness, fatigue, pain. Then there's being mentally stuck in one place in your head and sometimes physical inability to move. Everything looks, tastes, sounds, smells and feels like crap.

I’ve had days when I stood in the shower and sobbed for fifteen minutes, days when I simply could not leave my house, days when I realized I'd been sitting on the toilet staring into space for twenty minutes and I didn't know why and days when I yelled at someone at work and had to apologize profusely, which doesn’t change the fact that it’s a Career Limiting Move.


Second, the voices.

You know that little voice in your head that criticizes you? We all have it. We beat ourselves up for doing something stupid, or tell ourselves we’re not capable of doing task X or Y.

But a positive attitude or even temporary mental kick in the pants dismisses the voice, right?

Not for people with depression.

My voice doesn't stop. And it can’t be dismissed. It's a demon on cocaine, it sees constant opportunities to torture me and it's got a lot of creative things to say.

Then I have the voice that tells me scary stories. "The house is burning down and your husband is dead" it says to me in the middle of getting my lunch in the work canteen. "Your sister has been in a car accident and is in hospital." "Your dog has cancer."

Of course what it is saying is ludicrous. But the problem is that, at the moment you hear those things, they FEEL like they are true. It’s as if my intuition has been hijacked by a sociopathic sadist. Dismissing what the voice says takes a lot of mental energy. And sometimes I can’t do it until I’ve made a phone call to my husband or texted my sister, just in case.


Third, the convictions.

There are two very, very strong convictions.

Conviction A is that nothing has any point. Everything is hopeless. It’s all a stupid waste of time, boring, repetitive and ultimately just leads to death anyway.

Conviction B is that I am worthless. The work I do makes no real contribution to anything of value. I'll never lose weight or get physically fit. My friends tolerate me, but really I’m no fun at all.

So if you add up convictions A and B, I might as well die, right? All this suffering would be over, my family would eventually get over it and my husband would spend a year grieving and then find a wife that wasn’t such a burden and he could be the one being looked after for a change.

I know the building I would jump off, I know how to get there and I know what letters I need to write before I do. Conviction B leads to flawless logistical planning.


To understand depression, you need to grasp two things:

1) Depression is a physical disease. It’s a chemical imbalance, it’s genetic, and it affects the genome (look it up).
2) Depression is a disability. Like cancer, there is no cure. You can be in remission, you can be malignancy free, but it’s always there. Always. It’s a condition that has to be managed for life.



So how do I manage mine?

I had ECT (look it up). I take five pills every day. I meditate every week day morning. I do yoga five times a week. I’ve reduced my alcohol intake to almost zilch. I’m working very hard to eat in a healthy way. I am in weekly therapy. I do pranayama breathing exercises. I practice mindfulness not only to allow my brain to rewire (look it up) and relax, but to be able to spot an episode of sociably unacceptable behavior before it hits me, so I can pop a Xanax, relax and behave normally.

I need to have the discipline of a professional athlete. Oh sure, skipping yoga, just for today – doesn’t matter does it? It’s just one day.

And then I find myself sobbing in the restroom the next day because I saw a post on Facebook about the Honor Flight and someone explained to me what it is (look it up). Forgetting to take my pills? That will be a day on the couch fatigued and crying and having to take a sick day from work.

So I’ve had to face this disease/disability and accept that I need to work hard to be sane. That’s just how it is.


That’s my story of depression. Maybe yours is different. But this is how I live with it. Every hour of every day.

To read more posts like this, click the category tag below.

Monday
Apr142014

Puppy Talk - Going Potty

Mom.

Mom.

Mom.

I'm lying here facing the back door, Mom. I'm asking to go out. It's pretty clear.

Mom.

Mom.

Stop watching the little people in the Always Bright Window and let me out.

Mom.

Mom.

Oh, thank God. Yes, Mom. I. Want. To. Go. Out. Yes. Open the door.

Thank you! Finally!

Mmmmm, nice breeze. What's wafting through the air? Sniffsniff.... sniffsnif...

What?

Aw, Mom, you ruined it.

