Friday, July 13, 2012

Current Reality

I know that dealing with someone else's depression is fucking difficult. Depression is illogical and insidious and frustrating and annoying and pure fucking evil. And seeing someone you love despise themselves is so fucking hard. You don't know what to say because nothing they hear will matter. You don't know what to do because nothing that can be done will matter.

And that's part of why suicide feels so acceptable. Because we know. We know how hard you're trying. We know how desperately you're searching to find the right thing to say or do. And we would give anything, anything, for you to be able to fix it. Because we love you too. We don't want to be a burden on you. We don't want to be that friend who has nothing good to say. Who has no ability to give back to you, no matter how badly we want to. So, little by little, suicide feels less and less selfish. You'll be free of us. You'll be better off. While it is about ending our pain, we see it as ending your pain too. Even though, logically, we know it won't. It will just increase it a million fold.

But this isn't about logic.

This is never about logic.

This is about having a brain that defies logic and reality. That can be so fucking sneaky that we don't even see the ultimate darkness coming. And suddenly we're there. At the bottom. Whatever that is for each of us.

Mine is wanting to die. Constantly. Consistently. No matter how much logic I scream at myself. No matter how many friends tell me to hold on just a little longer. And I don't want to die. I really don't. I have so much to do, so many adventures to have, so many amazing people to meet... But my depressed mind can't hold onto that. It slips through desperate fingers, no matter how hard I try to hold on.

When my father committed suicide he was in the next room. A few years later and I can still smell the gunpowder. Even in my "fibro fog" I can remember every sight and sound. Eight months later the only boyfriend who'd ever been good to me ended his life as well.

I told myself that I now understood what suicide truly was. I understood what it leaves behind. What it causes. Even the suicide of my abusive and not-very-good father changed my life. And then eight months later it hurt so much more. I told myself, again, that I now understood what suicide truly was. And because I understood, I'd never ever consider it again.

But that's not how it works, is it? Not with this brain. Not with these chemicals. Now with these synapses.

It isn't logical. It isn't debatable. It isn't something that involves affirmations and boot straps. A therapist in the last psychiatric ward told me, “You have depression, you aren't depression.” But I don't know if that's true.

When I sit in a crowd of smiling, laughing people – several of whom love me – and I feel empty and alone when, a few weeks earlier I was smiling and laughing too; when, at that moment, the darkness is so deep I can't even pretend for longer than a few minutes...I can't help but feel as if depression is who I am. All I am because it trumps everything else. I've lived with this for more than 25 years. I don't remember a time it wasn't part of me. A time I was happy. A time I didn't want to die.

And then the drugs came. So much later than they should have. I was, what? Late 20s, I think. I didn't realize I could feel any way other than suicidal. Other than in emotional pain. But I took the pills and everything changed.

I remember when it first happened. Driving through Hollywood to get to work and suddenly everything felt clear and calm and safe. For the first time in my life. My mind wasn't screaming. I wasn't dying inside. Everything felt...sane.

I've been through what feels like so many pills and dosages and mixes at this point. And they (usually) work. For a time. The hope floods in and I'm so excited to have my life back. So excited that it's time to move forward and become a better person. And then slowly – or not so slowly – I'm back where I started. Or even further back than that.

I hate myself for it, you know? For my brain being broken. For not being strong enough to survive my past without open wounds that never seem to heal. For feeling and saying the same things again and again.  For writing the same things again and again.  But mostly for failing. For failing at being able to keep the meds working. I hold my head in my hands, dig my nails into my scalp, and scream through my teeth. Because once more I failed. No matter how illogical that idea is.

Because this isn't about logic.

This is never about logic.

The scariest thing isn't the darkness, really. Because I've lived here so long before. The scariest thing is thinking that it's forever. That no drugs or therapy will get me to a functioning state. That no medication will keep my brain straight for longer than half a year, if that. That this is who I am. And nothing will change that. That's what terrifies me. And the possibility makes me want to die more than anything else.

I try so hard to hide it. Because, really, at first, I think it's just being sad. Normal sadness. The kind of sadness most people experience. But, suddenly, I've lost control. And here we are. Again.

