Anxiety is No Walk in the Park

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Today I woke up with quite a bit anxiety. It’s the sort of anxiety where it feels like you will die. Lately I have been missing my family a lot. I could teach a master class in codepency. Up until a year ago I lived with my family for over eight years. I got to spend every day with my nieces and nephew. I was able to experience them growing up and I loved every minute. Last May that all changed when I moved out. I went from seeing them everyday to going months without seeing them. It broke my heart and I had severe anxiety over the loss. It felt unfathomable. After my Mom died in 2012, I became even more codependent to my family to the point where I feared leaving the house, in case something happened.

It was an unhealthy attachment. The fear was preventing me from moving forward with my life. I made my family my center and it crumbled under my feet. I felt lost. Like floating into outer space without a tether. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out of my chest. It’s difficult to adjust to life where your family is no longer your center. Not to mention that in order to get affordable housing I had to live in a homeless shelter for almost two months. It was a very scary time in my life. I had few possessions to my name and had hit rock bottom. It was torture knowing that the kids would continue to grow up without me. At least not on a daily basis.

After a few months of homelessness I finally found my own place. A one bedroom apartment in a nice small town. It was one step towards stability and independence. Even still it was very scary to do it alone. As each month passed it became easier to cope with the loss. I went from seeing the kids all the time to hardly at all. It’s been really difficult. It finally got to the point where it didn’t feel like I was going to die from the disconnection. I missed the kids dearly but I had accepted that things had changed. I needed to rebuild my foundation to where I was the center of my universe. It’s not been easy. I spend most of my days alone. If it weren’t for my therapist I wouldn’t see anyone. At my worst I don’t even leave my apartment. I’m talking about days.

The last six months have been very difficult. I was hospitalized in January for a suicidal plan. It was the first time I was ever close to do something. That loss finally became unbearable and the only way to cope with the loss was death. Thankfully I had a few friends who cared enough to notice. I was in the hospital for two weeks and started to accept that I was now on my own. I stopped killing myself over not being able to see the kids. I had to let go. It was doing me in. Somehow I was outside the family circle and it was difficult to overcome.

Recent changes to my psych medicine sent me into a deep depression that led me to be admitted to a partial hospitalization program. I hadn’t been this depressed since 2013, after my Mom died the year before. I went weeks without leaving my apartment. I was in complete darkness. I was holding my sanity because of my birthday coming up and I always spend it with my family. I hadn’t seen the kids much this year and all I wanted to do was spend a few days with them. Then I went downhill and it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Again I was devastated. Thankfully I wasn’t hospitalized and was able to go to my sisters. I spent a week there and it was the best week I had since before my Mom died. A few days before I left for home I started to feel the same kind of anxiety. I thrived on every minute I could spend at my sisters. I didn’t even care that I didn’t spend all day with them. Just being in the same house was great. I wasn’t alone.

The time I spent with my younger niece was both wonderful and sad. I knew my days with her were coming to the end. I didn’t know how long it would be until I saw her again. I felt a deep sorrow that I can’t even begin to explain. To make matters worse she’s started to grow up on me. She doesn’t need me as much as she did. She’s very independent. I cherished every last minute I got to spend with her. I loved the times where we played Mario Kart on my switch. I wished those moments could last forever but they didn’t. The last day was the best but also the saddest. I spent a good hour bird watching with my niece. It reminded me of the days when I lived with her. We’d go outside and play for hours. One of my last memories of our time together is when we played school together. You never realize when those moments will be your last, in terms of phases in a child’s life. The days of playing house are over and that makes me sad.

The anxiety was crippling that weekend. When they dropped me off at my apartment on Sunday I was a sobbing mess. I didn’t want to leave my niece. It felt like I was going to lose it. Thankfully I started the partial program the next day. My meds were adjusted and my anxiety lessened considerably. It was tolerable. Granted the first part of the week I was taking xanax. The past few days I have been waking up feeling the same way, feeling lost without my family and I don’t care for it at all. My mind starts to wonder when the anxiety becomes unbearable. I start to have suicidal ideations. Thankfully they’re fleeting. Just quick thoughts.

This last weekend was tough after a week of structure. By Sunday, I had started to become depressed again. By Monday morning I didn’t want to leave my apartment. I was very close to not attending group that day but I pushed myself. I was glad once I got there, as I had a really good day. That’s until my atrial flutter caused me to almost pass out. I couldn’t walk very far without getting light headed. I had to see the cardiologist right away as my resting heart rate was high. My cardiologist increased my med that helps control my heart beat but it takes a while to take place. So this morning I had a hard decision to make. I really wanted to go to group but I was afraid of passing out. I tried to walk to the elevator but quickly became out of breath. I knew that if I pushed myself physically I would be right where I was yesterday. Things got so bad that I had to be wheeled to the front of the building, in an office chair. While I had felt light headed I had never been so close to passing out. It was extremely scary. Thankfully I was sitting down when it happened but it made me realize how careful I need to be. If I fainted and hit my head it could be serious.