You know, I just want to check out my little spot where I can see down the side of the house to the street. Just a quick check. Gotta see what's going on out there, protect the den, you know. Now let me see...

Empty street.

Mmph...

Better keep looking. You never know what might happen.

What? Oh yes, Mom, I came out to potty Thanks for reminding me.

OK, where should I pee?

Ooh, that's an interesting smell! I think there was a squirrel here! What the...? Gotta sniff this... Sniff it... Sniff it...

What?

Sniff it...

OK, OK, Mom, stop yelling. And no, it ISN'T that cold out here.

Ohhhh kaaaay. I'm gooooooing potteeeeeeeeee.

OK, here's the spot--- Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

There we go! That didn't take long! Why are you scowling, Mom?


Want to read more posts like this? Click the category tag below.

Thursday
Mar202014

Depression and ECT 44: Real love

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

I've asked She's So Lovely, my psychologist, if we can go back to weekly appointments. We were doing every two weeks, and then I didn't see her for a while because she was sick, and I found myself telling inappropriately personal stories to my colleagues. Because I wasn't actually working through the issue, I kept telling the same story to different people.

So I contacted her and begged for an appointment and asked if we could go back to more frequent meetings.

And so I saw her again this week.

She asked me how things were with Fluffy Bear and I told her how we were doing.

"I think he really loves you," she said.

"I know. I know how lucky I am. It's unbelievable," I said.

"What's unbelievable?" she asked.

"That he loves me so much. That he would go through all this depression stuff with me."

"You have a lot of positive traits that make you lovable," she said. "You're generous, you're thoughtful-- I don't have to list them. But there are many."

"Yes," I said, "but I also have so many flaws."

"Love doesn't focus on flaws," she said.

In that moment, I tried to think of Fluffy Bear's flaws.

And nothing came to mind.

Thursday
Mar202014

Depression and ECT 43: The fragile progress

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

I went to therapy for the first time in weeks yesterday. Illness has meant I wasn't able to see my therapist, and it was really starting to get to me. I found myself telling inappropriately personal stories to my colleagues because I wasn't able to talk them through and get closure with her. I was using people at work as quasi therapists which, of course, they aren't, and so I found myself telling the same story again and again to different people. Thank God I was able to have a session yesterday.

I think the primary realization I came to during the hour discussion is that things are better, but I am too scared to believe they are.

I am doing yoga five times a week, I am meditating every morning and I am coming off one of my drugs, but it's all such early days that it can't be called a routine yet. The fact that I feel slightly better and that my depression symptoms, although there, have less intensity, is true, but it hasn't been long enough for me to believe that this is the new normal.

I think that is also why I reacted so badly to the bully who yelled at me in yoga class. The nurturing I get from yoga is such a novelty, my belief in it so fragile, that she shattered a precious thing that I thought I had found, my refuge.

So this morning I took some time to meditate on the chant "I am open to the possibility that my life can be better."

And I suppose I am.

Sort of.

Tuesday
Mar182014

Depression and ECT 42: Meditation and the Squirrel

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

I haven't been sleeping that well lately, in spite of having prescription drugs to help me. I struggled to fall asleep last night, and my dreams in the morning are strange and seem to wake me up. I think I might have a natural body clock to wake at 6am, even though my alarm is set for 6:30. Or maybe the dogs start moving around because they want breakfast and wake me.

Whatever it is, I woke this morning not feeling rested and actually WANTING to have a longer meditation.

So I set my timer for twenty minutes and lit my little scented candle and settled in.

I started by checking in with my feelings. What was I feeling and why?

It's amazing how many layers you can find of things that are bubbling away in your mind, like a big pot of Irish stew.

When I felt I'd identified most of the emotional stuff going on, I started focussing on the breath and counting - in for a count of three, out for a count of three. For some reason, at the top and the bottom of the breath, my brain said "San-gee-ta." WTH? I know it's a name, but I have no idea why it was in my head and why I was using it as a rhythmn. Apparently the name means "Musical." I just looked it up.

Eventually I wanted to hold at the top and bottom of the breath for longer so counted three in each case, and was able to let go of repeating Sangeeta.

