Tag: therapy

Facing my flaws

pexels-photo-211024.jpegThis hasn’t really ever happened before but today I feel worse after talking to my therapist. I went in feeling fine and came out with so many mixed emotions and ended up feeling shitty about myself.

Like I mentioned here , I wanted to discuss with her what I could do to feel better and a little less crappier when I am very depressed because I haven’t figured it out yet. Anyway, I made a comment about how I was in an “acceptance” phase, trying to accept my fate etc. What I did not realize was that she could see right through my fake acceptance. Because really, I have been just trying to tell myself that whatever has happened in my life has happened and I need to learn to accept it and live with it. This also includes giving up hope of certain things I want in life because clearly life is in no mood to grant those things to me. We discussed all my thought errors and how my coping abilities were below average and how I have unrealistic expectations which lead to my unhappiness. Deep sh*t. And then she made a comment about a recent relationship escapade I had. I can’t get that comment out of my head. F**k ocd! I am so angry at my therapist.

Then there was this whole episode about assertiveness. My psychiatrist had interns and as I walked in, she asked if I was comfortable with students listening in. I hesitated for a moment because I wasn’t sure. I knew I was not comfortable with them, but on the other hand, I have been an intern myself and I remembered how it used to be. So I hesitated and finally she says, be assertive, why don’t you say what you want, you would be the one to lose out if you don’t express your needs firmly. And I explain I have always been like this, and she says well then you must have suffered losses due to this in life and I say I always have.

Sorry about the rant like paragraphs.

I know what all was discussed today was related to who I am with all my faults and defects, and even though we also discussed how to work on identifying and improving these, I still somehow feel offended. It’s so hard to face our own selves, to look at our flaws laid bare, out in the open, for ourselves to see. We are hit by denial, shame, disbelief, but the truth is that deep down we know. We know who we are but we try and ignore it for as long as possible. We try to forget it, for a lifetime, if possible. If reflecting at ourselves is hard, what’s even harder is owning up to what we see. It’s one of the toughest things in the world to do.

I faced myself today, in the words uttered by my therapist. I did not like what I saw. Not that I like myself very much in general but I saw other things, things which I contended myself with believing were good. It was too much for one day, especially after the aftermath of a major depressive episode.

Today I am just angry and irritated. Today, I am filled with hatred. I don’t want to think the right things, I don’t want to do the right thing. Always trying to be nice, always trying to do the right thing is one of my *features*. I will own up to my flaws, but not today. Maybe tomorrow.

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The Lies Depression tells

“I’ll never get better”, “This is hopeless, there is no future”, “Everything will just go wrong”, “I hate myself, I hate my life”, the list can go on and on, forever. When we’re under the hold of depression, all these thoughts seem so accurate, it’s difficult nay almost impossible to see them for what they truly are. LIES. PLAIN WHITE LIES. Lies depression is telling you, twisting your mind into believing these things to be the reality.

The truth however is different. What is needed to decipher it, is realizing that what your mind is conjuring up and trying to get you to accept as the truth is very different from reality. This is one of the first things I learnt in therapy. To recognize the “depression speaking” in my head and then to challenge it. Challenge it by searching for proof against these negative thoughts.

The only problem is that this seems easy to do in hindsight, when your thinking isn’t clouded and you can see things from a different perspective.  To do it while you’re mind is under the deepest, thickest fog is a challenge in itself….forget about challenging your thoughts. The only reason I could admit that these thoughts, especially the one saying “you’ll never come out of this” was a lie is because I am now better. And truth be told, I haven’t got the least idea of how this can be done while you’re suffering. Especially when for some of us, our life’s situation makes it hard for us to deny what our negative thoughts are telling us.

The issue my therapist raised in the last session of me having wiped my mind clean off the facts I learned about my depression and how to deal with it doesn’t seem fair. I was in such a bad state that I simply did not have the ability to reason with my own mind. It wasn’t before the medication kicked in that I began to think otherwise. Even then, I couldn’t just get myself to be up and running. I had no energy and I was still sleeping through all day, feeling okay one day and bad the next (mood swings are one of the symptoms and I should have been aware of them according to my therapist). In fact, the day before my appointment, I did not do anything at all the whole day, I was dreading leaving the house, I tried reading a bit and then suddenly at 7 pm I got up and tidied up my room. I don’t remember how that happened.

Anyway, what I would really like to learn and discuss with my therapist next is how to come out of the negative thoughts while you’re feeling too depressed to even think. Is medication the only hope? I do remember her telling me though that until you learn the techniques and strategies to cope well enough, medication is there to help you just like the training wheels on a bicycle for kids who are learning to balance. That’s a comforting thought. I don’t know why I had forgotten it.

