December 7, 2016

I need to preface this by saying I am an asshole. I am not being denigrating. I am being factual. Eighty percent of the time, I am sweet and friendly, but the other twenty percent of the time, I can be a real rotten bitch, and I have been stewing over something all day that has raised my aggression a few notches, and because I want to get this shit out of my head, I’m going to write about it. If you don’t feel like reading this, I totally get it and no hard feelings, I promise.

And away we go!

A casual stroll through my previous posts on this here blog will affirm that I suffer from depression. I’ve written about this countless times. Second most frequent posts are about quitting smoking (which I’m revving up for again. I discovered I have two boxes of nicotine patches in the bathroom closet and I was all “huh.” If I’m anything, I’m consistent in my attempts).

I wasn’t always depressed. I lived a fair chunk of my life happy-go-lucky. I wasn’t a depressed teenager or anything like that. I remember the D word being uttered probably ten years ago when I went to have my yearly pap smear. The doctor was chatting with me and one thing led to another and next thing I knew, I had a prescription for Cymbalta in my little hands. I hated the stuff as it made me feel like nothing. Not joyful when I needed to be, not sad when I needed to be, just…flat. It’s such a bizarre feeling to know you should be expressing some sort of emotions but are physically incapable of doing so. That was my brief stint in psychopathy, I think. Needless to say, I quit that medication and honestly don’t recall if I ever took anything after that. I don’t think so. I think it was more of a “well, that didn’t work out, did it?” and I managed to go a few years drug-free. I can see now that I was getting depressed, but I guess just thought I could handle it.

The next time depression was seriously brought up was in 2010 and going through the hell that was the decline of my marriage. Lacking coping skills, I turned to getting drunk nightly and a bevy of other questionable activities. Nothing like drugs or that, but having an emotional affair with a guy, and honestly, I’m not sure if that’s any better.

I could tell I was heading down a bad path and sought help through the employee assistance program at work. These services are great for the most part, but I was only allowed 5 visits with the therapist and wasn’t too keen on having to find another one and start over from scratch with someone else, but I did eventually. I then had my little mental breakdown in July 2010 which landed me at Bryan West in the Effective Disorders unit and spent a fun-filled 3 days being doped to the gills and having to participate in group therapy and color mandalas. It was wild. I highly don’t recommend it.

On release, I was under the care of a wacky psychiatrist named Raphael Tatay. He was five feet tall and Spanish and had a rich Spanish accent that made it difficult to understand him at times. He pronounced my name “Air-leen” and would sing me weird little songs he made up, like “zee fay-moos Air-leen Zook-ooskee!” He saw me while in the hospital, started me on drugs to help me sleep, for anxiety, and depression. He diagnosed me with PTSD caused by my divorce, and would see me every three months for three minutes so I could get refills. I went through two therapists in that time. One gal was at his office and had some sort of eye disorder that she literally could not make eye contact with you when you spoke to her. Not to be an ass, but that was distracting as all hell. I found myself trying to position my head to look at her, but that didn’t work. Also, we didn’t have good rapport, which happens.

The next gal I saw had her office out of her home and I remember two things about this woman: she had a giant black dog who would wander around, and she always wore the same outfit whenever we met. For whatever reason, that was a deal breaker for me. Well, that and the expense of her visits got to be too much to handle, so I stopped going.

In 2012, I switched my care to a different psychiatrist and this is the guy who “diagnosed” me with bipolar 2. I feel good about placing the sarcastic quotes around “diagnosed” because his super thorough diagnostic tool was a single page with ten questions. He took one look, said, “yep. Bipolar 2,” and put me on different medications. Neat.

Oddly enough, I got put on Abilify and it was helpful. Abilify is for bipolar disorders. Abilify is also close to $1,000 a month, but ONLY $600 with insurance and a prescription assistance card! Hey now! Seeing as I couldn’t even begin to pay for that, I got switched to lamictal, the drug I am/was currently on/stopped taking. I didn’t last long on that because I ended up in Texas a few months later, losing my health insurance, so I couldn’t afford prescriptions.

Until early this year, I wasn’t taking anything, so I managed almost a solid three years, save the weird fiasco after my hysterectomy in 2014 where I got put on some medications which was a nightmare, but whatever.

The thing with antidepressants/antipsychotics is this: they are a straight up crapshoot. They aren’t like beta blockers or diuretics for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Psych meds are notorious for being consistently inconsistent from person to person. Abilify may help some people, or it could totally fuck with your program. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the medications I’ve been on in ten years:

Trazodone, Remeron, Geodon, Ativan, Cymbalta, Abilify, Lamictal, Effextor, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Wellbutrin again, Ativan again, Trintellix, and Lamictal again.

Impressive, no? And the shit of it is, there’s more I can try still! Lots more! Based on my recent assessment and getting a more definitive diagnosis of major depression and generalized anxiety, there’s a whole slew of antidepressants I could take! Zoloft! Paxil! Effexor again, but in a much higher dose! Buspar! So many others! Terrific!

I don’t know if I want to take medication right now, and based on my list, I don’t think I could be blamed for that. That’s a lotta failed medications for one woman. I also know it’s still going to be a shot in the dark with finding a good one for me, too, obviously since I compiled quite the listy-list. It’s fucking frustrating and exhausting and sometimes sucks physically (looking at you, Trintellix and Lamictal).

There’s a big “but” coming here and why I declared myself an asshole earlier.

