So this past Friday I went to see my new psychiatrist, who recently explained to me that he believes my early 90’s diagnosis of severe clinical depression was wrong and that I actually appear to have Bipolar 2/Hypomania. The appointment was to talk about how my new medication is working and where to go from here, and during our discussion a surprising thing happened.
The doctor asked how I was feeling. At first I felt a little lost thinking about it. How am I feeling? My first instinct was to tell him the medication wasn’t making any difference with me. I’ve been feeling depressed for literally years now so that’s how I’m used to describing my mood. But I didn’t want to say the medication wasn’t working. So I said, “Well, I’m sleeping better, although I still fight to stay awake. I don’t know why. And my creative feelings are coming back and I’m happy about that. I’m really happy about that.”
Amazing! Am I right? I used the term happy twice to describe how I am feeling. I haven’t used that word in the context of me in over 10 years!
I did tell him I’m struggling with my emotions a bit in that I tend to cry at the drop of a hat. He suggested a slight increase in the dosage of my new medication.
But getting back to the happy thing. I left our meeting ruminating over all that had been said. I hadn’t ruminated like that after one of our meetings before and I didn’t know at the time why I was doing it then but a few hours later, as my daughter and I were walking through a new exhibit at the local museum, I realized I had used the term happy to describe myself. Then I realized I was walking around the local museum with my daughter and it had been my idea to go!
That’s a big deal for someone with serious depression, being the impetus for any kind of social activity. For years my daughter has tried to engage me in things like this and my reaction has always been less than enthusiastic to say the least.
My mental illness had pretty much made me an invalid. I rarely left the house except to buy groceries or go to the doctor. For several months I rarely left my bed.
Now, I’m taking my daughter to a museum, next Friday I’m taking her to an activity day at the local library because it’s a Professional Development day at her school which basically means only the teachers have to be there that day, and tonight we’re auditioning for the local theatre guild’s production of The Buddy Holly Story. Ha!!!
How am I feeling? So much better!!! My brain is chugging again after being mired in the dark, sticky murk of deep depression. I fall sleep at about 10 o’clock at night because I am so tired and I get up before noon!!!
I hang out with my daughter and we do stuff! Yesterday she suggested we turn off the tv and make Christmas decorations and I didn’t even think about it, I just turned off the tv. We grabbed some paper and some tinfoil and decorated the little live fir tree we’ve been tending since buying it last Christmas. It was supposed to be a disposable, real Christmas tree but we kept it and loved it and it’s stayed alive and well. Fancy that! Loving and tending to something that is small and disposable makes it healthy and strong.
I can’t tell you how small and disposable I have felt for so long.
But on this new medication I am really doing so much better than I was on the four anti depressants I was on up until just over a month ago.
It won’t seem like such an earth shattering thing to someone who doesn’t live with depression, these things I’ve been doing that thrill me so much. But they are monumental to me. And no, the medication I’m on and was on, doesn’t make me feel “high”, I feel like I always do day to day but things are different. The medication is re-balancing the chemicals in my brain and the result is that I am getting back to my real self – the person who likes going out and doing things, the person who is excited and deeply in love with her child, the creative person I have always been. Anyone reading this who has depression knows what I’m talking about when I say I can’t believe this is happening. I really thought I’d lost the battle with my mental illness. My peer counselor at the local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association tells me the new drug I’m on is a new class of treatment for depression and it is doing wonders for me.
It’s like waking up from a long, horrible nightmare.
It’s like the sun coming out after a long, dark, storm.
It’s like your tastebuds waking up and finally being able to enjoy the various flavours of life.
How am I feeling? I’ve learned the hard way through living with depression that it’s silly to make broad statements about anything positive happening in my life mood wise, but I can honestly say that for the past few weeks, and especially today, I am feeling happy and, perhaps best of all, hopeful.