Another truth is that I was judging myself (as usual) and being hard on myself for having wasted all the past therapy sessions and being back at zero again. To make the same mistake again is foolish they say. I have fallen down the ladder again, I accept it, but I am going to climb back again, I am going to rise and I am going to learn my lessons better this time. I want to believe in a better future where things go right for me and not in the desolate place depression wants to send me to.

I cannot express enough of how thankful I am to my family for getting me help. For everyone going through depression, I want to say this: “I know it’s too dark right now to see, to believe, but just remember it will get better, no matter what your mind is saying right now. It will get better. Seek help. Don’t believe the lies depression is telling you. You will get better.”

 

Side effects of “forgetting” your depression

“You’ve rejected your diagnosis at a visceral level. It’s like you are a clean slate. You don’t remember you have episodes of depression. And so every time it hits you, you are taken by surprise and don’t know what to do. Do you remember the strategies that we have talked about in the past of how to manage your depression better?”

Me: Umm…NO

Yeah that was my therapist the other day, at the end of our session. Apparently, during the last year when I was not depressed and happy, yes actually happy for a whole year, I basically forgot I had depression. Well, no I didn’t forget I had depression. I just didn’t think I would have it this bad…again. I got busy with living my life and forgot about what to do when the symptoms hit me. Apparently, that’s a bad thing. Okay, being happy is not, forgetting the lessons from therapy is.

Oh well. I can’t deny it. The lady had a point. I should have been better prepared. She said if you don’t inculcate the coping mechanisms into your life, she and I are going to have to go over this again and again.

I also heard about my ‘drug default’. Yes, I made the grave mistake of stopping medication on my own, as my own decision, without consulting with my psychiatrist. She had advised a lower dose but not told me to stop exactly. I have to admit, it wasn’t an intelligent decision on my part. So if you are reading this, I would strongly recommend you don’t play with your medication and don’t do any experiments with going off or on them without professional opinion. It cost me a lot doing just that.

That said. One of the factors why I “rejected my diagnosis” was the fact that at a deeper level, I also rejected the fact that I need medication to control my symptoms and function normally. I am aware it’s something I have to work on. I can’t deny the fact that the medication helped stop the non-stop relay of negative thoughts (the drug that I am prescribed, fluvoxamine, is for my ocd primarily) in a few days and I am feeling much better.

Coming back to what my therapist said. It’s true, even though I find it hard to believe, that I was surprised and acted like I didn’t know what I was experiencing were symptoms, just like earlier . I did not want to even go see the doctor.

I have to admit, this time my condition really put the “recurring” into my diagnosis of Recurring depressive disorder. I am finally beginning to see that what I have is chronic and I have to be aware of my moods, of things that can trigger my symptoms and most importantly I have to have my coping mechanisms ingrained in me like second nature.

Now that I think about it, we do tend to be adamant in accepting our diagnoses, we want to fight tooth and nail to not be put into labels like that, to not be suffering from x or y. Even if we don’t recognize it consciously, we do it at a subconscious level.

So until my next session, I plan to pull out all the lessons I had learnt during my previous visits and try and create my own strategies manual. I am going to put into clear words all the thought errors I make, all the tendencies I have of taking things the wrong way, what all triggers my downfall, what symptoms I experience, and the things I can do, the things under my control, to help improve my condition.

While I begin to do that, I would really like to know, has anyone else ever “forgotten” their diagnosis like me? Also, I would really appreciate if you could share some of your own strategies you’ve used successfully in the past or do so in the present to reduce the impact of the symptoms on your life.

 

 

Bound to medication

I have a love hate relationship with my meds. I know there is absolutely nothing wrong in taking medication, and moreover they help tremendously. Yet, something inside me always resists against them. I was stubborn and refused to take them the very first time they were prescribed. I had this notion in my head that once you start, you get used to them and then there is no turning back. You have to take them continuously. Well, today this fear was realized.

Of course, I gave up my reluctance and eventually began taking anti-depressants. I also required anxiety medication when I got the attacks, usually at crucial moments of my life when I needed most to be calm. The palpitations were the worst of all. My heart used to be in my throat and my eardrums pounded in unison with my heartbeat. The medication pulled me through those anxious moments, and I am thankful for that.

However, “when would I be able to stop taking them” was always on the back of my mind. I hate to admit it but I felt….I guess I still feel… ashamed of the fact that I needed pills to get through situations which were normal for most people. I felt less of a person. It hurt my pride. So the instant I thought I could, I got off my medication (it was a bad idea). I know it is wrong to think like this and it’s just the social stigma at work (another thing I desperately need to address), but that’s what I thought. Up until today, I had been off my meds for about a year.

Today, I went to my psychiatrist, after a year and a half. I was feeling so defeated. The hospital I go to is located in a rather dingy place and the approach road to it is just a mess. I hated the fact that I had to drag myself and my parents to this god forsaken place again. While waiting for my turn, I could hardly contain the tears in my eyes.

