For a long time now, I’ve felt like I was struggling to get through a desert. Choking on dust, slogging through sand, extreme heat and cold, walking into cacti (I’d probably do this in a real desert), falling into craters, running scared from those creepy sand worm things you see in the movies. It’s not real. I know it’s not real, it’s not even logical, but it’s there. I’ve made this trip every day for over a year. Three hospital visits, dozens of drugs, tons of time missed from work – I’ve had respites, mirages that seemed so real. But I always return to this damn desert.
I’ve run a long time. Sometimes it’s from the anxiety causing (I’ll say) sand worms. Other times it’s running toward something – the cure. Surely there is some pill, some treatment, something, that is going to cure me and make me all better and normal and functional. I run and run and run. Until I can’t run any longer. I look back, but it’s too far to go back from where I’ve come. If all stays as it is, if I continue to run, continue to fear, continue to tell myself “Once x happens, then y= HAPPY”, I’m not going to get anywhere. Already I’ve collapsed several times from exhaustion, ready to just lay down and give up on the desert sand.
Obviously all this mental desert time has caused problems in my “real” life with my husband, my kids, my work, my health (nutrition is pop-tarts right?), my cluttered, sometimes disgusting house (Let’s play what’s that smell today), my finances, and on and on. And I’ve tried to solve these. Or hoped that a new med or therapy would give me the ability to solve them. ALL OF THEM. As Allie Brosh, author of the blog Hyperbole and a Half and a fellow sufferer, would say “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS”.
It doesn’t work. It’s too much pressure. You will drown. Even in the desert.
So I told my therapist about the desert. And she said something simple. “Build a tent.”
Don’t focus on “cures”. Don’t focus on what’s behind you. Don’t focus on what’s ahead. Just keep hanging in there – exactly where you are right now. Use whatever “coping” mechanisms you can, and I don’t just mean “deep belly breathing” or making gratitude lists (Thank you so bloody much for depression.) No, use YOUR coping mechanisms, anything that makes you able to make it through another hour. Some of mine are getting away somewhere that I can cry alone (especially while trying to tolerate work) hot cocoa (it soothes my nerves), soft socks and this sweater / throw rug my friend gave me. And my Things of course, they are my two favorite things.
So I’ve stopped. I have my tent, and my goodies, and I sit and I peek out occasionally. I am counting down the days (three weeks now) until I can visit a shrink who is not a total jackass. I’ve gotten a small increase on one of my meds from his nurse who is not a jackass. I’ve missed work, gotten time without pay, and gone home and napped. I missed half a day today, and woke up depressed. Sleeping that much is not a good coping skill. Naps are good. Hours and hours, which leads to hours and hours up at night watching Lifetime and infomercials (I can lose 80 pounds without exercise if only I do extreme damage to that heart thingy!), is not good. I need good sleep. Without it, even the tent shakes.
So I just have to focus on day by day. I hope I can stay at work, because being at home is not much better. If anyone has tips for handling depression at work that do not have to do with breathing (trust me, I’ve heard it), please feel free to offer them. I thought a lot about just quitting, but realizing today how bored and sad I get at home (especially whilst playing the “what’s that smell” game), I know I need my job, and for more than just the income. I also need to know what I want. If I sit in the tent instead of constantly racing and racing, my counselor says it will come to me.
What do I want – in work, with my husband, with my kids, with family, with my house, with my life. What do I really want? I don’t know right now because I am too blinded by everything else, all the hurry and worry and sad and sick. If I can just sit in my tent, can I just sit and thinks? What do I want (besides getting well). I hope I can find it. But I can’t rush it. The knowledge of what Alice really wants will only come when I stop looking.
So I have to stop. Take comfort in the tent. Survive. And listen to that voice in my head. Not the mean, depressive one.
The one that belongs to Alice.
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall
I originally started this blog because I felt my life was much like Alice’s. I never knew whether I was coming or going and nothing ever made sense. Such is life. But add a few chemicals to the mix and boy do you get fun, fun, fun! Soon you are chasing a rabbit down a hole. Or is it chasing you?
And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
To call Alice, when she was just small
I have been on antidepressants since I was a teenager. I once tried to get off of them and decided, bad idea. People have all sorts of opinions on this subject, but I’m not arguing that. I’m just talking about what’s happening with me, cause that’s what I care about, me. So anyway, if you’ve been reading, I have been going through some medication changes that have affected me just a tad.
When the men on the chessboard get up
And tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know
I was put on abilify to help with the other two, and then I was taken off of that cause weight, and then I was put on this one called cytomel (they all sound like alien planets) and then off of that, and then back on that, and just now I had a new shrink tell me that I should go back ON abilify because hey the weight gain will plateau. Or something. He had a thick accent, so I’m not entirely sure what he said. At this point, all doctors sound like these guys to me.
This was the on-call doctor after hours, who told me to tell my shrink that I should like, be on this pill. But now I can’t remember why I got on the first pill to begin with – lack of energy? Feeling all mixed up? Wait, that’s how I feel now. And the whole “it won’t be that bad, trust us” is a load of crap. I’m starting not to trust these people. Is it really paranoia if you’re dealing with shrinks who apparently must be nuts themselves in order to get a license? I don’t think so.
When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head,
Feed your head
all pictures from Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland site
Eat me! Drink me! Drugs. Where would we be without them? Drugs have radically changed our society. Penicillan has helped millions (unless they are allergic to it – hello – and then it just makes them swell up). But generally speaking, Penicillan was a lifesaver.
But just like Penicillan, all drugs have side effects. Some are dangerous if taken too often. We are learning all the time. Like, for instance, it’s not the best idea to give your child narcotics for teething pain. (Don’t believe me, check out the newspaper ads from the early 1900s.)
So we’ve come a long way. Eventually we got the FDA, or the Federal Drug Administration, to regulate this stuff. Which meant, for starters, actually labeling what was in the bottle. (Something more than ‘drink me’ was usually preferred). Granted, the FDA isn’t perfect. And even approved drugs have their nasty side effects. So now we have people afraid to take so much as an aspirin.
But does that mean we fear all drugs? Even drugs that can save our lives? What about drugs that help regulate the brain? Now there’s something that really bothers people, especially Scientologists. Do people need “quick fixes” like antidepressants? Do we need a nation of people on “happy pills”? I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to have a “happy pill”. A “somewhat normal and doesn’t want to jump off a cliff pill” is really quite okay with me. And that is what is in your average antidepressant. If you get REALLY happy off antidepressants, chances are you’re manic depressive. Here’s a quick test. If you managed to paint the house and reshingle the roof in one night, you probably need a little help in that department.
Anyway, antidepressants are obviously not for everybody. And they aren’t the only solution. Diet and exercise are always beneficial. But for many people, antidepressants do help. Antidepressants can give people the will to eat and exercise. They don’t make one “happy” and they are far from a “quick fix” as most take at least two weeks to either work or let you know that they are definitely not working. And most come with side effects. It’s a matter of what risks you prefer to take. I prefer “drowsy” over “suicidal” myself.
And if someone has a problem with that, well, they can “eat me”.