Okay, so I get depressed. We’ve established that. And I can’t tell you how awesome it feels when I write something like that I get the kind of response I did. I feel like the internet has really opened up so many people to the realization that they have This Problem. That A LOT of people have This Problem. It helps to know that I’m not alone. That This Problem haunts a lot of people, in a lot of different ways.
So here’s my question.
How do you fight it?
Ben and I have had so many conversations about this. Medication, counseling, exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, writing, yelling… what do you do?
He ran into a friend the other day and she talked to him about her struggle with This Problem and she mentioned that she takes a medication that I’ve tried in the past and although I know he just wants to help, my initial reaction was CLOSE OFF DON’T LET FEELINGS HAPPEN, CHANGE THE SUBJECT, DON’T TALK YOU’LL SAY SOMETHING STUPID.
I hate the medicine. I’ve tried all different kinds. Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin and Lexapro to be exact. Out of them all Lexapro was the one I tolerated the best but even though the side effects were more minimal, I still hated them. It’s great that I’m able to mostly sleep at night and that I’m not scared that I’m going to die in my sleep but that’s mostly because I’m not scared of anything. I’m not ever REALLY happy about anything, nothing is ever REALLY that funny, nothing is ever REALLY… anything.
There is depressed numb and then there’s medicated numb and I’m not really sure which is worse but for me it seems silly to replace one with the other.
I do think that exercise helps me a lot. When I’m regularly working out I feel better, I sleep better, I eat better, I drink more water and Ben has commented several times that I seem happier. It’s really an internal struggle for me. Those of you that have The Problem know that sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is a victory. Give me a medal, motherfuckers. I got dressed today. But I’m mostly what I’d call a “functioning depressed”. I go to work every day, I shower, I get the stuff done that NEEDS to be done.
But exercise doesn’t NEED to get done. If I don’t go run today the bills will still get paid, the power will stay on, the dogs won’t starve, Cassidy will still grow up. However, I probably won’t sleep that well. And then the next day I’ll be tired all day. Then when I come home instead of wanting to work out, I’ll still be tired and opt for a nap. Then it will be too late to cook dinner so we’ll have to go out to eat. Then we spend more money than we want. And I’ll probably eat like crap which will make me feel like crap. Then I’m in a bad mood and since I don’t feel good I won’t sleep well which means I’ll be tired the next day and won’t want to work out.
Then it’s been two weeks since I’ve done anything and why even bother at this point!?
It’s started to sink in to me more and more lately that I need to make working out my medicine. I do NEED to do it because my happiness and therefore the happiness of this entire household depends on it. I need to make ME and my sanity as big a priority as paying the mortgage is. It’s what works for me.
3 thoughts on “I work out.”
I totally feel you. Especially when you got to the cycle. My issue is that I don’t even like to exercise in the first place, and while I do sleep better, I don’t feel any better when I exercise. So that makes motivation for me even worse.
I choose depressed numb over medicated numb personally. Not to mention I thought the hot flashes I was getting from the Zoloft were going to be the death of me.
My story / history / battle with depression and anxiety:
My mother attempted suicide when I was 6 and again when I was 9. She suffered from bi-polar and depression. Yes they are different and separate diseases of the mind.
My brother Rick took his own life in 1989 (same year as the earthquake here in SF) on his 36th birthday. 6 months earlier I had attempted suicide and spent 30 days at an in-patient facility. The meds they gave me lasted about 3 days after I got out. I figured I felt better so I quit taking them. HA!
My brother Joe took his own life in 2001 (same year as 9/11) at the age of 46.
Luckily other world changing, tragic events also took place in the years when my brothers died or I might not be able to remember them. (Sarcasm here)….
So there is the ground work for mental health issues in my immediate family.
1999 was the year I decided that I was done letting my mind control everything that I did or didn’t do. I no longer wanted the racing thoughts to be in control and the talk track I learned at the in-patient facility was no longer working. I started with psychotherapy. I went weekly for about 2.5 years. I went off and on for another 4 or 5 years and have long since stopped going regularly. But occasionally I find that I am in a situation or position that isn’t comfortable and I need assistance seeing it clearly. So, I go back to therapy for 2-3 sessions, get a tune-up and then go about my merry business. I have learned some pretty good coping skills and finally left a lot of those maladaptive behaviors behind me forever. I also went through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy so I could find out how my own thoughts contribute to my illness. If I could change my thought process I might be able to change my “mood”…..whatever. If only it was just a “mood”….
My illness was handed down in the most honest and forthright way known to man, through good ol’ DNA! My thoughts are actually driven by my chemical imbalance and the weird coping skills I obtained through dealing with a mom who was extremely sick with bi-polar disorder, alcoholism, 4 children that were ADHD and a husband who cheated on her. When one is exposed to the level of craziness I was as a child, coupled with a pre-disposition to depression and anxiety, well then I guess we are all looking at the result of that exposure!
