I Am That Girl Now

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Well, that would explain it

You know, I've been looking at the symptoms of depression. And, yeah. I hate admitting this, but it would explain a lot. A lot.

There seems to be an either itchy/distracted or a slow-motion thing that's paired with a lack of drive and oomph and energy. Trouble concentrating, but not from excess energy-- like a lack of it. I've got that; hell, I've had that for... seriously, I can't remember not having that. I get spells when I'm not like that, but it's the exception rather than the rule. "Little pleasure or interest in doing things" has described me for more than a year. More than two, really.

Oh, and there's something on the checklist about feeling like a failure or have let people down-- yeah, I get that constantly. And the appetite problems are pretty typical. And the sleeping problems.

It happens for months at a time and then I get these days or weeks that are just-- you know, different, better, where I've got all this vigor and energy and oomph and concentration and drive and I absolutely clobber the world, and I start to catch up and get ahead and then... it just goes away.

I'm starting to think that this feeling I've had for years now, that I'm having to work like crazy just to get myself to halfway normal, might not just be my imagination. And I mean years, I mean since I was in college. Considering that I'm about to turn 30, that's not good.

It's entirely possible that the shit that hit me back in college never lifted all the time. Like it knocked me down to 40% of normal, and with work and determination I got the general level back up to something like 60%, with occasional jumps up into the 80s and 90s... but most of the time I'm still down at 60%. And then something big will come along in the middle of one of my slumpier periods, like Katrina (gads, I'm pitiful, I wasn't even there or really affected, it just seriously threw me), and I'll get slammed back down to 40%, barely functioning, stressed to the gills, and hopeless and miserable on top of it.

It's just starting to occur to me that maybe functioning at 80% shouldn't be so fucking hard. That I don't actually suck-- that I'm not actually the lazy fucker I feel doomed to be because I just can't manage to get it together for very long. That anything I've managed to accomplish in spite of being perpetually distracted and tired and weird is a testament to the amount of sheer willpower I have at my disposal, that I've got a hell of a lot of brute determination.

I think. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself again, and I'm really just as useless as I feel, and I'm doomed to never finish any of the things I think of. It just doesn't feel like that. It feels like I'm not operating at my potential. It feels like all the weird things I've been documenting and complaining about over the course of the past few years might have a common cause.

God, I hope so. I don't know how to take this if it's not. It would be like I was trying to run a huge computer with a tiny processor; so much possible, not enough to make it go. Perpetual frustration. I don't want to have "not living up to her potential" on my report card for my whole life.


  • Sheer willpower and determination will do a lot for a person, but that doesn't mean that its the way you have to live.

    My husband suffered from ADD for more than 20 years before finally getting some help for it. He went the medication route and its like a switch was flipped - he is happier, more successful, and just an absolutely different person.

    But the hardest part for both him and his parents was that he felt like he lost all those years he didn't have the medication - like maybe he could have been done things better, that he could have been a better person. His parents felt guilty that they hadn't seen the issues and corrected them when he was younger.

    Basically my advice is that if you're going to look for help, make sure you get a doctor and a psychiatrist you can trust, because solving issues always brings about other issues too. Just be prepared. Its a hard road, but it is worth it in the end.

    Although, I think its great that you're thinking about doing something for yourself. And don't get down on yourself either - you've done an amazing thing by staying healthy.

    Sorry for hijacking your comments. I've been reading you for a while, but never commented. Keep up the good work!

    By Anonymous Emily, at 8:10 AM  

  • From your perspective, you might look at your imaginary report card and think middling to failing, but from a professional's perspective, they might look at you and be amazed at how far you've come considering the emotional (and previous physical) weight you've had to drag around. Forget about what insurance pays for; think about the cost of not doing something intelligent here. There are many practices in Chicago that offer sliding fee scales, but first and foremost, be careful and thoughtful about the professional(s) you select. Get advice, get referrals, pay attention to your instincts. You've got 'em, use 'em! And, good luck.

    By Blogger The Troescher Team, at 8:19 AM  

  • Just to drop a word of encouragement... a few years ago I got help for depression, which in my case meant about a year and a half of therapy and about eight months of antidepressants. Since then, I know so much better what it feels like to function like a regular person again (is this LEGAL?) and when I start low-functioning again, I know what to do about it. I've got the tools now, and I didn't have them before.

    Shop for a therapist the way you would shop for any other thing to do with your health. They aren't all alike. Try reading _Feeling Good_ (the title is awful but the contents are fantastic.) And have faith. You Are That Girl Now.

    By Anonymous JB, at 11:40 AM  

  • I think. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself again, and I'm really just as useless as I feel, and I'm doomed to never finish any of the things I think of. It just doesn't feel like that. It feels like I'm not operating at my potential. It feels like all the weird things I've been documenting and complaining about over the course of the past few years might have a common cause.

    This is textbook depression and it's a really good example of what cognitive-behavorialists call negative self-talk. Seriously, especially if you're not feeling financially capable of attacking this with a professional...Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. You will totally dig the "homework". And it has a good little despression inventory in the front that you can take again and again to check yourself out.

    A professional would be better, but this book is totally the next best thing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:44 AM  

  • this sounds a lot like what i was diagnosed with - dysthymia. sort of a chronic, low-grade depression (not completely debilitating - you can still function, but not at 100% - or even 80%) that lasts for years.

    that's great that you're going to talk to your regular doc about this. s/he might have some ideas about where to go for help.

    hang in there!

    By Anonymous tszuj, at 12:24 PM  

  • I'll chime in about the Feeling Good book mentioned above. I've been in therapy for about a year and a half and my therapist required that I buy that book and do the homework. It helps one change thought patterns, which is so very necessary to dealing with emotional issues.

    I've also been on medication (off now). Don't be afraid of medication if that's what your doctors decide. Just keep working with them to find one that works for you. I went through 3 different kinds.

    It does get better. Therapy is such a great thing!

    By Blogger Nicole-AFW, at 4:08 PM  

  • I hope that you find something, whether it be therapy or the book mentioned above that will help you. I have been in therapy before and found it helpful, but I know it isn't for everybody.

    By Blogger ms ralph, at 6:57 PM  

  • i'd consider getting tested for thyroid disease. Low Ft3 is very common for women. Check out the www.thyroid.about.com for a lot of info. They have a great forum.
    Most docs tell ya that your "normal", but most women(and some men) do not feel well in "normal" range. Depression is the number one symptom. I personally went down that road and fought for years to get diagnosed. Thank goodness for advocates on the internet or i'd probably have been committed to an institution by now.
    Hope you find yourself on the upside soon.

    By Anonymous Ileen, at 7:45 PM  

  • Just wanted to chime in on checking out your thyroid....I had no idea my depression was tied to hypothyroid.....

    Big hugs.

    By Anonymous tracy, at 6:56 PM  

  • Being a fighter of the depression bug for 3 years now, I totally notice your symptoms. No one wants to have to go on Meds but they help when you need them. They can make your life normal. You won't always feel like you are pushing shit up hill!! And definitely try to get some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It helps deal with the little triggers. Good luck

    By Blogger Jules, at 10:01 PM  

  • Hah - I just came over to leave a comment urging you to get your thyroid checked while you were at it, but I see two other readers beat me to it! I just recently was diagnosed as hypothyroid and your description of what you're feeling sounds verrryyy familiar....

    By Anonymous Kymm in Seattle, at 3:54 PM  

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