As much as I wanted to go I couldn’t risk it. Which made me really sad. I really enjoy the groups. Today I haven’t really been depressed but my anxiety has been high. I want to go to my sisters. I texted my niece and held onto every last word, like I always do. I’m just very sad. I wish I could see my family often but the reality is that’s not possible right now. It would be easier if I had a life of my own, which I don’t. I’m disabled, poor and without a car. I don’t have any close friends. So I have all the time in the world to miss them. I probably have another week of group and I worry about what happens after. I will go back to no structure and being alone. I don’t want to get this depressed again. I just want to not feel this anxiety anymore. It makes me feel helpless. It’s like a monster you can’t see, it’s that scary. You just have to wait it out and that’s my only choice right now.

It’s Going to Be Okay

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A few months ago my psychiatrist started to tinker with my medicine, in the hopes of finding something that would relieve my depression. I have been on Zoloft for almost a year and I was still getting very depressed. I would cycle in and out of mini bouts of depressive episodes. Usually I was able to bounce back if I showered or got out of the house. After about a week of misery from not showering and living in a messy apartment I’m usually pushed to do something about it. My latest depressive episode has been completely different.

At first we tried Abilify but that made me gain over thirty pounds. Then we switched to Vraylar and that didn’t work. I tried Pristiq and that made me a zombie. Slowly my depression worsened over the last month. I could feel it creep up on me and I was unable to stop it. With the Pristiq making me numb it made the symptoms of depression even worse. I felt nothing, yet I was crippled and unable to do anything.

Usually I only leave the apartment to go to therapy, which is once a week but recently I have had heart issues and had to miss a few weeks. Then my therapist went on vacation. So I spent over a week not leaving my apartment. It got so bad that my neighbor noticed that I hadn’t been out of my apartment and became concerned enough to knock on my door. When I didn’t answer she left a note saying if she didn’t hear from me by the next day she was going to have the police do a wellness check. So I answered the door. The first time she knocked I was sleeping and thought she was my one neighbor who is pushy and nosey. It felt good that someone cared enough to check on me. I don’t really have people like that in my life.

I had no energy to do anything. I spent money I didn’t have on pizza delivery and hide in the darkness. My sleep schedule was completely off. I was going to bed around noon and wasn’t waking up until late in the evening. I became a vampire. I couldn’t control it. I was helpless and hopeless. My thoughts about suicide were just a matter of fact. I wasn’t really suicidal but when I had thoughts they were serious. It was like something was turned off in me and I had no emotion behind my thoughts. Like I was suffering greatly but it felt differently. I just didn’t care.

I was drowning in muck. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I was in trouble but nothing escaped my windpipes. Not even a whisper. I was rotting from the inside out. I was living in complete chaos and I didn’t know how to get out. Until one night when I woke up with a massive panic attack. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had been suffering for two months and enough was enough. I thought about the relief that would come from being hospitalized and wondered why I hadn’t thought about that earlier. That’s the problem with depression you have tunnel vision. You can only see the misery and pain. As much as I hate being hospitalized I knew that in a few weeks I would feel better.

So I called an uber and packed up a small bag of clothes. Within thirty minutes I was at crisis services at community mental health. It’s a scary process as you are put in a room for hours. I can imagine that it’s like a waiting room on an alien ship for humans to be probed. The most scary aspect of the process is that they can send you anywhere in the state of Michigan for help. The first bed they find available is where you go. Unfortunately that’s the reality for anyone on Medicaid. It’s almost like having no insurance at all when it comes to mental health.

Unless you are going to kill yourself they won’t even consider hospitalizing you. So they deemed me safe enough for alternative treatment. Honestly I was at my worst shape I have been in since 2013, after my Mom died but that’s the system for you. I wasn’t eating, nor was I showering. My apartment was super messy and I had been isolating for weeks. I very easily could have done something in a snap decision. You basically have to lie and say you are going to kill yourself to get the help you need. The system makes it almost impossible to get help and they make you jump through flaming hoops.

I was referred to a partial hospitalization program. The nice thing about not being hospitalized is that I was able to spend my birthday week with my family, who I love with all my heart. It was the best week I have had since my Mom died in 2012. I got to see my nieces and nephew. We played video games, went swimming and watched fireworks on the fourth of July. It was something I really needed to push me through into the partial program. It gave me the strength needed to work on some tough issues, like my fear of leaving my apartment. I have gotten to the point where I don’t like staying in my apartment. Which is strange because for the longest time it’s the only place I felt safe. When I’m home I have no one to talk to or see. It’s just me. I’m alone with my thoughts, struggles and pain.

