Tag Archives: antidepressant

Adjusting to my new emotional range

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.

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Better living through chemicals (initial impressions)

Ok, on Thursday I talked about the impact depression has had on me. Today, I am going to talk a little bit about my attempted journey away from that.

So, as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, I have quite a history with both depression and anxiety. The earliest concrete memory I have of anxiety is from when I was four or five – my very first experiences with gym class and my refusal to even enter the gymnasium. I was too scared. The earliest I can concretely say I had depression is from when I was eight – when I first started to self injure. Suffice it to say, these have been very long struggles for me, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that they have been with me my whole life.

In my adult life I’ve had people push me towards medications and I always resisted. I had a number of different reasons that I imagine getting into would call for a blog post all it’s own. Suffice it to say, I am a little leery of brain-altering chemicals. I am also leery of people who push brain altering chemicals on others. I still think my reasons were good ones and I intend to continue to respect my decision to try everything I could to manage myself without meds.

However, eventually I reached a point where I realized that I had gone as far as I could on my own, and I really needed help. The depression and anxiety were impacting my life in serious ways and I really could not continue to live like that. So, I finally decided to try a med that would act as both an antidepressant and antianxiety.

I haven’t been on it for long – a little over a month – but I am definitely feeling the effects and it’s kind of amazing.

Part of my depression was The Voice. The Voice was a constant in my life, screaming if it could, whispering if it could not, flinging a constant stream of hate at me. It would latch onto anything it could use to hurt me and would twist events around to insist that everything was my fault. Depression is a jerk, and The Voice was well and truly horrible. However, I had gotten used to it. If I could keep it to a whisper and lock it off into a corner of my brain, I figured I was doing good. When I couldn’t do that well… that sucked. But it happened.

However, lately The Voice has been gone, almost entirely. Once in a while I’ll get a second or two resurgence, a faint whisper of some of the things it used to say, and then it fades away again. I am able to go about my daily life without that Voice constantly telling me how awful I am, and I don’t even know how to describe the difference. My head feels so different. It’s kind of weird, honestly. So quiet. So still. I try not to think about it too much because I have some trouble wrapping my brain around the change. It’s such a relief, though. I actually, physically, feel like a weight that I’ve been dragging around for years has been lifted or taken away. I literally feel lighter on my feet.

The anxiety is dramatically improved as well. Talking to people is no longer a point of terror that requires working up to even ask “what’s your name” or something. I feel it significantly in my horseback riding – an activity that is legitimately nervous-making, but used to cause me intense amounts of anxiety. The past few weeks I still get nervous, but the level of nerves is, as far as I can tell, far more typical of your average person. Something I can easily manage, rather than needing to dedicate enormous resources to controlling. I like this change. I hope it continues.

Sometimes I hear antidepressants referred to derogatorily as “happy pills.” In my case, at least, that would be a serious misnomer. These pills do not make me happy. They do, however, allow me to experience happiness and joy and contentment in a way I never could before. They take away the constant background drag that had been trying it’s hardest to bring me down. They allow me to feel a healthier range of emotions, without the constant struggle that I had grown so accustomed to. I still have sads and I still feel nervous sometimes – but I don’t feel them ALL the time, and I am able to feel them in a cleaner way.

This is an interesting change. It’s a change I like and I’m glad I was able to reach a point where I could try it. I guess we’ll see where I go with it.

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