I don't need perfection. I don't need a glorious, amazing life. I don't need to live happy ever after. I want normalcy. I want to be able get out of bed and get through each day without being on the verge of tears. I want to function like a normal human being with ups and downs and adventure and boredom. I want to want to live. I don't want to have a perfectly fine life but still want to die for no discernible reason. I want my brain to stop trying to destroy me.

Today is better than yesterday which was a thousand times worse than the day before which was better than the day before that...on and on. So it goes. Some days are pure misery while others have minutes, or sometimes even hours, of sanity. Of clarity. Of hope.

For now I curl in a ball in bed, watching TV shows I've seen a million times before so I don't have to concentrate, IMing with friends who tell me they love me, wanting to cry but not physically being capable, trying to remember to eat, cleaning or exercising or buying a couple of bags of groceries or seeing friends when I have a few moments of energy. Trying to remember it's okay to break. Trying to remember it's okay to fall apart. Trying to remember that anything I have to do in order to survive is acceptable. Even if that means sleeping too much. Or eating nothing but food from cans. Or leaving the bar really early because I can't hide the pain for one second longer. Or isolating more than I should. Survive. Just fucking survive. That is all that matters. Everything else is fixable.

And soon I'll go back to the office. I'll sit across from my psychiatrist. I'll pull out a list and tell her how bad it's gotten. We'll talk for a bit. She'll prescribe something new. I'll thank her and leave. I'll get the prescriptions filled in a few weeks when I can afford it. I'll take my new pills. It'll start again.

And I'll hope, with every fiber of my being, that this time will be different. Or that, if it isn't, the darkness won't pull me down quite so deeply.

Just an FYI: I obviously don't mean to speak for everyone when I say things like “we.” Everyone experiences mental health issues in different ways. This is me. And only me.

18 comments:

  1. Oh hon, I understand. I do. 20 years of major depressive disorder, here. I just slipped out of a good week and into a depressed day today, and almost serendipitously I see this blog entry of yours at the same time.

    Thanks for writing out what so many of us feel but can't figure out how to say. I can hear you :)

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  2. I know when you are in this deep, you don't want to hear any suggestions because you already believe they won't work anyway so why bother. But how about this? Print a copy of this blog entry and give it to your therapist. Let her read your thoughts. You express yourself so well. And remember you have two little cats to be there for...you can't leave them alone. They have no one else.

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    1. This is a really good idea, thank you.

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  3. I am so thankful that you have the ability and willingness to describe this. My Mom is bi-polar, and while her experience and yours are different, your words allow me to understand just a little more about how to cope. How to support her and myself. She does not have the way with words like you do. This bit really spoke to me and gives me a new way to look at my relationship with my mom and open up a little more, if that makes sense.
    "We know how hard you're trying. We know how desperately you're searching to find the right thing to say or do. And we would give anything, anything, for you to be able to fix it. Because we love you too. We don't want to be a burden on you. We don't want to be that friend who has nothing good to say. Who has no ability to give back to you, no matter how badly we want to."
    I am so glad you are on this earth.
    Thank you for continuing to exist.
    Jedi hugs if you like them.

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  4. Depression Lies. The Bloggess is right about that. It lies and tells you crap that isn't true.

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    1. God, it really does. And even when you know it's lying...you still believe it!

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  5. SO well written, thank you (from a fellow sufferer of mental health stuff, and fellow student of DBT).

    To me, the fact you are well enough to be able to journal about this, and to attend your DBT group, is a sign that you are progressing, even if you feel you aren't.

    I've gone down, up, down, up, down more times than I care to remember with depression and anxiety, but for me personally, it's group and individual therapy that has helped me most with my recovery from mental health problems and alcoholism. If you have a level of insight (and man.. you have GREAT insight) i think groups are THE BEST. Medications might stop working, but educating yourself about what's going on in your head and how to deal will never be a waste of time. That's my 2 cents anyway.

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    1. Yes! This is so incredibly true. I haven't been as dedicated to my individual and group therapies as I should/want to be. Thank you so much. I'm definitely going to refocus on both of those things. <3

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  6. I know that nothing anyone says makes a difference....I know, because I've been there and been there. But at least knowing I'm not the only one whose brain is broken makes me feel a little better.