The Friday before I started the program, I started to have severe anxiety. It was unlike any panic attack that I had ever had. Usually when I have a panic attack I feel like the walls are closing in on me and the oxygen is escaping the room. This time I felt utterly scared for my life. I thought I was going crazy. It was an anxiety that I had never felt. It was severe and constant. I really thought I was dying. I wasn’t sure if it was anxiety or related to my heart. My worst fears came true and I wondered if this what it felt like when you have a stroke. I was desperate to be around people. Thankfully I was still at my sisters. I tried to spend as much time around my family as I could, that’s how unsafe I felt. That night I almost woke up my sister because I thought I was dying. I did everything I can to snap myself out of it. I splashed cold water on my face. Paced. Using my grounding exercises and nothing was working. The next day I told my sister and she gave me a xanax, which helped cut the severity but it was still unbearable.

That Sunday I knew I was going home and I started to panic. My family was outside preparing their boat for the lake. Normally I would stay in side but this time I was desperate to be around them. I went outside by them and sat under a big, old oak tree. My eleven year old niece sat beside me and we spent some quality time together. She showed me a morning dove in a building near by, they call her Thicky Nicky because she’s quite big. We spent a good thirty minutes trying to identify another bird who created a nest in one of those gigantic spools for wire. I soaked up as much time with her as possible but I felt a great sadness, knowing that I was going home soon.

After my Mom died to was severely codependent to my family. I was living in hell and couldn’t leave their side. I was afraid something would happen to me and it paralyzed me. My fear was that if I moved out that something bad would happen and I wouldn’t be there to take care of whatever happened. Last year I broke that cycle and moved into my own place. It’s been the hardest year of my life. I went from seeing the kids every day to barely seeing them. It broke my heart, especially knowing that they were growing up and I would miss those moments. So for a good year I have isolated. If it wasn’t for my weekly therapist appointments I wouldn’t leave the house, nor would I see anyone. I went from one extreme to the next. I locked everyone out because I couldn’t handle the grief from losing that deep connection. It was something that I had to do in order to be happy. I have suffered for most of my life and I just can’t suffer anymore.

So it came time to leave. I sat next to my niece and I held back the tears. As I got out of the car I started to sob, the pain was unbearable. I had to hold back from breaking down. I don’t know if I have ever felt more sad than that moment. It felt like a release of ever last ounce of sadness I had from the loss of my Mom to various other events in my life. I gave my sister a hugg and I ran into my apartment to sob. I felt so very alone in my messy apartment. I didn’t want to leave the best week in seven years but I had to in order to heal. I was sick and needed help.

Monday came along and I didn’t want to leave the apartment. I wanted to hide, as it was comfortable and all I knew. The first day I constantly looked at the clock hoping that 3pm would arrive. Though I dreaded coming home to my empty, chaotic apartment. It was a strange place to be. Each day my mental health has improved. I finished my first week and am already feeling better. The doctor at the program increased my medicine and that seems to be helping. I think that’s what caused the severe anxiety being off Zoloft. I’m really thankful to have such a great program to go to. It’s a relief to have structure and to be away from the loneliness of my apartment.

Recently I have started to have issues with my heart. It was discovered that I have atrial flutter, where the top part of the heart is out of rhythm. My heart beat flutters. At first I thought it was my asthma and being allergic to the cat I just got. One day I went to the grocery store. I didn’t do much walking but as I was checking out I almost fainted. The symptoms began to get worse to the point where I couldn’t walk to the kitchen without feeling light headed. I went to my doctor and she started to be concerned listening to my chest. When she said she wanted me to have an ekg I thought for sure I was dying aka having a heart attack. The hooked the cables up to my chest and the results showed that I had atrial flutter. I was put on blood thinner because with atrial flutter there is a risk of blood clots which could lead to having a stroke. The following week I went to a cardiologist and had an echo of my heart. Other than the atrial flutter my heart was okay.

To get my heart back into rhythm I have to have a cardioversion, which is an outpatient procedure where they send electrical currents to the heart. The doctor will deliver an electrical shock through two paddles. One is placed on your chest and the other on your back. Or both paddles can be placed on the front of your chest. The shock lasts less than a second, and briefly stops (resets) your heart rhythm.  Blood clots can form in your heart’s left atrium. Cardioversion may knock loose a blood clot in your left atrium. If the clot (embolus) travels to your brain, it can cause a stroke. To avoid this, your doctor may give you medicine (such as warfarin) to make your blood less likely to form blood clots. To get my heart back into rhythm I have to have a cardioversion, which is an outpatient procedure where they send electrical currents to the heart. The doctor will deliver an electrical shock through two paddles. One is placed on your chest and the other on your back. Or both paddles can be placed on the front of your chest. The shock lasts less than a second, and briefly stops (resets) your heart rhythm. 

