Remember, I am okay. Nothing happened. I am writing this now. Things are not so dire as it might sound. It's been a rough four weeks or so. I think four. Can't quite recall.
I was supposed to be taking escitaloptram (2.5 mg). This is half of a tiny pill. I destroyed the pill when I tried to halve it. So I took 5 mg instead. And didn't notice any therapeutic effect so I stopped taking entirely. Instead I should have called Psych NP. I know. I know. But I wasn't thinking real clearly.
Because when you are Depressed and an antidepressant doesn't help, you should find something that does instead of just shrugging and ceasing to take that medication. What a rookie move. What a bonehead mistake. But without writing there was little self-reflection going on.
Then fall hit with the change in light and the change from being home and unscheduled to being at work around MANY people and chaos and Fear of Failing My Students or Doing Something Wrong. And No Exercise. And no add-on antidepressant. Because I stopped taking it. Without letting anyone know.
Should it then be surprising that I kinda tanked? No. Writing this now it is COMPLETELY predictable.
This is the part you should not read.
In the past month I was probably worse off Depression-wise than I have been in a LONG LONG LONG time. I know this because instead of just feeling Down and worthless and hopeless, I was mildly suicidal.
See, I told you not to read this.
The mildly part is important. I had no plan. I hadn't thought about a method. I had no time table. I was making no preparations. Mild. Still, a crappy place to be.
And I would drop hints. Like the only reason I was sticking around was because I knew other people would not be better off without me. Or that I was ready to be done. I didn't talk about death. I just talked about not "being there." Which I guess is deliberately ambiguous.
I was not/am not actively pursuing my own death. But I thought if a house fell on me, or if I were struck by lightening, or if I could just stop breathing, that would be preferable to remaining alive. Because I was ready to be done. Ready to not fight. Ready to not breathe or have a heart that beats so fast even when I'm meant to be resting.
I thought I would always feel that way. And always be Down. And keep going lower. Until there was nothing left of me but the air in my lungs and my stupid, beating heart.
Ugh this is hard to write.
I know when the Downs get bad I shouldn't listen to my brain. Because my Depressed brain is a lying liar. And it wants to kill me. Which the not-Depressed me cannot support. Since I am actually awesome. Just high-maintenance. Unfortunately.
Something (I don't know what... maybe reading my frightening posts... maybe realizing that I was suicidal and not wanting that to get worse...) made me remember my action plan for when the Depression super sucks.
1. take lurasidone
2. call Psych NP
So I did both of those.
And here is the miraculous thing... The day after taking the lurasidone I was not incapacitated by Depression.
I also discovered that the lamotrigine I was taking had been switched when I renewed the prescription. You'd think I would notice that the pills had changed color. Instead of taking one 200 mg pill (blue) I was supposed to be taking two 100 mg pills (white.)
This means that I had been taking half the does of my mood stabilizer that has an anti-depressant effect and none of the add-on antidepressant.
Not on purpose either.
So here is the new plan. Knowing that I don't like to be on lurasidone long-terms (like to have it in my pocket as an emergency med and not really liking how it makes me feel other than the part where my brain is no longer murderous)...
I need to take 20 mg lurasidone for one month along with 10 mg escitalopram together with my 200 mg of lamotrigine.
I know in an earlier post I said I would only take meds that start with L. The punchline is that the brand name for escitalopram is Lexapro. Ha.
Have an appointment scheduled with Psych NP for 1 month from now. Have my new meds. Brain is working. Not suicidal. But I need to remember all of this. That's why I am writing it.
I am still here. No plans to leave.
So in the past it was SKAM, the Norwegian teenage drama that I couldn't stop watching. Again and again. And again. Now I am stuck on watching sappy Korean/Japanese/Chinese romance. I confess I had trouble getting to sleep most nights and I would go to bed at a reasonable hour, but then watch 2 or 3 hour-long episodes of something I needed to read subtitles on.
