Tuesday, January 4, 2011

She's A Witch Of Trouble In Electric Blue, In Her Own Mad Mind She's In Love With You

I'm gettin' a bit serious on ya today, folks. I got this email, and a few others like it, so I figured it was best to respond publicly to give tips to those who may be too shy to ask.

Hey Kris!

I feel silly e-mailing you like this, but I read your blog every day and have always really appreciated your honesty. You write about your Depression and are very open about it which is really refreshing to me since I suffer from it also. I was wondering if you had ways of dealing with the bad days, or if you turned to medication (if that's too personal, I apologize). I just wonder if there are helpful tricks I was not yet aware of.

I love your writing, take care.



Thanks for emailing me, I'm keeping the name anonymous as promised.

So, three cheers for the bitch that is depression!

To answer your question, no - I don't use any medication. I've been told to, but I worry about side effects and changes in personality. Some like it, some don't. It may work for you. (Hell, it may work for me but I'm chickenshit. Depressed chickenshit, no less).

When I was seeing my counselor, she said that four ways to help depression were: laughter, sex, creativity and exercise.

In that case, you should run to a comedian's house, sleep with him, then write a poem about it. Shazam! Four at once! All better. Right?

Well no, probably not. Those things can help (one of the four could also make things worse...), but they aren't sure-fire fixes. And I'm no expert, but this is what I do:

- Take Vitamin D. Research it a bit, then take the dose you think is best. Maybe I'm crazy (ahem), but I actually notice when I don't take any. I feel different.

- If you inexplicably feel the need to cry, just friggin' do it. Bawl your eyes out. Punch stuff. Talk to yourself, whatever. Holding things in won't help you. Learn from Wayne's World - "If you're gonna spew, spew into this".



- Get outside. When I feel trapped in my own head and negativity gets to be too much, I leash Daisy up and head out. Exercise in any way can help clear your head. Sometimes it makes me angrier because I hate working out, but that's a different story.

- Write. Start a diary, throw all your thoughts into it. Or write whatever you feel, however you feel it. I have about 4 diaries on my computer, and I look back at them sometimes and think "Wow. That was pretty damn bad. How did I get through it?" It can help.

- ...along those same lines, try to rid yourself of the people who make you feel like shit. You know the ones I mean. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's easy. But anyone who constantly brings you down or hurts you isn't worth your time and will only serve to make you feel worse. Take this one seriously. Some people suck, c'est la vie.

- Be awesome. Go out. Dance naked. Throw stuff at other stuff. Be weird. Hit on that guy (or girl) you think is way out of your league. Rip up papers. Purge your closet. Hug a puppy. Shave your head. Skip down the street singing "My Sharona" in Spanish. Learn "My Sharona" in Spanish.

Live life, even if it really really sucks sometimes. When you hate everything and wish you didn't exist, force yourself to get up and do something; be something. Cuz holy hell... you're so much better than the shit you're feeling.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go figure out how to take my own damn advice. Bah!


29 comments:

Alyson said...

Solid advice, doll. I always appreciate and admire your honesty on your blog, keep it up :)

Smelly Danielly said...

I totally agree with your 'get rid of the shitty people in your life' suggestion. I went through a lot of anger and depression a couple of years ago when I found out I had Cancer. Certain people just made it worse and I turned into the most hate filled person I had ever been. It took some time, but I finally got rid of all of those who were like acid in my life, erroding away any positivity I had. Life is so much better with out them.

Aaron said...

I second the D, ya see. It really helped me.

Also, just getting older seems to have helped. I don't care as much about the stupid shit which used to bring me down. The flip side of that is, well, I'm getting old, which SUCKS THE ASS OF A CLOWN.

Ron said...

Awesome post, Kris! Funny, poignant and helpful - truly, the Holy Trinity of Blogging.

I think you've got the foundations for a white paper on depression here. Seriously.

Awesome Dave said...

Alright, I'm gonna say something a bit odd, but...

Do some mushrooms. That's right, our old friend Psilocybe zapotecorum.

There have been quite a few studies lately that have shown psilocybin to be effective for periods of up to 6 months after dosing to relieve depressive symptoms.

A warning here, though... If you suffer from other mental problems, this may not be the drug for you.

Do a google search for these two terms: depression mushrooms.

Anyhow. Use your own discretion, of course. :) I'm just trying to help. I'm not saying this is a cure-all, but it's certainly something you may want to consider.

Awesome Dave

Kris said...

Alyson - Thanks, lady! :)

Danielle - Hard to do, isn't it? I definitely have trouble with it, but I'm trying. I'm glad things are better for you now :)

Aaron - I think you're the one who told me start the D. And, uh... stay away from clown asses. Please!

Ron - I could write a book on depression and how much it sucks. I bet companies who make anti-depressants would pay me for it, since their sales would surely rise.

Awesome Dave - Really? I've never heard that. I think I read the opposite once... Interesting stuff, Dave! 6 months, huh?

