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Depression, Antidepressants, and SAD, Oh My!

About two months ago, I realized something significant. My antidepressants are actually working. Am I always happy? No. Am I even happy most of the time? I guess it depends on how you define happy. But, to be honest, that’s not what depression is really about. Depression is about not being able to cope with stresses in life. It’s about shutting down when life gets too hard to deal with. It’s about brain chemistry and not being able to enjoy the simplest of pleasures.

I have a very stressful job. I think about quitting almost daily. Some days, like any other job, are worse than others. When my antidepressants weren’t working, I’d “cope” with my stress as a result of my job and my depression in very unhealthy ways, like:

  • Burning through my PTO (paid time off) like there’s a hole in my pocket
  • Having a ton of Fibromyalgia flareups
  • Overeating
  • Over sleeping
  • Procrastinating my to do list at work
  • Being extremely irritable and grumpy
  • Being anti-social
  • Sitting on the couch doing nothing while I’m at home
  • Going into victim

I know my medication is working because even though I’m still extremely stressed and I’m not always happy, I’m not depressed like I have been in the past. And, I’ve realized I can cope with the stress in healthy ways. Sure, I’d still love to quit my job if a better opportunity presented itself. But, until then I know I can survive.

When I’m in a good place, I:

  • No longer burn through my PTO, which is nice because I can actually take vacations
  • Take 5-minute walks to breathe when I realize I need a break
  • Don’t procrastinate and just get the job done
  • Stick to my diet (lifestyle change) and take care of my physical health, which in turn allows me to take care of my mental health
  • Exercise to release endorphins

Seasonal Affective Disorder

My only concern is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), something else I’ve been diagnosed with. SAD affects me during the winter when it’s dark before I go to work and dark before I come home. I’ve never been in as good of a place as I am in right now before with medication and I don’t know how it works or will work with SAD. I can already feel SAD affecting me. Or, today I started wondering if I’m beginning to fall into its clutches. I’m not sure if I’m just tired, bored, and stressed (remember HALT BS?) or becoming depressed. They often feel the same to me in the beginning.

I had hoped my medication was going to keep SAD away this year, but SAD may be too strong for my meds. I just don’t know since it’s only seasonal. If I do fall into SAD’s clutches, I hope once it starts getting lighter again and SAD eventually goes away, I can go right back to being in a better place.

SAD be damned. I’ll get through this. I always do. I’ll just remember that everything is better in the spring. 😉

I’m glad I’ve been able to see how awesome it is to feel “normal” since I haven’t felt normal for more than half my life. I hope my antidepressants continue to work so I can keep feeling normal and keep coping with life in healthy ways.

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Rising from the Ashes

A few years ago, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I wouldn’t say my depression was at its worst because I wasn’t suicidal, but I was in a bad way. My mom had recently passed away. I blew threw over 100 hours of paid time off in a little over a year. I was nearing my heaviest weight and I had tried over and over to lose weight but no matter what I kept gaining it right back and then some. I felt like a yo-yo going back and forth, up and down, good and bad, happy and sad.

I’m not much of a writer, but I’ve dabbled with a few stories here and there. However, during this low point, I had an itch to write some poetry and this was the result. I look at it when I’m especially low to help me remember not to give up.

Rising from the Ashes

Why?
Why do I keep doing this?
I am nothing.
A failure.
I try and try and try, never following through, never succeeding.

Shame.
Guilt.
Weakness.
Depression.

I’m sucked into the depths of despair.
I crumple.
I fall.
I cry.

I feel nothing.

I am lost.
I am drifting in a tide of uncertainties.

I want to be happy.
I want to be healthy.
I want more in life.

I am impassioned.
I am defiant.

I fight back.
I try again and again and again, until I succeed.

The Refiner’s fire is agonizing.
But, I wait for the ashes.
The ashes of rebirth.
I will rise.
I will succeed.
I will be reborn into a phoenix.