One Month From Forty
A Case of the Blerghs

Sad Ghost

Every day this week I've opened up a New Post and stared at its usually inviting blankness. Type something, it says to me. Be funny! Make jokes! Get on with your weird run-on-sentences-all-in-caps-lock self! Hell, even boring is probably fine, just TYPE. SOMETHING.

I still don't have any of that, Internet. I do have a confession, though.

I'm not doing so great. I mean, I AM doing great in all the ways that matter -- healthy, thriving kids, excellent job(s) with the perfect work-at-home setup, a pile of happy-making pets, hot husband who spoils me rotten, etc.

All of which add up to me berating the hell out of myself for still, regardless, in spite of it all, not doing so great. 

It's no secret that I've struggled with anxiety (that ebbs and flows in terms of its severity and sources) and depression on and off for a lot of my life, and over the past year I've struggled more and more to get it back under control. The past couple months have been about as bad as it gets, no matter what I've tried. 

I got a SAD lamp. I got a bike and a personal trainer. I take Vitamin D and B12. I cut back on caffeine and alcohol and news media consumption. I started CBT with a really great therapist and see her every week. I meditate and visualize and journal and breathe. 

And as of this week, I have an actual doctor and a prescription for Ativan, a medication that I'm still not sure if the anxiety-reducing benefits of it will outweigh my general terror of actually taking it. 

(Somewhere, in the darkest, dankest corners of my archives is a well-documented cautionary tale about what happens when you mix generalized anxiety and mild depression with a pill-happy psychiatrist who misdiagnosed me and over-prescribed every drug on the planet. A tale I would love to delete entirely but am too traumatized to even bring myself to dig through and read the post titles. It is a glimpse of someone having a complete akathisia breakdown, told day by day by a 20-something blogger who had no idea what was happening to her brain. I will not link to it and instead will link to this much-better written account and say: It Me.) 

(I also got my thyroid levels checked and am waiting on those results, but as that seems like way too easy of an answer, I'm fully expecting them to come back and say "yeah no, you're just fat and tired because of regular ol' brain reasons, good luck!")

I do have good days, sometimes a few strung together in a row! Sometimes it's just a matter of avoiding certain triggers. Sometimes the SAD lamp and a bike ride seem to do the trick. I get my work done and walk the dogs and force myself to shower and brush my hair before changing into fresh pajamas. 

And then other days I wake up with a swirling cloud of unattached doom, unsure of what I'm even worrying about, until it grows and grows and finally latches onto SOMETHING -- occasionally rational, usually anything but -- and the next thing I know I'm in full fight-or-flight panic attack mode. The attack will pass eventually, leaving me mentally and physically spent for hours and hours, as if I'd spent the night throwing up from a stomach bug rather than lying on the floor hyperventilating over I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT ANYMORE. 

***

Last week we had parent-teacher conferences -- our first of the gauntlet that is middle school and six or seven conferences scheduled back to back. We walked down a hallway where a sixth grade art project was displayed. It was called the "EMO PARADE" The kids were assigned different emotions and told to create an original character for that section of the parade. We stopped and scanned the rows for Noah's contribution.

We found it, under "Sad." He made a Sad Ghost. 

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Hey, it's me, I thought to myself.

And then I laughed out loud because hey look! I made a joke. 

 

Comments

Meghan MacMillan

Big hugs. I struggled for years without even realizing that I had depression. I consider myself blessed in every way, so I tricked myself into thinking that I had nothing to be depressed about. I started medication a year ago and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. You can read about my journey here: http://meghanmacmillan.ca/2017/03/finally-some-answers/

Take care of yourself and keep talking about your journey. It’ll normalize it for yourself and others who may be struggling. Let’s beat the stigma of mental illness together!

Supertiff

Sad ghost, but not alone ghost. I feel you.

kelly

I'm sorry you're having a tough time. Depression lies, and anxiety is a bully. Take good care of you. Love and hugs from some random stranger who loves your writing.

Lori

I got all the love for you lady. And all the sympathy. I struggle too, and this time of year it seems inevitable. But it gets better and I hold on to that. It will lift. Keep holding on. You have lost of people to hold you up when you can't. ❤️❤️

reenie

I am sorry you're going through this. Please don't berate yourself. You wouldn't berate any of your readers, friends, or family for it, right?