I was just getting into a real sense of flow when my timer went off.

And so today is officially the first day that mediation felt easier, and that I felt I could do it for longer. And I feel really good after doing it.

Positive milestone.

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I want to buy some Orange and Lemon essential oils to put in my shower so I can breathe them in and be energized in the morning, and hopefully I can banish the feelings of dread and the desire to simply crawl back into bed and get to work each morning feeling good.

My psychiatrist gave me the option of not doing ECT this week, and I'm going to give it a try. Fluffy Bear encouraged me to skip the treatment - he says he wants to see how I am without it. So we'll see how it goes.

I found out yesterday that my cousin calls his psychiatrist the Squirrel, because he's someone who collects nuts. Love it.


Sunday
Mar162014

Depression and ECT 41: The Bully

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

Yesterday I had an incredibly unpleasant experience at yoga. No, more than unpleasant. Upsetting. Horrible.

I was going to a very busy yoga class. It's very popular, so there are a lot of people jostling for good spots in the studio, and I like the place near the windows. So the previous class lets out, and we all go in, mingling with the leaving students, putting our stuff into the cubby holes. As I turn from the cubbies, I bump into a woman's mat, which she is holding under her arm.

I immediately say I'm sorry.

"YOU NEED TO BACK OFF!" she snaps at me.

So I think I must have hurt her somehow, and I follow her over to the middle of the room, where she is setting up her yoga mat.

"I'm sorry if I hurt you," I say to her, with a purposely gentle voice.

"YOU HIT ME TWICE!" She's whisper-shouting.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't realize."

"JUST LEAVE ME ALONE! I'M HERE FOR YOGA CLASS!"

"Well," I said, "putting on a really gentle voice, "I'm sorry,"

It's impossible to communicate the aggression and negative energy in her voice and demeanor

There were some acquaintances in the leaving class that I needed to say hello to, so I kept my cool while I greeted them, but I was starting to fall apart. Once they had left I walked to a quiet place in the stairwell, and by this stage I was sobbing. I called Fluffy Bear but he didn't answer.

I just don't think someone with clinical depression can handle a confrontation like that, especially when it's completely unsolicited and one sided.

I pulled myself together and made myself go back to the studio, but I tears were dripping down my face for at least the first third of the class.

At the end of the class, I stayed at my mat, hoping to avoid her as I left, but then saw her talking to the yoga teacher, so I started to move to put my props back and clean my mat. A woman I've spoken to a few times at the studio came up to me and said "Do you need a hug?" which of course made me start crying again. I told her no, it would make things worse, but thanked her.

I drove home crying and basically did not calm down until Fluffy Bear had hugged me for a long time.

Yoga has become a big part of my life. And I have started to talk to people at the studio and become a regular. I feel like that woman ruined my safe place.

And yes, I get that she obviously has some kind of mental issues, like I do, and that I shouldn't take on her crap. It's hers, not mine. But that doesn't make me feel any more safe or less upset.

I'm anxious about going back to the studio and I'm anxious about seeing her again.

I expected her to realize her mistake and come and apologize to me at the end of class. The fact that she didn't makes me think that she has a seriously twisted perception and I'm wondering if she is a bully. That's all I fucking need right now.

Thursday
Mar132014

Depression and ECT 40: Morning routine

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.


I have a new morning routine.

The alarm goes off, I get up and feed the dogs and then I get back into bed and practice mindfulness. Another alarm goes off half an hour after the first, and then I get up for real.

The mindfulness I practice is simply checking in with myself. How do I feel, what happened yesterday, what's on the agenda today, and how do I feel about all of it. I just try to get in touch with my emotions.

Sometimes I get out of bed and go and sit on cross legged on the sofa, light a scented candle and concentrate on counting my breaths in and out for ten minutes.

Either way, I'm doing my best to start each morning with ten minutes of some form of meditation, however light and however short.

I'm trying.

Friday
Mar072014

Depression and ECT 39: A difficult morning

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.


It's Sunday night and I'm petrified.

