xiphias: (Default)
Re: depression:

I want to clarify that what I was posting was NOT supposed to be exhaustive. It was merely supposed to be describing what I experience, personally. Several people posted really interesting and enlightening comments about what THEIR depression is like, and how it differs from mine. I encourage people to go back and read the comments to get more perspectives.

I also encourage other people who suffer from depression to blog about what their experience is like. I hope that, maybe, by getting more descriptions from the inside, people will be able to, y'know, come up with ideas about what depression is -- or, perhaps, what depressions ARE. I suspect that "depression" is a CATEGORY of diseases, not a single disease. Like "cancer". There are many different cancers out there, and a treatment for one may be useless, or harmful, for another. And perhaps, if we got more descriptions of different kinds of depression, we could get better diagnosis, and perhaps, from there, we could get better treatment.

I also wouldn't mind hearing from therapists on my friends list if this sort of descriptive stuff is useful.

In an entirely other direction, I was wondering if I had a distinctive authorial "voice." Specifically, I was wondering if it is possible for people reading the Purim shpeil to figure out which scenes I wrote the dialog for, and which scenes were written by others.
xiphias: (Default)
You know, since I declared war on depression at the end of January, one of my friends has gotten her doctor to change her meds to some that worked better, one friend has decided that he has had a depression problem all his life and is going to find a therapist to start working on it, and one has decided that she deserves to have Nice Things in her life and not have everyone dump on her all the time.

I'm kinda happy about that, y'know?

Anyway, because I've been talking about it, I decided I'd write a little about what depression is like for me.

The first thing I want to do is to distinguish between three things which can all be called "depression", may externally look similar, but which are fundamentally different.

They are sadness and melancholy, situational depression, and clinical depression.

When I talk about the thing which I have, which I consider my enemy, which I consider to be an evil and pernicious disease -- I'm referring ONLY to that third one.
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Too many of my friends are in emotional pain. Now, some emotional pain is because of genuine loss, because people are in bad situations, because of real, external things that cause people to be in pain.

There's not a hell of a lot I can do about that, except be a shoulder to cry on, and to listen, and to express sympathy. And I want to do that for you.

But there are also a lot of people I love who are in emotional pain because of depression, and other internal effects that people carry with them.

I have decided that depression is my enemy. I hate it. I've started to make a good dent on killing it in my own brain, and I am now getting sick and tired of this evil enemy attacking my friends, too.

Depression, you are my enemy. I HATE you, and I hate to see you fucking with my friends. And so, I am YOUR enemy, too.

So, people I love -- when I see Depression attacking you, I'm going to get mad, and I'm going to start pushing you to take care of yourself and to destroy it.

If you are sad and upset because of grief and loss, that's not depression. If you are sad and upset because of loved ones who have died, that's not depression. If you are sad and upset because your life actually does, genuinely, suck, that's not depression.

But if the worm of depression is eating away your mind from inside? That's what I declare war upon.

Now, I don't care HOW you fight it, so long as it works. For some of you, taking B12 vitamins will work, because your brains just aren't producing enough of those B-complex vitamins, but, if you take supplements, your brain will be able to use them to make the seratonin and other neurotransmitters you need. If that works for you, that's fantastic.

Some of you will be able to control your depression through exercise. Your brain will be able to use the endorphins and other chemicals released in exercise to synthesize the chemicals it needs.

For some of you, that won't work. Some of you will need antidepressants. For some of you, selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors will work -- you make enough seratonin, but other parts of your brain that don't really need it are slurping it up before it can do its job. For some of you, those won't work, either. There are several classes of antidepressants. If one doesn't work on you, try another one.

Talk therapy might work for some of you. For others of you, it will do fuck-all. At least, before you're on drugs that help. Once your brain DOES have the chemicals it needs, THEN talk therapy will be useful, because, at that point, your brain will physically have the structures to be CAPABLE of not being depressed. At THAT point, you can start to learn how to not be depressed. But you physically CAN'T learn how to not be depressed when, in your brain, that whole part is just plain missing.

Being depressed isn't your fault. It's a physical disability. It is your brain physically not producing the chemicals that non-depressed brains have. In order to NOT be depressed, those chemicals need to be there, some way or another.

And it is just about impossible to get out of depression on your own. Those chemicals which are lacking? Those are the chemicals which would allow you to do things about getting out of depression -- and they're not there.

I have a wife who pushed me into treatment. And pushed me into different treatments, one after the other, until we found one that worked.