Anxiety and Depression don't need reasons, they're bastards who shit all over your intentions and leave you hulled-out like your first unrequited love.

Thank you for writing through it...it helps to see that there are others who seem to have all their shit together, but suffer just like me.

Also - HOTDAMN, Noah is talented. He dripped every drop of sadness into that ghost. It's amazing. The brimming eye, the set of the mouth, the eyebrow, the angle of the head, the shading...all of it is wonderfully and sensitively articulated. And he draws better hands than I do...and I have a BFA in Studio Art. Well done, Noah!

Hang in, Amy...I hope you try the meds, especially since you're forewarned of possible side effects. You shouldn't have to feel like that any more.

Amanda

I am dealing with exactly the same thing... generalized anxiety (my whole life) and mild depression (who knows how long... that creeps up on you). I finally broke down and started taking meds for it 2 weeks ago. I know it's supposed to take 6 weeks to see full benefit... but damn!! 2 weeks in and I am SO F%&KING glad I made that decision. Best to you! I hope you experience the same weight lifted off your shoulders :-)

CallMeJo

I'm sorry. In this new era of douche-run-amok-politics, even those of us who don't normally suffer from anxiety are having a hard time. I've had to make some major changes in my life - joining a local climate education group and adding seriously intense exercise - to combat the pervasive negative...dread. My poor SO, who has always had anxiety issues, is really suffering. One way or another, we'll all get through this. Do what you need to do to help yourself.

Dawn

I so very much understand all of this. I do everything I can to keep my head above water but some days I just can't. I hope the ativan helps. Good luck

Jenn O.

I don't know if you follow other blogs or not, Amy, but I immediately thought of Jenny (The Bloggess) when I read this and wondered if some of her writings/thoughts might help you (she's hysterically funny most of the time, as you are):

http://thebloggess.com/category/depression-lies/

Darra

Having a great life but then struggling with anxiety and depression really adds the guilt to the mix! Like, my life is so good why am I unhappy, right? Oh and here's the holidays on top of that!

My ass-vice: simplify anything you can. Hire housekeepers to clean, babysitters, anything you can afford. Having less to do helps me with the overwhelm. {{{{hugs}}}}

Tracy

I've got Ativan, but my doctor only prescribes 20 at a time, and I only take it when I can't get through the fight or flight response. It's a relief just to have it in my purse, knowing I can get rid of the adrenaline if I can't manage on my own. This year has been the worst for anxiety. I'm happy you're otherwise doing well, and wow, Noah's art is amazing.

Katie H.

When I first saw the sad ghost at the start of your post (before I knew Noah drew it), I thought it was an illustration from a book! It's so perfectly sad! (The ghost, not Noah!)

I hope the meds help and you can find some release from those stupid lying bullies, anxiety and depression. No matter what you write here, you have a lot of support and love on your side.

Elizabeth_K

I'm so sorry; and so grateful to you for sharing your journey with us. You are generous even as Sad Ghost.

Courtney

I know you know you're not alone, but I'll say it again: you're not alone. Anxiety and depression are ugly assholes that also haunt our hallways. Hang in there, kid. (Also, goes without saying that although sad ghost is sad, it's also really freaking well done.)

ccr in MA

I'm sorry you're going through this, and I don't have anything helpful to say, except that I hear you, and I hope it gets better. This stuff sucks big-time.

Also, I love-love-love Noah's Sad Ghost.

Brooke A.

I'm a pharmacist (with depression and anxiety who takes a big ol' stack of prozac and wellbutrin every day so I can be the me-est feeling me) and I don't know if this is reassuring to hear or not, but I can tell you that EVERY PERSON who is prescribed an anti-anxiety medication feels anxious about taking it. Thanks brains! But here's another secret of ativan: it will help you even if you are worried that it won't.

Also omg akathisia h8 h8 h8. I've had it a couple times in ER getting migraine treatments, and it is so INTENSE - I almost ripped an IV out of my arm, and the whole time it felt like it was just me, the real me, under no external influence, happening to decide that I couldn't take it any more - until the infusion of the drug causing it stopped and I realized ohhhhhh no, that was just akathisia. Ha ha ha "just." I wrote a song about how it felt, which still isn't AAAA enough: http://brookeabbey.com/track/akathisia I'm so sorry you had to go there. I can't even imagine how scary/bad it would be to have it as a side effect from a non-iv drug, where you have to wait so much longer for it to stop.