So you can imagine how scary this would be. My biggest fear is to die. While complications of electric cardioversion are uncommon, it’s still a risk. The idea of them restarting my heart sends shivers to my bones. No matter how much fear I have I know that the procedure must be done because it’s hard for me to do anything. Not to mention that there is a risk of blood clots and taking a blood thinner puts me at risk of bleeding, especially if I fall. I thought the procedure was on Thursday morning, so I told the program that I wouldn’t attend. I fasted the night before and woke up early. I get to the hospital and they inform me that the procedure was for the next day. I wanted to go home and hide. I was so frustrated at the idea of doing this all over. Instead I pushed through and called the program to pick me up from the hospital. As much as I wanted to go home I didn’t really want to spend a whole day alone. I was glad to have a place to spend a good part of my day. I get home in the late afternoon and tried to not think of the fear I was dying. I had this irrational fear that I would die during the procedure.

I arrive at the hospital at 7am. I get to the hospital room and they start to prepare me. They took some blood to test how thinned my blood was and unfortunately my blood wasn’t thinned enough. The procedure was cancelled and postponed until my blood was thinned out. The doctor increased my medicine and now I have to wait. So that means another month of suffering, which is troublesome because I have pack up my apartment this month due to a remodel. This day was different. I went to the hospital cafeteria and had a big breakfast. I called the program and had them pick me up again. This time I didn’t want to go home.

I was so relieved to not be home, especially because I had to process what had happened. I ended up having a decent day. The program had pizza for lunch and it was delicious. I could live on pizza. I went home with the strength to pick up my living room and asked a friend to help me to take trash to the dumpster. My apartment is cleaner than it’s been in a while, probably months. Now I need to tackle my laundry. It’s been months since I have done it.

The biggest challenge that I am going to have is the lack of structure. I’m already dreading this weekend because I have nothing to do. I woke up in a panic at the idea of spending a few days in my apartment alone. I can feel the depression creep up and I haven’t felt that this week. I’ve learned that isolation only makes me worse. It’s my achilles heel. It traumatizes me as it brings up trigger of forced isolate when I was growing up. A time where I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. So now anytime I’m alone I get transported to that time, thanks to my PTSD.

After I finish this partial hospitalization program this will be a big issue for me as I don’t want to go back to where I was and it will be easy for me to do. I’m not able to volunteer or work due to going for SSI disability. If I do the judge will deny me. I have been waiting over five years for this and I just can’t risk it. Having that income would be a lifesaver for me plus it would mean having Medicare. For the past four years I have lived off state disability which is only two hundred dollars a month, which is very miserable to live off of. Which contributes to the isolation because I don’t have a car or money to do much.

I’m looking at another year until I could get my benefits. I won’t have a court date until the end of the year and it’s yet to be scheduled. I’m not sure how I will manage this year but I don’t have a choice. I have started to look into alternative forms of treatments like ECT or medical marianna. I’m desperate for relief from my depression. I deserve wonderful things and more importantly happiness. I want to live the remaining years of my life content and happy. I have earned it.

The only choice I have is to continue to push myself and do what I need to do to survive. People tell me all the time that I’m stronger than I think. For me, it has nothing to do with the lack of strength. I’m one of the strongest people in this world. Anyone who deals with their trauma, pain and suffering are the strongest warriors on this earth. It’s about suffering and wanting relief. I use to think I was broken but I now realize that I’m made of steel. I just don’t want to die anymore.

Structure will be important to survive this year. Which means setting a normal sleeping schedule, including set times to take my medicine. Making lists and using my mental health hacks. Setting goals and pushing myself to get out of the house, even if it means going downstairs to the community room where there is cable tv. I don’t want to return to the last two months. I’m not sure I could survive another depressive episode like that again.

I deserve nothing but the best and I will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Depression is not Fake News

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People can’t accept a world where people suffer so deeply (without relief) so they create this fake world where the suffering isn’t real. They equate the typical bad day as the same as having chronic depression. If they spend a day in bed and are able to rebound so should everyone else. It’s like comparing having a cold to asthma. People would laugh at the suggestion that people with asthma should walk it off like what you do with the common cold. Yet people are quick to pass out the typical get over it philosophy. People with chronic depression aren’t able to escape their bad days.

Being alone is a very miserable life. When you tell people that you are alone they never truly believe you. They always can justify it based on their own personal experience. If they have people in their lives they can count on then everyone must. That’s just not the case with me, at least not anymore. That person used to be my Mom but that ended in 2012 when she died.

Now I’m just floating into outer space holding onto hope that a rocket will come my way. Sadly there isn’t a light for a million miles away. When you have depression you wear people out. They take it personal or they deny that the disease even exists. If you are like me, you’ve moved (ran) from city to city trying to find yourself. You do this until you can’t run anymore. Then you are left with a lot of emptiness, misery and pain.

It’d be bad enough to be alone but to be surrounded day after day of misery gets old. I go weeks without seeing anyone, other than my therapist. I don’t talk to anyone regularly. A few messages here and there from facebook friends. That’s it.

I have said it before but I have become an afterthought. Someone that people think of occasionally. I went from seeing my family regularly to not at all. Everything changed after my Mom died. When I say I have no one, I mean it. I could die and the only person would notice would be my therapist. There isn’t anything more sad and tragic than that.