So, that's it. I want these motherf-ckling depressions OUT OF your motherf-cking brains. And I'm going to be yelling at each one of you to DO something about it, and if that thing isn't working, to DO SOMETHING ELSE, until you kill the depression.

Unless you don't want me to -- feel free to tell me NOT to do that. I'm not your parent. There are a couple people on my f-list that I AM in some sense responsible for, and you don't get to opt out of this ([livejournal.com profile] temima, I'm looking at you) -- but the rest of you can.

I just hate depression. I hate that it attacks my friends.
xiphias: (Default)
So, in the last couple months, my Depression has been close enough to under control that I think that the main things holding me back now are the habits of depression. Even though I'm not being squished under the emotional ten-ton rocks, I've been squished by them so long that I have to re-learn -- or, let's face it, learn for the FIRST time, since I've NEVER been not-depressed -- how to stand up, move around, and do things.

And I'm making progress. For the last two weeks, I've been doing chores around the house every day, and have started to make parts of the house look habitable. That's never happened before.

And I've started being able to do things like cook for Lis.

So, yesterday, I made quiche. With a homemade pie crust, from the new Cook's Illustrated (mainly, I wanted to try their pie crust recipe -- it works well -- so I made quiche for it). And I saved the water in which I cooked the veggies that I put in the quiche, and, today, I used that water as part of a stock to make a soup.

So we've had homemade, fresh meals, two nights in a row -- quiche, and soup. And both were good.

So I'm now craving pizza. Bad pizza. Like Domino's or something. The kind of pizza I don't actually LIKE. Because I've been making good food.

THAT'S what's annoying.
xiphias: (Default)
I'm feeling dizzy, feverish, muscle aches, chills, and sweaty palms. I can't find our thermometer, but I suspect that I'm running a fever.

This is good. See, yesterday and today have been completely nonproductive days for me. I fell asleep for several hours yesterday afternoon, and I didn't manage to shower and dress before Lis left for work this morning.

So I was worried that I was falling back into a depression.

But, nope! I'm just sick! Yay! Normal sickness! Nothing weird or long-term crippling! Hooray!

Also, Go Sox!


Jan. 5th, 2007 12:20 am
xiphias: (Default)
So I should be going to sleep. (But Lis is still doing stuff in the bedroom.)

Anyway, for the past couple days, I've been down with a variation of the Creeping Crud which is going around. Main symptom, hacking cough. Secondary but more debilitating symptom, exhaustion -- been sleeping fourteen hours a day or so -- ten hours, get up for a couple hours, crash for a couple hours, get up for a couple hours, like that.

And muscle aches.

As creeping cruds go, this one isn't all that bad -- no nausea, no gut problems, no fever. (Some sudden cold sweats and stuff, and feeling either colder or hotter than the ambient temperature would suggest, but nothing bad -- my temperature has been between 98.4 and 98.6 Fahrenheit degrees consistently, which is about my normal temperature range.)

But here's the thing -- in those couple hours I'm up, okay, I'm mainly sitting here reading LJ or playing card games against the computer, but I'm also showering, getting dressed, taking my meds, and usually managing an hour or so of housework. Less than has to be done, but more than I have done before.

From this, we can determine that Creeping Crud < Depression.

I just like making these comparisons, in case someone's reading this who's encountered depression, and not understood what it was, and has, as is very natural, gotten frustrated with the depressed person for not DOING anything. I mean, you see a person who COULD be making their life work, and just not DOING anything about it. Why WOULDN'T you be frustrated?

So, just to note: a Creeping Crud that sidelines you for a couple days is a significantly less debilitating condition than major depression. It is much, much easier to do things with this Crud than it is with depression.

And the depression is pervasive enough that you can't see it when you're in it.

So, if you see someone who is depressed, just remember: that person about as sick as you would be with a medium case of the flu, and has been that sick for longer, and has been that sick for so long that they don't know what "healthy" would feel like.

Now, for those of you reading this who are currently dying of extremely painful diseases, or are sidelined by other pervasive medical conditions which are equally or more debilitating, okay, I'm cool if YOU guys have no sympathy for depressives.

But if you're healthy? Remember what it's like to be sick, and imagine that that was your entire life, day in, day out.

It does kind of suck that a good 20% of my friends list doesn't have to imagine this. . . .
xiphias: (Default)
So, a couple days ago, I all of a sudden had enough energy to take care of normal tasks. I was able to mail letters, do laundry, do some cleaning.