Of course, one might argue that I was having trouble sleeping BECAUSE I was watching something with bright flashing lights in front of my face and a scrolling line of English script that required my attention. But who asked you anyway.
Spouse thinks that I should put a meditation app on my phone that will do guided meditation for me to listen to when I am having trouble falling asleep. Only whenever I have tried guided meditation it has really pissed me off. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.
After 3 crying jags in the last week, I finally managed to call psych NP to schedule a meds check. Because (no surprise to anyone who has seen my posts or my utter lack of posts) I don't think my current meds are up to snuff in terms of treating my Depression.
I'd been bugging my co-teacher to call about her own health issues. I even went so far as to try emotional blackmail... telling her that her lack of self-care was starting to affect my quality of life. Apparently that worked, because the following day she scheduled multiple appointments for herself.
"Happy?" she glared at me.
So I responded by getting on the phone and scheduling my own self-care.
"Happy?" I glared back.
New nebulous part of my job is stressful because I don't know if I'm doing it right. And there are some people who think I should do more and some people who think I should do less and I want to please everyone but I am already letting it take up more of my life than it really should.
Stress over this was a contributing factor in several of the crying jags.
After receiving one inflammatory email I kind of put my head on my desk and pulled my hair so it stood on end in tangled blue strands. Medusa. Co-teacher said it looked like I was melting down and advised me not to do so.
Which kind of worked.
I have taken the following actions:
Started taking lurasidone (which Psych NP wants me to take when the Downs overtake me).
Called Psych NP for meds check.
One day this week I woke up at 3:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. So I watched a Chinese TV show. And then when I got up I took the lurasidone at breakfast. Which is a Bad Plan because it makes me Tired.
This was the day of said inflamatory melt-down email. But I was able to handle it a little better. I think it was the combination of sleep deprivation (which can have short-term positive effects on Depression... but is not sustainable as a long-term solution) and the perhaps psychosomatic effect of the lurasidone. Even though I am certain that it does not start working that fast.
In general that day knocked me on my ass. Felt terrible. Super exhausted. Unable to deal with anyone or anything. Or even think about leaving the house. But I didn't become a fountain of tears.
Now I am trying to take the lurasidone with dinner. What I didn't like about it before was that it made me SOOOOO tired that I had to take it right before bed. And I needed to take it with 350 calories. So I was having trouble not overeating on a daily basis.
We'll see if I can be somewhat functional from dinner until bedtime if I take it with my evening meal. Except on days when I have band because I tried that before and I should NOT have driven home because I could barely stay awake while playing French horn. I drove with the windows down and the radio blaring, singing at the top of my lungs to remain alert.
Grateful Crap: watching my EL kids play soccer. They are really good. And super happy when I come to the games.
going to soccer games
talking to friends/Friends
reading comments from F/friends on FB without getting sucked in to all the other parts of FB
200 mg lamotrigine (need to refill today. not entirely certain how faithful I have been)
20 mg lurasidone
I think I will only take meds that start with L.
But even their brand names are L (lamictal and latuda)
P.S. Elder Boy struggling with school again. See last year when my Depression sucked. February? It is a link I would rather not have. Not sure if there is causation. But it still sucks.
I have ultra-awesome superpowers of doom. I can take any innocuous comment and build an entire universe of awful around it. A single phrase in a context-free email can easily be interpreted as "whatever you did is crap and you will likely be fired."
Luckily I followed up my ridiculous reading of said email with a quick note to my admin who
A) sent me an email back disabusing me of my overreactive imaginings
B) hunted me down in person to give me a hug
C) reminded me to come to her right away when I am feeling this way
C) all of the above
I have started both of the last two days with crying jags. Yesterday I called my co-teacher from the lounge to warn her that she would have to start class without me since I couldn't stop crying. There is no why, remember. There is the trigger, but that is not why. The why is just Depression.