I'm scared that I am going to wake up tomorrow morning and not be able to go to work. Again.

This last week I skipped work on Monday and on Friday.

With all the time off I've had for ECT, I know that my boss must be getting tired of me not being in the office.

What if I feel it again tomorrow? That fear, that sense of being totally overwhelmed.

I keep trying to reassure myself that it's not going to happen but of course that's something I can't guarantee. I know that I have to find a way to deal with the feelings, get through them, get into the shower and start my routine so that I do manage to get to work. Once I'm there, there's a 90% chance I'll be fine.

I was thinking about this on Friday and reminding myself that other people have days when they don't want to go to work too.

We all have our crap to deal with.

Maybe it's my expectations of a crap free life that are out of whack. Maybe people around me aren't fine like they look. Maybe I've got to play this life game like everyone else.

Is it really harder for me, or am I using my depression as an excuse for wussing out when I should be overcoming, like everyone else does?

Instinctively I know that it IS harder for me. I have brain chemicals that are out of balance. But it doesn't mean that it's ALWAYS so bad that I have to take the day off. And it doesn't mean that it's always ten times worse than what "normal" people go through. I need to find a way to deal with this.

-------

After this blog post my husband asked me, as I got into bed, if I was OK and I said No and told him why. He suggested that he get up with me in the morning and that I take some time first thing to meditate.

And so, after brushing my teeth, I lit my candle and sat myself down and just thought through how I felt and what I felt. I explored my fears and doubts and pain. At one point Puppy Girl started licking my face and I just let that happen.

[ BTW to read more about the dogs, click the category link on the left. ]

I needed to reset my timer for a second block of ten minutes because I felt I wasn't finished after the first. But I guess I mulled over everything and was able to get myself motivated to face my day. Embrace my day. OK, maybe not quite that far.

As I stood up to go and get ready, Fluffy Bear gave me a big hug and I clung to him for dear life. I prayed, with my arms wrapped around him, that he stay healthy and safe. A prayer for purely selfish reasons but a prayer nonetheless.

I made it through the shower and the hairdryer and the choice of shirt. As I left the house, with the dogs at the front door, I desperately wanted to go back inside and just spend the day with them, but I kept walking.

And now here I am on the bus and I'm mostly OK.

Mostly.

Friday
Mar072014

Depression and ECT 38: Pointlessness and the day I couldn't go to work

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


Another symptom is back: the feeling of pointlessness.

My work colleagues seem banal, my work projects seem petty, my life seems inconsequential.

Who really cares if we improve the process for some tedious internal task at the office?

Who cares if we set bonus goals for the year? Isn't it all just a game, anyway?

Who cares if we go out to dinner on Saturday as a group with friends? So what? The same jokes, the same conversation.

I felt this way all of yesterday. I dived into work as a distraction, but without any faith in any of my actions having any significance.

I'm not going to work today. I supposed I could have gone if I had got my internal cheerleader or my internal drill Sargeant to get me going. But, frankly, as I sit here typing this, having decided to stay home, I'm actually starting to feel worse... tearful.

I was very concerned yesterday when the feeling of pointlessness surfaced. Yet another symptom rearing its ugly head. Do I need to have ECT every week to control my depression? Unfortunately that's not possible. But, as we taper off treatments, more and more symptoms come back, like old roommates you thought you'd got rid of, knocking at the door with their bags in hand.

This is the thing about depression that I think a lot of people don't understand. It's very difficult to employ a positive attitude or motivate yourself when there's an undeniable FEELING. It's like telling someone to put their ski gear on and head for the slopes for a long cross-country trail when they feel incredibly hot. They feel hot. They just do. How can they put a bunch of gear on? How can they face a long trail that's going to make them sweat even more?

You feel what you feel with depression. To some extent, you can control what you THINK, but you feel what you feel.

I feel what I feel.

And I feel like crap.

So I'm going to spend the day in front of TV knitting and go to yoga this afternoon. And that's it. That's all I can handle.

Friday
Feb282014

Depression and ECT 37: Taking it slow

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


I did something different this morning... I got up slowly.