And the weirdest thing happened that day. As I was walking to the post office, I passed the donut shop, and considered stopping in for a donut. And I realized I didn't really want one. That totally threw me, so I decided to stop in on the way back from the post office, instead.

When I came back, I still didn't want a donut.

I felt greatly uneasy and disturbed by this. So I went home and ate a tub of marshmallow fluff, which made me feel sick, rather than elevating my mood. (Okay, to be fair: there was like half an inch of marshmallow fluff in the bottom of the tub. It was really only like a half-cup of fluff, not a whole tub. Which makes the fact that it made me feel sick truly strange.)
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xiphias: (Default)
One advantage in dealing with my depression is that I have is that I've been depressed for a long time.

You may think that that doesn't sound like a very great advantage.

And you'd be right.

But nonetheless, it is an advantage.

Because when I have a day in which I feel like everything sucks, like I feel like I should just give up on everything I'm trying to do because it's all worthless, when I really don't even quite have it in me to get dressed, I know that it's not real. I know that things AREN'T as hopeless as they feel, that I'm NOT as worthless as I feel, and I know that tomorrow will be different.

If I didn't have experience with this, I might think it was real.

As it is, I know that today was a loss. Nothing got done, nothing went forward. But I know that nothing got UNDONE, either. I didn't make progress, but I didn't regress.

And tomorrow will be better.
xiphias: (Default)
I haven't tended bar since once last September, when I was at a wedding for a friend of [livejournal.com profile] lagaz, [livejournal.com profile] not_the_angel, and [livejournal.com profile] sokmunky. And before that, I hadn't tended bar for nearly a year.

I've been dealing with depression, of course, for all my life, and medication helps some, but it's not enough. Because, while part -- most -- of my depression is chemical and won't go away without drugs, some of it is philosophical. Working at the Hebrew School is WONDERFUL for that: I need to be doing useful work, making a contribution to society.

But it's only one day a week, so it's not enough.

Lis has been pushing me to get more work, partially because there's nothing wrong with more money, but also because she knows this about me, and wants me to be happy. So, a few days ago, I finally put together a bartending resume, and dropped off a copy at a restaurant being built on Rte. 1, which is hiring for all positions.

I'm not going to hear back from them for weeks, but it meant I had a resume. So I made a .txt version, and emailed it to every interesting-sounding opportunity on Craigslist. I applied for like six or eight jobs in ten minutes.

I got a call that night.
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Yesterday was one of those days when I just woke up depressed and unable to do anything. The fact that the cat had pissed on the bed Friday night didn't help -- I'd spent Friday night sleeping on the floor in the first floor bedroom, which is carpeted. Reasonably comfortable, all things considered, but still, not a bed. Anyway, I had tons of chores to do, and they all seemed overwhelming. I needed to buy stuff to de-smoke the bookcases. I needed to de-pissify the bed. I needed to do class prep for Sunday morning. And I couldn't even find my car keys.

I sprinkled de-pissifying baking soda on the mattress, let it sit, and started to vacuum it up. And the vacuum cleaner a splode. All over the mattress and floor.

This sucked. Very, very badly.

Enter [livejournal.com profile] vonbeck to the rescue. He called and asked if I wanted to go out and see the new Zorro movie.

I thought for about an eighth of a second, and realized, "I'm depressed, I'm stuck, and I'm not getting anything useful done. Seeing a friend, and a fun movie, can only help." Besides, it gave me a reason to shower and get dressed. Which is useful for depression.

So, Ben came over, and we caught a 3:40 movie.
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It's been bad for several weeks, if not longer, and it got incredibly bad over the weekend. And this morning -- well, when I'm depressed, I often just sit in front of the computer instead of doing useful things, but today, it was a genuine challenge to even get over here to sit in front of the computer.

And then I got an email, from Julian Murphy, who was one of my students:

hi ian, julian here!
i would like you to know that my soccer team beat our division so we went to
the cup and won it against the hardest teams we ever faced!

i miss you!

I'm still really depressed, but that email's given me enough of a boost that I think I'll be able to get a couple things done today, anyway. Thanks, Jules. I love that kid. Okay, I love all the kids.
xiphias: (Default)
There are a couple reasons. But the most interesting is that, last night, I had an attack of angst. And how I dealt with it.

