It would be nice if antidepressants promised results in 15 minutes or less like Excedrin. Also, it would be nice to be able to take Excedrin because apparently antidepressants mean major headaches for me. But alas – five weeks, one changed dosage, and one prescription swap later…nothing to show for it but perpetual dry mouth, inconsistent appetite, and a constant undercurrent of fatigued haze (but a different haze than the haze of depression itself…if that makes sense).
I’m still struggling to find the motivation to create. Honestly, about 95% of my mental energy has been going toward existing as some form of passable human – the other 5% must be allocated among being a good partner to Boyfriend, keeping some semblance of order at home, caring for our three pets, being a good friend, being a good daughter, and oh yeah being a full-time professional. It’s basically impossible, and in pretty much every category I feel major shortcomings and failures. But you know what, existing is fucking hard and the fact that I can portray myself as a functional human most of the time is really as much a victory I can hope for most days.
It still sucks.
I make lots of mistakes, whether that’s running myself to the wire with a deadline, getting snippy with Boyfriend (or friends, or family…) without really knowing why, giving in to the loss of appetite my anorexic-voice secretly celebrates, giving in to the cravings my binge-voice pressures me to. I could spend a whole day laying on the couch and still feel like I put myself through a college degree and full marathon. Existing is exhausting. It’s exhausting for everyone, but especially when you have this additional beast/illness dragging you even further into the slump of nonexistence…good lord it makes me wonder how I even made it out of bed in an outfit that matched today. I feel pieces of myself here and there, and while it’s exciting to reconnect with the person I know is buried beneath my dueling hazes…it’s kind of sad. Because I know right now, she’s not here for very long. And then everything hurts again. Sometimes I swear the only thing I know how to feel anymore is hurt.
Even though treatment started relatively recently for me, I know this is something I’ve struggled with for the better part of a year – probably about the same time I started struggling with disordered eating. It was hard for me to seek help because it felt like I was failing since I couldn’t “do it on my own.” What pisses me off about that mindset is that if I wasn’t so damn stubborn, I might have gotten the medical intervention I obviously needed sooner. But what’s important is that I’m getting help now, right? That’s what I’m supposed to say, right? I’m still pissed at myself. Because if it was anyone else, I would have said “get your ass to the doctor so you can start feeling better, because you deserve that.” I’m still learning how to believe that I deserve that, too.
My goal is to one day be as kind to myself as all my friends and family have been since I started opening up about this. I was terrified that I got “too real” in my last post, but the amount of people who came forward to say “hey, me too, I get this” or “I’m here for you, no matter what that means” or even just “let’s grab coffee sometime”…damn. I’m so good at convincing myself that I’m not worthy of that kind of compassion, that I forget what it feels like to suddenly have this blanket of support wrap you into a cocoon of safety. This constant fight to exist and feel things is hard. Knowing I’m not able to perform at my best in any aspect of my life is hard, too. But having people around you who let you feel all the pain and confusion of trying to exist and be productive and be comfortable with the limitations you’re experiencing, and who continue to love you and ask “how can I help” anyway…that’s are huge. In spite of the fact that you might be a distracted partner, or a too-sensitive daughter, or a confused coworker who needs to be reminded about that little detail again 99% of the time.
I wasn’t going to write until I felt like I had something a little less intense to write about, but then I learned it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Being open about this experience is really difficult for me, because I like to be strong and positive and un-burdensome…and saying “hey I have major depression and I’m going to talk about” seems like the exact opposite of all of those things. But I can tell you that while I feel my lasting progress has been slow so far, challenging myself to be vulnerable and letting people in has made a huge difference. I don’t feel quite so isolated anymore, and if my story can somehow help someone feel that sense of less alone-ness too, than I’m okay with some discomfort.