If you had to live in constant pain and agony for the rest of your life could you handle it? With very little to no relief? I bet most couldn’t last a week with the darkness that depressed people endure. It affects every aspect of your life. It sucks the joy and life out of everything. Not to mention it warps your mind and constantly lies to you. So not only do you have to battle the disease, you have to fight with the demons (the past) that it brings up. Mind, body and soul are all affected.

People will finally care when I’m dead. That’s the only time when people can show they care for people with mental illness. They wait until it’s too late. I’m not there yet but I’m closer than I have ever been and that scares me senseless. I don’t really want to die, I just want the pain to end. If all that remains in my life is misery why would I choose any other option than suicide. Those who kill themselves don’t make rash decisions. It’s not just something that appears out of thin air. If you could experience what they endured, up until the end, you would treat people with mental illness differently. This might be tough to read but it’s the truth.

So what do others like me need? Support, continued and interrupted. If someone gets hospitalized over a suicide attempt they aren’t cured of the symptoms even though they are released. It’s been six months since my last hospitalization and I’m still on shaky grounds. I’m on the verge of going back and am doing everything I can to hold it together in the hopes of seeing my nieces and nephew next week for my birthday. The last six months I have had a handful of good days, where I got out of the house.

A support system isn’t built overnight and that’s unfortunate for someone with none outside the mental health system. I don’t have time to wait. I’m constantly racing against the clock. One more crack in my self esteem could be the one to send me over the edge. When you make new connections they tend to be overwhelmed with how much care you need or they take it personal when you have to cancel hanging out. I long for the days to be the person not seen as my mental illness. I don’t want solutions. I just want someone to make the effort and show up consistently.

The one person I had like that basically gave up on me because of my mental illness. I had a lesbian aunt that was always there for me. No matter what I knew she was there. It’s not like I went to her for support but it was nice to know she was on my side. This was until my mental health couldn’t be controlled like my family wanted. So rather than be there for me she decided that I was too much to handle by deleting and blocking me on Facebook. She didn’t say a word. Not even when I sent her an email questioning it. I was just ignored.

One side of the family doesn’t accept me because I’m queer and the other doesn’t because I have mental illness. The latter think I can live differently. That I should just get a job like everyone else and forget about my troubles. To give you an idea the kind of family I have I will tell you about the time I had a broke leg. I was around ten years old and was the monkey in the middle. I got tangled up and hurt my leg. I could barely walk and no one would believe me that something was wrong with my leg. They made me walk on it. It wasn’t until the next day that a doctor confirmed that my leg had been broken. I have had my loved ones do this all my life. No one believes me when I’m in pain. They have forced me to walk on a broken leg all my life. Whenever I fall I just go into a deeper downward spiral. For most of my live I have based my choices around what everyone else does. Trying to be a normal functioning member of society has led me to be alone in my forties. I can’t do it anymore. No one is left to support me. Now that I’m in my forties I’m seen as a lost cause. No one is listening to me.

I’m screaming at the top of my lungs to the few connections I have but because none of them are in real life it goes on deaf ears. I just don’t want the life I currently have and don’t see any relief anytime soon. I’m looking at another good year of waiting for a SSI court decision. I don’t have a car and very little money. With my heart issues lately I can’t even walk that far lately. So I’m stuck in my isolation. That’s the last thing I need right now but I don’t have any other choices right now.

Another year in this misery is daunting. I’m trying to hold on the best I can but it feels like I’m failing. I just wish the people in my life would believe me, take me serious. Instead of putting me in the faking it category or being too much to handle. A person doesn’t suffer this long out of choice.

I Feel So Lost

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This isn’t a new feeling for me. Many times in my life I have felt various levels of being lost. Lately I feel lost inside my mind. My mental health has locked me inside this massive dark forest. It’s pitch black and there is nothing but silence. Imagine the upside down in Stranger Things but with no light at all. I’ve spent enough time in this scary place to have it warp my mind. You become this scared creature who is twitchy and doesn’t know where to turn. My mind has turned against me and it lies to me. It’s like being put into a gigantic dryer and then forced to walk for miles.

On top of all of this, I also feel lost in life. What is my purpose and all those other deep questions. I ask myself all the time, what in the world am I doing? Most days I don’t have a clue. I’m desperate for purpose and it gives me tunnel vision. When I start to think of the suffering without any purpose my mind starts to wonder to dangerous places. The deeper I find myself lost in that dark void the more I start to consider other options.

This brings me to the other type of lost, being alone in this world. It’s like floating into outer space with nothing to tether to. You’re a million miles from earth and it’s become this small glowing dot in your horizon. I’ve become one of the old people I live with. Whose family has forgotten them. Well not forgotten just got wrapped up in the chaotic world. They just don’t have time for them. People take loved ones for granted. I’m in a similar boat. I don’t have any close friends like most do. When things go wrong I have no one to reach out to. If something was to happen to me (in my apartment) no one would know for weeks and there isn’t anything more sad than that. That’s when you know that you are alone.