Carrie

I’m so sorry you are struggling but selfishly, it makes me feel less alone. I have had anxiety/depression for 30+ years and it ebbs and flows of course. Just over the past couple of months I have felt more anxious/sad than my usual level of anxiety/sadness. Not sure exactly what is causing it, probably a combination of things. But I wanted to say that Ativan is amazing. I suffered without it for 25 years and only started using it in the past couple of years. I don’t use it often, and only when I need it, but oh, it helps. It helps a lot. Please don’t be afraid of it. On those days when it all seems like too much? Take one. See how your day goes after that. It’s not going to be drastic but it’s going to better and it may even be good. Big hugs to you.

Alicia

Internet imaginary friend, I'm so sorry you're going through this but good for you for taking care of yourself and reaching out. I don't "really" know you, but I'm proud of you. I hope the dark cloud passes soon. Xoxo

Carrie

I should have also mentioned that I am also on meds (daily) and have been for many years. Not sure I could cope without them. Nothing to be afraid of. They changed my life. 💗

lauralyzer

Big hugs to you. I am so sorry for what you've gone through in the past and what you're going through now. I'm really glad you feel supported with your amazing therapist and hot husband. Please hang in there.

The teensy bit of advice I have is to not depend too much on the thyroid test results. Your thyroid levels fluctuate so much that the chances of the test capturing anything that could be relevant is pretty slim. So don't discount your symptoms and go back to blaming yourself, mkay?

All the love for you.

LPC

As many here are saying, the state of the country doesn't really support a good mood. I was talking to my son the other day and I told him that I've realized I have to let myself off the hook about my heightened anxiety because, country is worse than I ever imagined.

None of that is to discount your depression and anxiety. Treat them and medicate them and all of that. Whatever works. But if nothing works as well as you think it ought to, remember, you are not alone. xoxox.

Wendy

Have you tried an SSRI? Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, something like that? I've been there, and Lexapro and then later Zoloft has put me back among the land of the living. And I AM a therapist who knows all of the CBT stuff, and that's great except when it's actually a body chemistry issue... I was in the same boat as you - I had no REASON to be sad and anxious. But yet I was. Very. You're wise to be skeptical of the Ativan. You definitely don't need a benzo addiction on top of everything else, and Ativan is highly addictive.

Wendy

Oops, never mind. I posted before I read your linked articles. Looks like SSRIs didn't work for you. Though... a good friend of mine had that reaction to Zoloft, but Lexapro basically saved her - her reaction was so bad that when she called, I feared that she had Serotonin Syndrome. Point being, not all of them work exactly the same, and our body's can metabolize them differently.

sheilah

So, so sorry. Depression is a horrible disease and can strike anyone no matter how 'perfect' your life looks to someone on the outside. Keep trying to get the help you need. Reach out to us here on the internets. We love you and want the best for you.

Katie

Hey I have GAD and mild depression too!! Yippee! I stayed in bed ALL day Monday, not out of choice. I cried a few times and stressed myself further by trying to figure out why I was feeling that way.
So high five. Good times. And hang in there. You are certainly not alone!

Liz Carter

I think when so much is going ok or well, then there is usually an underlying biochemical component. I will say I have had a terrible time finding the right cocktail, and it turned out to be very small doses per day of prozac (7.5mg), seroquel (6.25mg), and Atvian (0.25mg). I have a very sensitive system and it doesn't take much to make the side effects feel as bad as the depression/anxiety. What did help us narrow things down, after multiple scary and painful fails, was a blood test. It's not perfect but at least I ruled out the big no nos, and also understood why some were such a particularly bad match for me. And then when I was just on the benzo, I usually waited too long to take it just to make sure I was really anxious and not overmedicating. The up and down was too much so it's better to be more stable (although always with some side effects). Low doses of whatever you try. LOW doses to start. It's amazing how much a little can help a lot.

Lisa Russell

Don't let them tell you about your thyroid levels. Do your own research and remember that normal is a dryer setting. If you have symptoms of thyroid disease then you probably have thyroid disease. Check out the website www.stopthethyroidmadness.com for excellent patient experience information. Also check your cortisol levels and female hormones. Both high cortisol and estrogen dominance can cause anxiety.

