Slogging through life

Okay.  I said I would write a follow-up blog regarding my mental health, so here goes:

Part of the reason I have been out of touch for so long is because I found myself in a deep depression.  I have learned there are different types of depression, some more obvious than others.  Mine was the easily hidden and overlooked type this time round.  Not even I recognized it for what it was until I read some blogs about  how different bipolar depression could be from MDD.

I thought this feeling like life was too hard and I was walking through a horrible rainstorm that had turned the rods to mud pits was normal.  I have had fluctuations of this feeling with varying difficulty for most of my adult life.  Getting up was so hard, I could barely make it to work and was often late.  Working took so much out of me that I couldn’t function at all when I got home.  Just the effort of working felt nearly impossible.  When I got home, I often forgot to eat, take my meds, anything.  All I did was lay on my bed and start reading.  If I was reading, I wasn’t having to pull my feet up out of the mud to make progress or accomplish something.  I wasn’t looking at the world through a gray sheet of rain that distorted everything and everyone.  I wasn’t me anymore, living this soul-sucking life.  I was someone else falling in love, discovering new species, or even a man.  I wasn’t me and that was the way I wanted it.

I am not one to sleep for long periods during depressive episodes (I would never be awake).  Instead, I read until insane hours, making it even harder for me to wake up in the morning/afternoon to do things.  I stopped going to therapy because it wasn’t helping.  I failed to accomplish simple tasks outside of work, including laundry, bathing regularly (on the weekends, nada), washing dishes, cleaning my apartment, unpacking the apartment I moved into in November, oh so many things.  Everything waited until it was impossible for me to ignore, and even then it was as little as possible.  When I did laundry, it was because I was out of laundry completely, and I have a LOT of clothes.  Instead of doing several loads, I did two or three just to get me by.  It didn’t even put a dent in the pile, but I had clothes for work.

Now, many people will say, “At least you were able to work.  You must not have been that depressed.”  When the choice is work or be evicted within 30 days because the apartments in your city have a 96-97% occupancy rate, you work.  I am not saying I did good work.  Not in my mind.  My bosses seemed to be okay with it, though.  I do not have relatives in the same city.  Those I do have are barely making it by themselves, so I don’t have a huge safety net.  The friends I have that would help me are in difficult places themselves for varying reasons.  I would not make it on the streets.  I am intelligent enough to know that the people that pick on and tease me about being smarter or get mad at me for “making them feel inferior/stupid/uneducated” at work and other places in my life would translate to abuse and rape on the streets.  Yes, there are shelters.  And yes, I could ask for help from the state.  But that all takes time and knowing where to go.  The only place I know to go is for mental health assistance, not housing or anything else.  Now, I do own a car.  I could live out of it until it was repossessed.  I could try to sell it, but I still owe money on it and doubt I would get much more that I have left on the loan if anything.  So, within 60-90 days, I would have nothing if I lost my job.  So work, to me, is as necessary as food.  Even then, I was frequently late and missed more days than I should have.  [I am filing paperwork for FMLA exemption so I don’t get fired.  And for those that feel I am exaggerating, when you live paycheck to paycheck, this is a reality.  Even selling everything I own would only get me maybe a month’s rent?  The only thing of value I own other than my car is the ring I inherited from my grandmother.  And I would go without food to mail it to my mother before I would pawn it.]

I was still reading blogs (escapism, people), but not responding.  Then I ran across some that talked about bipolar depression.  I talked to my psych about those blogs and articles.  (This article and others on this website are a huge influence on me, thank you RFinkel.)  He and I spoke frankly over multiple appointments about my medication and whether the depression was caused by medication noncompliance or the noncompliance was caused by the depression, about whether my medication was working and what alternatives I had and how difficult it is to treat bipolar depression.  Now by no means do I think any type of depression is better or worse than any other.  They are all terrible.

The treatment of bipolar depression is a little problematic.  There are a grand total of 5 medications that are cleared for use on bipolar depression.  I am on two of them now, Lithium and Lamictal.  Seroquel is one I haven’t tried for any length of time, although I think I took it during one of my hospitalizations.  Symbyax is a combination of Zyprexa and Prozac, and I gained 30 pounds in a month when I was on Zyprexa previously, so that is not a choice.  [As I understand it, Zyprexa alone is not cleared for use in treating bipolar depression.  It is used for bipolar treatment and may be an off-label use.]  And the last medication was cleared for use this summer.  Latuda is brand new and my psych is debating whether the meds I am on can be safely increased or I need a change.  I am maxed out on the Lithium.  We already had to scale that back due to side effects.  We have increased the Lamictal and that seems to be helping.  [Hence the being able to write.]

So what does all this babble really mean?

My psych listens to me and cares that I actually do well.  He sat there and really made me understand that Bipolar 2 is a very different critter than Bipolar 1 and the treatments are not necessarily the same or even similar for some people.  He wants me back in therapy and I have agreed.  I have appointment on the 24th.  The mud might be firming up a little so I can dig my way out.  The rain might be lightening up enough for me to see the people and things around me with less distortion.

I hope so.


~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on September 16, 2013.

6 Responses to “Slogging through life”

  1. I am sorry for your pain and suffering–and am sorry that bipolar depression exists at all. It is a whole horse of a different color from unipolar depression, and you describe it quite well. Treatment response to the few choices you list is generally poor. Suicide becomes a real risk. Honestly, I think you are heroic that you continue to push yourself to work throughout the ordeal. So many others have thrown in the towel.

    And, finally, thank you for the link and the ‘thank you,’ but if anyone find out something that helps another, it’s a gift freely given.

    • Thank you. It has honestly taken me 15 years to begin to understand that I have been living most of those years depressed to some extent or another.

      As for meds, I’m lucky. So far, they have been able to keep me somewhat stable albeit in a depressed state. I also am lucky that my depression rarely takes the form of suicidality and I recognize when it does. My current psychiatrist is the best I’ve ever had. He listens, explains things well, and tells me about supplements that will help my meds work better.

      I do have to tell you I am always fascinated with your posts and the research that goes into them.

  2. […] Slogging through life ( […]

  3. This is too scary! If you had spoken of having lots of anger I would have thought that I wrote this blog myself. Somehow it does not make me feel any better knowing that I’m not alone. 😦

    • Every day I learn more about myself, others, and my bipolar that make life both harder and easier at the same time. Knowing others are in similar places actually makes me somewhat sad and somewhat happy. I like knowing I am not alone on this nausea-inducing ride in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, but I wouldn’t wish the trip on the worst person I know.

  4. […] Slogging through life ( […]

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