I woke up at 6 and fed the dogs, then went back to bed. I lay there for a while, then called Fluffy Bear overseas to catch up with him. Then I threw the ball for Puppy Girl a bit, and then I lay on the floor with Puppy Dog on his bed and gave him side neck scritches that he loves.

Then I ambled into the bathroom to start the morning ablution routine.

It's a really interesting feeling to not hurtle out of bed to the toothbrush, but to behave as if I'm on vacation. I like this feeling. It's worth waking up half an hour earlier to do this.

Ambling awake.

I like it.

Wednesday
Feb262014

Depression and ECT 36: Strange longings and new books

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


It feels weird not to have ECT for so long. It won't be two weeks for another two days but still, when it was such a huge part of my life having treatments three times a week, it feels strange to taper off like this. I got to know the nursing staff, we knew where we liked to park in the parking garage, it was a routine. And now it's gone.

I sound like a nutter, I know.

Missing a medical treatment where a needle got stuck in my arm and anesthetic that burned got pumped into me. Ridiculous.

In other news, I'm reading an interesting book called The Antidote - Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. I'm not that far into it, but there's already been an interesting premise put forward that I have put into practice today.

The book talks about the Stoics, who contend that events simply are what they are, and we cause ourselves pain by conflating our emotional response to the event with the event itself.

Hang on, I have to look up Conflating and make sure it means what I think it means.

Yes, it does.

Anyway.

Are the other drivers on the roads idiots, the book asked, or is it that you THINK they are?

And so today I tried not to detest every other driver I encountered on my way home. "Everyone is just trying their best," I told myself. I'm not saying that I believed it throughout the journey (one woman really was a total dolt), but it did reduce my stress levels.

The book is a very interesting read. As I get into it more, I'll blog more about it.

Wednesday
Feb262014

Depression and ECT 35: Feeling better

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


Well of course today I feel better.

My inner voice, in the shower, was saying things like: "NOTHING can break my inner spirit!"

This is the one thing that gives me hope. No, not the inner voice thing, but that the lows don't last. Even though more and more Depression symptoms are creeping back into my life, they still don't last as long as they used to.

A small ray of hope.

But I'll take it.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Depression and ECT 34: Fear

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


I didn't go to work yesterday. I woke up in the morning and I just couldn't do it - yet another depression symptom that has crept back into my life. I have wonderful friends who know Fluffy Bear is away, so set up social events with me to distract me. I did three things on Saturday and three on Sunday and I think I just crashed on Monday.

I just wanted to sob in bed.

But I didn't. I slept and then I watched some TV and then I went to yoga. And, of course, because I didn't cry, I totally lost it at bed time and woke Fluffy Bear up in Europe and cried on the phone to him.

I was so upset I couldn't get to sleep and I had to reset the alarm this morning and nap for another hour. Then I had to use the mental Drill Sargent to get out of bed, get showered and get to work, and I was in a really pissy mood. I drove like a crazy bitch and desperately wanted someone to start something with me so I could get out of my car and hit them. I managed to keep my mouth shut at work, and get through an important meeting without doing anything too stupid. But I was out of the office at 4:30.

What's really going on when I'm in a shitty mood like that is that I want to collapse in wracking sobs. There's a small child inside my head and she's throwing a tantrum, sweeping ornaments off tables and pulling shelving units down. Then she curls up in a little ball, tears streaming down her face and wails: "I'm scared."

And I am.

I'm scared that the Depression Monster is coming back, and that it's taking over. I'm scared that I'm going to filled with negative thoughts, feel sad for no reason and fantasize about killing myself all the time. I'm scared that all the anesthetic and shock treatments and time off work and drugs and consultations were all for nothing and that the good effects I felt from ECT are ebbing away.

It's as if someone showed me a beautiful garden and then shut the gate and locked me out.

I'm scared and I'm pissed off.

Because it isn't fair. It isn't fair that I have this disability, and it isn't fair that something helped, and that now the effects aren't lasting.

IT ISN'T FUCKING FAIR.

