Friday, August 28, 2015

I feel right at home in this stunning monochrome

When I get into a bad place, I slide so incrementally that I have no idea I'm doing so.

I cannot draw the descent, I don't think, better than I did a couple years ago.

I think, I'm fine, actually. Just tired. Just a little cranky. I cry sometimes, but I've been dealing with some big things. So who wouldn't?

Plus, I have a doctor; I take an antidepressant. I must be fine. (I mean, haha, in the scheme.)

I can live there for quite a while not knowing.

I've been told that if you put a frog into hot water, it will leap out. But if you slowly, slowly turn up the temperature, it will stay in until it boils. I hate this idea. Who tested this, I wonder?

But it's an analogy that works for me. If my mood suddenly plummeted six feet, I'd notice, and so would everyone around me. But with me it is so gradual. Rather than heating, my internal temperature lowers perhaps a degree at a time.

It takes me ages before I realize I'm the frog.

I get a little more impatient, more short-tempered, resentful. And then more. But this could be anything. I don't have enough alone time. The kids are fighting. I haven't had enough sleep.

It probably doesn't matter that much. Because nothing actually matters that much. And everything is hard.

I visit the bleak places in my head. But who doesn't, right? And then I visit them more often. And they become larger. Increasing from a room to two, to a large structure, to an elaborate labyrinth.

And it's grey, sharply, flatly so. It's not jagged. It's smooth, but with sharp corners. And you can see too much detail, like in dressing rooms with triple mirrors. Not muted and glowy soft-focus, like Cher in her later movies.

Time stretches endlessly in both directions. Looking back, my life has always been pointless. And, oh, look! It always will be.

It is bright but here's no rosy sun on the horizon. Just harsh obligation, repetition, joylessness.

It becomes easier and easier to slip into my mind, and harder to get out.

Eventually, because she asks how I'm doing, I mention the bleakness, the utter pointlessness, to my friend Kris. She lives in Europe; we mainly see each other on Facebook.

She expresses surprise. I seem so happy! My life seems full and purpose-driven. Look at my smiling pictures! My cute kids! Our adventures!

Yes. Look at us.

She's also a therapist, and a very long-time friend. She gets it. Can I talk to my doctor? Explore other medication options?

I tell her that I actually have an upcoming six-month checkup. I will bring it up. When he asks how I am, I say, "I'm not doing well."

Normally I'd say, "Fine!" I would ask how he was. I always do. Not with him, but with other doctors, I have often wound up hearing more about them than they have about me.

Deflect! Sit with your back to a wall! Eyes on the door!

This is learned behavior.

He suggests that it's kind of hard to know if this is depression or really just me reacting to the endless repetition and frustration that is summer with 24/7 demands from kids.

Is he validating my suspicion of utter pointlessness? I wonder this silently.

Out loud, I say that I think it is more than that. I visit the bleak places way too often. I didn't go to utter despair on Zoloft, but it made me so tired, which is why we switched. But maybe Wellbutrin is not my friend?

Things are way too ugly and hostile in my mind.

He suggests adding a wee bit of Lexapro. I say that friends have told me it made them tired. Or it made them gain weight.

He says both are possible, but we should try and see. I'm on the tiniest dose. I can double it in a week and I will still be on a fraction of what many people take. And you only gain weight if you eat more. It doesn't slow down your metabolism.

This was a little over two weeks ago.

The bleakness, the pointlessness, the anger, the hostility, the utter despair? At some point a week or so ago, I realized that they just...weren't there anymore.

Nick said I've been nicer to everyone that I've been in months and months. I'm not snapping. I'm not critical. I'm pleasant.

This, obviously, is good.

Now, instead, I'm tired. I could easily sleep 12 hours and still nap. Not depressed tired. Just tired tired. So this is not ideal. But I see my doctor fella again next week.

I've been through this enough to know that it is chemical. And this time, the switch was pretty dramatic.

What I find so disconcerting is this: all of those feelings, they were so real. The version of me and of my life that I visited in my mind, they didn't seem like alternate reality. Or unreality. Or ugly depression lies.

They seemed like the absolutely truth.


  1. I know it's so frustrating to play the "is this the one?" shell game with medication, but at least this one worked well enough to remind you that this IS a chemical thing, and you can hang onto that while sorting the rest of it out.

    I kind of feel like when I am depressed, that *IS* my reality. Depression is my truth sometimes, but it is also in my power to change that truth, just as it's in my power to take thyroid medication every day so I can function better. Sometimes the meds need to be adjusted, but they're both real illnesses with chemical consequences for my body. I don't think it's a lie, I think it's a symptom.

    1. YES. I am not psyched to play the shell game but it was a great reminder that it is chemical and can be turned around.

      I agree that they're genuinely happening, but I believe they are lies. I mean, when I'm not depressed, I know I'm not worthless. And I'm not actually worthless while I'm depressed. So I guess I didn't express it well. Because however you feel is your truth, but it's not always accurate. Maybe that's a better way to put it.

  2. Big hugs flying to you, Lisa!

  3. I hope your appointment goes well this week. It's not easy to see a doctor. You're in my thoughts.
    I think there's always a gap between how we feel and how things are. Even in times of joy, it's relative to an ordinary day or a tough day. Which is not to make light of depressed feelings, rather to say this gap is always there. Another constant is that you and your life, it matters. It matters to me.

    1. Love love love to you, Heather. You are a joy.

  4. Lisa, your words are so very is exactly what I feel, too, with depression. The medication game just takes so LONG......Love your honest.

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Yes, it is a guessing game, because maybe this and maybe that and you can't test anything except by trying it out for a while.


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