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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Changing Perspective

So, it's been about a month since the last post.  At that point, I had a realization that I probably needed to do some serious work on me instead of focusing so much on what was going on with my spouse.  Since then, there have been ups, downs and a few sideways emotional changes with me.

I finally admitted some things to both myself and my spouse about how deep I was into the depression again.  It's so hard to see how bad it is when you're in it. It wasn't really until the things I was so focused on being upset or anxious about started getting better.  At that point, I didn't have something else to place the blame on except myself and my depression.

It's extremely hard to explain to people who have never experienced actual clinical-type depression.  Luckily, I found the TED Talks awhile back that helped me express to other people how I felt.  I posted a link to that in a previous blog.  I also had a friend who showed me another blog which explained it very honestly and clearly.  That blog explained it with the sense of humor I really appreciate.  

It doesn't make logical sense why we (depressed people) feel what we do, that's what is so frustrating about it.  

One of the best things that I learned from both of those sources is that I'm not alone in feeling this way.  It's not exactly being sad, it's a slow regression of emotions really.  The inability to feel anything.  One of the lines from the TED Talks was, "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."  So true.  One definition of vitality is "capacity for survival or for the continuation of meaningful or purposeful existence."  

I felt like nothing mattered, nothing good or bad meant anything to anyone.  It becomes a sick cycle and my conclusion was that the negative thoughts in my head are just a hinderance to everyone around me.  How could anyone really care about someone who thinks such things?  They couldn't, so everything in life is really just meaningless.

Yikes.  Even writing those thoughts down sucks.  I can't believe I got to a place like again that without realizing it.  

So, I expressed some of the thoughts that go through my head to my spouse who, of course, immediately became alarmed.  At first, I felt stupid for letting the thoughts out.  That's why I don't say anything, because it scares people.  I suppose I really did it on purpose though, even if it wasn't exaclty my intention to force help upon myself.  I guess I knew I needed to get help again.

I agreed to go back on the depression medication.  It felt like a failure of my brain or willpower to be able to just "beat it" with common sense and logic.  But that isn't how it works.  It's a malfunction in my brain's wiring.  I just have to accept that and know that it doesn't make me weak or stupid for not being able to just fix it on my own.  I also made an appointment to meet with a counselor again.  That feels stupid to me too because if I already know what my issues are, why can't I just deal with it on my own?  Counseling really does help though because sometimes you need an outside perspective from a person you aren't personally involved with so you can be really honest with and not fear what you say might hurt them in some way.

The medication experience this time was vastly different than the last few times I tried it.  I was taking the same exact medication, same doses, but reacted quite differently than ever before.  I experienced a panic attack the first day, felt like I didn't exist for a day or two (which is a side effect called de-personalization) and then just couldn't stop crying another day.  It felt like a huge mistake at first and didn't make sense.  Then I realized that since I'm no longer on birth control, my hormones aren't regulated like they were in the past.  It finally evened out for the most part, but I still am tired pretty much all the time and have trouble concentrating.  I think that is another side effect, but hopefully that will pass too.

What did happen though (after 5-6 days of weird side effects) was pretty incredible.  I felt like I woke up from some kind of coma I've been in for months.  I couldn't believe I let that go on for so long.  I had forgotten (or was unable) to feel happiness at all.  I could express happiness for others, but never actually felt it.  What the fuck???  

Something that was a bit of a sore spot with my spouse was her feeling like it was her fault.  It was absolutely not her fault.  Yes, she decided to transition.  Yes, it was the best thing for her and for our marriage.  Yes, it may have triggered something in me that causes me to go into depression, but that isn't her fault.  

Depression can be triggered by major life events, but doesn't mean that it is that person's fault.  It just means that the brain of a person suffering with depression isn't capable of handling emotion like other people, especially in circumstances which really alter your life.  Deaths of loved ones were the past triggers for me.  This was kind of like a death in a way.  Mourning the loss of my husband, which is even stranger when I still have a spouse who is SO much happier than ever before.  We're happier as a couple, but apparently my brain gets stuck in depression when I feel deep grief.  

So, back to after the initial side effects of the medication...

I am finally feeling better now and back to what I think is more of my true self.  I can feel silly again.  I can feel happy again.  I can face problems or issues without feeling like everything is SUCH a struggle.  Such small things felt like SO much work.  Now it doesn't seem like such a monumentous task to simply make plans and hang out with friends.  I don't feel like being alone all the time.  I can start caring about things again.  I'm not fully functional or "normal" yet, but I'm getting there.

I'm so thankful for all of those who have been so patient with me through this.  Feeling more aware now of what had been happening, I feel guilty for putting other people through that.  At the same time, I know I would do it for them had the situations been reversed, so I'm trying to just accept that relationships are just that...give and take.  Acceptance and forgiveness.  Being there for each other is what it's all about.  Addressing issues and accepting that people will still love you even if you act crazy, sad, irrational, angry, or whatever might make them uncomfortable is what makes relationships work.  Not just romantic relationships, but all relationships.  

I finally feel more hopeful about the future.  Maybe hopeful isn't even the right word...maybe it is vitality.  Maybe I do have meaning and purpose in this world.  Maybe my experiences will reach others and help them cope with their own issues.  

Maybe we all do deserve to feel happy and are meaningful in this world, no matter how fucked up we might feel in our own mind.