Today I went to a meeting focusing on students that we are concerned about. And I became so concerned about several of the students that it triggered another crying jag. Instead of making it to the staff lounge, however, some of my EL kids spotted me in the hallway and needed my help to find a room for PSAT testing.
Because nothing beats taking the PSAT when you have been in the country for just over a year and are reading at the 3rd grade level.
Admin spotted me in the hall and said, "Oh no! Not again..."
But I told her it was just that I was so worried about my students. And she was all reasonable and advised not to borrow trouble and that we can only do what we can for them while they are with us. And that is true.
But I want it not to be true.
I want to be able to fix things. But this wanting doesn't make it so. And the fact that I cannot fix things for my students kind of wrecks me. The more I know about their personal struggles, the more I struggle.
And if I am broken I am no good to anyone.
When I worked with adults I think I did a better job of this. Making my classroom a safe space. Not ever knowing too much about their backgrounds. Now I feel irresponsible for not knowing more. But the more I know, the more precarious of a position I am in.
I had a conversation with Elder Boy today in which I advised him not to run away from home. He thought this was a ridiculous comment and tried to imagine what on earth would make him run away from home.
Well, if your mom smells.
Or if you become a Nazi (which wouldn't make her kick you out of the house even) but she wouldn't let you hold your Hitler Youth rallies in the basement.
He still thought running away would be less preferable to just hiding in his room. I'm with him. Hiding in rooms is awesome. Under beds if possible. In closets if not.
In Japan I had neither a closet nor a bed to hide under... so I had to kind of wriggle underneath my futon. Which was not anywhere near as satisfying.
It's what I did when my host dad was hitting my host brother for not doing his homework fast enough. I had never seen anyone hit a child before. I didn't know what to do. He was nine. I was twenty. I would live in their home for an entire semester.
My teenage host sister was embarrassed and muttered something under her breath by way of apologizing for her dad's behavior. Urusai. Which made him come out and slap her across the face. The mark of his hand red against her skin. The sound hit the side of my skull after bouncing off the walls. Echoing somehow in such a small space.
I only hid.
I only kept my mouth shut.
What should I have done?
I can't fix everything.
I can't fix anything.
And everything is broken.
And I am broken too.
It was a long dark week. No reason just cuz. Someone asked what my bipolar cycles are like... and I think it’s like this:
I have what they call “ultra rapid cycling” bipolar. Which means I have a lot more than 4 mood episodes per year.
And climate-wise I’m in the Downs. Where I have been for a long time. With little squalls of hypomania blowing through now and again.
This is sometimes good... like feeding off positive energy from my small class of students.
Sometimes less good like when I spend too much time in crowds, noise, excitement. Without a clear plan to counteract the effects.
I think that to a large extent the mood stabilizer has limited any extended hypomanic episodes. But Depression just keeps hanging around.
Like it has nothing better to do.
After my last post a Friend showed up at my door for a wellness check and took me to get replacement beading supplies.
So now I’m beading. Which I think will be good.
Need to have seasonal meds check. Don’t really want to go since the only med I have really liked is the one I’m on... and it seems not quite up to snuff.
I am able to admit that I am potentially awesome at times so this is not a day that I am deep in the Downs.
Imma keep doing things as if I want to do them. Routine. Leaving the house. Showering. Eating food. Keep the Downs from setting up permanent residence.
I move carefully so as not to dislodge any... memories? Not memories of the past but the present.
Not wanting to stir up anything that might instill an emotional response. Need to stay even. Placing my feet on the crumbling ground so slowly. Silently.
I drag salt against the wound. It is scented with lavender. The salt causes the wound but the scent is sweet. The pain a barrier. The pain somehow a balm. The pain is nothing that will wake the self.
Self is not safe. Leave it lie.
I once consoled the self with the thought of uniqueness. That there was value or proof of the divine in the interaction between the self and music or light or beauty in the small spaces.
These consolations no longer ring true.
The self is duplicated. There are others who teach these students, who raise these children. Others share my parents. Others sing my songs. There is built in redundancy in the system.
