Low Down

medication

This is another one of those posts that probably needs a warning. I don’t know for what because I’m not sure what’s going to come out of my head just yet. But, much like my blog about PCOS, it’s going to be very personal. So… brace yourself for that, I guess.

Recently, I was diagnosed with depression.

It’s not easy for me to talk about. I’ve been struggling with this blog entry for a couple of weeks now and I’ve reconsidered it more than once. For most of my life, I’ve kept my issues to myself. I felt like there’s was nothing anyone could do to change things, so why bother them with it?

Even more than my feelings about having PCOS, the things that go on in my head where things I couldn’t find words for. Oddly, maybe, given my profession as a writer. Or maybe not. I’m much more comfortable in made up worlds than the real one.

My life hasn’t been terrible. Far from it, I think. Not that bad things haven’t happened to me, but that’s a fact of any life. Overall, I would say my life is pretty good. I have a wonderful family and good friends. I’ve always been reasonably healthy. (Though the PCOS & fertility issues have been a cross to bear, for sure. And there is some research that shows a link between PCOS & depression.) I’ve never not had a place to live or food to eat.

But I have always struggled with… well, at best I can describe it as feelings of utter hopelessness. Intellectually, I might know life is worthwhile and rewarding, but emotionally I’ve often felt like there’s no point to anything. Everything feels like too much and no end in sight and it’s very tiring. Why bother going out or trying to do anything? Going to school, or parties, or learning a skill. Tomorrow was going to be just as bleak and life was still going to suck. Even writing, which I love, often seemed like a futile pursuit.

It’s part of the reason I spent so much of my life with my nose in a book. Fictional worlds are an escape. I felt more comfortable with make believe people than real ones.

More than once, I’ve contemplated suicide. Not often. Most of the time, I just accept that this is the way the world is. I don’t like to talk about it. The suicide thoughts. I feel like it will make people feel bad. It’s not anyone’s fault, and I feel like if I tell people about it, they feel like they have to comfort me or something. And that just makes me feel worse.

And there are good things. A book. A funny conversation. Chocolate. But a few times, things have felt so bad that I just wanted it all to end and thought that would be the only way.

I want to make it clear I don’t feel that way now. Especially after losing one of my oldest friends to suicide in 2000. I know how horrible it felt to be left behind and wonder what I could have done differently to change it. To miss someone so bad it still hurts 17 years later. I can’t imagine ever doing that to my friends and family.

But the feeling was there.

The last few years, those feelings of hopelessness, of being overwhelmed and life being pointless, have gotten worse. Sometimes I couldn’t function, wouldn’t get out of bed for days. Didn’t shower or brush my teeth. I saw no point in anything at all. I felt very detached from life. I knew it was bad, but I just didn’t care.

Not that I was miserable all the time, but even when good things happened–like getting a story published–I couldn’t feel them properly. I hated feeling that way.

After talking about it with some very good friends recently, I decided it was time to do something about it. Or at least TRY to do something about it. So I made a few calls and got an appointment with a local mental health facility.

Mental illness isn’t something people talk about, how to deal with it, what it feels like. I didn’t even know how to go about expressing what goes on inside my head. It felt stupid. Like I was making a big deal out of nothing. Just the thought of telling someone the things I was feeling made me feel incredibly anxious. During the new patient interview, I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I teared up randomly. I shredded tissues. I thought I might throw up.

Both the nurse practitioner and the counselor I spoke to were incredibly helpful and calm. I was prescribed an antidepressant and they recommended I also have counseling. I started the Wellbutrin a week and a half ago. 150 mgs for a week, and I am now up to 300 mgs a day. I haven’t had many side effects so far, bar some hot flashes and a bit of what I call ‘hamstering’– when your brain spins like a hamster on a wheel and you can’t really focus.

Next week I’m supposed to start meeting with counselor.

I don’t know if it’s going to make me feel any better. So far, I feel exactly the same. (Although the doctors and such assured me it takes awhile for the drug to kick in and I’m not expecting… well, much of anything, actually. They’ve assured me that, too, is part of my depression.)

I’m not entirely sure why I’m even writing this blog, honestly.

Maybe just to put it out there. To say it out loud. Lance it, like the festering thing it’s been for the last 20 years. Maybe, like the medication and the counseling, it at least feels like doing something.

I still don’t know if I think it will actually change anything. I’m afraid to hope. But it’s something, I guess.

What, I’m not sure yet.

Sometimes I feel so broken it seems impossible to fix. But right now, it feels worth a try.

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