***Spoiler Alert: I tried to write a clever spoiler alert thing here, but deleted it to just say I'm fucking borderline suicidal and I'm talking about it here. And by borderline I mean "don't sweat asking me for Christmas gift ideas."
For legal purposes, I'm totally kidding!***
An update on my mental health, if you're keeping score: fucked. Yep. It gets worse, then a tiny bit better, then way fucking worse. Over and over like this.
A brief recap:
- sought help for severe depression/anxiety
- went on antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds
- much better, other than normal moodiness and lack of focus
- started therapy
- therapist suggested I look into ADD
- quit therapist because incompatible, but looked into ADD
- found new therapist
- new therapist backed up ADD notion
- found MD specializing in ADD
- started ADD meds
- Hallelujah! They worked! All focused and wonderful until...
- ADD meds destroyed my fucking sanity
- tried new ADD meds
- destruction of sanity continued unabated
- stopped ADD meds
- quit therapist
- STILL had issues stemming from them (violent mood swings, depression again, physical side effects, etc.)
- diagnosed with extremely rare serotonin syndrome
- stopped all meds for a week
- started on new antidepressant
- started new anti-anxiety
- started mood stabilizer (lithium) because maybe bipolar II?
- went back to therapist
- started with psychiatrist
- mood stabilizers work! Wife notices! People at work notice! I notice!
- therapist quits me
- brain is in perpetual fog, ADD type symptoms worsen, also no joy or happiness whatsoever
- lithium dosage is cut back
- the agitation, outbursts, mood swings, ADD symptoms, and depression all came rushing back in out of fucking nowhere
I just want to be normal again. I'll settle for my "old" normal, fucking moody and depressed but at a used-to-it level. As of writing this, I'm pretty much fluctuating between "Fuck it, the final curtain is the only relief you're ever going to find" and "Fuck it, stop taking your meds, fuck the doctors, you were managing before." Both bad choices in the grand scheme of things, but fuck all if I can think of anything better.
Meds have - and if you've been paying attention, you know this isn't hyperbole - caused many more problems than they've helped. How many pills? How many different types and dosages, and here I stand, ready to quit this planet like a disgruntled worker quits Taco Bell???
Talk therapy has been worse, money down the drain for people to hem and haw about what might or might not be wrong with me and giving me projects to work on at home that don't mesh well with a drug-addled, ADD, fuck maybe bipolar brain ("Just try writing twice a week!" "You think I don't try writing all the fucking time??? That's why I'm here, because I can't get shit done I want to!!!")
And every single time we find something that starts to work (Effexor, Adderall, Lithium) it turns ugly at some point. In this most recent case, lithium seemed like a godsend, but whether it failed or actively contributed to my current backslide, it ain't working now. The shame is that lithium is the most benign and most celebrated "mood stabilizing" drug on the market.
Further, my most recent therapist and new psychiatrist think I have BP2, while my MD doesn't (though he prescribed me mood-stabilizers because mood swings were undeniable), and after TONS of reading on bipolar disorder/s, I don't think that's me. BP I & II are right the fuck out. We're talking about sustained manic episodes lasting days, weeks, months...highs, lows, all that. Nope. I have lows and switch to pissed the fuck off at everyone and everything. I fly into rages, and moments later, am remorseful. I can be the life of the party and then switch to make sure no one enjoys that party. Euphoria? Extreme joy? Mania? Nope. Never. It's kind of one half of the "bi" in bipolar, and I don't have that.
Even at my baseline I'm pretty much miserable. I've managed over the last year or so to get some drugs that help mask that, but when you hate your job as much as I do, have zero social life, are too discombobulated to get things done you really want to (thanks, ADD!), and barely see your spouse, it's hard to maintain a positive attitude, let alone the "euphoria" and "grandiosity" that bipolar disorders are FUCKING DEFINED BY.
There are "fringe" bipolar disorders (bipolar nos = "not otherwise specified") that seem to be a total cop-out in the mental health field, essentially people with mood swings who don't fit into the proper categories. Maybe that's me. I don't know.
My research has also led me to several resources about diet and bipolar. It seems that - according to many websites - the best diet for bipolar disorders is one consisting of lean meats, diverse vegetables and grains, low fats, low sugar, low carb, low caffeine, low alcohol, and high fiber.
No. Fucking. Shit. Basically the same ideal diet for every single disease ever. In fact, just what you're supposed to eat anyway. I might even be prone to blame my most recent outbursts (on lithium) on diet issues, but since starting I have: significantly cut down on alcohol, been eating healthier than normal (not counting Halloween candy), been eating LESS than normal (still gaining back weight, so thanks, universe) and even been running like a sonnofabitch. My caffeine consumption has been WAY down, as has my sugary beverage intake. Oh, and sleep, which can also be a factor? The last couple of nights aside, I have been on the most restful, regular sleep pattern of my adult life.
So consider a huge middle finger flipped to the dietary concerns of my possible condition.
I don't even know anymore. "Fuck it all" is pretty much where I'm at. Therapy doesn't help, meds make things worse, my work schedule doesn't accommodate me spending time with my wife to work on issues at home, and at this point I truly am ready to throw in the fucking towel. Not saying I'm gonna, just that I get it. Over a year of trying to get my brain to a place where I can function as a normal and/or happy and/or numb to the pain member of society, and I'm worse off than ever.
Maybe I do have bipolar II. It has the highest rate of suicide of any mental illness, including depression, at around 20% of all sufferers. I fucking get it. It's not a "I'm sad, I can't go on" thing, it's a "logically, I will never get better, I'm exhausted from trying, so fuck this shit"
You know, I just want to be happy about my wife's pregnancy, go on some runs, get some writing done, and try to count my blessings. But I fucking can't. My mental issues and treatments for those mental issues have conspired to keep me chained in an abysmal cell of contempt for myself and the entire rest of the universe.
When my first meds started really helping with depression and anxiety, I felt SO much better. I was a new man. I started writing a listicle about the hidden positives I'd learned about myself by having depression.
I have come back to that article a dozen times, and each time I have again been crippled by depression, or side effects, or whatever, and I have never been able to finish this article that was a healthy response to a serious mental health issue. That kind of sums up my whole sitch.
The difference now, though, is that I've realized where I'm at, deleted that article from the computer, given up on ever producing anything anyone will ever be interested in reading, and am basking in the chilling glow that comes from giving the fuck up and telling Life it's fucking won.