SassyApple

I feel you, internet friend. Why IS it so fucking hard to shower???? I bribe myself, a grown-ass woman with degrees, to take a shower and then wear lounge clothing one step up from PJs.
We're here for you...well not physically because that requires shoes and a bra, but we're with you in spirit!

Amy A

Hang in there. I was right where you are in September. I had been on an SSRI for generalized anxiety for years, and for reasons known best to me made the decision to go off. I was fine-great, in fact, until I wasn’t. So, I started up again and had every side effect possible. I eould not have made it through without the help of an anti-anxiety agent and some great support sites on the web. All this during what should have been such a wonderful time, my son’s wedding at the beginning of October.
But, here I am now in December, and I feel fantastic. Whole. Myself again. Getting over the metabolizing of the SSRI was sheer hell, but I made myself stick with it. I haven’t needed any anti-anxiety meds in almost two months, and at the onset I did not think that would ever be possible.
Sometimes our bodies just need an extra boost. I know now I’ll probably be on an SSRI for the rest of my life, and I’m fine with that. I’m not here to promote the use of any SSRI, per se, especially since you had such an adverse reaction. But, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the right medication. Don’t give up, and know that you have a ton of people championing you. I hope and pray that you find what works best for you.

Chi

So sorry to hear you're struggling. I too have been going through a rougher time the past few months, which led me to resume going to therapy and taking medication. Super happy that I gave meds another try (fifth try's a charm!) because Cymbalta has basically saved my life. It's also stolen my memory, but I'll take (hopefully) lovable forgetfulness over crying and breakdowns. I also take my stuffed elephant to work with me sometimes, even though my Scorpio/introvert self balks at announcing to the world that I feel vulnerable. Whatever works and keeps me above ground, I guess. :)

Lindsey

I’m so sorry. Sending hugs and good thoughts your way.

Leah

This is me - although more the depression track than the anxiety track. I don't know why these last 4 months have been so hard. I work, have a husband, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, a nice house in a nice part of town...I shouldn't be so overwhelmed and depressed. But I am.
I've seen the doc. Increased my anxiety meds as they are supposed to work for depression too. Got the SAD lamp. I'm beginning to think it is hormone related so I'm tracking my mood to see if maybe that's it (I'm 36 so menopause is doubtful but maybe something is brewing? It's a stretch but my mind needs answers).
Anyways. I feel ya...you aren't alone.

Anne

Many in my family suffer from depression. Medication AND therapy AND God can get you through it. God understands our cries and our groanings. Reach out to Him. Reach out to your Mom for help in this area - she's probably been waiting. You have been running from God for years - despite the gift your Mother AND Father gave you, by raising you to know Jesus.

Teresa

I love how people are blaming depression on the state of the country. I feel the same way except it is due to the hypocrisy I see from people attacking Trump. It does not make me depressed it makes me angry so that being said it is god you are disconnecting some. When my three boys were young I had this insane fear that something would happen to them and I worried constantly. I also was paranoid and questioning everything I did as a wife, teacher and mom, If it wasn't for Xanax I would still never sleep. I hope things get better for you. I know I am blessed but don't always feel like it,

kim too

Hugs. I had a mini-meltdown with my family doctor the other day, because my oldest was showing signs of needing anxiety meds, which would make us 4 for 4 in our house, and I wanted to know what I was doing so wrong that my kids were so stressed. He gently but firmly told me that this was happening all over the place, and wasn't my fault. And I am passing that message onto you.

It's tough, what we do. It just is.

Julia

I have bad anxiety but you would never know it if you were my friend. I just don't show it. or show up when it's bad. I know when I first wake up if it's going to be a difficult day. My kids have it too and I take on all their anxiety as well.

Beth

Everything that’s already been said and a big ole internet virtual hug!! ❤️
Also, I bet a Bluefields visit would give you a dose of all the right stuff!!

Kate Elizabeth Queram

Drugs are different for everyone, obviously, but I will say that Ativan has been a godsend for me and my anxiety. I take a very low dose as needed, and it literally just slows my brain down enough to let me breathe. My advice to you would be to not let your past experiences keep you from using something that could genuinely help you now. Anxiety and depression are ghouls, and you are a thousand times better than they are. Kick them in the teeth, girlfriend.

Jen

I'm really sorry.

