Trying to Tread Water

I haven’t written a proper post for close to a year.

That’s how long depression has been kicking my butt. Not constantly. There have been light, happy, joyful moments and days sparsely sprinkled amongst the doom. The doom, however, heavily outweighs any lightness and joy.

Tweaking my antidepressant no longer helps. I suffer horrid side effects when I increase the dose. My psychiatrist is hesitant to change medications, but it’s something I’ll be pushing for soon.

Along with the unrelenting depression has come almost all the unhelpful behaviours you could think of. Aside from alcohol or illicit drug use. I rarely drink, and have never used drugs. I have enough going on physically and mentally without adding unknown substances to the mix!

Self-harm. Multiple overdoses. Binge eating. Not eating. Not drinking water.

The same behaviours over, and over in moments of ‘I can’t do this anymore’.

I had an inpatient psych admission a couple of months ago. It was helpful, and I was discharged in a much better space. However… within a month I’d overdosed and self-harmed.

I’m supposed to be journaling when I feel anxious or otherwise not okay. Journaling instead of leaping into unhelpful behaviours. I did. Once. That stirred up something inside. Flashbacks started, and small, scared chatter began inside.

I shut that shit down and dove headfirst, straight into an unhelpful behaviour.

Damn it. Not unhelpful. Self-harm, overdoses, eating disorder behaviours. They all help in some way, otherwise I wouldn’t be using them. They are helpful, but in a very short-term way, and they have unhelpful consequences. They don’t help me longterm.

I feel like I’m drowning. I’m trying to keep my head above water, but I’m struggling to do that. I keep going under, gulping water instead of air, only to rise again, cough up all the water, and start breathing…. before going under.

I don’t know how to fix this, and I don’t know what would help.

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The Stigma Of Treatment

All the important people in my life know I struggle with my mental health. That’s old news. I’m not even overly anxious about sharing some of my struggles with the right people at the right time.

On the other hand sharing what treatment I’m receiving for my mental health is so much more anxiety provoking and worrisome.

I’m on three psychotropic drugs, and there’s plenty of judgement and stigma from people about that. I need these medications to function, if anyone has a problem with that, they can get lost.

I’m seeing a therapist weekly. At this point in time the therapist is a psychiatrist. In the past they’ve been psychologists, clinical psychologists, and counsellors. Therapy is a really good way to help me manage my mental health. Again, if people have a problem with that, they can get lost.

Then there’s the inpatient psychiatric admissions. Five in the last two years. Most of them for about three weeks. Not all in times of crisis, but of great stress, and with multiple crappy coping strategies being used.

I’m heading for my seventh admission with the same doctor at the same hospital. I trust my doctor, and I trust the nursing staff. I know the admission will be helpful, they always are, but I’m scared to tell anyone.

I worry so much more about what people might think about me being in a psychiatric hospital, than being on medication, or in therapy.

Is it really that bad that I need to be in hospital?
Yes. Doing the same amount of work in therapy outpatient is impossible. Plus I’m stuck, again. DID chaos, and multiple shit storms brewing beneath the surface. That doesn’t even cover the issues I’ve had with mood (both hypomania and depression in the last month). It is that bad.

Can’t I just get over it? Isn’t therapy enough? Can’t they give you medication?
I’m doing the therapy, and taking the meds. I’m still struggling. As for getting over it? Get lost.

I know hospital is a safe place to crash land. I can be a mess, be emotional, struggle in any kind of way and it’s okay. I don’t have to keep it together. I don’t have to keep smiling. Staff are kind and supportive. I have time and space to unleash the chaos, work through it, and put myself back together again.

I’ve still only told a few people. I’m so fearful of their reaction to, and judgement of inpatient treatment that I stay silent.

I think the stigma associated with psychiatric or psychological treatment can often be so much worse than the stigma associated with a diagnosis.

It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s even more okay to get whatever help you need to be okay again.

This Is What Depression Can Look Like

Depression.

Depressed.

Someone curled up in bed, hidden under the covers. Sunlight peeking in through the drawn curtains. Phone calls and voicemails ignored. Text messages unread. A dirty plate, and empty, coffee stained mug on the bedside table.

That sounds like fairly stereotypical depression, right? It is. The trouble is, not everyone with depression struggles like that.

What about the person who smiles, and chats happily to friends and family. Who cleans the house, keeps up with chores, and pays all the bills. The dishes are done, there’s food and leftovers from a home cooked meal in the fridge, and the fruit basket is full.