Anyway, my therapist always encouraged and taught me new skills to deal with racing thoughts and gave me new ways to respond to the stressors in my life. She also sent me to see someone who provided “therapy” in What is the Worse that Could Happen? , approach to life. This was definitely more helpful to me than CBT. But that is just me.
She also repeatedly and gently suggested that I might want to think about, someday maybe, getting on a medication. I declined, not so gently but consistently and always with the same disdain my father used when he called my mother a “nut case”. But I liked my therapist and after 2.5 years of allowing her to see me at my worst and ugliest I figured she might actually know what might be good for me.
So, I went to a psychiatrist, because they are the ones who can prescribe meds. I had to answer a questionnaire about my mental health family history (do you have more paper?) and we discussed my particular “presentation of symptoms”. I let him know that I wouldn’t take anything that caused side effects and especially if those would include weight gain, lethargy, sleeplessness, sleepiness, dry mouth, headache or stomach upset. He laughed a knowing laugh and said that together we would embark on a journey to wellness that may or may not include a drug. I liked that he wasn’t married to the idea that I HAD to take something. So we tried about 10 different types of SSRIs (Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors) which is what I might respond to best because of my peculiar and particular type of depression / anxiety. Anyway, some I took for 3 days and some for 3 weeks but ultimately I quit and called him to let him know I didn’t like them, for whatever reason. Eventually we ended up with Lexapro. I started on the lowest dosage and it worked for me. Virtually no side effects at all. I wasn’t in a fog nor did I feel like I was a dimmed version of myself. I wasn’t numb or down and I wasn’t hyped up. It seemed to level me out and stopped the racing thoughts from taking over my mind. I was able to sleep, concentrate and function without feeling like I was gritting my teeth all day. So I stayed on them and that was 12.5 years ago. I was always at the 10mg dosage until last year when my menopause symptoms began to take over. I called and we decided to increase my dose to 20mg. After 6 weeks at the new dosage I feel like my old self again!
Like you Anna I have been a functioning person my whole life. I have always worked and have been quite successful professionally. I have 3 wonderful children and 3 grandchildren and I feel good that I was able to raise them (mostly) without the drama-filled angst my mother applied to parenting. I am also an athlete and have always exercised.
Long story I know but I say all of this to make a point. I come from a place of experience, my own but experience none-the-less. I have tried doing it alone and was not successful. I thought exercise would solve it so I just increased my mileage. That worked for a short time but then it stopped working. I tried therapy, multiple types, and it helped give me the tools I needed to be able to cope healthfully in a demanding world that is scary as shit. I changed my diet and took up meditation and yoga too. All helpful and useful tools but never quite got me “there”. It is the combination of what I have learned, applying new skills, keeping an open mind to the fact that I might need to hear what someone is saying about my behavior, exercise, changing my thought habits and medicine that has enabled me to truly make it. I no longer entertain the idea that world is too hard and I would love to leave it now. I no longer lay awake at night nor am I startled awake to the thoughts of “what if” in my head. And if by chance I do, I dig in to my handy tool-box of skills and behaviors and remember the therapist of “what’s the worst that could happen” and realize that if we do get bombed by North Korea or a murderer comes in to my house that I will no longer have to worry about the next thing to worry about.
If medication isn’t right for you then it isn’t right for you. I am not advocating for it or against it. I am only saying that there are several approaches and modalities needed to deal with true depression and anxiety. You must find and define your own path but you don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to take drugs. But if you decide to try medication then I encourage you to give it an honest try and stay on the one with the least side effects for no less than 6 months. That is when you will truly know if you are better with them or without them.
I am sad my brothers are gone and I am sad that I wasn’t able to tell them about how to be successful but I did learn that to stay silent and do nothing only makes it worse.
It sounds like you are trying to figure out where to go with this and I hope you find that path! I am here if you would like to talk about it or to just lean on. I am here.
Your friend – Kim
Depression seems to invade a lot of people. The world is tough today. Just dealing with some of the simple things are overwhelming.
I’ve been on Paxil, Laxapro, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, tried them all. They did nothing. I ended up weening myself off, shortly after my last visit with my shrink. I told myself, “JUST DEAL WITH IT, AND STOP DWELLING THE SMALL SHIT.” Still have my bad days, more bad then good, but I’m getting there. I just don’t feel that I need to rely on “drugs” to solve my deep inner battles and feel that theres more to life then popping pills just to feel somewhat normal (which they weren’t really making me feel). However, I do occasionally take Klonopin for anxiety, but only as needed – basically, when I get that “falling out of a plane” feeling, I start trembling, and can’t sit still. Can’t deal with the SSRI’s though.
It gets better. Not to sound cliche.