I’m still depressed, but not as badly as I used to be.
I’ve been writing this post in my head for a few days now, and then not posting.
1. Because I want to be better, and I want to be able to post/announce that I’m magically better… I keep waiting for that moment, but it hasn’t come.
2. Because it takes absolutely everything in me to sit down and focus enough to be able to write something and keep my brain on task. It’s easier just to stay on the couch and watch bad TV. (Extreme Engagement was actually a pretty worthwhile show- Netflix; FYI.)
3. Because I have these tendrils of flowy, beautiful words I want to write, and at the same time, I also want to be as realistic about my condition as possible. Depression is not romantic; giving it flowery words belittles the fact that it is a soul-crushing condition that I wish on no one.
So- this post will do it’s best to be realistic and informative, and also to paint a picture of what the past almost three months have been like for me.
Depression Is A Tiger
The first time I became severely depressed, I had No idea what was happening to me.
I had just broken up with a long-term partner and graduated university simultaneously.
I had no warning.
I was happy. Going about my business. Making decisions for my future, and then a giant pair of teeth latched around my skull and brought me to the ground.
Claws sank into my body and held me there. Powerless.
I didn’t even try to fight back that time. Couldn’t name the thing. Didn’t know what it was.
I shivered and shook and cried and panicked and isolated and writhed in agony on a couch in my friend’s basement for three months.
And then one day, the tiger was gone.
I was free again.
Exactly four years later, I found myself in a similar place. I had just broken up with a long term partner, and I had just graduated from college.
I should have seen it- the writing on the wall.
I should have seen it- but depression is the tiger that had crept slowly behind me, stalking me at a safe distance for Years.
I never heard it coming either.
I just felt the pounce. The crushing weight of it on my body.
And this depression was worse than the last.
It filled me with questions.
Will this tiger now be stalking me for the Rest of my life??
Is there Nothing I can do to resist or fend off its attack?
Suicidal ideation was at its highest at this point.
What sort of a life was this, when you never know the next moment depression can choose to barrel up behind you and cripple you in a single pounce.
The suicide statistics for people with bipolar disorder are 20 to 30 times higher than the general population.
This does not surprise me.
The powerlessness is unfathomable to those that don’t know the tiger.
It is soul-crushing to know that despite you doing Everything in your power to stay on the right side of happiness, you ultimately have Zero control over the outcome.
So here I am.
This time, I had three nights riddled with anxiety around the time of my wedding, and I Knew it.
I knew my attacker was coming.
I saw a few blurs of orange and black, heard its soft feet padding behind me, planning the attack.
And I tried.
I tried my best to get into hospital and to get ahead of it and to try and gain some control, before the pounce.
But it didn’t work.
In the past almost three months, I’ve used sedatives and sleeping pills at night; Ativan in the mornings for anxiety, and Lithium along with multiple other attempted drugs that have proven (for other people) to be effective in lifting depression in bipolar patients.
Seroquel made me exhausted and irritable beyond belief (one day on Seroquel, I almost kicked one of Sadie’s ride-on toys clear across the nursery while screaming FUCK, but I managed to just hold the action safely in my head.)
Risperidone made me shiver, sweat, have nightmares and wake up more suicidal than I ever had.
Lamictal was amazing and was working and I could finally see the light, but then I had a full-body rash and had to quit it cold turkey.
That was Terrible- giving hope to the hopeless and then taking it away is a very dangerous thing.
Now I’m on a drug alongside my lithium called Latuda. The first two weeks I was on it, I stopped having anxiety in the mornings and I was able to stop taking my sleeping pills at night, so I asked my doctor if we could up the dose.
She did- and for the next week, I couldn’t keep my eyes open, could barely take a walk around my neighborhood, and had Zero motivation.
Two days ago, we went back to my original dose of 20 mg instead of 40 mg.
I can’t tell if it’s any better yet, because I’m sick with something that feels like Covid but isn’t, so I’m hoping that my continued tiredness and lack of energy is from my sickness and not from the medication.
So here’s where I am.
This started on February 4th, and it’s almost May 4th.
May 4th will be three months since this all began, and my other two depressions only lasted three months each.
Medication-wise, I have to stop fighting the tiger.
I have to stop Googling these forums on what worked for other people in my position and then being sad when they don’t work out for me.
I’m thinking of it this way- if the first step for an alcoholic is admitting that they have a problem, I think the step I need to take now is to admit that I have no control.
That’s a shit fact to have to admit, but in saying that, it also acknowledges that I did not Choose this. That I am not perpetuating it. That I am doing Everything I can to get out of this, and it’s not my fault.
I’m not a ‘failure’ if I’m not better by May 4th either.
Sure, I’ll be disappointed.
I would love to be fully better.
This very minute, if I could.
But I am a person currently pinned and wriggling under the grips of a tiger, and the fact is- I Don’t have control.
The tiger that used to have its teeth embedded in my skull and its claws dug into my belly now only has its grips on my lower legs, and I have to be happy with that.
One day; one glorious day, the tiger will release me on its own terms.
It will get up and walk away from me, and I will get to walk freely again.