Posts Tagged ‘life’

I’ve tried to write this post about a dozen times and I end up feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things I want to say. So I’m going to try to strip it down bare, stick with the nitty gritty, and write more later if I think what I wanted to say (but didn’t) needs to be said.

I have lived most of my life wondering how people get out of bed in the morning and function. I’ve been hospitalized three times. I’ve taken enough antidepressants that when a doctor sees my list their eyebrows go up. I’ve even done a round of ECT (never. again.). There is nothing quite so difficult as to live life in a way that isn’t really living. It’s existing. It’s torture. It’s hell on earth. There aren’t enough Hallmark cards and fluffy cat videos to make it okay. I can read my Bible for hours and I still want to die because the emotional pain is unbearable. It’s exhausting, soul-sucking, and demoralizing.

My depression has kept my therapist on his toes. The result is that he and my psychiatrist have kept their ears to the ground in terms of treatment options.

Over the last few years, I’ve been hearing murmurs of a drug, ketamine, being used in lower doses to help treatment resistant depression. The trials have been extremely promising, and while a few boutique clinics have opened up across the country, access has been limited. Furthermore, since it’s being used off-label in these clinics, insurance companies aren’t wont to cough up for it, leaving the hefty price tag for the patient to pick up.

A couple of months ago, however, it came to my mental health team’s attention that there was a psychiatrist at a nearby hospital offering ketamine infusions and having luck pushing it through insurance. With little else to try, I was referred over and after meeting with this psychiatrist, I was set up to do six infusions over three weeks. The psychiatrist had participated in a small clinical trial dealing only with patients diagnosed with depression and they had seen a 90% success rate with moods remaining stable a month after treatment ended. In his own experience, he told me he’d seen a third with similar success, a third with no respond, and a third with some response and that some people opted for maintenance treatments.

Given where my depression was, my expectations were low. I was desperate.

I don’t want to paint this treatment as a miracle treatment. However, after living most of my life with this nightmare in my own brain, battling suicidal ideation, and trying to do more than merely survive, this treatment was… well, let me just say that I hope it becomes more widespread to give other people out there like me a shot at sanity.

The first treatment was like a breath of fresh air. My most distinct memory was that it felt like the five elephants sitting on my chest all got up. I took a physical, deep breath and I was flabbergasted at my ability to breathe. After, the most noticeable change was how quiet my mind was. The suicidal thoughts that had plagued me since I was a kid were gone. Gone. I was still depressed but I didn’t want to die.

Gradually, over the course of the treatments, there continued to be improvement. By the time I got to the last one, I was ready to be done. I went from scoring a 27+ on the PHQ-9 to scoring somewhere between a 5-10. I really can’t express the magnitude of that change.

I feel like my head is still spinning from such a drastic change over a short period of time.

It’s now been a week since my last infusion and I meet with the psychiatrist again next week. I’m still holding my breath somewhat because while I’ve seen a significant improvement, it’s only been a week. My depression could reassert itself and my therapist does think it’s likely I’ll need some kind of maintenance, but really we don’t know. Using ketamine for depression is still experimental (the drug isn’t, the treatment is). There’s a lot they simply don’t know.

So right now it’s wait and see.

That being said, I’m enjoying where I’m at for the moment. To be able to experience the full range emotions with nothing buzzing around in the background threatening to drown me is unusual. I finally understand how people get out of bed. I finally understand how people pursue interests. I understand what it is to cry and not have the sorrow turn into a deluge. To experience stress and not have it crumble me into pieces.

Part of that is the work of my pretty fantastic therapist and the dialectical behavioral therapy team at the clinic I go to. Despite the fact that they didn’t really touch my depression, I practiced the skills and internalized them. And now, now I can use them and they do something.

I’ll end my post here. With a toddler, I don’t have much time for editing so forgive my mistakes. I’m happy to answer questions about it and I’ll try to write more in the future, maybe focusing on the experience, and updating as to how I’m feeling.

Until then, peace out.

 

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Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with depression, particularly chronic depression, is seeking treatment.

There’s a stigma with mental illness and that stigma gets multiplied and added to any conventional treatment. Antidepressants are derided, whether it be through hushed whispers about ‘happy pills’ or those who have never faced true darkness simply hand waving the depression away. “If only she would eat a paleo diet and run twenty miles a day…” It’s an exaggeration, and yet with depression, that’s exactly what every dietary/exercise suggestion sounds like.

The implication, whether the person realizes it or not, is that it’s my fault somehow. I’m not strong enough, smart enough, fast enough, positive enough, optimistic enough, committed to my health enough. I’m not enough. I’m a failure. I’m broken because I broke myself somehow. I am unworthy. I am small. I am weak. I need medication. I can’t find medication.