When I say, "I had an attack of angst," I am speaking in the literal Freudian sense. Last night, and the night before that, for that matter, I had sudden, sharp, intense fear that, after I die, I will not exist. Night before last, I did what I usually do -- got nauseous, shivered for a while, and then eventually managed to shove it to the back of my mind and ignore it, through intense prayer which felt absolutely pointless while I was praying, because this fear is related to and equivalent to, in my case at least, a fear that there is no G-d.

Last night, I did something different. I somehow snipped the connection between the angst and the lump of nausea and sickness beneath my ribcage. I told myself, "This lump of nausea and sickness is real -- I sense it, it is actual and sense-able. But what it is connected to -- that's a thought, and thoughts are ephemeral." And I cut the two of them apart, and wiped away the thought, and the thought vanished. The sense of fear withered and left.

But the lump of nausea, sickness, and dread remained. And is still there now, the next morning. And it doesn't MEAN anything. It's just a lump of nausea, sickness, and dread. Without connection to a cause, or a thought.

And I did not sleep at all well last night, and I feel physically terrible today.

And I find myself wondering: how much of my constant pain and sickness is old emotions floating around my body, stripped of meaning, yet retaining their pain? Is that even POSSIBLE? I wouldn't think it would be, except that I have evidence that it happened last night and is still there, and Xiphias's Law states, "That which exists is possible."
xiphias: (Default)
Dr. Sagov is very difficult to make appointments with, so I saw Dr. Altman, who's the other physician in the practice. I'm starting to really like him. Not as much as I like Dr. Sagov, because, well, Dr. Sagov has been my doctor since I was a wee tot, but Dr. Altman has many of the same traits that make Dr. Sagov a good doctor.

Anyway, the upshot is he upped my dosage of Lexapro, with the comment that it looked like the medication started failing about when the days started getting shorter, so we'll revisit the dosage in six weeks, and, if things are getting better, possibly cut back to the original dosage, with a note to go back up to the higher dosage in November.

And we also talked briefly about therapy as a possibility. I said that, while I wasn't resistant to the idea in principle, I wasn't enthusiastic about it, because I've seen maybe a dozen therapists of one stripe or another in my life, working with six of them fairly extensively, and had really nothing to show for it.

But Lis and I were talking about it further, and I'm trying to figure out if it's time to re-open the question and maybe start again.

And, well, as my friends list is chock full of 1) therapists 2) medical personel of various sorts 3) generally wise people 4) people who've benefited from therapy (with lots of overlap between categories), I figured I'd ask here.
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One thing is that I've been, for no reason I can tell, feeling resistant about taking my antidepressants. I just don't want to take the damn pills. I have to cut them in half, because I was perscribed 20mg pills with instructions to cut them in half, in order to save money, since they charge per pill, so that gets you twice the antidepressants for the same money. And it's just annoying, and I just don't want to do it.

I suppose I've got external reasons to feel depressed, too, but I don't really want to talk about them. And besides, I think the chemical reasons are the more important ones.

I read an article in a magazine today which claimed that there are now forms of talk therapy which can treat depression. That seems so absolutely bizzare to me. I mean, I know myself pretty well -- I'm very self-aware, and am aware of my thought patterns and stuff like that.

And the causality between depressive states and thought patterns, for me, starts with the state, and the thought pattern is a result of that.

There's no correlation between depression and external events, and little correlation between depression and therapy in my life, and incredibly strong correlation between depression and whether I take Lexapro or not. I mean, if I skip the meds for two or three days, I'm depressed. If I don't, I'm not. The correlation between my depression and my antidepressants is just about exactly as strong as the correlation between my Prilosec and my heartburn.

Hannukah has mostly sucked. I lit candles at home on the first night. We were at my parents the second night, and candles were lit. We were at Mystery House last night, and candles were lit. And that's it. That's all we've done. I've been working so many nights, and been so depressed the nights I HAVE been home, that I've not even managed to do Hannukah, and I'm really feeling resentful about that.

Anna, our upstairs tenant, is apparently in the hospital. I know this from her daughter's LJ. I have no idea what's going on. I'm annoyed at basically everyone who lives in our house, including myself, and every single cat, even the ones I never see, just on general principles.
xiphias: (Default)
I just got back home from set-build. I got up at six this morning to do class prep, was at Hebrew school from 8 AM to noon, got to set build at around noon-thirty (people had started doing lights at 7 AM, and Joelll was still there when I left at 11), and left at 11.

And I realized something.

The implication of the email that was sent out was that people were expected to stay as long as they could for put-in.

And it seemed to me that every single person other than me interpreted that differently than I did. Including the people who sent out that message.