I'm petrified.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Hell is Other People - Unfriend!


Once upon a time, before Depression really took hold, I was actually funny. This is one of my old blog posts. If you want to read more in this series, click the Tag at the bottom. To explore different series, click the Category links on the left.


If Facebook made me answer a survey about why I unfriended you, these are the choices I'd want them to include:

Your constant preaching about your eating methodology/pop psychology theory/tree hugging hippy crap became tedious.

Your children are interesting but I'm friends with YOU. I never hear anything about what you're doing.

God is far more inclusive and tolerant than you give him/her credit for.

I told myself one more positive pop psychology photo and I was going to kill you, so I'm unfriending you to save your life.

You're proof that gender/sexual preference/race/human rights/female body/healthcare activism still needs our fervent support.

There has to be more to your life than photographic evidence of your excessive calorie consumption.

There's has to be more to your life than the happenstance, at any given moment, of your physical location.

Guess what? The pogrom is over. Stop kvetching already,

Sunday
Feb232014

Depression and ECT 33

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT

I'm starting to notice the cognitive side effects more and more.

First, there is the short term memory loss. I've discussed this already. I had two conversations at work this last week where the people I was talking to told me we'd already had the discussion, and I had no memory of it. To explain myself, I'm just up front with people about it. "I'm having medical treatments and the side effect is loss of short term memory," I tell them. Too bad if it's TMI. It's the truth. If it was a physical disability they'd make allowances, so they can bloody well make them for me too.

Second, I'm noticing a general cognitive deterioration. I struggle to find the right word or name for things, and spend a lot of time saying things like "Those breakfast things. Not pancakes, the other one." Or: "You know, the guy with the red hair who told us about that sushi restaurant."

I'm also struggling to figure things out, most notably directions. Before driving to meet a friend at a restaurant I've been to many times, I had to think very hard - for over five minutes - about how to get there. And yes, I have sat nav in my car, but the system doesn't know the rat runs that avoid the traffic.

This cognitive deterioration is interesting. I thought to myself that this is how it must feel for less intelligent people. They struggle to figure something out, or they can't remember what something is called. It's weird experiencing what it must be like for Alzheimer's patients at the start.

I was talking to a friend about it and I said to her: "If you told me I'd have to live with these memory and mental processing problems, but I could keep the improved mood the rest of my life, I'd say OK,"

I'll figure it out.

I need to start taking notes about everything at work.

Everything.

Thursday
Feb202014

Depression and ECT 32

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


Saw the psychiatrist two days ago. We're still on a fortnightly ECT plan and reducing my Pristiq by 50mg.

He asked me how I am and I said that, if there was a scale where 1 was normal and 10 was suicidal, the ECT had taken me to 1 or 2, and I had thought I might be going to stay there. But I've slowly slipped backwards and now I'm at 6 or 7. I told him Depression symptoms are creeping back like crying in the shower, or having to Drill Sargeant myself to get out of bed and into the shower in the morning. I admitted that they don't happen with the frequency they did back when I was at a 10, but I'm so disappointed that they are back at all, and I'm scared that I am going to keep regressing.

Both he and Fluffy Bear said that they thought I was still better than I had been when we started ECT, and they thought that I was better than I scored myself.

That actually meant something to me coming from Fluffy Bear, because he sees me every day but, on the other hand, he doesn't hear the voices in my head, and he doesn't see me hiding away crying in the bedroom in the middle of the day.

We talked about a cheek swab test you can send off to a lab, and they look at how you metabolize certain classes of antidepressants. It can help your doctor know what kinds of drugs to prescribe for you, so it can take away some of the throwing darts in the dark aspect of prescription. He said he didn't think insurance would cover it, and that he thought it had a 50-50 chance of being helpful but that it could give us interesting information. He wrote the order form for me to take to a lab and try and see if insurance will let me have it.

Fluffy Bear is going on a business trip so we decided not to make any more medication changes, and set the next ECT date for when he's back.

So I guess I just carry on and hope that I don't continue to deteriorate back into the Depressed mess I was three months ago.