Awesome Dave said...

Yeppers. :)

Another few interesting articles from Scientific American:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=psychedelics-may-help-treat-depression

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=hallucinogens-as-medicine


This one in particular talks about how the effects can last for more than a year:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=long-trip-magic-mushrooms

Anonymous said...

Antidepressants don't cause changes in personality. ;)

Kris said...

Dave - You've done your research! Good to know :)

Anon- I know a few people who've had bad experiences with them. Maybe you haven't, but it all depends on the person.

Aaron said...

They can also make a relatively stable person suicidal. That's not a knock, just a fact, however rare it might be. I know meds help a lot of people, so that's not some sort of anti-med stance.

Kris said...

Yep. Agreed.

Harald Benz said...

Geez, I must have double-dipped ... because i've got depression and ADD. YAY!

No fun, believe me. I do take medication. It took a while to find the right stuff but honest to DOG, I wouldn't want to live without pills.

Here's the thing, when it comes to antidepressants there is no one pill that fits all. Period.
It might take some time (and a good doc) to find what works best for you BUT its worth the effort.
You might not believe me now but once you've found it, you'll know the difference.

That "difference" is also where most of the misconceptions or bad experiences come from.
When switching meds one can't stop cold turkey with one pill and start another at full dose right away. It takes time to go off and then back up to another medication without experiencing problems. Otherwise you will suffer.

Bad experiences also come from just trying out antidepressants for a while and then stopping for good.
Why? The answer is simple and complicated at the same time. Let me try to explain.
Although we live in the same "here and now", the way we experience reality is different for each one of us. It all depends on how we perceive this reality for ourselves. Being in a bad mood can make even the best champagne taste flat, so to speak.
Commonly people adjust and get used to how they live their life. If you ask people who got diagnosed with depression but decided against medication how they feel, I'm sure most will tell you they are fine. Or, it's not even half as bad as everybody makes it out to be and generally speaking, they are afraid it would change them and besides having a not-so-good-day now and then (like everybody else, you know) they are in fact doing just fine.

Well, here's the kicker. If you (or a depressed person for that matter) don't actually know how good 'good' can feel, how would you know the difference between what's normal to you and how others perceive what you call 'normal'?

Taking the right medication allows a depressed person to experience reality the way other, healthy and not depressed people do.
It allows you to feel/experience how good 'good' can really feel.

The downside is once you know the difference, falling back into depression will feel much worse than ever before.
Unfortunately, taking antidepressants doesn't mean you can't suffer a setback. To avoid that one has to make changes in their life, may it be environmental, professional or personal.
Some things can be avoided, others can't.

Good thing is taking antidepressants will help you to realize quicker you're about to go down a slippery slope.
Without meds it's like being lost in the vacuum of outer space. You have no idea where's up and down or right and left.

Kris said...

Harald - Awesome comment. Thanks for giving another perspective. You hit the nail on the head with one point - you need a good doctor. My counselor told me to ask my regular doc to prescribe me meds, should I choose to use them. Problem is, my doctor is known to screw up. I wouldn't trust that she'd prescribe the right one for me. If I had a doctor I trusted? Maybe.

The downside you mentioned is something else that scares me... if I decided to go off the medication one day, that'd be a sad drop. There's just so many factors, and I'm never quite sure what's right.

Mike D. said...

I don't know true depression, but I have my own version of what you call the "low days". I can see how your advice could help, and I respect anyone who wakes up every morning feeling that way and finds the ability to fight and deal. You guys are strong.

Kris said...

Depression has a way of making you feel very weak, and not strong at all. Hell, I often feel delusional. But that's just me! :)

Jetson Stamina said...

I demand you put a caveat in this entry...

I danced naked once and my balls hit the back of my ass while doing pelvic thrusts.

It was like getting kicked in the balls by my ass. (Ponder this and move on)

When your wife comes home to find you wearing nothing but cowboy boots and crying in the fetal position, it makes things worse.

It makes them worse.

Worse!



The rest of the advice is spot on.

Harald Benz said...

Kris – Here's what I would do. Talk to your counsellor or family practitioner/reg.doc (whoever you trust more) and ask them to refer you to a specialist.
Most likely they know a good psychiatrist and that's the kind of doc you want in your corner.
They do not only know all about depression and it shapes and forms, they also have the experience to find the right medication or combination of such for you and can explain pro's and con's.
The biggest advantage of working with a shrink, though, has nothing to do with pills. They are trained to know how to read you, even between the lines, and therefore can assess your situation way better than any questionnaire that a FP will give you, ever will.

Remember what I said about how a depressed person perceives reality. When filling out such a questionnaire, depressed people basically end up lying through their teeth and hence falsifying the true picture. Not intentionally of course. They just don't know it any better.

Speaking of which, here's a question for you. Did you ever experience this weird feeling that somehow people/friends/colleagues seem to see you differently than for what you think you really are?
Now you know. That's what depression can do to you.