Would there be an alteration... of course. The self is not unaware. The symphony is made of many sounds though and one might not recognize after a time what was missing.
I feel too fragile.
I feel faced with endless and soon process of losing things which I hold dear. Again and again. Only to accelerate with age.
I am the wound, and the salt, and the light. I am writing this with only my index finger. In a cocoon of darkness I never want to leave.
I am am afraid if I begin to cry I will never stop. And I will discover that all this while I am Lot’s wife. That salt is all there is to me. And with tears I will be no more.
This seems rather darker than I should like to post. But I said I would be honest.
It has been months. Posting from my phone.
Haven’t been on FB since early June. Or posted anything.
Lost my beading.
Now I don’t want to tell you how I’m doing.
Because it’s, “not very how.” And perhaps I haven’t been how for quite some time.
And I don’t want to do anything about this.
The only reason I can be motivated at all to try is that I don’t want to go from being a chaotic neutral force in Spouse’s life...
to being a liability.
Well crap... I haven't posted anything since March 31. Okay. Here is kind of what has been going on. I took myself off of lurasidone since I didn't like the lethargy/eating a lot at night that went with that.
My Depression did not seem to be super bad after that. I wouldn't say I was super awesome, but not all weepy or... I don't know. Better than bad.
I received permission (after the fact) from my psych NP to make adjustments to my meds. In general, she said, I have her blessing to make adjustments to my meds. Not to go off of them though-- I mean not off my baseline mood stabilizer (the lamotrigine).
Okay, so then I eventually visited psych NP and she put me on a mini dose (5 mg? I will check when I get home) of escitalopram. She wanted me to take half a tablet. A baby dose.
But the pills are so tiny that much of the medicine is consumed just by cutting it in half. So I have switched to a whole pill... keeping an eye on whether or not my hypomania starts to rear its fidgety head.
Some possibly-symptomatic things:
I'm gonna try and post more again later. I don't want to make this a giant post.
Equatorial actions: Not much. I am spending too much time napping, reading and watching soapy, ridiculous vampire dramas.This summer I plan to get back to exercising at the Y while elderboy is doing Swim Team
200 mg lamotrigine
5 mg escitalopram
Went to watch son’s robotics competition in loud stadium (with earplugs) and got all hyped up on cortisol.
Then had vast quantities of sugar and caffeine.
Then spent hours semi-comatose and binge-watching Person Of Interest in a dark room by myself.
Then decided not to take medicine that makes me super tired.
Because I wanted to stay up late and bead. And because I feel sad and don’t want to go to sleep.
I haven’t been awake at midnight for a long time.
I have missed these wuiet hours. But they are sad and a little lonely.
spoke, cried and sang in meeting today.
Did not know I was sad until I started to speak.
We are teaching about semi permeable membrane’s in biology right now. I started thinking about the value of having a thin but powerful layer that protects you from the outside world.
The semi permeable membrane thoughtfully lets things in like connections with other humans.
Helpfully keeps things out like other people stresses and things that really shouldn’t concern you.
And then for its best trick of all, it helps to hold the good things inside and only helps you eliminate the things you don’t need.
I don’t have that. I have a hard shell. If I let anything in, I have to let everything in. It makes it hard to connect. It makes it hard to express myself.
I can’t stay closed inside forever. I have to make openings with my hard show. I have to let things in and out. But when I do that, I do so unprotected. I am vulnerable to everything and have no filter.
It is scary. It is not safe. I don’t like it.
I wanted this to be a coherent message. It was a message, I knew that because my heart pounded in my hands shook while I waited to accept the unwanted microphone.
instead I began by crying, I proceeded crying, and I finished crying.
I had a song inside (didn’t even know what it was) that needed to come out but I was too sad. So I sat down again.
After someone else spoke, this song made its appearance. So even though it goes against protocol for one person to deliver two messages at meeting, my message came as part two.
And I sang loud.
Quaker, teacher, parent,