On Mental Health


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?

13 thoughts on “Follow-Up”

  1. We love you lots and lots. ?for a visit that doesn’t suck and maybe even chases some darkness away.

  2. I’m sorry you are in such a funk lately. That’s awful to spend your days like that when there is so much to enjoy in life. The way you describe it really sounds like classic depression and seems like you just haven’t found the right combination/dosage of meds yet. Just wanted to send you positive vibes and say hang in there, things will get better.

  3. Maybe print this out and take it with you to the doctor’s appointment? I think it’s pretty descriptive. I’m not inside your head, but I can identify with what you describe here and I bet it could give your docotor some insight. I hope you feel better soon and I hope that i can help you find bright moments when you need them.

  4. This is a good idea. I hope you find something to keep the darkness from being such a constant/frequent distraction.

  5. I hope your doctor figures out what can help you. I’m no expert (except on my own disordered brain), but what you’re describing does sound like a combination of depression and anxiety. I third Colleen’s suggestion to print this out and read it to the doctor.

  6. This. I sent your email notify to my husband, because I was trying to put into words the melancholy of my life right now, because he doesn’t understand sometimes how sadness can also permeate the happy times.
    I hope you get some more answers. I need to be better about self care and make an appointment with my GP, but I’m in a little bit of denial about my own quality of life.

  7. I concur, print this and bring it to you’re next appt.

    I’m sorry you are suffering and going through so much. Besides connecting with your kids and family, I hope you know you’ve connected with so many of us Zooties and that some of us have “met” because of you. Some of us have discovered things because of you (bullet journaling). Some of us are just better people with just you being you.

  8. You are not alone. You aren’t the only one who feels this way. Know that we love reading about your world and want to continue to hear what you have to say. I don’t have depression that I know of , but I too fight the urge to stay in the car when I get to work. My job is not fun or good in any way right now and hasn’t been for a year or so, so getting out of the car and going into work is hard. We are in a transition period and I hope it will get better, but it won’t be any time soon. So, I guess I just want to say you are not the only one. Keep on keeping on.

  9. I can relate. You are not alone, and reading your words here sincerely helps me know *I* am not alone, either, so thank you for that. I am tired in my BONES, but it has nothing to do with a busy schedule (which I don’t have) and everything to do with the general…state of things every which way I look in my brain. I’m just so over it all, and then there’s guilt for feeling that because so many others are so worse off in so many ways. And the circle, it goes round and round.

    There is a small sliver of a voice standing her ground inside me, insisting I hang on, that I keep doing the work to get out of this. And so I do, and I urge you to, too. I trust there is evolution going on in my soul and that out of this darkness there will be light. I’m depending on the day I can look back at this period of struggle and understand why it happened. There’s a lot to unpack before that day, but the flicker of living my way into it is giving me hope.

    Much love to you, now and always.

  10. Precious girl, underneath all of that you are strong and fierce…you just don’t know it in your head right now. Bravo to you for pushing through each day. This shows your deep love for your family, because giving in and just staying in bed forever would be the easier thing for YOU, but not for them. You aren’t giving in, and it is important to give yourself credit for that.

    A few years ago I was at a little “craft boutique” thing at a friend’s house and there was a guy there who did woodworking. He had a piece of driftwood onto which he had wood-burned “REFUSE TO SINK.” How perfect is that? You know…driftwood floats… I’ve had it above my bedroom window, where it is the first thing I see when I wake up every day, ever since then, and it helps.

    I understand so completely everything you are talking about in this post…you are not alone. I can’t go into the details of why I’m not following my own advice because this is too public… But I want to ask you, do you think it would be a good idea at this point to see a good psychiatrist rather than just your general practitioner? I know GP’s often are successful with the administration of anxiety and depression meds for mild cases. But, as it seems this has been going on for a while and what she is giving you isn’t exactly always working…I’m wondering if you think it might be a good idea to speak with a specialist who knows to ask the right questions and knows how to analyze your answers? Just the same way you probably wouldn’t have a general practitioner treat you for heart trouble…you’d go to a cardiologist. This is absolutely none of my business…SO none of my business. Haha But I’m asking anyway because I care about you.

    Hugs, Lucy

  11. Jumping on the love train today! I’m sorry you are overwhelmed right now, and I’m sending my sincere hopes that you feel better soon. I don’t exactly know what that might look like or what it might take to get there, but I believe you will! I’m so proud of you for taking care of yourself in this way, and for talking about it publicly. You’re pretty awesome.

  12. Definitely print this post and give it to your doctor. You articulate what you’re going through so well–even if it doesn’t sound like it to you. I’m rooting for you, Zoot!

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