Follow-Up

I have my millionth follow-up today at my GP. It’s funny, when I set up my first appointment with her to talk medicating my mental illness, they almost wouldn’t take me because I hadn’t seen her since the first “new patient” visit 5 years ago. They evidently assume you’ve found a new doctor after three years and she wasn’t taking new patients, but since my husband was a regular they let me in. And now I’ve seen her like 6 times in the last 8 months.

These visits stress me out because I want to be able to clearly explain and categorize what’s going on inside my head. I want to say, “Much better!” or “Still bad!” and I want to be able to spell out the symptoms in a way that easily offers a remedy for diagnosis or treatment.

I’m a mess. And that’s really all I know to say.

I’m so scattered and so anxious and so depressed and yet…YET…I’m more in love with my children than ever. I just feel like I’m connecting with all three of them in better ways lately and so to talk about my anxiety and depression feels like it discounts some of the good things in my life. So to talk about the anxiety and the depression without pointing out some ways things are better feels like an injustice.

Jenny Lawson used a phrase on Twitter yesterday: “distracted by darkness” and when I read it I was like, “YES. THIS.” Some days I just feel like I can’t focus on anything productive because I’m just stuck in the darkness. And then other days I’m constantly in a state of worry about relationships and my job and our finances and my effectiveness as a Mother or my dependability in my community…and I can’t focus on anything but those things. And then there’s moments where all of that shifts and and I feel fine. Good, even.

I just can’t put it all into words and as someone who spends every morning trying to put things into words, I find the inability to do it more depressing and stressful.

And that’s the thing: Depression and Anxiety don’t even feel like the write words some days. Those are the words we talk about in the office because some medicines have helped some symptoms of one or the other but lately I feel like those words are stifling me. Like, maybe I should try to describe my head without those words and see if maybe that gives her new insight? Because sometimes there’s a part of me that chooses phrasing that fits those words because those are the ones we use but it never feels quite right.

And then I go back and read what I’ve written here and think: Jeezus. None of that makes sense. But I leave it all because, well, that’s the whole point. I know my quality of life is not good (that’s how my doctor likes to break things down) because I think about self-harm more than I should and I have to fight the urge to just stay in bed or in the car or curled up in the corner or somewhere away from the world every second of every day. It’s not the “I want to stay in bed because I’m tired and it’s warm,” type of feelings. It’s the, “I want to stay in bed because I’m tired of life and I just don’t care anymore.”

Every day I have to fight that urge. But I get up around 4am pack lunches, write the blog, do the dishes, and get the kids to school and head to work and I have to force myself out of my car because I just want to sit there and hide from the world forever. But I get out of my car and I got to work and I put in my podcasts and I do my job and I don’t want to leave my office because I don’t want to face the world. And then I get back in my car and go to the bus drop off and go to the grocery store and feed the kids and do the laundry and I get my book out and curl up in bed and think, “I made it. Another day.” Lately I’ve just been doing the bare minimum of everything just to get me through the day. And I mean, BARE MINIMUM. Because even getting out of the car is a struggle, so anything more feels impossible. And the relief at surviving the day until bedtime is always so great that going to sleep is never a problem. It’s like the exhaustion of just pushing forward every moment of every day is so profound that when I reach the finish line and it’s bedtime I can easily close my eyes and let go.

SO, yeah. Quality of life is not the best, doc. Can we just start there?