“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”
But honestly, for the past month at least, it has been the worst of times. I am no longer the vibrant sunshine and a warm breeze passing through on a summer day. I am the cold rain and a dark cloud that disrupts your plans.
That’s how I feel. That’s how I dress. That’s how I function. My brain works slower, my speech is dull and flat, and my body aches.
Why is this, you ask? I’m depressed. It’s plain and simple. About a month ago it was a different story. I was hitting up the bar every night and going out with friends. I was vibrant and smart and funny. I was proud of the person I was. But of course there’s always a flip side. I also spent 300 dollars in an hour (a habit I had unfortunately gotten used to) and had explosive irritability with the people I was most comfortable with.
Let’s get back to my current state. I have been depressed before, but this is a whole new animal. My doctor is working with me to adjust my medications. When you have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, as I do, it is almost impossible not to take medication to help cope with the symptoms. This is something I am still trying to come to terms with.
About a year ago, I was hospitalized for two weeks for severe depression. I had been in bed for about a week, barely leaving to feed myself, and my friends eventually admitted me to a hospital mental health unit. While I was there, the psychiatrist wanted a quick-fix for what I was going through, because sadly, insurance companies don’t always approve and cover the full time necessary to heal. I was prescribed a medication called Seroquel XR. This medication has side effects of lethargy, twitching in the hands and mouth and others. My psychiatrist on campus is currently trying to take the drug away completely by supplementing it with other medications, but the withdrawal causes severe panic attacks which make me feel like I’m dying and my head will explode at any given moment, so we always end up back at square one. Here I am. I’m a raincloud. I am a cold, dark, sopping wet, shell of a human being.
Life in the present has been hell.
Since the symptoms of lethargy have become so severe, I have opted to take a medical leave of absence from my semester at college. I have no ambition. It is difficult to explain, but I observe people living their daily lives and I question to myself, “How do they do it?” “Where does the energy come from?” I cannot make it through a morning without needing to sit down or go back to sleep. I can’t make it through a four hour shift at work without drinking a macchiato (two shots of espresso with milk) and that barely gets me through. If I opt for the caffeine, my anxiety is driven by that, and it’s either off to the ER later, or I cry myself to sleep.
Then there are the thoughts; the thoughts that come into my head involuntarily. What is life worth? Why am I here if I can’t live? What’s the point of all of this anyway?
When will I find balance? When will I find a medication that is right for me? Is any of it possible?
I wrote this story a little over a year and a half ago when I was struggling with an episode of depression and I was on a medication that did not work well for me. I am lucky enough to have found a combination of medications that work well for the moment. Finding a combination of psychiatric medications that works for you is often a trial-and-error process and can be frustrating. Perhaps in the future, we will have more efficiency, but this frustrating process saved my life and it has the potential to save yours too.