Something about me is broken and it’s my fault.

As with anything there’s a kernel of truth. I live in a fallen world with sin and we’re all broken on some level, just my brokenness shows up in the form of an impossible darkness.

And from there I get a lot of “You just need to have faith in Jesus.” I used to wonder what that meant because the truth is, it’s my faith that gets me up in the morning and gets me to take care of my children. So far God has done nothing about this weight on my shoulders and I honestly don’t know if he will. In America we like to think all our problems can be solved because we can get a cheeseburger down the road or drive to Whole Foods and buy organic kale and vaccines work so well we think they must not have worked at all.

11 19 11_1540God doesn’t work like that, I say. No one listens. Because the idea that one might have to live with a wound that hurts for the rest of one’s life is too much to bear.

I know because I bear it and there are many moments I don’t know if I will make it to the next one.

It’s a lonely road to commit oneself to the path I’ve chosen. Naturopaths are swindlers and alternative medicine is a scam 99% of the time. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t altruistic, so I find good doctors, the ones that want to help. That doesn’t stop people from suggesting supplements and acupuncture which I smile graciously and don’t bother with. It’s too easy to get sucked into a world where my idol is health. I’ve made a decision as to what I will try and what I won’t try and it’s based on my faith and what I believe about God and salvation. It’s more complicated than I can explain on a blog post and more personal than I would want to share in public anyway.

I’m very tired these days. Maybe it’s the winter. Maybe it’s one more medication that hasn’t worked but has given me frustrating side effects. Maybe it’s a depression that dogs my every step and has haunted me since I was a child.

Maybe it’s the loneliness of realizing that no matter how much help I ask for, it’ll never be enough because no one else can fight my demons.

Past 10k (Notes from NaNo)

Posted: November 5, 2014 in Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing
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Day 5. 12,000 words.

I’m really surprised by how well this year is going. The previous two years that I participated left me struggling each day to get to the recommended word count. I constantly checked my count to see if I’d reached the coveted 1,667 words for the day. I wrote each word with a level of anxiety that I would describe as often story-breaking. I had every judgment in the book floating around in my head. It didn’t matter that I knew that no book comes from a writer’s fingertips in pristine, publishable condition. No, despite knowing that I agonized over every sentence.

I pretty much expected the same this year. And I had it, day one… day two… paranoia set in. I was ready for it. I pulled out all of my therapy skills (thank you awesome therapist) and I got down to business. Inner critic started yammering? Non-judgmental stance. My story is neither good nor bad, it simply is and it is a first draft. I kept taking my thoughts back there every time she reared her ugly head to tell me about all the ways my story was crappy. I came to this fight expecting to battle her at least until 25k.

Imagine my surprise to find that she’s decided to (mostly) shut her trap.

I don’t know if this will be the novel. Y’know, the one I decide to endure a myriad of rejection letters for (or the one I decide to self-publish). I do know I feel very differently about this story in the past. Whether that’s me getting a grip on my DBT skills or if that’s because it’s just a better story, I can’t tell you.

But here I am. 12k in and looking forward to the halfway mark. See you then.

Christmas Traditions

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Christmas, Life, Parenting
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Day One

This year, with E being bigger and with JJ now here, I decided to make my own advent calendar. I collected jars and modge podged them with glitter so they sparkle like the snow outside (ah, the romantic notion of snow… I’m going to be glowering at it come mid-January). 

Day 12

 

 

 

I took old business cards and pasted them to felt so the blank side faced up. On the other side is the daily Bible reading as this is our tradition. Read the Scripture, pray, and then the gift can be opened. I still feel like an amateur at arts and crafts, but I think I snagged a good bit of XP in this department. I’ll probably try to modify the jars for next year.

Oh, Hey, Spit Up

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Insecurities, Life, Parenting
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So lately I’ve worried that maybe I’m too dumb to do more than what I’m doing. I’m not supposed to admit that right? That I have insecurities as a stay-at-home mom? The problem with insecurities is that someone is always ready to either yell at you (YOU CHOSE THIS! BAD DAYS NOT ALLOWED!), condemn you (DO YOU NOT SEE THE CUTENESS OF YOUR CHILD?!), or urge you to go another way (I HEARD SUBWAY WAS HIRING!). It’s hard to say – I believe in what I’m doing, but some days I jus don’t like it much. Every choice has pros and cons and there are days when the cons are bigger and you think “Why can’t I dye my hair, change my name, and write a doctoral thesis?” IMG_3199

(And then I worry that maybe I’m not smart enough to write that doctoral thesis and the truth is, I may never know even though one day, I’d like to find out. I think. Unless I’m dumb, then I don’t know that I want to know).

Yeah, it’s been one of those days. I put on a shirt with spit up and decided, why bother changing?