That’s what mental illness does, it pushes people away. I have no one that I see regularly, other than my therapist. This just adds to the feeling lost. I’m working on new friendships but that takes time. I don’t get to do fun things with people. I spend my days alone, in a stuffy apartment. Until I get approved for SSI disability I have very little to do with myself, at least in terms of person to person connection. Plus being poor and without a car I’m limited to what I can do in terms of socially. My social gatherings are sporadic at beast. Usually my monthly transgender meeting. You can’t thrive off one day a month.

I have yet been able to find a balance with my mental health. The medicine I’m on doesn’t seem to be helping with the depression at all. My doctor is trying new combinations but so far the only thing that has started to work made me gain a bunch of weight, like thirty pounds. On top of all this I have recently been diagnosed with atrial flutter. I doesn’t take a lot of exertion for me to feel like I’m going to pass out. So right now walking a few blocks to the bus stop (to do things) is out of the question.

Lately my depression has gotten so out of hand that it’s become unbearable, even for me. I don’t do anything but hide in my apartment. Doing simple tasks like making dinner becomes unmanageable, especially if it means washing dishes when I have none cleaned. I will live off very little food at times because I don’t feel like going to the grocery store. It also affects me physically. I become lethargic and my energy bottoms out. Everything is a chore. So not only am I alone (most of the time) I am surrounded by these demons.

So I’m lost spiritually, physically and mentally. I’m trapped in this prison of suffering and I’m not sure how to get out. I’m trapped without a key or map. It’s one thing to feel lost in one aspect of your live but to have every aspect be affected is unmanageable. I wish I had just one person I could attach myself to. The only person I had was my Mom and she died in 2012. Someone I could count on. I have no one and that’s not exaggerating. I have people who love me but I’m just not in their radar. They have their own lives and struggles to deal with. I don’t blame them. This world is a topsy turvy place. I’m just collateral damage. That’s not a fun place to be.

I see people on Facebook with full lives, sharing moments with their friends and family. Going out to the movies or on vacation. Laughing and enjoying life. I’m desperate for that kind of life. I know I deserve it but it feels like this life is just out of reach. I have a good year of this level of suffering, of not having many options in terms of meaningfully, long term connection. I have my comic book but that still means spending all my time alone in my apartment and these days the depression zaps every last ounce of creative juices I have left. So everything in my life is a struggle, which again just ads another complex level to being lost.

Then there is the whole being lost in my identity. I could write a whole post about how I view my body and my gender, I’m MTF trans. Like I said there isn’t one area that I don’t feel some level of lost in and because I’m aware (and dealing with it) that means it’s even more painful. I no longer can bury it. That’s probably why this time in my life is so difficult because the shit has hit the fan.

I just hope I find the key fast. I don’t know how much time I have. With having my health scare this week it’s brought my mortality right to the front of the line. Not to mention when I’m at my lowest I start to think of ending it all. I fear there will be a day in the future when I completely turn off the switch that’s keeping me alive. I know that mental illness can eventually be terminal and because I’m aware enough it scares me senseless when I start to slip and slide down the depressive slope. I don’t really want to die. I just don’t want to suffer anymore. I want to enjoy the time I have left on this earth and create a legacy for when I’m gone. I don’t want to die as the miserable depressed person, who didn’t make something of their life. My life has to have more meaning then my illness.

So I just gotta keep on walking, crawling if I must. Even if it’s at a snail’s pace I’m still moving. Just keeping a commitment to go to therapy each week is a huge sign that I’m moving forward. I have had many times where I didn’t want to go but I forced myself. I knew what it would lead to. It’s the one bright spot in my life. Something to be proud of. I have been in therapy consistently since 2013, something I have never done. I have been with my therapist for over two years. I’m so blessed to have her in my life. I just wish I had others like her in my life, who weren’t tied to my healing.

Depression is a Thief

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Most days depression steals your energy. It brings you to a complete halt. One day you have spurts of energy and the next day you are dragging your feet. Simple tasks like brushing your teeth become like climbing Mount Everest. I’m not exaggerating either. Depression completely zaps you of your energy. Often times I feel like I’m cemented into the ground, unable to move. It’s a type of paralysation where I forget that I have the ability to move. In reality though depression steals more than your energy. It robs you of anything of value in your life.

Other than your energy, the main thing it steals is your enjoyment. It turns your life upside down and sucks the color out of the world around you. To others the world is full of life and color but to a depression mind everything is dull and grey. You stop enjoying the things that you used to love. Everything becomes a bore. I tend to watch the same sitcom over and over because I have very little attention span to watch a new show. I usually am doing something else while the tv is on as well. I’m unable to just sit there and only watch what is on the screen. You can imagine how difficult it might be to not have anything give you enjoyment. It’s a pretty miserable place. You hop from activity to activity, desperately trying to find something to catch your attention.

