Ok, there’s probably going to be a lot more in here than just talk of my adjusted emotional range. Since I process via writing and I have a blog about mental illness (among other things) apparently there will be posts about this strange anti-depressant, anti-anxiety journey I’m on.
I’ll confess, when I first started these, I really wasn’t sure what they were going to do to me. I was hopeful, but also leery. Sometimes I see people talking about changes in lifelong depression as changes in personality, in “self,” and that was alarming. All over the internet, I see people claiming that “some people just have melancholy personalities” as a way of claiming that we shouldn’t be using antidepressants. And I wondered if maybe that was just me. If those terrible, dark times I had, complete with scary levels of suicidal ideation and severe amounts of self hatred and other horrible nasties, was just my “melancholy personality” that I should just learn to live with.
Only, as I’ve blogged about already, I did try to live with it. I really tried. And in return, my brain tried to kill me, until in the midst of one of the worst depressions that I can remember I finally decided to try something in pill form.
So, leery or not, personality changes or not, I’m trying it.
A big thing I wasn’t sure of was how it would impact feelings of sadness or anxiety that were externally caused. I was worried about it masking my emotions or making it so that I just didn’t feel. Would my sads still be sad? Would I still get nervous on a horse?
It’s tricky because many things were kind of intertwined with my depression. Or maybe it’s more that my depression reached out with it’s icky depression tentacles and wound its way around everything it could touch. What would it be like with that gone?
Well for a while, it just felt empty and echo-y. I used to have to fight for the space I took up in my own head, constantly pushing back against the nastiness in my head that wanted to get rid of me (and at this point, I feel no qualms phrasing it that way). Suddenly, nearly overnight when they finally started working, I didn’t have to push back anymore. It was weird. Like there was all this space in my head with nothing in it. I’ve slowly been expanding into my own head, testing new boundaries of thought and feeling, and it’s interesting.
Anyway, as per the title of this post, I feel like my emotional range has shifted. I can still feel intense emotional pain, but it no longer triggers the intense self-hatred that it used to. I can still get nervous, but it no longer taps into wall of terror. Also, I find my capacity for enjoyment is suddenly immensely increased. My happyfeels are far closer to the surface and have a much easier time showing up and sticking around. One thing that’s really made me notice the change is actually my cat.
See, my cat likes to spend a lot of time napping in my lap. He and I know each other quite well by now, and he’s used to how I breathe and move and talk. Well suddenly, I can laugh. I can laugh easily. Even in my good times, laughing used to be difficult. My feelings of amusement were all smushed way deep inside, and getting to the surface where they could show involved a bit of a journey, and they had to be strong to get there. Now they’re right here on the surface. I watch TV and see something funny, and I laugh. And my cat, poor guy, has no idea what is going on. Luckily, he seems to like it and mostly responds by trying to rub his face against mine, rather than getting offended or anything like that.
I do, however, think that a lifetime of depression, and depressed ways of thinking, have left neurological effects on me that I need to deal with. My brain finds it very easy to go down pathways of unhappy thoughts, even without The Voice egging me on and adding its special brand of hate and pain. Travelling along happy thoughts is still strange and new and unknown, and is kind of scary simply due to that unknown status. I don’t always quite know what to do with myself or my thoughts or my feelings.
Oh, another thing I’ve found. My emotions change more easily than they used to. Well… sort of. Used to be, I could get unhappy very quickly and very easily. One stray, careless thought, and The Voice would latch on and take me on a journey of self hatred. Breaking out of those cycles, though, was incredibly difficult. So my emotional state could very rapidly go bad, but getting to anything positive again was a very different thing. Now I find that those unhappy states do not cling to me the way they used to. I can bounce back up far more easily. This is also strange and new, and I feel like I’m needing to find a whole new emotional equilibrium and I’m not really there yet.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I am definitely adjusting in ways I was not entirely prepared for. Maybe I could never really be prepared, I just had to be willing to take the plunge and see what happens.