World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day

So, being World Mental Health Day, and being in the grips of a deep cycle of anxiety and depression, I figured it was time to do some writing therapy. Something I’ve been needing to do for a while, but unable to because, well, anxiety and depression. Funny how that works, huh?

Truth is, it’s not funny at all. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s infuriating. And lately, it’s been a bit debilitating.

Some updates since “the breakdown” I had over the summer…I am now taking Trintellix, an atypical anti-depressant not associated with weight gain. I do think it helps. It’s been a few months now, and even though it costs $75 a month, it’s currently worth the price to keep me feeling more even. I am lucky that I can afford this, and the only reason my doc skipped the more normal meds is because I’ve had so much experience with them not working for me. He was willing to try this one because what we’ve tried before hasn’t worked…and this seems to, so far.

But even with that, I’m still struggling a little. Okay, a lot. My anxiety is currently through the roof. I’m triggered by the current news cycle, all the victim shaming, all the anger towards women when we fully have the right to be the angry ones. It’s bringing up a lot of past experiences I don’t think about on purpose, but can’t avoid right now. Apparently that makes me an angry snowflake feminazi, which just furthers my rage and anxiety.

It’s been so bad the last few weeks that I have a hard time leaving the house, even to go to work. I’m lucky that I can work from home sometimes, so I’ve been able to bring my work with me to retreat to the sanctuary of home, but I can’t do that every single day. This Monday, I woke up in the grips of anxiety, headache and all. I had worked remotely Friday, so I felt guilty for taking another remote day because I never want to take advantage of such a huge perk, but I literally couldn’t do anything about it. I could not shower. I could not leave the house. The idea of driving put me on the brink of hysterics. I made the journey from bedroom to living room to work, but eventually even that was too much, and I took my computer with me and retreated back to bed. I didn’t go work out – which is a sign of how anxious I was, because I so rarely miss workouts. I gave myself ONE DAY to stay home and hide from the world, unshowered and pantsless, no driving, no small talk (one call for work, but no other meetings), but that was it.

Tuesday, I desperately wished I could pull the blankets over my head and stay in bed, away from the world and all of its pants and bathing and adultiness…but I clicked over to autopilot, got up, ran, showered and drove to work. I managed to work the full day, but was beyond exhausted driving home. Meetings and pretending to be fine when you’re not and hiding your anxiety from co-workers and clients and staying focused long enough to complete assignments and forming coherent much less creative and intelligent thoughts…it’s hard enough on a normal day, but I felt like I had accomplished the impossible, conquered a heroic quest, and I was spent. The drive home felt like an eternity. I wanted to climb right back into bed, but instead changed into my comfy cuddle clothes and hit the couch for some Netflix time. Luckily I have an amazing husband who will cook me dinner AND clean up the dishes when I’m too spent to be a real grownup, so he was the real hero of the day.

Here’s the thing about depression and anxiety that I wish was easier to understand for those not afflicted. Simple tasks, things that are so logical and common sense and easy to accomplish, are often more like giant obstacles, overwhelming challenges and impossibilities that drain and defeat me. For example, my new anti-depressant had been refilled and needed to be picked up. I knew I needed it. Unfortunately, due to how it was originally filled, it had to come from a different location and not my normal CVS right down the street. Sure, it’s only another couple miles away, but it was as good as gone to me. It wasn’t on any of my normal routes, or part of any normal routine. It required going out of my way to get it…or I’d have to call and ask them to transfer it back to my CVS and hopefully they’d have it in stock to fill there (which would likely mean TWO phone calls AND WTF NO WAY CAN I DO THAT ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?????). Also, Tim and I were nearby one night and tried to pick it up, but the pharmacy was closed when we got there, so I decided then and there that I didn’t need to be on meds because I would never get them anyway. Ridiculous to you, perfectly reasonable to my brain.

So even though I could feel the pull of depression at the corner of my mind, I could not muster the energy to get my meds. One night, Tim offered to get it, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to do that for me. How worthless of a human am I if I can’t even get my own freaking refill? This is NOT his problem. I said no. He pointed out that I needed them, but I refused his help and moped away.

A few days later, we managed to run by and get it…and instead of asking them to transfer the next refill back to my other CVS, I felt like that was burdening them and I didn’t ask. Which means NOW I probably have to make a phone call to fix it, but you know for damn sure I’ll be checking my online CVS account first to see if I can handle it without human interaction. I really can’t handle phone calls.

Recently, I went 2 months without seeing my therapist because I’d had an emergency (my car broke down on the highway, so I had no means of transportation) and I had to cancel via voicemail as it was after hours and my appointment was in the morning. So that meant rescheduling would require another phone call, so I just didn’t. At least is wasn’t 3 months like last time, so maybe I’m improving because it takes a month less to amp myself up to make a phone call? I don’t know.

I do know I have 12-13 voicemails on my cell phone and over 80 on my work phone that I haven’t been able to bring myself to check. But don’t worry about the work ones – they’re all fax machines, alien sounds and Jesus anyway.

The bottom line is…if you know someone who has a mental illness, take a few minutes to learn about their struggles. What helps them, what can throw them off, what they find comforting, what they find jarring…or even just check in on them so they know they are worth your time. Because even though I feel like my new meds are helping keep away the suicidal thoughts, I still question my worth and value daily and often feel like I’m burdening my friends and family. I’ll retreat from everyone so they aren’t bothered by my issues, then I feel left out when I see friends gather without me, even though I know there’s a good chance I would have made an excuse not to go had I been invited. Mental illness doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t help us think clearly or rationally. It clouds our minds and lies to us. It tells us we’re worthless and stupid and awful and that the world would be better off without us. Sometimes a simple reminder that we’re wanted, or even needed, can help turn the day around. A hug, a smile, a quick text or email (or, for some, a phone call), a funny picture shared on social media…the smallest things can mean the world in a dark moment.

So on World Mental Health Day, recognize that even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, it’s an illness and not a weakness. Help lessen the struggle and the stigma. Reach out. Have an honest conversation with someone. If you’re struggling, know you aren’t alone. I hope I reach you in your time of need and let you know you are safe with me. I am here for you. Someday I’ll need you to be here for me, too. And I’m not ashamed to admit it…I just probably won’t call you. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *