Friday, January 23, 2015

Life, Currently: A Health Report

When I started trying to talk honestly about my attempts to lose weight so many years ago, I didn't think I'd end up documenting a long struggle with mental illness.

You may have noticed that I've slowed down. It's because I've been on an antidepressant for the last few months, and despite assurances that it wouldn't turn out to be a Lexapro numbness, it's turned into exactly that. The sexual side effects, the weight gain, the total loss of motivation, the total lack of faith in my abilities, and the foggy numbness are all here again, and it's been a shitty couple of weeks as I've become aware of this and tried to do something about it.

It's hard not to feel like I'm always going back to zero and somehow undoing all of the gains I've worked hard to make in therapy. I can never figure out why I'll do so well on something for a while, and then suddenly all progress seems to cease, frustrating my efforts. It's hard not to feel like the problem is me and what I've really internalized in my life as my inherent shittiness as a human being. And the thing is, I know that's irrational. A conscious part of me knows that I'm not thinking clearly on this. That I've internalized every single time someone--friend, co-worker, schoolmate, teacher, relative, parent, internet commenter--has told me how obnoxious and lazy and selfish and worthless I am, and it's done terrible damage to me. I know it's irrational to believe all of those things. But here's the thing about anxiety: it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that you know how stupid it is, because what you're feeling is so overwhelming that it presses down on you, and fighting sometimes becomes so hard that it's easier to just give in.

Right now, I'm having some problems with Medicaid and with trying to wean myself off of this antidepressant, so I'm dealing with those same withdrawal symptoms I did a couple of years ago, and it's so hard, because at one point in the day I'll feel ambitious and capable, and then later I'll be on the floor, curled up, sobbing uncontrollably for a half hour, followed by a half hour of staring at nothing. That happened to me already today. I sobbed so hard that my abs hurt. Why? I don't know. Because life is fucking hard and sometimes continuing to try seems really, really pointless. And yeah, I know it's irrational. But it's also real.

You might remember that I transitioned to a new therapist (my fourth now) around two or so months ago. And she's the first one to figure out that I've apparently got Attention Deficit Disorder. That shocked me, because I don't entirely understand ADD, and there was such a controversy about it when I was  about 18/19 years old. I didn't even know that adults could have it. (Apparently in adults the hyperactivity becomes a sort of restlessness.)

And this explains everything about that inherent shittiness I've always felt. It explains why I have so much trouble in social situations. Why my best friend could ask me to be his best man and I would react with terror instead of being touched. Why I can't go out and work. Why I can't maintain family ties. Why all of the medications I've been on strictly for anxiety or depression really haven't helped. Even why I drink so much Coke--apparently in people who aren't being medicated or who are undiagnosed, the caffeine evens us out. (And that explains the weight gain when I'm on antidepressants--because the fatigue and fog of untreated ADD is magnified and made foggier by antidepressants, which means I'm drinking four or five Cokes a day and not getting up and walking around, because my mind is telling me I can't get up.)

I feel like I've found some kind of hidden key that deciphers so much of what's gone wrong in my life, with the added benefit of finding out that I'm not an inherently shitty person, I've just been living with an undiagnosed mental problem that has grown steadily worse because it hasn't been addressed. And now that we know it's ADD--and ADD on top of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia--we can try and treat that and finally fix my focus and concentration and even my damn memory.

Because the reason I have outsize reactions and an inability to make decisions and no idea how to motivate myself or even pick a course of action is, in my therapist's words, "because you're thinking of ten different things at once and trying to give each one a hundred percent of your attention simultaneously."

So right now I'm just in a hard position of trying to safely get off of the antidepressant and then have some time to clear out before I start taking an ADD medication. I'm having a really hard time, because I don't like myself on antidepressants, and being lost in this fog and entirely unmotivated and feeling sorry for myself all the time is just a damn nightmare. Right now it feels like my choices during the day are either being completely numb, or having to deal with a constant anxiety that has me so on edge that my teeth ache from grinding them so much without realizing I'm doing it.

I can't wait until this part is over.


Roger Owen Green said...

Don't know what to say, save for the fact that I wish you well, and that you're NOT a terrible person.

Pat O'Connor said...

There are not a lot people I check in with every day. There is Andrew Sullivan and P.M. Carpenter. James Fallows. Ta'Nishi Coats. Daniel Lairson. Ain't It Cool News. My favorite Dodger writers. Some writers that don't blog but have a major Facebook presence like Marc Cooper and Kevin Sessums. I also check in on you everyday which makes you part of my intellectual life and a sharer of enthusiams. And I like how you continue to honor your sister and bring her to your readers. I wish you and wife nothing but the best. You matter.

Jason said...

Hey, Frog... sorry I'm coming to this late. And sorry I don't have much to say about it, except that the symptoms you're struggling with are terrible and I wish you didn't have to deal with all that, and also you are most assuredly NOT a terrible person. Hang in there.