Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shades of Crazy

Ever since being diagnosed with clinical depression in 1996, I have wavered between feeling like I was crazy and feeling like I had a condition like heart disease or diabetes and was perfectly normal.  Since my depression appears to be purely physiological (according to my psychiatrist) I don't participate in regular talk therapy or group meetings.  I just see the doc every six months or so and we chat for five or ten minutes about how I'm doing and my dosages.  Then he gives me a script for my two anti-depressants and I'm on my merry way.

Until I'm not.

See finding the right balance of meds is an ongoing and dynamic thing.  What works for 10 years might not work for the next 10.  New medications with fewer or different side effects are always coming on the market.  Plus, I change from year to year.  My physiological makeup when I was in my 30's is not the same as it is now (duh).  Life changes as well.  It's a roller coaster and merry-go-round all in one.

(Imagine the face you make when you're on a roller coaster.  Now imagine the one you make when you're on a merry go round and you've gotten dizzy.  Now combine those two.  Now tell me that face doesn't say crazy to you.)

Of course, add to that a woman who has a hard time admitting she's not perfect; who is always trying to come off the drugs AND has spent the last 10 years either drinking herself into oblivion or abstaining, and you can add a "one tooth in his mouth hasn't taken a bath for years" carnival worker running the equipment.

I can't help but feel crazy when things start to shift and I have to call the doc and make adjustments in the meds.  Indications that something is wrong are extremely vague.  It can be a look from the hubs in response to something I've said.  A look that says, "I'm not going to say anything here because she's really not herself right now."  It can be that all of a sudden I realize that I haven't cried in months in spite of some very good reasons to cry.  It can be that I feel "flat".  Conversely, it can be that I've been losing my temper more lately and that things that shouldn't bother me are making me go all "screaming mom" on everyone.  Or it can be that I'm getting my feelings hurt when someone goes to the bathroom and doesn't ask me to go too.

If my condition were more physical, not only would it be more evident when something was wrong but others would be able to see it more clearly as well; and (and this is important) would be much less judgemental about my condition.  If I had diabetes and my sugar dropped and I was weak and shaky and I had to check it and then get some sugar and protein, people would be running around trying to help.  If I had a broken leg and needed help up the stairs, strangers would stop to help me.  Even telling someone you're an alcoholic and can't drink illicits a better response than telling them that you're on medication for depression.

Lots of times when I tell people I'm on medication for depression, their first response is to tell me that they were also on it at one time and but now they are not - insinuating that I must really be a lost cause if I'm still on them after all these years.  Or they tell me how the medication made them feel just AWFUL, and how could I take those.  Or they tell me that I should be able to just deal with my depression by talking to a good friend or seeing a therapist.  Sigh...

So sometimes, even after all this time, I do feel crazy.  I feel all 50 shades of crazy.  And sometimes it scares me because my mother was a pathological liar with narcissistic personality disorder and my sister is a bi-polar sociopath (which is now referred to generically as anti-social personality disorder) drug and alcohol addict.  And my father was an alcoholic.  I've got lots of shades of crazy in my family from which to choose.  It's hard when something is going on in your brain and you can't see it, touch it or feel it but it is most certainly there and fucking with you all the time.

But believe me when I say I would take this particular shade of crazy over any other.  I can be successfully treated (not all people who suffer from depression can be treated and treating more complicated mental illnesses is very difficult even for the best of medical professionals).  I live a very wonderful life, especially now that I'm sober.  There are people who love me and watch out for me and tell me when I've gotten off track.

So once again I've had my medication adjusted (after just having it done in November).  I've had my little pity party (thanks for listening).  And now it's time to put on my big girl panties and just deal.



  1. I feel you. There is a lot of mental illness in my family too. It always makes me question myself. You seem nice and sane online..does that count? HA! I've always been told clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I guess it just depends on the dr?
    Anyway, I'm glad they got your meds adjusted and hope it helps!

  2. Aw love love love love love. Big squishy love. You are right, there is a weird misguided stigma about a lot of mental illness, depression, medication and the like. Lots of people don't get it. Or get only a small part of it. You sound fabulously conscious of the fragile balance of your own mental state and well on top of keeping on top of it. I am hugely impressed and proud of you, you fabulous sober lady. xxxxxxx

  3. Lucky panties...I love you, baby...

  4. How can I follow elmo's response now? lol

    I am one of those people that "used" to take anti-depressants. Unlike you, my depression was clearly linked to my boozing. I do have depression run in my family, but no one has ever gone to deal with it in any way. C'est la vie, I suppose. But your post did get me thinking about the stigma of mental illness and alcoholism. You are bang on that I can go around and declare my alcoholism to everyone, and everyone would pat me on the back and say good job and move on. If I were to declare depression / bi-polar / etc. I would have people put their head down, murmur something and then shuffle away. Many don't have the education to empathize or at least understand mental illness. I worked with a lot of people with mental illness, and guess what? You wouldn't even know that they were on meds, etc. Except when they weren't on As an alcoholic, I am no longer on my one med (alcohol) and I feel great too. Gratitude is fantastic, and you showed that in your post today. Thank you for that.
    Cheers ;)

    1. Amen and thank you for your kind comments. I didn't think about the gratitude in that post while I was writing it but I'm glad my gratitude for my wonderful life shined through.


  5. Only you could write a blog about depression and make me laugh my ass off. "One tooth in his mouth hasn't taken a bath for years" carnival worker is exactly why I haven't squeezed my ass into a carnival ride in 34 years.

    I used to say that I counted myself lucky because I've never been depressed, but I'm like MIB above, I was depressed, and stuck, and unable to function and hopeless and, stupidly, I was trying to fix it with the same drug that was causing it.

    I am fortunate, but my foray into the darkly shaded world makes me empathetic to those for whom it can't be as easily fixed.

    You're a warrior. (Cue Patty Smyth here)


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