What I Did Today

Before I start blathering, I’ve come to the realization that I’m really starting this blog about halfway into my experience with depression. (Anyone else getting sick of that word? Just me?) At some point I’m going to go back and explain myself and how I got the the point at which this blog picks up, but today I’m interested in a few bits of awesome.

Today I:

1. Dressed up. For me, this means something other than jeans and a t-shirt, and was practically impossible for a very long time. I just couldn’t bring myself to try, and if I managed to give it a shot, my self-image was so terrible I ended up back in the ol’ jeans and t-shirts. (This is not to say that I won’t maintain a reliable staple of $20 jeans and black tees, because damn, that’s easy.)

2. Had an amazing conversation that led to something very exciting.  I can’t tell you about it yet…But it involves this blog, and it’s very cool.

3. Turned up the radio on my drive home.  For some reason it hit me that I can’t remember the last time I was alone, and in my own head, and my attention was caught by a song that I really wanted to hear.  Wow, this sounds silly. One of the yardsticks for me in terms of measuring progress is a level of interest – in the world around me, books, music, people, events. Something I didn’t really understand that I was missing, until I wanted to hear that song.

4. Didn’t care. I went downtown to meet a friend for lunch, and the area I needed to walk through was cordoned off by a film crew, but pedestrians were being allowed to pass.  In the past, I would have taken the long way to avoid even the slightest possibility that I might be caught on film somewhere – If I saw the local news team, I would literally turn and walk the other way – but I walked through them today.  I didn’t think about it until after, and then had an almost reflexive embarrassment; as though my brain piped up with “hey – you forgot to hide!” I did my little internal dialogue; checking in, and realized I felt just fine. It was a good moment.

5. Did NOT berate myself.  I forgot to take the Cipralex last night, and although I have no idea whether or not this has any medical validity, I was up ’till the wee hours experiencing some high anxiety. That may have been because I forgot the pill, or just how things go – highs and lows, ups and downs, strikes and gutters*. This morning I was tired, and knew I’d ‘failed’ the night before, but instead of spending a whole bunch of time on it, I put a reminder in my cell phone about the pill and forgot about it.

All in all, a successful day in my books.  Going for lunch with a friend and taking care in my appearance ticks two easy things off of the checklists of work I have to do going forward: Making more of an effort in my relationships and taking better care of myself. I’m counting this as a win.

And now I’m going to leave you with the song that caught my ear today. Enjoy…and if you do, you can check them out and buy their stuff here: http://www.samrobertsband.com/ or on iTunes.

*This belongs to The Big Lebowski, to which I owe many high school nights of white-Russian-induced hilarity.

Drugs, Drugs, Drugs

I’ve started taking this med, Cipralex, which is supposed to help with anxiety and depression.  I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about anti-depressants – ‘I got fat!’ ‘I was suicidal!’ ‘I tried to eat my parakeet!’ – so I was a little gun-shy.  Plus, I now know, NEVER GOOGLE medication as no one goes online to post a story about how great of an experience they had.

Well. Actually. I’m making a liar out of myself here, because I’m having a pretty damn good experience with this Cipralex business. I’ve had this annoying, lingering cold for a few weeks, so it’s a bit hard to tell, but I’m certainly not hallucinating or nauseated or, flip side of that coin, packing on the pounds*. I feel clear-headed, like I can think again.  It feels as though some more things are possible. I have hope.  It feels good – not great, not amazing, the world has not started turning cartwheels – I just feel clear, and I smile more easily. All the work I need to do on myself and on my life doesn’t seem so…intimidating? Brick-wall-ish? Daunting, that’s the word. Daunting.

I read the blog of a man who is having a go at beating depression without meds, and I think he’s succeeding. For my part, I think that’s great – each person should do what is right for him or herself. For me, the meds get me over a brick wall (as it were) so that I can do the things of which I know I am capable. For others, the experience of meds is the equivalent of dropping that brick wall on their heads. I understand the reactions and side effects can be pretty terrible, and I’m counting myself lucky.

There’s another component, too.  A lot of people I’ve talked to over the years have said they would never, no way, never go on anti-depressants. I actually used to sit comfortably in that camp as well. It seemed like admitting some kind of failure in myself – an inability to get over it, buck up, whatever.  I’ve known a few people since then who have used meds as a tool to get to a point where they could help themselves, and my opinion started to shift.  Now I’m firmly in the ‘if they work on you, why the hell not’ camp. What I’m saying here is, meds are great if they’re right for you. If they’re not, there are options. Most importantly, if you are taking something, I think it’s important to realize that there’s still work you have to do.  They’re not magic pills, you know? They don’t fix all of your problems. They just give you the ability to fix them yourself.

Oh, another thing: They’re bloody expensive.

Anyhow, as clear-headed gal, I’ve settled on a dose that works for me (along with my doctor, whom I adore, because she listened when I said that I felt like my dosage was right) and now I am starting on the work. This is the hard part – I have a tiny, bitchy voice in my head that I need to calmly listen to, acknowledge, and then care for, according to my therapy sessions. (Oh, this isn’t a proper voices-in-head-schizophrenia thing, just your run-of-the-mill self-critic.) Most of the time, all I want her to do is shut the hell up, so all of this caring and listening to fear is, um, counter-intuitive. To say the least. I’m not used to being all touchy-feely; least of all with what I view as my own failures and laziness. I’m afraid that if I stop berating myself, I won’t get anything done.

But here’s the thing. I’m not getting anything done this way, either. So I figure it’s worth a shot.

Get it? Chill. Pill. Brilliant.

*Yet, anyway.

Eating Money

My name is Gwen Hill, and I suffer from depression and anxiety.

The thing about this blog, of the feels-like-bloody-dozens that I’ve started: It’s got a weird name.  The title appears to have nothing to do with the content, because I’m going to talk about depression and coping and such things, and not about the best way to put a french glaze on your ten-dollar-bills. (Which I do not believe you should do.  Do not eat money.  It is full of germs and, also, MADE OF PAPER AND METAL which are bad for you.)

Glad that’s out of the way.

This is based on one of those pesky morals I’m trying to stick to, which is: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.  I’ve known and loved people who have struggled with mental illness, and the accompanying guilt and shame and secrecy always left me feeling vaguely unsettled.  Our brains are big chemical factories, and while there are certainly people who are just lazy, stupid and needy, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that mental illness is a real problem.  There are actual disorders, there is a biology to it, and people who suffer from such illnesses should not need to feel such shame.

That’s been my little puttering philosophy, hanging about in the back of my mind.  Never really had to do anything about it because the stories of those I love are not mine to tell, and I didn’t think I had one of my own.

Now I do.

I’m on anti-depressants, I’m in therapy, I’ve told my family and my friends. I’m talking about it. I’m not ashamed of myself; I’m not ashamed of this stupid depression. I am going to kick it, because this person I’ve been – she is not who I am. It’s all a part of me, sure, but it’s not the best part of me, and it’s no way to live a phenomenal life, which I fully plan to do.  I think that’s as good of a start as any.