Not a particularly inspiring meeting. My life wouldn't form the plot of an inspirational docudrama right now. No soaring music and soft focus.

The good news is that I finished reading Sane New World by Ruby Wax and I've started practicing mindfulness and meditating. Just five minutes in the morning - I don't want to make it hard for myself. I want to increase the time incrementally, but slowly.

I'm also doing yoga or something "yogic" every day. I took disproportionate pleasure in squeezing into the mat storage program at the studio this week, so I can now leave my (brand new) mat there and not lug it around. Of course to store it I had to buy a cover for it. I am well and truly treehugginghippiecrap hooked.

Thursday
Feb132014

Depression and ECT 31

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT

Why does he love me? Why does he care? Why does he put up with this partner who needs to be driven to endless hospital appointments and appeased with chocolate cake? Why does he rub my feet? Why does he text me during the day just to check in?

What can possibly possess him to put up with a wife who is this much work?

If the roles were reversed, would I be as diligent, as encouraging, as faithful?

Would the kindest thing be to let him go, to let him find someone who can look after him for a change?

I don't deserve this. Surely not.

Why does he do it?

Why?



Thursday
Feb132014

Depression and ECT 30

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT

I had a really interesting discussion yesterday with my massage therapist about how people who do not have depression struggle to understand what it is like for those of us who do.

His partner regularly tells him to "Just relax."

I had someone close to me send me an email with bullet points that included self-help books, questions like "What do you do each day to further your happiness?" and "What will you tell St Peter that you did with your life when you reach the pearly gates?"

Not only are these kinds of things unhelpful, they're insulting. They're insulting because they do not acknowledge the gargantuan effort that the depressed person is making to function quasi-normally.

Depression Brain isn't about attitude, it's a feeling, and there are destructive voices.

Let's start with the feeling.

For no reason that you can identify, you feel desperately sad. The closest a non-depressed person can get to understanding the feeling is if they have lost someone they care for very much, and have gone through the grieving process. Depression Brain has you so sad that all you want to do is crawl into bed and sob.

Now imagine the effort it takes to get out of bed, brush your teeth, shower and get to work. All the while you are talking yourself through overcoming the terrible sadness. You're making yourself not cry. "I can do this," you're saying to yourself again and again and again. "I can do this."

Think of a person who is blind, stinking drunk. The chemicals in their body and brain are making them unable to function normally. It's the same with Depression Brain. Your chemicals are out of whack. How far do you get if you go up to a very drunk person and say "Sober up, Mate, it's time to drive home." Not very far, right? Have you ever been drunk and had to make yourself walk straight, talk sense and get home safely? That's the same kind of effort Depression Brain demands on a bad, depressed day.

But imagine feeling like that EVERY FUCKING DAY.

Now consider telling that person to "Just relax." Anybody who says that can go fuck themselves. .


Next, the voices.

Depression Brain can be like having an abusive parent in your head.

Accusations, insults, and portents of doom.

Voices in your head, which sometimes seem like another version of you but other times really seem to come out of nowhere.

"Your husband is going to get sick of this depression bullshit and leave you."
"Your boss is getting tired of your sick days. The performance review next week is going to be you being put on a Performance Monitoring Plan."
"You can't manage this negotiation. It's for over a million dollars. You have no idea what you're doing."

It goes on and on and on. Eventually, it's hard not to believe the voices because they're just so fucking persistent. The first time you're told you're a piece of shit, you push back, but the 57th time? Not so easy.

The voices make it hard to "do one thing to further your happiness every day." That doesn't mean a depressed person doesn't try, but meditating is somewhat undermined by a voice saying everyone would be better off if you were dead. Doing something creative can be spoilt by a voice reminding you that the sharp cooking knife is right next to the stove and all it would take is one energetic swipe to slit your wrists.


So how DO you help a depressed person?

It's going to sound like a cliche, but all you can do is be there for them. If you're not physically in the same place, check in every few hours or once a day by text or through Facebook. Visit. Sit and have tea and distract with conversation. Hold their hand. Hug them. Be there.

On second thought, ask them what they need. They probably have a different opinion to mine.