Kris said...

Jetson - Y'see, that's the joy of not having balls! Or a wife... ;)

Harald - Good advice. As for the last part... story of my life, and you're right. It's always been hard to see myself as others say they do. I imagine that's the same for most people who tend to think on the sad side.

Anonymous said...

i embrace my depression.

Anonymous said...

Why not try talk therapy? They'll discuss anti-depressants with you and let you know more about them so you're more informed. There are very few cases where they make things worse and like anything in life, people tend to focus on the nasty side effects of which there are with anything we take.
Good luck with your struggles.

Kris said...

Anon #1 - How come?

Anon #2 - Yeah, I was seeing a counsellor for awhile. I might again some day, I don't know yet. I do recommend it for most people to at least try once. And thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Kris - If that's the story of your life, let me tell you this. Get of your (probably) beautiful ass and go see a specialist!!!!
Knowing how talented you are your job finding troubles make all over sudden a lot of sense.

Listen, depression is not just about feeling sad and down. That would make this nasty illness (chemical imbalance in your brain) so much easier to deal with.

Depression is like living in a thick fog. You might not notice it on days you feel 'good' but trust me, the fog is always there.
Imagine it like being unable to see clearly. On bad days it can be to the point of feeling completely lost or worse, utterly hopeless.
This fog you are in affects everything. I mean absolute everything!
You are constantly struggling with making up your mind or making any decisions at all.
You know you have all this great talent but you can't seem to figure out what to do with it. Even deciding on what kind of writing (advertising, journalism, books, you name it) you actually like the most seems impossible. Somehow its just too hard to put a finger on things.
Because of that it's also tough to stay on the ball or even interested – not because you are easily bored or not challenged enough but because there's always this nagging feeling of why-bother-apathy in the back of your head that sucks all the motivation and drive right out of you.
This 'fog' also makes you feel like you're always getting in your own way. Makes you stumble over your own feet before you can go anywhere. It's like constantly starting over without ever accomplishing anything.
If you do finish/accomplish something, it gets even worse because you feel no sense of satisfaction or even remotely proud of your achievement. You just feel empty and spent. And that feeling always seems to linger on.

Kris, if anything of the above sounds familiar do me a favour by doing yourself one and go see a specialist.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above is on this occasion the artist formerly known as Harald Benz.
(Somehow my name and url didn't get accepted. See, everybody hates me.)

Kris said...

While you're right that I have trouble making decisions and am absolutely living in that shitty fog, I don't think it's got me confused about my job. I know I want to write; most freelance writers HAVE to do every kind of writing so they can take on any job (the money's usual crap). If I could go take my old radio job and make a good living from it, I'd do it in a second. This past job, I had good reasons to leave... which I can explain to you in a message, because this isn't the place for it.

That said...you're right about the rest. My question is, what's the difference between a specialist, therapist, counsellor, etc?

Shevy said...

I really like this one... A LOT!!!

Honesty is something that you should really give yourself credit for... and guts (akin to strength).
It's not easy to put this info out there... because it makes you a target... not always a fun thing to be.
So take some credit.
You ARE stronger than you think.

So... A specialist or what I'm following HB is calling a psychiatrist... is that they are also an MD. So a medical doctor who is also trained on how to figure out your brain, understands the chemical imbalances that occur on a physiology/metabolic/scientific level and can prescribe a drug that has the potential to help right this imbalance.
A counsellor is someone who has a PhD in Counselling Psychology, does understand chemical imbalances, but doesn't necessarily have the same medical understanding of what's driving it and cannot prescribe meds. At least that's what my understanding of the situation is.

One of my very good friends was/is depressed, she refused to go to talk to anyone and instead when on meds. They didn't make her feel any better and maybe changed her a little (although I think it was more of an easier thing to blame than actually trying to take any action to make things better, drugs CAN'T fix everything alone, you have to WANT to change). Eventually, she gave up on meds, made some life changes, and still struggles, but feels better.

I think if you have already tried everything... or a lot of different things... and nothing seems to help or it helps a little, but you still think there could be a more amazing BETTER, then maybe you should get a referral to see a psychiatrist and talk to them. They'll be able to tell you what your options are and if you even NEED chemical balancing at all.

Bottom line: Kris, you're awesometastic!
xoxo

Harald Benz said...

@ Shevy – Couldn't have said it any better.

Kris said...

She's smart, Harald. She's in my family, so she HAS to be ;)

Fokxxy said...

I love that you make me feel normal. Thank you for always writing about who you are with no holds barred and no apologies. You are an inspiration.

Kris said...

Thank you for such a kind comment. That makes me feel a lot better about it.

Also, I checked out your blog - you have a Jack Russell named Jack? I have two Jack Russells, one lives with me (Daisy) and the other one that lives with my ex (and isn't really mine anymore) named Jack! Love it!

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