If depression zaps the life out of entertainment you can imagine what it does to activities that involve meaning, like my creativity. Anything related to my creativity becomes a chore and I hate doing chores. When I am at my worst I want nothing to do with my gifts. It becomes painful to look inward at the good parts of me. Depression has become the voice of all my naysayers. The ones who told me that I was worthless. Anytime I try to create I hear the voices. I’m usually only able to create for small periods of a time. This has been true with the comic book (about a drag queen superhero) that I’m working on. I have been working on this comic book for over five years. I have times where I can’t even look at my illustrations. I go months without making any progress. Without depression I most likely would have finished the first issue by now. I have waited so long that now others have released their own drag queen superheroes. If I had the energy to finish it in year one mine would have been the first and most original. Now the magic won’t be as fresh.

Which brings me to success. Depression is a dream killer. It sabotages any advancement that you might have, whether it be from a job or a personal project like my comic book. The best job I have ever had ended because of my depression. I was working for GE. I had great benefits and pay. I had the best manager I had ever had. When you are a hard worker oftentimes management will take advantage of you, especially in retail. Finally I was valued for my hard work, determination and loyalty. I was involved in LGBTQ networking group and was moving up on the ladder. I was on track to becoming a trainer but depression robbed me of that opportunity. I was hospitalized and put on short term disability. I never returned to that job. Instead I self destructed and moved back home.

I had aspirations in becoming an actor. I was in the theatre program at my local community college in my early twenties. My favorite type of theatre was musicals. I took voice lessons for years. The first year at school I had a bad depressive episode. I was just cast the lead in the main theatre production at school, which was a dream of mine. I was in bed for weeks and stopped going to class. The role had to be recast and I barely passed that semester. That was also my last semester in that program. I dreamed a dream and depression killed it.

Another aspect of my life depression has robbed me of are relationships. For example, today I was supposed to hang out with a new friend but I woke up feeling horrible and had to cancel. This happens all the time, which makes it difficult to maintain friendships. Nowadays I don’t have many friends nearby me so I really look forward to the opportunity to do something with a friend. The last two days were decent, when I had nothing planned. Now that I have cancelled I have a great sense of regret, which happens more time than not. On days like today I have little energy. My apartment is usually not kept up and if someone is coming over I feel a great amount of shame. If I have to leave my apartment just walking to the bus stop takes too much energy. Hanging out with someone means having to brush my teeth and shower. Then there is the anxiety if it’s a first time meeting, like today was. So you might can understand why this all is too much when you’re not feeling well.

Most people understand if you cancel a few invites to do something. After that they start to question the relationship. With a depression mind you live in slow motion and the rest of the world is on fast forward, though they only see themselves on regular time. There is still a lot of stigma towards mental illness and many people take it personal when you cancel on them. In reality it has nothing to do with them. Depression takes the fun out of everything. Not to mention that I have pushed people away out of fear and moved around from state to state. So now in my forties I have very few friends, outside of Facebook. The only person I see regularly is my therapist. If it weren’t for our appointments I would spend all my time alone.

Even just one aspect of depression is enough to drive a person mad but when you start to add all them up it makes life pretty miserable. Each day is a challenge. I have lived most of my life with depression and I’m tired of having my life stolen from me. I’m determined to stop this thief anyway I can. That means treating depression like the disease it is. Taking my medicine and making sure I keep my weekly therapy appointments. Pushing myself when I can and using mindfulness to get rid of the thieves when they are on my doorstep. It’s not easy but I have to try. Life can’t be this depressing.

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An Okay Day

After the past week, the okay day I’m in has been a nice relief. My depression isn’t as severe and I’m starting to return to my body, I dissociated yesterday. When I woke up in the afternoon I felt really comfortable. I should have stayed awake but I took advantage of the comfort and laid back down. That was a mistake because I woke up feeling like a cement truck hit me. Even still it’s a pretty okay day for me and I’m happy for that.

The last week has a roller coaster ride of emotions due to medicine changes. I would be stable for a few days and crash for a few more. I had an incident with someone the other day and it sent me spiraling into trigger mode. I didn’t realize it but when that happened I started to dissociate, which is normal for me with PTSD. I didn’t realize how far I had gone until a social gathering last night. The more I listened to others the more I started to float away, as I started to think about my pain. I wanted to leave right away but was stuck because I rode with someone. So I started to use my coping mechanism and started to tear apart a paper plate.

It wasn’t really anything that anyone was saying, it was just I couldn’t handle any connection. Especially positive ones. By the end, I was close to be asking to go to the emergency room but I kept it together. Today there was an inspection of all the apartments at my complex, so I had to clean a super dirty kitchen. Which just added to my anxiety. When I get really depressed my eating habits change, so do my chores. I have been trying to cook more, as it’s more fulfilling than frozen food but that usually means more of a mess. So I would cook a meal and leave everything behind. It was either that or starving.