    You have kitties now. That helps. Mine have saved me from the brink lots of times. Writing helps. Therapy helps. And ask your doctor about free samples of new meds...they usually have that shit laying around. Mine has given me tons of samples - he gave me like 3 months worth of Cymbalta. If you haven't already tried all the ones with generics (I know Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin all have a generic), see if they will do that...most of the generics are only $4 or $10 at Wal-Mart. I think Walgreens may have a half-off prescription discount program.

    Seriously, though, ask about the free samples. That's saved my ass many times over the years.

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  7. Thank you for such a vulnerable post. Your courage and honesty is inspiring. I just started my second med and so far so good. But I did have a bad week, last week. They warned me it would happen, and I think I didn't want to believe them. I felt so sane for the first time in a long time, it must have been denial. But there it is.

    Both of my kids have broken brains (different kinds of busted), and I remind myself that if they can tough through, than so can I.

    Definitely ask for samples - all of my kids' specialist have told me to do that when money is tight. They have always been happy to give us whatever we need.

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  8. Just want to offer support, love and hugs! (((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))

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  9. Heidi,
    I am so sorry to do an anonymous comment. I have been reading your blog for years. More than anything I want to thank you for writing this post. I have struggled with depression for about 10 years, and I have the hardest time trying to describe it to people. It is exhausting to try and make them understand...and pointless, since I don't really understand it myself. They never get it and they end up being irritated with me, because I am that person that sits and looks miserable and seems to never have any fun. I have had a good life, I had a very normal childhood and had great parents. I graduated school, got my dream job, will be getting married fairly soon. I'm lucky. But I can't be happy, and it makes me hate myself, because there's no reason I shouldn't be able to. I've done the same things with the meds...so many meds and combinations, they work, then they don't, then I wake up one day tired of having to depend on them to function. I try to stop taking them and it never works. Never. I always have to go back. It makes me feel weak. And they have side effects, too. I have no libido, I feel numb about everything, I'm worried that I won't live up to my fiance's expectations, that I'll be stuck in bed unable to do anything, that I will never want to be intimate, that he will realize he's not happy and leave me.
    I'm sorry for rambling...it's just that this is truly the first time I've heard anybody describe this situation and had it make sense. I'm sitting here crying because in a way, it makes me feel better that to someone, it DOES make sense. Part of me wants to have my fiance read it and part of me is scared to. I am truly so sorry for your suffering. And I know how it is to not hear or not want to hear what people say when they try to comfort you. I do the same thing. You don't have to take it to heart, but I just want to say it. I think you are an amazing person. You have overcome so much more than I ever have, and you truly are stronger than you know. Thank you for this post. Thank you for giving us a voice and for making me feel OK about suffering from this. I truly wish you the best and I hope that you find something that works for you. I'm scared that it might last forever too...I guess all we can do is hope for the best and watch re-runs of terrible 80's TV. Lots of love to you.

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  10. Heidi,

    You offer yourself openly and honestly. That in itself is an amazing gift that provides others hope and understanding. The depth of your depression that takes you to places that seem to feel so lonely and dark. The constant med roundabout is hard. But you live, and your words inspire and offer insight and strength. I hope you remember the importance of your words and writing make a difference to others you touch.

    Lori
    loricde@gmail.com

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  11. Heidi, one of my therapists told me once to get rid of the "shoulds". At the time I thought it was stupid, but it makes so much sense now. Shoulds are negative and encourage comparrison and self-dissapointment. She said to use "want" instead because they become positive goals. I should eat better vs. I want to eat better, and this is what I'll do to get there. Just some assvice for when you come out of the darkness again. Love you so much! -Sarah

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  12. Hi Heidi, I just found your blog today and am in awe. I majored in journalism so my writing is competent, but the profundity that your words contain is unbelievable. So so many people (and a few who have written comments) lament about the fact that describing depression is near impossible...especially in a way that would evoke some kind of sympathy in family or friends who do not suffer. I have never been able to articulate some of the things you've written, I just had these vague feelings about my depression that I could not quite form into words, but after reading this these feelings became so much more tangible and real and descriptive. Wow, thank you. Have you considered writing a memoir or anything?

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