Thank you for sharing this with us, and sharing Noah's amazing art. How sad, how lovely, how apt.

Hoping the fug clears soon for you, and that joy and calm find their way back in.

Abesha1

I would ask if you're taking any hormones i.e. birth control...?

And it's not my thing, but of course lots of people believe diet (you know, cutting out all the fun things like dairy and wheat) can help a lot with general health and energy levels. And drinking enough water. If you haven't already done so, maybe get a complete physical and workup? Just check everything you can think to check, including blood sugar, vitamin levels, cell counts, everything.

Probably all things you've already considered... hope things get better. And if it it helps to remember, billions of people don't shower every day, many by choice! It's not a prerequisite... haha!

Rachel Nau

I cried as I took my first Ativan post pregnancy. I had not slept in 3 or 4 days, was a giant ball of anxiety. I felt like a weak failure, like why didn't I just pull my shit together already and RELAX? I convinced myself I was past it after 3 month because that's what people seem to think was an appropriate time to BE over it. I suffered another 13 years with my anxious self until I started suffering migraines. After ruling out anything deadly, I was prescribed nortriptyline as a migraine preventative. Lo and behold, that is a secondary benefit of the drug. Primary function? Anti-anxiety.

After about a week, I started to realize my thoughts had quieted, the hamster ball of anxiety had stopped running inside my brain, and I finally realized what it was like to live with a non-anxious brain. Since my TEENS, I just thought that was how my brain worked. I have never been so glad to have had migraines as when I started on these meds that showed me hiw much smoother my life could be.

I know your situation is different, but I wanted to share my story to say I hear you, and I hope there's an answer out there for you that will bring you some peace.

Supa

I’ve been reading since the high heel days, before Noah. I’m happy you’re still writing. I hope you find what works soon. Not for nothing, when I started treating the thyroid condition a lot of things got a lot better. Not sure what you’re doing for diet, but I also found a big correlation btw my carb intake and my mood. I tried to cut carbs for my weight but it made me depressed and the weight didn’t move because of the thyroid anyway. Iana doctor, ymmv, just wanted to share. The internet loves you and hopes you feel better soon. Xo ps bless your heart for writing when you feel like shit.

Lauren A

Getting my thyroid under control had a HUGE impact on my mood. I was depressed and tired and work was so difficult and my hands spasmed ... but I wasn’t gaining weight so even my doctor didn’t think that’s what it was. But what do ya know, my levels that should have been under a four came back at 17!

Hang in there!

Lauren

Hugs!!!! Just remember you don't have to rationalize your feelings, or have a "reason" to be upset/anxious/depressed/etc. It's YOUR BRAIN. It's sick! You aren't being mopey on purpose! Please don't ever feel bad about your brain making you feel this way, you have no control! I hope you can find some low dose of medication that can help get things under control, and that you should NOT feel any shame for taking medication. Remember diabetics don't feel ashamed for taking their insulin, etc!!!! P.S. You don't need to be funny for us. We love you no matter what! xoxo

Elizabeth

I too suffer from anxiety and depression and have for all of my life. I'm also a mental health professional (psychotherapist and I teach undegraduate psychology). I'm saying this so you know I'm not a quack, but I've lived with this AND worked with this AND studied this so I can say... If you were my client I'd recommend you stop taking the Vitamin D. In some people it makes tge anxiety much much worse. I've seen it in others and experienced it myself. It's not a cure-all, but it can noticeably make a difference. Good luck! I'm with you!!

Brianna

Seconding the stopthethyroidmadness.com suggestion. That started my journey into finding the root of my issues. Thyroid, hormones, cortisol issues and finally Lyme Disease and co-infections. The Lyme basically threw all the others off and created an anxiety, OCD cascade that was scary as hell. But I’m climbing out but by bit. I’m sure sometimes this stuff just ‘happens’ but you MAY have a root cause. Just starting some Lyme treatment has taken my anxiety down to levels that were unfathomable to me previously. (Is this how most people feel every day?!?)

Don’t give up. You’re doing a great job. Hugs.

Nichole Paine

I get it, I am right there with you most of the time (see, I'm the one sitting in the corner over there and you can't tell whether her shoulders are shaking from laughter or tears...hi!). I have a bipolar diagnosis, along with an ingrained fear of taking medication for mental health (thanks Mom!) and a feeling that it makes me less of a human for needing medication to be "normal." Not to mention...mental health, growing up mental health problems were "fake" they were "excuses" and it made me weak.