Is that person depressed? If that person is me, then right now, yes. It’s just so well hidden.

I smile and chat with family and friends because I adore them, but I also don’t want to burden them with my sucky (technical term!) mental health. I busily keep up with chores  so I have less time to think about how much I detest myself, my life, and everything about me. Keeping busy keeps me safe. Leftovers in the fridge are from a meal I cooked when I felt like eating. I swing between having no appetite and comfort eating.

No one sees the tears that slip out when I’m finally alone, or on the way home from visiting friends and family.

No one sees the self-hatred, pain, hopelessness, and defeat that flood my mind when I finally stop doing chores.

No one sees the torment that fills my mind over needing to eat, having no food, then ordering groceries, and not wanting to eat.

I usually manage to function until I’m extremely depressed and suicidal. On the way down into that pit of doom very few people know or see that I’m struggling.

Not being able to see it doesn’t mean that I’m not depressed.
Not being able to see it doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling.

Depression looks like many things for many people. Ask before you pass judgement on whether someone is depressed, or how depressed they are.

Shit Has Hit The Fan

Maybe things aren’t going so well. I keep trying to convince myself that things aren’t so bad, that they could be worse, that nothing is really wrong.

Yet today, when my groceries were delivered, I hurriedly hid alcohol and sharps in my room so if my housemate came home she wouldn’t see them. A few minutes after the delivery driver left my housemate came home. My secrets were hidden. Along with a second carton of diet soft drink, and eating disorder ‘safe’ food.

All are flashing neon warning signs that I’m not okay, and my housemate is well and truly aware of them. I’m scared my housemate will find out and confront me. I’m scared my friends will find out and do the same. I’m scared of where I’m headed.

I’m going around in circles of crippling depression, overwhelming emotions, and destructive behaviours. I’m not proud. I don’t want people to know. I’m desperate to hide these behaviours from friends and family.

Yet with hiding the behaviours comes enormous guilt. Guilt from lying to friends and family about behaviours, about how I really am. Guilt at even the thought of telling any friends or family a watered down version of the truth. Guilt because alcohol abuse runs in my family, and it’s a path I’ve always sworn I wouldn’t go down.

The guilt adds fuel to the fire that’s already burning strongly. I’m desperately clutching at behaviours that slowly destroy me. Healthy coping mechanisms are long gone. I’m trying to hold on, but can see the mess my day-to-day life has become, and have given up. Might as well have another drink, or use another unhelpful behaviour to keep holding on.

Shit has hit the fan.

Do You Ever Feel Invisible?

Do you ever feel invisible? Like that the things you say and do have no impact on anyone or anything?

That’s where I’m at right now. I try to fill my days and weeks with activities that help give meaning to life, but sometimes it seems almost pointless. Like all the things I do make no difference to anyone or anything.

I explained to one of my doctors that I try to set myself one task to complete each day. That could be a small amount of gardening, washing the dishes, washing my clothes, or going to a healthcare appointment. One day each week is set aside for work, and the following day reserved for resting.

It sounds like I keep myself busy and have purpose. I’m definitely kept busy, but it feels so purposeless. I do these things so I don’t drive myself insane with boredom, and because I’ve been told over, and over that it’s good for me.

Would it matter if I stopped doing all of these things? Would anyone notice if I quietly withdrew from the world?

My only sibling currently living in the country and his his family are busy with their own lives. We live only half an hour away from each other, but see each other only a handful of times each year. Would they notice if I were gone?

I have wonderful, caring friends that appear to like me, even though I don’t understand why. All seem to be very busy with their own lives. Work, relationships, hobbies, life. Would they notice if I were gone?

I’m beginning to feel quite isolated, disconnected, and alone. There are many people that seem to care about me, but I feel different to them. My life moves at a slower pace due to health issues. Sometimes I’m okay with that, and I’m grateful that I’ve learnt to appreciate the smaller things in life, but right now I feel invisible.

I suspect that depression is beginning to creep back in. The hopelessness, worthlessness, and despair are clear warning signs. The anxiety, the worry, the eating disorder symptoms. They’re all warning signs. I’ve adjusted my medication, and I know this will pass.

It’s just, right now, I feel so very invisible. I feel like I’m watching the world go on around me. Others seem to be doing all that I’m still dreaming of, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do those things.