A Trip Through the Valley

This is my account of my journey through depression as I work toward healing.

A Break June 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — charis815 @ 10:29 PM

I am putting the blog on hold right now. I am not doing well and I really want to focus on making it through the days and trying to do what I can to work on this. Thanks for all of your kind words!

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Nurses make the worst patients! May 22, 2010

Medically trained people have the reputation of being terrible patients.  I go out of my way NOT to tell people treating me I am a nurse.  Personally, I hate to hear one of my patients is a doctor or nurse because I know they are going to be a pain in the butt.  They usually go one of two ways : either know-it-alls who decide they know better about everything or they are afraid to do or say anything to rock the boat so they never tell you if there is a problem until it has become a very big problem.  I am usually the latter because if I knew how to fix my problems I would not bother going to see someone else.  In this particular instance  however, I am going to be more the know-it-all.

I have decided to stop my Cymbalta.  I hate it.  I am emotionally numb and somewhat detached from the world not to mention the ear-ringing, restlessness, insomnia, difficulty thinking, weight gain and other more personal issues!  I cannot accomplish anything in counseling because I can’t feel anything.  It has become a giant waste of time.  I would rather feel sad than nothing at all.

In my defense I did call my psychiatrist before I made the final decision- too bad he did not call me back.  There is very little he could have said to stop me, so it does not really matter that he didn’t call.  I know it may not be the wisest thing to go back to being unmedicated, but as I told my counselor – the only time I was hospitalized was while I was on medication.  I prefer to feel like crap off medicine than feel like crap on them.  Although I did not tell my counselor I was definitely stopping, we did discuss the possibility and I did promise to go back to taking medication if things go too bad.   I feel better knowing she did not try to talk me out of it, however she did tell me I had to talk to my doctor before I did anything… oops 😉

 

Numb May 17, 2010

I have started Cymbalta, despite my reservations, because I want to be a good, compliant patient.  So far, I’m not a fan.  The goal all along has been to level my moods out, not to completely “fix” me.  I don’t think this is a lofty goal, it seems very reasonable to me.  I am obviously out of my mind for thinking this could be achieved because I actually feel worse than when I started.

I am numb, almost devoid of any emotions.  My depression may have decreased slightly, but that is because I am not feeling anything.  I want to cry- I mean I feel like I need to cry most of the time, but I cannot.  It is not like I am feeling good and cannot cry, I feel like garbage.  Crying is good, it’s cathartic.  I am not looking to cry all the time, I know in depression frequent crying is not healthy, not to mention I’m not really a crier anyway.  I just need a little release.  I am also not laughing or enjoying anything either.  I feel like the walking dead.

I am starting to suspect these medications are affecting my relationship with God too.  I don’t blame it completely, but it is not helping.  I first noticed this when I started Paxil-  I went from constantly seeking Him to totally apathetic in a matter of one week.  Anytime I am in between medications God seems far more real.  There is must be some middle-ground, where I am not profoundly depressed and not completely numb.   I guess you could say this is my prayer.

 

“We’re Running Out of Medications” May 8, 2010

I have just been prescribed my sixth antidepressant. Five of them have failed me thus far and I have little hope this one is going to work. I have only been able to take a therapeutic dose of two medications and only managed to stay on one for more than a month because of severe side effects, worsening depression or both- so I don’t think my pessimism is too unreasonable. Well that and the fact it is prescribed by the doctor I work for and have not found that it works very well for my patients.

I like my psychiatrist, he seems intelligent and has a rather dry sense of humor and somewhat cynical view on life. I suppose most people would not want that in a psychiatrist, but being that I am sarcastic and cynical deep down inside, I can appreciate this about him. I, however, started to doubt his ability to treat me yesterday when he mentioned that I was running out of medication options for my continued depression and literally scratched his head while trying to figure out which of the remaining medications to try. This did not give me any confidence in his choice.

Frankly I think there is something else wrong with me. This depressive episode has lasted a long time, been pretty severe and it is odd that antidepressants in multiple classes have not worked well. As much as I don’t want to be diagnosed with anything else, maybe that would give me some different treatment options.

Image: www.freeimages.co.uk

 

My Crisis of Faith May 2, 2010

I have struggled on and off with my faith since I became a Christian 13 years ago, but this has always been more about my commitment rather than whether or not I believed. As I continue to deal with the depression and all that comes with it, I have started to question my faith and what I think of God… if He even exists.