Now, I know better. I am a great mom (ha! I said it!) and a good (ish) wife to an amazing husband, we live in a great community, my daughter does well in school and is pretty and popular and well-rounded. I have a great life. But, I am not doing well either; 2017 has been a kick in the nuts, and as the year wore on, it only got worse.

I am on medication now, and have a handle on the depression most days (7 out of 10?) I have worked hard to stop seeing it as a weakness, or something wrong with me. The anxiety still paralyzes me sometimes, and the aftermath is awful. But, the good days are so much better than before I decided to do something about it. My daughter usually gets a positive, functional mom - and she understands when I am not. I don't have to make excuses (and I know you don't either). So as much as I do beat myself up, berate myself, engage in hopelessly negative self-talk...I also am starting to see really bright days, and I can totally share those days with my daughter.

Keep your chin up (or up ish), and keep on keeping on. Take the time for you that you need. Rest, recharge when you need to. Your family is awesome, they get it...and they want you at your best. You are awesome and amazing, and you got this!

Jen

Me too.

Jessica

You are so brave and strong and wonderful

purple

"Normal thyroid level" is a range. Say the normal range is between 5 and 1. You may be at 4 but need to be at 1 and so need thyroid meds despite being in the 'normal range". Ask lots of questions, it can be a huge difference.
Ativan is addictive. Being wary makes sense. Getting help also is smart. No advice on the subject of drugs for anti-anxiety from me, what works for one person is different for others. Telling that you need help however is key and important. Keep talking to the therapist; they can really help. You are also possibly at an age of having hormonal disruption creating problems....... I remember vividly having the world be split into sepia color versus real color at different stages of my cycle..... earliest signs of menopause for me. It helped when I realized what was happening and could know I was unbalanced and not to make major decisions until balance returned. Spookiest however was when I was ok but knew the sepia world would come back. Getting steady state hormones really really helps.
Good wishes!

Bessa

hugs

Kris

Watch yourself with the Ativan. Some love it, it works brilliantly for them. I took it, last year at Christmas, because Christmas is my worst time, my extended family doesn't like me, and they aren't afraid to tell me and if they can ruin a holiday, more the better, so they attacked me, because my in-laws were staying with us for three weeks around Christmas, and we lived with my mom at the time, and my mom allowed my dad to stay with us Christmas week, so they attacked me over that. We also participated in The Bloggesses James Garfield Miracle, and people are so wonderful, they helped so much, but my family got mad that they had bought my kids presents out of a sense of charity, and they had already gotten plenty, and the money spent on presents for my kids could have been used elsewhere. I had though the president's to my kids were out of love, not charity. I no longer speak to any of them. Anyhow, I took the Ativan, and continued to take it for the next week. All of which I don't remember. I remember the argument, but I've lost everything else. I only know what happened at Christmas due to the pictures I took, and people talking about it. So Ativan can be very scary. The moment I stopped taking it, I got myself back, and my ability to remember my life.

B

This is one of the bravest posts I've ever seen you write. It is hard to make these admissions, especially in the middle of the storm you are in. I hope you feel better soon.

Heather Laura Clarke

Have been thinking of this post since I read it on Friday. I get it, I have it, it sucks, and I appreciate you writing about it. xo

Holly W.

Sad ghost is somehow the most appropriate thing. Thank you for sharing the raw, sad part amidst the other good, healthy parts of your life. I'm with you. Beautiful family, great job I love, just closed on a super fancy and fun old Victorian house - things are GOOD. But I feel like things are bleh. Some of it is the doldrums funk of transition, but I'm keeping an eye on myself (and asking others to, too). I need to get back on the exercise bandwagon, and just allow myself to rest and relax more anyway, too. Self care as I muddle through with you. Fist-bump from across the interwebs. Sad ghost hugs.

Marianne

Oh, dear. It sounds like you're doing everything you need to do. And I would echo what an earlier comment said: Be kind to yourself. Anxiety is an asshole and depression is insidious and cruel. I don't know if you feel like this, but my anxiety drives my week. I'm a twitchy mess on Sunday nights/Monday mornings and I can't sleep. Then I just power through the rest of the week, until Friday - every Friday - I let my guard down and the anxiety runs me over. I spend Friday through Saturday night, coming down from the twitchiness --- just to have it all start again on Sunday. I truly feel like (sorry to be political) that the news cycle is part of my pattern. There's always something on Friday.