So my kitchen was a fright and smelled like a beast. I somehow found the energy to slowly clean my kitchen. I took my time and turned my air conditioning on high. By the time I was done at 6am I was exhausted. My kitchen is the cleanest it’s been since I moved in last July. So having a clean apartment definitely has contributed to this decent day.

So I’m going to enjoy this okay day the best I can. I made a really good bacon cheese burger for lunch and it was delicious. Now I’m making pizza rolls and watching a British comedy. I have learned to treasure the okay days, along with the good ones. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Am I a Negative Nancy?

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Someone recently said that I’m negative, well the last two months. It was a friendship that I decided to end due to the fact that it was toxic. I give people too many chances and I was pushed to my limit when the person lashed out at me calling me negative. I mean that wasn’t the only reason I ended our friendship but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It did plant a seed in me, as much as I have tried to not let it. I’m strong enough to realize that this person lashing out at me had nothing to do with me but still it did open a wound in regards to the stigma related to depression. That those with depression are just negative and need to be more positive. I wish the cure to depression was only positive affirmations but that’s not the reality. Sure mindfulness is one part of the healing process but it’s this idea that it can be cured by a sunny disposition is harmful to those who suffer from depression.

Many don’t realize that I sometimes just wake up feeling depressed. Yes, sometimes it’s related to my environment and/or trigger but a lot of times it has to do with my brain chemistry. It affects more than just my mind. I get almost like flu symptoms. It feels like my skin is crawling and I have this heavy fog that clouds my brain.

I try to have a positive outlook on life and what I endure but sometimes it’s difficult. I have few people I can talk to about what I’m enduring. So my only outlet is to post on Facebook. Those who read my posts might think that I’m just being negative. If they had to live my life for one day I think they would be more empathetic towards me.

If you could only hear all the positive self talk that I must do when my demons are at my door. You just can’t hear them. To survive this long under so much pressure means that I’m a pro at surviving. That doesn’t mean my quality life is any better. The experience have given me the tricks of the trade to lesson the symptoms, though when I’m super depressed nothing helps.

When you see me posting on Facebook it means that I’m deep in turmoil. I don’t just automatically post when I feel something. When I do it means I have sit in misery for hours, if not days. If I shared what was in my head, then you’d really think I was negative. The demons in my head are loud, evil and up to no good. This is what I fight against daily. When my depression is at my worst I have this gigantic mob that take up space in my consciousness. They follow me everywhere I go and there is nowhere to run and hide. No relief to be seen. I can only just wait it out. Practice self care and hold onto dear life.

Some argue that I am sharing way too much information online. They’d rather me suffer in silence I guess. Like Shrek always says, better out than in. Oh wait, he was talking about something entirely different but it applies to this as well. Honestly I wish I didn’t have to share things so openly but my support system currently is my therapist. So it’s either release the tension openly or let it fester and eat me up inside.

Last weekend was a really difficult weekend for me. The last two months my psychiatrist has been trying different medicines to find a better fit for me. This latest attempt set my depression spiraling and I was struggling to keep afloat. Once again I was very close to be hospitalized. Whenever I have a bad episode like this I become very hopeless that the suffering will ever stop. Each time I dig myself out of that hole and start to feel better I get this sense that maybe this will be the day. The day when I get out of this bad place in my life. Where I will suffer less and live more. So when a few weeks later my depression takes a hit then I go back to being hopeless. I have cycled like this for the past twenty years.

I had a psychiatrist appointment this past Monday and he put me on a new med. By Wednesday, I was feeling dramatically better. I had two days where I felt like myself. That was until last night when I could feel the depression coming on and I dreaded it. I can hear the voices getting louder, the demons who haunt me. Today has been tough, not because of the depression but because what the depression comes from. Being aware gives you clarity but sometimes your helpless to stop the car crash.

I’m so extremely lonely. It’s unbearable most the time. I struggle just to get out of bed. I have very little energy and most my days are spent alone. I have no one. I’m like one of the old ladies I live with. No one comes to visit me. No one calls. I don’t talk to anyone regularly, other than my therapist. My days are spent watching tv and being on social media. It’s not to say that I haven’t tried to have a more fulfilling life but it’s not come by easy. You just don’t pull a support system out of thin air. I miss the days of having so many friends that I was doing something all the time. I miss going to the movies and laughing so hard you almost fall on the floor. I miss going to parties and eating good food. I miss my family. I miss my Mom.

I want so much out of life and often times I have no energy to reach for the stars. All the energy I have to just get through each day. I have to remind myself of what my favorite drag queens says. Rupaul says, what other people think of you is not your business! Some people might think I’m just being negative but those people don’t have to live my life. If you really cared about me then rather than judge me from the sidelines you’d reach out for support. It’s so much easier to pass judgment in silence. I don’t have time to worry about the naysayers. I have enough to deal with.