Waiting for today...: Mood Journal

Mood Journal

Late December 2015
Ever since starting Lamictal a few years ago, I noticed I started coming out of breakthrough depression more  slowly.  My symptoms would succeed one day at a time for up to four days.  This time, however, I snapped out of it!   It was zero hour for me to get certified as a case manager.  After failing a year before, fighting with anxiety a few months before, missing the application deadline for one test and being unable to secure a date before the end of the year for another, I was falling apart when I walked into the testing center on the 29th.  If I failed this time, I could kiss my job security goodbye.  Long story short: I passed. And just like that the dark cloud was gone.  No bullshit.  

But, I was skeptical.  I wondered if it was really gone or if I was just happy and relieved that I finally got my certification.  Hmmm.  Regardless I wasted little time recognizing that 2016 would have to be the year of doing.  The year of focusing more energy into rebuilding my life.  I was confident that I had pretty good footing after a couple years of self-reflection and evaluation.   The first step was getting a clear picture of what my needs were.  Giving less shits about what people thought of them certainly helped.

Mid-July, 2015 to…
depressed, moderately severe
This mid-summer mood swing snuck up on me and it brought with it an unsettling symptom: loss of appetite.  I don’t consider myself a foodie but I love to eat.  And when I am depressed food is a number one comfort.  So this symptom had me bummed out and added to the usual fatigue.  

Here I am worrying about food when I also thought about death more than I ever have.  A frightening symptom in hindsight.  Never once having a plan.  Not even passive suicidal ideation.  Just for the third time in my life I didn’t care if I didn’t wake up most days.

I made sure to see my psychiatrist early.  She increased my Lamictal from 150mg to 200mg; added Effexor and Adderall.   I waited helplessly.  No strength to do self-care preferring rather to disappear in malcoping until the darkness receded.

Mid-October, 2014 to Mid-July, 2015
new baseline, positive shift
I was relieved the darkness only lasted two months this time. So for the first time in many years, I can be excited about my birthday. Last year was only exciting because my mother and I got a chance to visit the beautiful Bahamas together for the first time. This year is one of very few years since 2003 that I would not be depressed on my birthday.
This time I vowed to enjoy my life, whatever that meant to me, despite having to live with depression. I didn’t worry so much about the checking of boxes.  Not even the things I knew I had to do.   I mean, I wasn’t too nonchalant.  I just made it a point to seek and tap into my free spirit a bit more; something that always scared me due to fear of losing control.

I did have some moments of increased stress, fatigue and uneasiness.  But I reminded myself that it was normal and to be expected.  I accepted the fact that I would always have inconsistencies in my personality and mood due to my illness and I was finally okay with that. It was the most hopeful I had ever been… ever.

Mid-August, 2014 to Mid-October, 2014
depressed, moderate
The exhaustion set in early August.  I thought that with a few days of downtime my energy would be restored.  It was only wishful thinking.  On Sunday the 17th, I remember feeling so drained and dreading the return to work on that Monday.  When a brother from the congregation made note of the bags under my eyes, I knew I was in bad shape.  That Monday I was extremely irritable; depression had overtaken me.  While bummed out that I was depressed again, I wasn’t as sad and hopeless as I was during the last episode.  I was also less angry and felt more in control.  However, there was the feeling of defeat which I was not familiar with.   During this time I often thought "all the work I did during those months of normalcy was a waste".  

For the first month, I was just waiting for the depression to pass.  I did see my therapist every one to two weeks as her schedule permitted.  I saw my psychiatrist twice.  She has increased both my Celexa (from 20mg  to 40mg) and my Lamictal from (100mg to 150mg). Eventually my therapist gave me a kick in the butt and told me that I needed to muster of the strength to take care of myself.  No more waiting.  Getting fresh air, walking and mindfulness were some of the things she encouraged while turning my attention to Depressiontoolkit.org.  With their self-care log and my revised goal chart, I found myself motivated to start fighting through.  And as I got stronger, I revisited my overall wellness plan.

Mid-March to Mid-August, 2014
As my depression lifted my eagerness for a fresh start initially outweighed my anxiety about the difficult task ahead of me.  And as time went on, I accepted the fact that I didn’t know what “normal” was for me.  I struggled to find balance between the crucial and the nonessential.   Never quite feeling as though I achieved this, I did identify my priorities. And when worse came to worse I tried not to trouble myself with those things that fell lower on the list; forgiving myself along the way to neutralize any  anxiety or guilt.  I talked about my depression more and without fear.  I identified low self-esteem as a direct barrier to my relationship with Christ and by faith worked to remove it.  I realized that I wouldn’t make it through this process without Him.

Summer 2013 to Mid-March, 2014
depressed, moderate to severe
I believe wholeheartedly that the catalyst to this episode was the division and eventual split in the congregation.  I had just opened myself up to the idea that this assembly was my new family.   As I learned to trust again, I let my guard down little by little.  Then, I got the rug pulled from under me and I fell hard.  I limped into the fall.  By then I was falling apart and afraid.  While I was not suicidal at that time, I felt as though I couldn’t take much more of life. It was at this point that I sought psychiatric help.  I began therapy and had pretty significant breakthroughs including the realization that it is not wrong to take medication for depression. With a few medication changes we found the right cocktail and I slowly came out of what hoped to be my last depressive episode.

Usually depressed during the holidays, my mood was much improved before the 2013 New Year. One job, not at the bedside, meant less stress. I still had a lot to learn in my new position, there was minimal improvement in my hours and there was the added task of relocating to another neighborhood. Yet, I had a two month period of normalcy. My depression resurfaced from time to time but it was not as severe as in the past… I would continue to ride that tide until the summer… con’t reading “Breaking Down