January 29, 2013 – Fear

Yesterday and today I’ve felt kind of off. Yesterday with the irritability for no reason, and today with sadness tugging at me, though I’m resisting it. I’m afraid of the cycles starting again…

Since October of last year Lamictal has changed my life. I can’t say many things in my life have altered my path, but Lamictal has. Prior to the hospitalization I was very ill. The doctors didn’t know with what specifically, but my neurological symptoms were pretty severe and the specialists kept saying that it was presenting like Huntington’s disease at worst or Wilson’s disease at best. I think that’s what pushed me over the edge. The rather significant marital problems last year coupled with an unreasonably stressful workload for nearly a year straight and all of the pressures that came with it, then finally my health failing rapidly. That mixed with the depression having been so severe and so persistent…

Depression has been a large part of my life. So much so that I’d almost say it is an odd part of my character. I have trouble figuring out where I leave off and the bipolar comes into play. It’s far from being a black and white thing. There’s a lot of gray area. Regardless, one thing I can say is almost completely due to the bipolar is the severe depressions. When I get depressed for no reason, that’s the bipolar kicking in. I know everyone has their off days. This isn’t an off day that I’m talking about. This is severe soul-crushing depression. This is depression so severe that within a few hours you feel suicidal purely to just make it stop. I’m not saying that for dramatic effect, and I’m certainly not someone who thrives on drama or embellishes things. It’s horrifying to wake up feeling like that every day. Some people are immobilized when depression is that severe. My psychiatrist of many years was always amazed that I was still able to function, given how severely I was affected. It’s not that I wanted to get out of bed, it’s because I needed to. I needed a distraction. So, I’d go to work, go through the day on the edge of tears, go home and then lay down from the day being so exhausting. It’s physically exhausting containing such a deep level of suffering and sadness. It’s hard to keep up the act. It’s not just for the sake of others, it’s for your own sake. How can you explain something that has no reason or origin? That just is? It’s as frustrating for me to not have any reason as to be someone trying to help and having nothing to work with.

My depressions used to be about half the time. Meaning that I’d be ok – neutral about half the time, and depressed the other half of the time. My childhood and teens were very unpleasant, so most of the first 18 years were spent in severe situational depression. After moving out though, the depressions were about half the time and lasting about two weeks on and two weeks off. As time went on into my mid 20’s the two weeks became a couple of months depressed and a couple of months being ok. By my late 20’s I was at about 6 months depressed followed by about 3-4 months of being ok. In my early 20’s though, the balance was so severely altered. The depressions were lasting several months bordering on a year, and the ok times were low-grade depressions. There was no real ok time, it was just a matter of severity. My life has been very good since my late 20’s until now. I have absolutely no complaints about much of anything, aside from work from time to time. These depressions barred logic. It’s hard waking up wanting to die every day. Literally, wanting to die. There wasn’t a day that went by in nearly two years leading up to the hospitalization that I not only thought about death and considered it seriously, but it was seeming more and more reasonable. I was suffering. My mind was my prison. I so desperately wanted the pain to stop that I’d go to any length. I went to my psychiatrist, I went to my primary care physician. I begged and pleaded for help in finding what was wrong with me. The depression was so unnatural. It’s not who I am. I’m an optimistic person. I love my life, at least on an intellectual level, though I can’t feel it. They agreed that given my psychological profile that this *must* have a medical source. The antidepressants didn’t help either. The only one that did was an extremely powerful SSRI, but even that was losing effectiveness after about three months. The effectiveness was minimal at best, but I needed anything that could offer even a little relief. I’d found out that the severe neurological problems that I was experiencing was as result of that powerful SSRI and my having an extremely rare reaction to it. It wasn’t initially considered to be the  cause as I was well past when people normally show side effects.

I spent a week in the hospital and while there the depression lifted a little. I’d be diagnosed by a new psychiatrist closer to my home about a week after being released. I’ll write about the experience of being on Lamictal another day. What I will say is that it offers me a level of stability that I’ve never felt in my life. I’m stable enough to feel happiness at times. Days like yesterday and today cause such a visceral fear in me though. This is what the beginning of a depression feels like. And it scares the hell out of me. I hope tomorrow is better. I’m still coping, but today has be a little unnerved.


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