I could hardly speak to the doctor, I cried silently, the words escaped me. So I pretty much didn’t inform her of the new symptoms I had. My mother was there and that was another problem. She worries too much and I can never speak about this stuff in front of her, although the symptoms show and I can’t always help it. I wished she would leave me alone for a while. I was so angry at her.

Anyway, coming back to the point. It was what the psychiatrist said that confirmed my fears. It was along the lines: ‘the medication will have to continue for a long time, or else the depression will just keep coming back’. I knew then that there was no escape and I was forever bound to medication. I will have to take it everyday for the rest of my life to lead a normal life. My heart, which is already broken by the way, crashed a little more.

How I underestimated this battle with depression. How I thought, a couple of years of therapy and medication and voilà I am cured. One bad episode, one bad break and boom…..a full blown relapse. The thing that hurts most is that life will always have problems and I can’t handle life without the Fluvoxamine running through my blood.

As I was buying the pills, which are not to mention, quite expensive, and the pharmacist asked me ‘how much do you need?’, I felt like replying ‘ Why don’t you put me down for a life time supply?’. I accepted the one month supply with a sigh. But then as I was returning home, almost in a phased out condition, I thought why not take the support of medication to ease my existence a little. Why shouldn’t I just keep taking them and do what is important in my life right now, like finish my studies and get a job, without being interrupted by depression and its effects? Why do I have to risk losing out on those things because of this stupid notion in my head?

So I took the first of many tonight. That something inside me might keep revolting, I have to learn to stop listening to it. I have to learn to be okay with it. I have to learn to accept it.  I have to learn to live, bound to medication.

 

 

When relapse stares you in the face

My depression has relapsed. It’s back. There…I needed to write it out for me to accept that I cannot control my symptoms, yet again. Tomorrow I visit my psychiatrist, and wait for my therapist to fix up an appointment. It might be a couple of weeks before I can see her.

Since the past two weeks, I have been trying to evade the fact that certain circumstances have triggered the relapse, that I no longer feel okay, that I cannot control the relay of negative thoughts running through my head, that that familiar feeling of unworthiness, of life having no meaning is haunting me incessantly. I see no future, only darkness, hope seems like a myth, and death seems like the only answer. I am too weak to fight it, all the lessons learnt in the past have gone down the drain, and depression has won.

I was trying to avoid going back to medications and therapy, but I can’t anymore. Too much is at stake, I cannot let the cycle repeat itself. Last time it took me only my entire teenage, college life, and two failed attempts at therapy to get my illness in control. Not to mention that I lost a career and the best years of my young life in the process.

At that time I was a lost soul, trying to make a sense of the world which appeared so strange. What I did not realize was that I was the one with the crooked glasses, that it was my own convoluted brain that was lying to me. It was my mother who picked up on my symptoms of complete apathy towards life, moodiness, lack of energy, anxiety and utter hopelessness and suggested that I have depression. I, on the other hand, never saw them as symptoms. My mom kept insisting that this is more than just a passing phase and I kept arguing that I will change, just give me some time.

I am surprised that even now, when I have the knowledge and the experience that what I am experiencing are symptoms of depression, I am unwilling to see them. I just don’t want to accept that I was weak and I let it come back. The guilt is rising inside of me. I hate to make my parents go through this all over again. Of course, as I write these lines, some sane part of my brain tells me that the guilt is also part of the symptoms.

In 2011, my mom forced me somehow to see a psychologist, but the moment drugs were suggested, I bolted. I did not want to go down that road, I was obstinate. Two more years passed, things got really bad, I started having suicidal thoughts, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I finally accepted my situation, started seeking professional help. I continued for two years, taking medications, attending the sessions religiously. I got better. In April last year, I felt confident enough to get off medication and I did really well.

But here I am now, back on that same road, with a relapse staring me in the face. Depression is ready to punch me in the guts and knock me over. It has come with new symptoms along with the usual ones. I experienced enormous amounts of anger about trivial issues. I felt such rage that when I didn’t know how to handle it, I cut myself. I also tried to overdose, what stopped me midway was the thought of my parents having to deal with my dead body.

My mood got a little better for a few hours and I decided to write. It was the only outlet available to me. I am surprised at how I even managed to write a couple of posts that I did, because most of the time, I was just lying in bed, listless, tied in the cage of my negative mind, ready to throw in the towel.

I was being obstinate again about getting back into therapy,  the more my mother tried to talk to me, interrogate me, ask me to go to the therapist, the more I shut down, pushed her away and got worse. But somehow, she got through to me tonight and I agreed. This is my first big relapse after getting better and maybe that’s why it was so tough to acknowledge. Relapses are hard, hard to accept and harder to manage, because it means going through that same tedious process.

I begin mine again, tomorrow.