As an aside, my 4th grader went on depression medication at the end of last school year. We did everything we could to avoid it, but at the end of the day, it's what he needed. I too fear the over-medicating of our society, but I feel like (and this is just me) our pediatrician's knowledge of chemistry and his therapist's knowledge of depression and anxiety outweighed my fear.

Anyway, I'm thinking of you and really, truly hoping the medication works.

Elise

Right there with you. Though, given the constant state of chaos under the current government administration, I'm allowing myself to call what I'm feeling a natural response to very real trauma and fear for my (and my family's safety). Dance while you can, the nuclear war will be even harder to live through. (only slightly kidding, like very slightly)

KC

That Sad Ghost is artistically stunning. (I couldn't do it that well!)

And low-dose as-needed Ativan (ideally with someone else doling it out to you in one or two dose quantities so that you have another brain checking on how much you're needing it) is really, really useful. Yes, don't use it for everything, yes, keep an eye on how much you're taking, but that tiny bit of chemical assistance is so helpful. Use it to take down negative spirals by a notch so that you can use your brain/therapist/logic/etc. to defeat the rest of the negative spiral.

Also, I know that this is not workable for everyone, and should not be done by those who *can* handle the news and can Do Things to maybe help with the things coming up in the news, but seriously, cutting down on or, as much as possible, eliminating news input is really effective at knocking the ambient dread down. It's huge. Even before this last election, I'd go on news breaks when doing medication changes that might have brain chemical side effects, and it knocks out an amazing amount of daily stress... and then since the last election, the news-vs-no-news effect has been amplified by the huge bad stuff constantly piling up and getting rehashed and trying to sort through to get the facts and augh. So I endorse this as a strategy for those who are made *less* able to do things about the state of the world when they're taking in the news stream.

Karen

I'm so sorry Amy. A couple of months ago, out of the blue I had a full-on anxiety attack and depressive episode triggered by bad PMS. It only lasted for a couple of very bad days but it was my everything in that moment. It happened again at Thanksgiving and it shocked me with the sudden and punishing isolation. You were brave to make this post and give a voice to what a lot of people feel. You're a good mother to your children and to yourself. I love you in that strange blogger way where you feel like a dear friend even though we've never met. I'm thinking of you, dear friend.

Jennifer

Because it hasn't been mentioned yet, and because it continues to make such a big difference for me: I had to completely cut caffeine out to really get a grip on my anxiety attacks. I'm on Lexapro but even with that, a cup of chai will usually result in an anxiety attack within 24 hours. I've never been a big coffee drinker, but loved my morning cup of tea. For me cutting out caffeine is the continuously most-tempting part of dealing with my anxiety, but so worth it. But if you want to know the best brand of rooibos tea that doesn't taste like grass clippings, that I can provide. FWIW I haven't had to cut out chocolate, but do stay away from lots of super dark chocolate or very rich hot chocolate just in case. I remember my father (who hasn't smoked in 45 years) saying that sometimes he still just gets the urge for a cigarette, and I have a feeling that is going to be me and caffeine.

Jodi

Oh Amy, I’m so sorry. I’m here if you want to talk.

Holly

I'm so sorry. I see you. I Internet-hug you. I hope the medication can help the bad days. Noah's sad ghost really is amazing. Thank you for sharing this and for being you.

alana

From one internet stranger to another, you're the literal best. All of your posts: happy, sad, hilarious, ALL-CAPSY and otherwise, give me life. Thanks for sharing so much with us. We see you and love you for it.

LD's Mom

Tiny steps count. And it was a damn funny joke too! :)

reenie

Karen - I don't know if you're reading these comments, but I have PMDD, and it is a crazy several days every month. It sounds like you might also be suffering from it. (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) If you're not familiar with the symptoms, Wiki has a good article about it. FWIW - Fluoxetine (Prozac) is regularly prescribed to combat the effects of PMDD, and can help with anxiety as well. (Sorry if I'm giving unwanted advice...I just know how isolating it can be to be taken over by the monster once a month...it sucks...really hard.)

Karen

Thank you Reenie!

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