Thursday, 21 November 2013

Hashtag My Depression Pointer

One of the first posts on Depressed Academics was "What is it like to be depressed?"

In that post I talked about my pointer. I often feel I can assess a day at a rough number from about -10 to +10.

In a possibly rash experiment I've decided to start announcing my pointer to the world via twitter.
One change though: in the post about my pointer I had negative be good.  But that's never felt right, so from now on, minus is bad, plus is good, and zero is neutral.  So zero is actually pretty good for me.  While minus is more common.   About -5 to -6 is where my functioning really starts to reduce.

If you want to see how I'm doing, go here:

#MyDepressionPointer on twitter

Monday, 11 November 2013

The medication dilemma (again)

It's been a couple weeks since I took a medical withdrawal from my university. I decided to move back where I am from and to stay with my family for the time being. After all, I won't have to pay rent and can focus on my health. 

I do have to admit I feel more stable now that I am home. But sometimes I am just so overwhelmed by anger I can hardly breathe. Mostly about the medications I am on and the side effects I am experiencing from them. The thought to go off my medications crosses my mind several times a day. But I know that going off my medications abruptly would only bring more problems. 

I know if I were to attempt to taper my medications again (with the help of a medical professional, of course), I would have to make major modifications to my lifestyle. And what about sustainability? Is it even possible for a person with a mood disorder to live medication free (or at the very least at low dosages)? 

I hate my stable but blunted moods. I hate how hungry I am and how it seems like I can't stop eating. I even crave different and unhealthier foods. I sometimes can't even look at pictures of myself without grimacing because of how much weight I have gained. I dislike people asking about why my left hand moves so much (from the tardive dyskinesia). 

The thing that bothers me most about medications is the fact that my symptoms are still there, sometimes in full throttle. And then the additional coping I have to do with the side effects.

Instead of feeling empowered by medications, instead of feeling like I have a greater grasp on my emotions, I feel dependent, discouraged, disappointed. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Vignette: My head is screaming

And my feet are slowing down.

Tonight ended with an anxiety attack. I had been fighting internally to stay sane and not go to pieces for a few hours, sometimes successfully, sometimes losing the battle. For whatever reason I ended up wanting to get myself sane rather than actually talk to someone (say my wife, right next to me) about what I was feeling.

Towards the end of the evening, it felt like the inside of my head was screaming with the pressure of an anxiety attack that wanted to take over everything, to the point where it was getting hard to hear anything outside. Hard to hear my wife's conversation.

And then I started slowing down. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I was even able to guide our path. But it was getting harder and harder, and my steps kept getting shorter and shorter. After outpacing me three-four times and not noticing for a while, my wife decided to walk behind me instead, to make sure she wouldn't leave me behind.

Now we're home. I've grabbed one of my anti-anxiety pills, for when I can't quite handle things on my own even if I try. One of the last-resort shouldn't-really-be-taking pills. Getting hold of water to swallow with was a struggle. Calming down my grimacing facial rictus to the point where I could put things in my mouth was a struggle.

And then things got better. I swallowed. I took care of our laundry. My wife unpacked our shopping. So of course, now that I can move again, the feelings of guilt are creeping back in. Guilt for making such a fuss. Guilt for not being able to control my feelings better. Guilt for all the sadness and upset this brings my wife when she has to see me suffering.

Guilt that doesn't help anyone with anything in any way whatsoever.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ineffective at work

I talked to a student today - though telling you this is probably (quite rightly) an invasion of my obligation of privacy to students.

So I'm not going to tell you what was said in any shape or form. 

But what struck me just now was ... well let me tell you the background... 

I've been very ineffective for a few weeks.  For example today there were a few things I wanted to do when I went to work in the morning.  One was simple, rather urgent as I should have done it days or weeks ago, and would take a few minutes when I got into work at about 10am.  It's after 8pm and I haven't done it yet. 

When I got into work an even more urgent thing came up so that distracted me.  But that was another relatively simple task, which I finished about 1pm or just after. 

Very often the last few weeks I've been doing this kind of thing. Simple tasks getting done late at night or not at all.   I've just about been holding it together, but I just have not been effective at my job. 

So that's the background.

What struck me today was that this may be a symptom of having been depressed.  It's not been terrible but it's not been great either.   And when I'm on form I can zip through some of these simple tasks.  Because they are simple.  It's often a case of being able to start them.  Because I can do them if I start them. 

Also the last few days I've been having a mild cold or other mild illness.  Not a big deal but it's slowed me down a lot, maybe making me more aware of my uselessness.  Which I say (the word useless) not as an honest assessment, but as my internal feeling.