See, to me, "stay as long as you can" means "until you are physically unable to move, or have other commitments." And I figured I'd stay until either the set was built, or, frankly, until I needed to go to work, at 10 tomorrow morning.

And I realized that that was incompatable with another instruction we were given, which was, "take care of yourself, get sleep, and don't get sick."

And it caused me great mental distress. Because I had been given two incompatable instructions.

You know that voice in your head that tells you when you should stop doing something because you're hurting yourself? I don't have one. If given a task, I will continue until 1) the task is done, 2) I have another task given that supercedes it, or a previous commitment, or 3) I physically cannot continue. And I need to go through significant structural damage to reach #3.

And I began to realize, somewhere around six o'clock, when people were talking about what the plans were for set building for the next couple of days, that set building was going to continue for the next couple of days. Which meant that, to meet condition #1, I'd be working for several days straight. Which I couldn't do, because I'm tending bar tomorrow, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

And I ALSO realize that I'm damn resentful for being put into this position. I mean, if someone had said "Do this many hours of work", or "work until this time", I could deal with that. But as it is, I'm simultaneously breaking TWO instructions -- the one about staying until the job was done, which is IMPOSSIBLE, and therefore not fair to give, AND the one about taking care of oneself physically, which is already hosed for me.

See, I've been having skin rashes that won't heal for days now, and I've not been able to get enough sleep to heal them. So I'm oozing blood. I realize that most people probably don't do this. But I do. And it's going to get worse over the next couple days.

Then we had the talk about stage makeup. I hadn't entirely realized how extensive it is. And, knowing my body, I'd need at least four days of bed-rest to get my body from where it is now to where it would have a decent chance of dealing with the stage makeup. And I'm working four days and have rehearsal every night, so I'm not getting ANY bed-rest from now until when it becomes relevant. So this is going to suck.

Oh, well. I will have to see how my body reacts to the makeup, but I suspect that this will be a reason that I won't be able to participate in any stage stuff in the future, at least not onstage. I hope I'm wrong about that -- not only because I think I'd like doing this sort of thing, but also because, if I'm NOT wrong, it will take me at least two weeks to recover. And I need to be doing other things during those two weeks, so it might suck.

You know what kept me from overexerting myself this way in the past? Depression. The fact that I've always been severely depressed meant that I couldn't do ANYTHING, which is what protected me. But now that the depression is under treatment, I have absolutely NO training in how not to overexert myself. I'm used to giving 110% all the time, because that's what it usually takes to do things like get out of bed and shower. But now, well, 110% of what I can do now burns me out fast.


Oct. 19th, 2004 03:59 pm
xiphias: (Default)
Lexapro does seem to make me tired. But it also makes me not depressed. Since I started taking it, I got involved in a G&S production, have gotten more hours at work, been a better Hebrew School teacher, dealt with some emotional curveballs life threw at me with grace and without falling apart, and, in generall, I really like the stuff. This whole "not being depressed" thing is very, very strange, but I think I could potentially get used to it. I'm not used to it yet.

But I am tired. I find myself sleeping for ten or twelve hours and waking up tired. But healthy. A lot of the niggling health problems I always have -- annoying rashes and aches and pains -- are gone, so it's not like the sleep is useless.

Maybe I should start using caffeine. I don't drink coffee, like, ever -- I like good coffee well enough, but I tend to drink maybe one cup of coffee every two or three months. Maybe that would help. Lis suggessed tea, which I drink much more than coffee, and has caffeine. Or colas or other caffeinated sodas.

My appetite is somewhat lower than it used to be, and it feels like my metabolism is higher. Or, at least, I find myself snacking unconsiously less than I usually do. Sometimes I go to sleep, and wake up a pound or two lighter than the previous day. Now that clearly has to be water loss, not fat loss, but there is some sort of fat loss going on, too. My body looks different.

So, if my body is reshaping itself, that would explain why I'm so tired -- that's got to take a lot of energy.

I wonder what I'm going to be like at the end of this process.
xiphias: (Default)
Since people are talking about depression, I figured I'd maybe try to write down a little bit about what my depression is like.
Read more... )
xiphias: (Default)
Yes, I saw that depression meme that's going around. I just don't feel up to DOING anything about it.

Sadly, I'm more-or-less serious about this. I've been intending to participate in the meme for the past couple of days, but just haven't been able to work up the motivation.
xiphias: (Default)
So, what did I do today, then?
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