I have had quite a few “Wait… what?!” moments this week.
Those moments that catch you off guard you aren’t exactly sure if you heard what you think you heard. They don’t happen to me often, as the little pistons fire in all cylinders non-stop in my brain and I can usually prepare myself mentally for most circumstances and responses. Hence the lack of sleep- imagining every possible scenario, conversation and sequence of events.
Lately though… wow. Holy constant brain fart. I’m running on one cylinder.
A friend at work (as much as he would like me to use that term loosely, I am actually quite fond of him) said to me over the weekend “oh, I read your blog yesterday”.
Wait… hold up. What?!
Panic set in. “Which one did you read? The really long one?” please don’t be the really long one, oh god, he thinks I’m crazy. It was so long, I bet it bored him!
“The one about 20 minute showers.”
Oh. “What did you think?” ohhhh god, he’s gonna think I am making it up. He knows I cry in the shower. Oh god, he knows I’m just another sappy, stupid girl that gets all emotional and stuff! I was trying to be all cool and happy and now I’m just a crying mess that stays in bed eating bacon all day!
“Wasn’t the worst I have ever read.”
That’s it!? No teasing about my parenting capabilities? (Or lack thereof?) No stinging comments about me being a sook? No? Nothing?
My relationship with this guy is built on non-stop hacking and insults. And I love it. My fear of people knowing what I am actually like at home still affects me, even though I am trying to be open about it. I still don’t know why I am publicising my issues to publicly, especially when it is acknowledged at work. I don’t want sympathy. I certainly don’t want attention from it. I guess I just want people to know why I can’t cope with 12 people lined up at the bar, glass all over the floor and not knowing which one to deal with first. And bursting out in tears while polishing cutlery because someone looked at me funny. I also want people to know that if I can go through it, as happy of a person as I usually am, that anyone is susceptible to it and others should be aware of changes in someones behaviour that may signal a mental illness. I just assume that everyone is going to think I am a hypochondriac with a social media addiction.
My other hold up, what? moment happened today at my follow up psychologist appointment.
For the past three weeks I have been taking 15mg Mirtazapine at night to help my depression and sleeplessness. I was going ok until earlier last week when I had my budget-killing phone call and spent 20 mins in that shower. Since then, I am back at square one. I am crying over everything, I am ALWAYS tired and exhausted. I miss running, but don’t give a rats ass that I am doing NO exercise. I lack motivation for anything, I am exhausted and I am void of emotion. And holy shit, I am ANGRY.
My mood swings had not improved. I want to get better. I want to be able to get out of bed in the morning without my eyes burning from exhaustion, even after 11 hours sleep. I want to take my kids to a birthday party without resenting them for making me get out of bed and turn off Grey’s Anatomy. And I want to enjoy things again and feel emotion. I am relying on logic, as I can’t trust my emotions. I know I love my job. I know I love spending time with my friends. I know I love doing things with my family, and I know I love to bake. But lately, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel joy when my daughter comes in to give me butterfly kisses, or feel a rush of adrenaline when the restaurant gets busy and I absolutely smash my job. I know I am good at my job, yet all I feel when I go to work is anxiety, nerves and uneasiness- like I am letting people down for not being able to remember things properly.
I know that lack of concentration and memory is a symptom of depression, but not being able to remember which steak belongs to Mary and which belongs to John between taking the food from the pass and dropping it off at the table is downright frustrating. It makes me so mad and makes me feel so pathetic and as though I am letting my employers down. But I KNOW I’m not. My feelings are just completely… well, fucked.
Anyway, back to the psychologist. Turns out he was also a psychiatrist. Oh, hallelujiah. I wanted to talk to him about increasing my mirtazapine. It was working for making me go to sleep (oh, it is marvellous stuff!) but I hadn’t noticed a change in my brain chemistry. I felt as though it was my fault for not getting better, because the drugs should be working by now. So when I mentioned that I didn’t feel as though I was getting better, I felt as though I was saying I was relying on drugs to get me better.
“Mirtazapine, especially at 15mg, will do nothing for your depression, it will be like drinking water”.
Wait, what?! I was taking a placebo?! No wonder I felt no different!
We talked for forty minutes, and we discussed my self confidence. Apparently, this is a big issue. I was told to remind myself that I AM good at my job. I AM keeping my family fed and cared for- I AM a good mum. I AM a good wife, and I CAN take care of finances. No matter what I feel at this moment, I have to KNOW that when I get better, I can do all this. Once your confidence starts to waiver, that’s when depression gets serious.
Knowing that I will get better soon, even without feeling it at this moment, is a huge benefit.
He gave me the following analogy, which will help all mums. Mental illness- depression, anxiety, PTSD etc is exactly that- an illness. And it is kind of contagious. My kids are affected by my lack of interest in them and my shortened temper, and therefore try to get my attention in other ways, which in turn makes my mood worse. My husband is affected when he wants to cuddle me and I am indifferent, then suddenly get shitty when he asks me about something. So they take on your stress.
“So imagine you have a broken ankle. The doctor tells you that you that you need to be on complete bedrest for three weeks. How would you feel?
“Why do you feel guilty? For breaking your leg?”
For not being there for my kids. Not being up to looking after them, playing with them, being happy with them. And guilty that my husband has to do everything for me and look after the kids himself. And for work, I would feel like I was letting them down by not being there.
“But your leg needs rest. If you get up and look after your kids too early you would be in pain, and set your recovery back by a few weeks or even months. It would be more painful for longer as it heals as you use it more and more. You would take this pain out on your kids and husband and the frustration would grow within yourself that you aren’t better yet, yes?”
“And you would regret not spending three weeks in bed and letting everyone deal without you. If your husband was injured you would look after him and wouldn’t want him feeling guilty, wouldn’t you?”
“So imagine your brain is your leg. Would you prefer to do the things that you need to do to get better for a shorter amount of time, or push through and prolong the pain?”
I think I should spend more Saturdays in bed. And turn down extra shifts. And let my kids play the tablet for hours on end while I go for a drive with my music turned up really loud. For no other reason than I NEED TO. And if you are struggling, figure out what you need to do, and do it. Without guilt.
“As for your mirtazapine, because you have cyclic depression I will put you on this, it helps people like you with Bipolar…”