Feeling Heavy: That Depression Kind

I started this blog with the intention of utilizing it as a therapeutic outlet. Then I got caught up in the idea of getting a lot of followers and visits and views and I forgot to keep doing that, in a way. So today, I’m gonna write about what’s really going on with me in my head, because I need to share it, and it might as well be with you, right?

I can feel this depression thing hanging on or hanging on to me again today. But wait, I told you I had turned a corner previously…I still think I have (I haven’t had a suicidal thought in quite a while it seems), but today, I feel heavy and up and down and irritated and sad and the sad feels big. I woke up feeling positive. I did a little shopping and enjoyed that. I put together a new flower arrangement for our front door and that was fun! But slowly, as the day crept on, the heaviness grew heavier and my ability to cope with the loudness of my home and youngest child (she lives with autism and can be quite loud) lessened more and more.

In order to get through it I isolated. I went to my room and locked myself in, literally, and did some bible journaling. I find this to be a great refuge for my mind and it does my soul good. I liked my finished product even though I am noticing that I am comparing my entries more and more to others recently. (red flag) It really did turn out quite nicely. (How I wish those self-loathing thoughts would seriously and completely disappear forever!) Then I tried to be present with my husband and youngest in our living room, but I felt like I had to tune out…I focused on social media and reading blog posts of others and colored some of a drawing I recently created. I was completely isolated in my mind. I truly just couldn’t cope. I wanted to run away. I wanted to go back into my bedroom and lock the door and never come out.

Something has shifted in me recently. I had experienced a couple weeks of what I now know was hypomania and naturally my doctor adjusted my medications. I want that hypomania back. I want to feel happy or excited or something. I don’t want to feel this heavy heart that’s beating in my chest tonight. I’m scared of these feelings. I don’t want to feel them. I don’t want to go back to that dark place. Please don’t take me back there.

I don't want to go backto thatdark place. (1).png

 

I’m going to try really hard to remember that although this has been happening more frequently lately, it doesn’t mean I’m there, stuck in the darkness. I’m going to remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and help is on the way. This heaviness may lighten up. I’m going to try again. It’s Easter tomorrow and we celebrate the resurrection of our savior, perhaps tomorrow will be a resurrection for me as well.

There, I got it out. That felt good. I’m glad I wrote it down.

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Anatomy of Suicidal Thinking

You may or may not know that in November I made an attempt to end my life. (It feels rather bold, unusual and uncomfortable to start a post that way.) Since that event, and before, it’s been a long and difficult road to trudge, to say the least.

In October my husband and I became keenly aware that the depression was becoming severe. I was becoming more frequently plagued with thoughts of suicide and self-harm. (Are you thinking self-harm is just for teenagers? Well, you’re wrong.) In an effort to stave off the beast, I was admitted to a partial hospitalization program where I spent the day with other struggling folks and a therapist for group sessions Monday through Friday for three weeks. I learned a lot, felt very safe there and enjoyed the structure, as much as a severely depressed person can enjoy these things. 

I guess I felt like I was supposed to be all better after that, but I wasn’t and that was frustrating. I began my search for a therapist and went on a couple visits but I felt just as bad as I had before I started the treatment. Efforts to diagnose me accurately and to find medication that would be therapeutic were rather conservative. It’s clear now that neither the treatment nor the medication protocol were as aggressive as they could have been or should have been. 

I was diagnosed with bipolar II, a diagnosis I am still a bit unsure of, as I think I might be of the rapid cycling nature, but bipolar none-the-less. All my life I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, along with a few other friends like anxiety and ptsd. 

On November 8 I ended up in the ICU after taking a very large amount of a medication I had on hand to treat anxiety that is also used to treat high blood pressure. I spent a couple days there recovering from the effects of the overdose and then I was transferred to the hospital’s psych unit for a couple more days. Since then I have finally found a therapist I think will really work for me, a good psychiatrist and I’ve been on a long journey of medication trial and error.

All of this to say, that after my experiences and with the knowledge I have obtained before, during and after treatment, I came up with what I believe to be a pretty accurate depiction of the anatomy of suicidal thinking. I’m not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, therapist or anything close…although I did major in psychology in college, so please treat this info as just what it is, a sick person trying to better understand their illness. 

And so, here it is…

   
 
Like my very professional hand-written document? Me too. 

Some may think that my starting premise of a negative or triggering event is inaccurate, but for me this can include the transition of actually becoming depressed rather than a specific event or trigger, that in itself can be the trigger. But, I think that once one is already actually experiencing depression the negative event or experience can be something that stands alone to set suicidal thinking in motion. Additionally, this can happen multiple times or you can be stuck in one long dreadful period of suicidal thinking.

“Normal” or healthy individuals won’t get stuck in the stages of self-loathing/negative thoughts. They will move back to a normal thought pattern. Those of us struggling with mental health issues can get stuck here or at any one of these stages or move on down the road to suicidal thoughts.

What do you think? How accurate is my depiction to you or for you? If you don’t experience a mental health issue maybe this will help you understand part of the thinking and experience of a loved one who does. 

I look forward to hearing your feedback and thanks for reading! I’ll be here, muddling through the muck of all this messy stuff, waiting! 

Beginning Again with Therapy

Bright mint rubber boots in the garden summer house background

I was discharged from the hospital at the end of the second week of November, 2015. I knew immediately that I had to find a therapist, because that is what you do after you attempt suicide. I’m not a stranger to therapy, but admittedly it had been a while. I began my quest a bit slowly and timidly. It’s not easy to decide to whom you want to bare your soul, now is it?

After a couple of different attempts, I believe I have found someone who I can really work with. And, I kind of can’t believe it. I’ve been seeing her for about a month or so now, once a week, and I have experienced on two separate occasions (after leaving her office) ensuing really good days , which I have found totally perplexing, surprising and ultimately…good.

When you get used to so many days strung together that are bleak at best, it’s rather obvious when a good one comes along. When you can somehow associate that with your therapist and the work you are doing in therapy, I think that’s definitely a positive. Now positives aren’t something I’m used to talking about as of late…but hey…I’m working on it.

I find myself looking forward to the opportunity to share…to share my dark stuff. I want to share my secret feelings and frustrations with someone, someone that won’t be hurt or mad or frightened by them. I want to spill it. I want to spill my feelings all over the place like a can of red paint on bright white carpet. I want to look at it and see it and look at it with someone who won’t be upset with me for tipping over that can. I’m ready to talk.

The first couple of visits with my new therapist have been filled with a lot of history giving, the getting to know you drill and working on coping techniques – so that as we dig deep I have tools to handle the emotions and responses that will likely arise. I like that she is focused on helping me to develop these strategies and to learn to really use them. The trick is I have to remember to practice and to practice and to practice again. I’m not real good at that, historically. But since the paint is gonna spill eventually, it might be time I change my ways.

I went through an outpatient treatment program in October (before the suicide attempt) and came away with a gazillion handouts and info on coping techniques. I even put them in a binder with sheet protectors so that it would be easy to reference. Guess how many times I’ve opened that binder?

Zero. Zero times.

So now, with a new therapist by my side, it’s truly time to get better, make the effort and to practice using the tools she is providing me. If I don’t, I’m just going to end up back where I started…that’s not a place I want to go.