A bit of background- I did not grow up in a practicing Christian home, my parents were secular Christians. I may have made up this term, but I think it is a good description. We celebrated the big holidays, but only the gifts, food and family gatherings, never the religious part. Despite this I always believed in God in some form or another. I became a Christian in college and have remained a practicing believer.

When the depression began I turned to God and immersed myself in His Word. I spent more time in prayer than I ever had and tried to focus on Him and His promises. This sustained me for a while, but as I began to slip farther into despair I became very angry (see previous posts for more on this). While I was admitted to the hospital I let go of the anger and felt I was turning back to God. I did let go of the anger, but instead of returning to my faith I have begun to question whether or not I even still believe. God just seems like a mythical being, a nice idea, but nothing more. When I read Scripture it has no more meaning to me than the phone book. I keep praying and reading the Bible and attending Church and Bible studies because I still want to believe. I am hoping if I keep going through the motions it will come back to me. Most of my social life revolves around my faith- so not believing will have more than just spiritual consequences.

I am continuing to fight this disbelief. I know I am in a bad place currently and should avoid making any life-altering decisions. I also know that if God exists then so does Satan and Satan would want nothing more than to convince me that God does not exist. It is a strange feeling to be stuck in this uncertain place.

 

Hopelessness April 21, 2010

During my recent hospitalization I had many interactions with nursing students.  I remember my time as a nursing student on the psychiatric unit and I remember how scared and uncomfortable I was, so I tried very hard to make myself available to them (and not to act too scary!)  For the most part I did not benefit from my time with them, but there was one young woman who made me think.

I do not remember this woman’s name, so I will just call her “Sue”.  She sat next to me while I was watching television in the common room and just started talking to me, like I was a normal human being.  This was definitely different from the other students!  She managed to find out all about me and what had led to my admission – all without making it feel like an interview.  The next day I saw Sue again and we started talking about various fluffy topics.  All of a sudden she looked at me and asked about hopelessness and how this figured into my depression and suicidal thoughts.  I just looked at her in amazement, then admitted it had everything to do with the suicidal thoughts.  I explained that I had lost the desire to live because I felt there was no hope I was going to get better and I just couldn’t stand the idea of continuing to deal with the mixed feelings of sadness and nothingness.  I also explained that as the depression had worsened I had lost the ability to look at the future, it just did not exist to me.  It is very hard to hold on to hope when you cannot think about the future.  Lastly, I mentioned my anger at God and feelings that He abandoned me further fueled my hopelessness.

Sue was quiet for a few moments and I just assumed she was at a loss as to what to say.  I either expect people to be super quiet or to offer way trite and unhelpful advice, but she didn’t do either.  She asked why I was not suicidal at that particular moment and I had to admit that I had regained a glimmer of hope again because there was a new medication to try.  She then asked if I thought having pets would make give me a reason to go on, or at least to get out of bed each day.  I was amazed!  I went on to explain that over the last year there were plenty of times I reminded myself I could not kill myself because I had made a promise to care for my kitties.  I know how silly this sounds, but I cannot stand the idea of my pets not having a home or even being euthanized if they could not be placed in a home.  I know this should not be my only reason for living, but during those times I was thrilled I had any reason to go on.

Since my conversation with Sue I have made it a point to look for reasons to live, no matter how small or insignificant they may appear.  I am recording these and reviewing them often.  If I ever feel completely hopeless again I want to make sure I have something to force me to make it through the day and keep me fighting!

 

The Last Straw April 17, 2010

Here is an account of my last few days-

I just could not do it any longer, I came unraveled.  In the past there have been brief moments when I did not feel I was in total control of my behavior, but last Sunday I began to realize I was barely able to hold it together.  I have this amazing ability to appear normal under almost any circumstance so I managed to make it through work the next day, but I knew the second I left it was going to be bad.  The emotional breakdown kicked into full gear on my drive home.  Since I already knew I was in trouble before I got to work, I had made tentative arrangements to go to the hospital for a voluntary emergency psychiatric admission.  Since my counselor was somewhat aware of my situation I knew I was going to be forced into an admission if I didn’t do it myself, so I figured this would be the lesser of two evils.  It was definitely the right decision, but I never, ever want to do this again.

I am not sure how much of this experience I am comfortable sharing at this point (even with my use of a pseudonym) so I will write about it in more detail as I feel led.