Last night I was awake until well after 3:00 AM. It’s the second night in the last week that I’ve had like this. Some nights I can tell it’s going to be like that and I take melatonin to help out. Other nights, like these two, I don’t see it coming. Then by the time I realize I’m in for a long one, it’s too late to take something and be able to get up in the morning. Of course, this always happens on a night when I have to be somewhere in the morning. Tonight it’s melatonin and it doesn’t matter when I get up so perhaps I can break the pattern.
Like many others who suffer with anxiety and depression, I have times when I’m sure the meds are doing nothing. I mean, if they were working, wouldn’t I feel better than just okay…stay better? Are the medications I’ve been taking for years and years really doing anything? Do they really change my quality of life?
Last week I ran out of a prescription. I don’t know why it took so long to get it filled, but I found out whether or not the meds do anything. They do.
It takes little to trigger anxiety and depression. When I’m not in the middle of it, I know that it can be something that another person said or did in such an off-handed way that you know they probably don’t even realize it or remember it. In the throes, I can’t be rational about what happened or see any word or action as less than intentional. Sometimes I don’t know what triggered it. This time I know an encounter and the lack of meds are responsible. I’ve worked with a really good counselor, and together we have found things I can do to mitigate the feelings, to pull myself out of the nose dive, and to help stave off the depths the episode hits. I am living on so much more of an even keel with these strategies, but they are not always accessible in the moment – especially when “monkey brain” kicks into high gear in the middle of the night.
Last night those strategies were not working. I couldn’t turn off the monkey brain that had events, comments, and slights from everywhere vying for attention. In addition to current concerns, I was fighting battles and dealing with hurts caused by co-workers from over 10 years ago when I was still teaching. I have an idea what triggered the bout with my constant companion, but I have no idea what triggered that particular train of thought that is painful. I couldn’t pull out of it. They were people I thought of as friends, people I trusted, people I had gone to bat for who really hurt me at the end of my career. I don’t see them. I don’t have interactions with them. Even the few who are on Facebook are not accepted as friends. But here I was reliving the pain over and over. But I can’t let go.
It is difficult to explain any of this to people who have not personally dealt with it. Well-meaning people tell me that I shouldn’t take things so personally, that I should let go of things, that the past is done. Others tell me to snap out of it. Some roll their eyes and diminish me as well as my struggle. I have a family member whose response to my depression was “What the hell do you have to be depressed about?” (Maybe family who speak to me that way?)
But that’s just it. Sometimes it’s nothing. Sometimes it’s huge. Whatever it is, it is out of my control. It shows up whenever it wants. It plays havoc with my desire to do anything. And it negatively impacts relationships. I don’t want to feel this way, go through life this way. And I can’t find the words to describe it so that others understand. Most of the time I’m sure that I don’t have the words (thus the memes) and nobody wants to hear it any way. So like everyone else, I say, “I’m fine.”