IF A FRIEND WAS BEING ABUSED YOU WOULDN'T SHOUT AT HER TO STOP SUFFERING, YOU WOULD SOOTHE HER PAIN.
RUBY WAX, SANE NEW WORLD.

Sunday
Feb092014

Depression and ECT 29

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT

The memory loss side effects of ECT are showing themselves.

When the side effect was first discussed with me, and I did some online research, my understanding was that it was short term memory loss. I'll forget someone's name immediately after they introduce themselves to me, I thought, big deal.

But I've discovered that I've also been unable to store some memories of things that happened during my month of intensive treatment.

The other day I went to see my friend in the hospital. I walked into her room, and there was a woman in there sitting by the window. I thought she might be my friend's sister, but I wasn't sure. I knew her name, and I knew I had met her, but I didn't know when or where.

I greeted my friend (let's call her Julie), and the woman (let's call her Jane), and chatted away, getting caught up on Julie's condition and prognosis. After a pause, I looked across at Jane and said "I know your name, and I think you're Julie's sister, but I don't know how I know you."

Jane explained that we had met when Julie was in hospital a few months ago, and that it had been on a day when we had all been very worried because Julie had to be operated on as she had a complication.

I couldn't remember any of it.

Julie reminded me of the complication she'd had that day, and the surgery that had to happen. I couldn't recover any of it from my memory banks, and then I realized that I didn't know what had caused Julie to be in the hospital in the first place, so they had to explain the entire story to me from the beginning.

I wasn't embarrassed or angry at the side effect... I just found it bizarre and strangely fascinating.

I was at Julie's bedside on a day when she had a major complication and I was part of giving comfort at a landmark event in her illness and I simply cannot remember one iota of it.

I'm having trouble at work remembering if I've done a task or not, and I'm basically surviving because of a Kanban board, but I really didn't expect to have issues with long term memory.

Fluffy Bear jokes that I told him he could buy a 76" flat screen.

NIce try.

SHOULD I KILL MYSELF, OR HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE?
ALBERT CAMUS


To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html

Friday
Feb072014

Depression and ECT 28

I've suffered from depression since I was a pre-teen. In 2012 I got very sick, becoming suicidal. In 2013 I decided to try ElectroConvulsive Therapy. The "Depression" series of blog posts chronicles that process.

To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html
#depression
#ECT


I met with my psychologist yesterday. It's a while since I've seen her so I had a lot to update her on: ECT going down to once a fortnight, the whole saga of my fear that the cure wasn't sticking, titrating down the Pristiq dose.

I told her that my psychiatrist, when we agreed to decrease the Pristiq dose, said that getting me off some of my four antidepression meds will create space to try other meds which might help the cure stick.

I also told her about reading Sane New World, where Ruby Wax details some of the brain chemicals that impact depression.

"The chemicals are so complex. I wish we could figure out what my chemical imbalance is and what pills I should take," I said. "If only we had nanotechnology which could go into my brain and diagnose me. But instead we're --"

"Throwing darts," she said.

And it's true. With depression you try a drug, you vary the dose, you see if it works. You try a different drug.

Yes, there is some knowledge of the chemistry and I'm sure psychiatrists are, to some degree, making informed choices when they prescribe, but some of it is just luck. It really is.

I have a good friend who had surgery and was then given blood thinners. Turns out she was one of the 0.003% who are allergic to the drug, and part of her intestine died and had to be removed. For fuck's sake! Those are ridiculous odds! What bad luck!

I want my drug luck to change. I'm sick of this shit. I want a dart to hit the right spot.

So far, the Pristiq dose reduction (unlike Respiridone which was a cluster fuck) is going well, so maybe, just maybe, there's hope.


EVERY MAN HAS HIS SECRET SORROWS WHICH THE WORLD KNOWS NOT; AND OFTEN TIMES WE CALL A MAN COLD WHEN HE IS ONLY SAD.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW


To start the Depression series at the beginning, click here: http://ittybittycrazy.squarespace.com/imported-data/2013/12/29/depression-1.html