But. I know I lack some of the necessary components to functioning normally, a wildly subjective term, but just go with me here. My brain mishandles serotonin for whatever goofy reason…genetics, mostly. Thanks, Ma and Pa! I don’t have enough of the stuff, unfortunately. I am in therapy again and adore my Therapist as she’s teaching this old dog some new tricks, but again, that isn’t enough, I don’t think. I need to find the sweet spot between learning coping mechanisms, an effective medication, and to get regular exercise, as I know for a goddamn fact this power trio will get me to a good place.

As you can tell, it’s been an interesting ten years for Ol’ Grey Eyes here (my super cool nickname for myself).

And now for being an a-hole!

Obviously, I’ve been through some stuff personally during this time. Divorce, being in a verbally and emotionally abusive “relationship” with an alcoholic, unemployed for ten months, two major surgeries, dealing with my father’s cancer and recent death, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Yet, despite all this, I somehow have maintained a fairly decent outlook on life. The eternal optimist, I guess. I could absolutely give the world a double-barreled middle finger salute and choose to wallow in pity and despair because I think I’ve earned that chance to do so, but I don’t wanna. Yes, I’ve had some setbacks (Chantix-induced meltdown, anyone?), but I keep fighting to get back.

Depression gets to people in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to express your mental illness. Perhaps I’m more of a high functioning depressive than I realize, but for the most part, I do fairly okay-ish. For having a major depressive disorder, I’m still weirdly optimistic about life and what I can do with mine. That’s not to say I am 1000% happy and content in it because I most certainly am not. Mounting debt, not having a place to call my own, general discontent with my career status and wanting to further my education but lacking the funds to pursue it further, dealing with sometimes crippling grief…none of this is a goddamn picnic.

There are days when I let depression and anxiety run my life. There are days when I truly and honestly wish I wasn’t alive anymore so I didn’t have to deal with any of this. There are days when I eye my bottle of Ativan and think what a good idea it would be to take the entire bottle and hopefully go to sleep and hopefully never wake up. There are days where I am so goddamn angry at certain people in my life, I physically start shaking and it feels like every muscle in my body is being wound up into a hate ball until there will be too much tension and I’ll fucking snap. There are days were grief kicks me squarely in my face and it feels like I lost Dad a few hours ago instead of seven months ago.

But then, there are days when I wake up a different person. I feel good. I think I even look good. I smile at myself in the bathroom mirror and go, “you’re alright, Hoffmeyer.” I feel like I’m a good person. I feel like I am loved and treasured. I look back to days where I wish myself dead and think, “my god, woman! Really? Why would you ever have such wicked thoughts about yourself?”

I mentioned a paragraph ago that depression gets to people differently, and that’s true. It certainly does.

People also deal with their depression in different ways, too. I like to think I’m doing it right, and by that I mean I’m still kicking around despite how irritatingly difficult it’s been as of late. Again, I could very well throw in the towel and give up, letting depression win.

I’m going to be brutally honest and perhaps a hypocrite here, but that’s not new to me, so here goes: I cannot tolerate people who let their depression get the best of them in the way that they give up on themselves. I realize how stupid this is because that’s kind of the definition of having depression…but I hope some sense is made from what I’m trying (poorly) to say. And here’s the dickhead in me shining through:

You have your depressed folks that are fighting for their lives even when they have days when they don’t want to.

Then, you have your depressed folks that wallow in their own misery, throw pity parties for themselves constantly, and don’t make any effort to get better. They are perfectly content to being a victim to their illness.

I hate that shit so much. I hate when people throw their own flags in the ring. I hate when people choose to throw their fights.

I’m not entirely sure depression is their underlying cause for this attitude, though. Again, despite my depression, I am weirdly optimistic in general. I like to shine the silver linings to my clouds. I think the frames of my rose-colored glasses compliment my cheekbones well.

I think if you’re a negative person, you might have a tougher time dealing with your depression. They get the “what’s the fucking point?” mentality that isn’t depression-related, but being a miserable person in general related.

And there are two things in this world I despise. 1) Arrogance. 2) Negative fucking people. 3) People who can’t count and make lame jokes about counting things. Get out of my goddamn face, the both of yas.

I have an aunt who is the latter. She’s a miserable fucking human being. I do not get along well with this woman because of this. I bet if you were to pit the two of us together and we were to compare our mental illnesses, we’d be fairly on par diagnosis wise. But if you were to ask her, she would genuinely think she’s the only person in the entire history of the universe who has had it as bad as she has. Her struggle is the epitome of struggle. She should be martyred.

There are no words biting, cutting, or that express the amount of utter disgust and contempt I have for people like this.

Fuck me, now I’m all pissed off again. I had worked myself into a terrific tizzy earlier today thinking about something similar and man alive, was I ever angry! And how!

But do you get what I mean? I’m not saying I am free from being a detestable cow, but I snap the fuck out of it! I go, “okay, Erin. That’s quite enough of this.” And I stop!

Goddamn, seriously.

I’m all flustered and lost my steam and I’m hungry, so perhaps this is a good stopping point.

To reiterate, I don’t always love my life or what I’ve done/haven’t done with it, but I don’t let that get me down much. I don’t cotton to “everything happens for a reason,” either. Sometimes, it just isn’t the right time for things to fall into place, you know? I know.

Alright, 2,400 words is enough for one evening. I’m glad I was able to write tonight because this is the shit I had trouble remembering yesterday, so perhaps my brain isn’t totally fucked after all! Yay!

Before I go for realsies, know this: depression is an asshole. Do not let it tear you down to its level. Do whatever it takes to make you feel like your life matters and that you matter to people, because you fucking do. I don’t mince words like that, especially when it comes to this topic. You fucking fight, and you fucking fight like hell. I promise you it’s worth it.

As always, thank you for reading.



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