Sometimes, the thought of “I have to die” is only thing that helps you get through a bad day. It promises relief. It promises that the torture of living will end. Obviously, having more options than suicide to make the pain stop would be a good thing, and that’s what I’m working on, but we don’t always live with good things. Sometimes we live between what seems like an unbearable, neverending amount of pain and sadness, and the thought that we could make it stop, take it away. And that latter thought is, oddly enough, a lifesaver.
I had a no good very bad day yesterday. Not because I was depressed but because of normal life and logistical stuff. Accidentally not hitting “set” on my alarm, forgetting long acting insulin and glasses at home, etc.
After feeling like a total failure at life and berating myself, I was trying to stop being mean to myself, using that old “what would you say to a friend who overslept and forgot their glasses…” trick.
It is sometimes hard for people, like me, who are very intellectual and thoughtful, to buy into something that seems simplistic and self-help-ish, like “feel your feelings and let them go.” or “you can stop this.” or “through is the only way out.” You (meaning me) want to counter with some good situations where someone might have to run from their feelings, you want to say “it’s more complicated.” But sometimes it isn’t, it’s annoyingly simple. So I went into the back storage area, cried about feeling like a failure but also kept telling myself that it was okay to feel this way. That it was temporary and it wouldn’t take over and make me kill myself. And it worked. For the most part. I cried I felt bad and then I went back to work.
And I woke up in time today to write about it and get to work without rushing.
There are a few things that the state is good at. Mental health care is not so much. Don’t get me wrong – I am quite happy that there are community mental health agencies that handle the mental health needs of those of us without private insurance or deep pockets. But there is still a huge donut hole of coverage where the normal “I need therapy once a week and a psychiatrist visit every 6 weeks” leaves off, and the more acute “I am seriously struggling to get by and keep myself safe” begins. There is little they can do that is right away that isn’t a crisis prevention service.
I am fairly sure that I can keep myself safe. I don’t need to crisis plan in that way. But I do need to stop feeling this bad. I need to be able to get through a work day without crying and feeling awful. I need to not hurt enough to make it worthwhile to stay safe.
Right now I’m getting safety check in type calls. They are aimed at helping me figure out if I need to go back to the hospital. The thing is, I am not going back to the hospital. Honestly, I’m just not going back there. So this removes most of the utility of these calls.
I keep feeling like my signals are crossed or something. I am not communicating what I need correctly, or I am communicating to the wrong people.
Updated to add — there is something truly sadistic about making people who have demonstrated they don’t have the mental capacity to navigate bureaucracies have to navigate those bureaucracies in order to get care.
A lot of psychiatric medications were initially created to do something else. A lot were not intended to be taken every day. For most of these drugs, even the doctors that prescribe them do not understand how they work, only that they do, sometimes, with some people.
Most of these drugs come with serious side effects, the most common being the euphemistic “sexual side effects” that range from decreased desire to the inability to achieve orgasm. Of course, for most people with serious depression, feeling like you want to die is a bigger damper on your sex drive than any medication could ever be.
I’ve been on and eventually off of all the following drugs: prozac, paxil, lexapro, zoloft, celexa, effexor, cymbalta, bupropion, abilify, latuda, mertazapine, trazadone. I’m now only on trintellix. Some of these worked for short periods, others for longer, some not at all, and still others completely knocked me out so that I couldn’t feel suicidal but also couldn’t feel anything due to being a zombie.
“Working” is also not like when we say other drugs are “working.” There’s no blood test (yet) that can be done at home several times a day to determine whether your serotonin or norepinephrine is higher or lower. In fact, I don’t even know if “higher” and “lower” are the correct measures for these things. Mental illness is uniquely measured by the symptoms rather than the causes. The pills may or may not lead to a lessening of symptoms. I’m still not sure if that means that the illness is getting “better.”
When I start crying for little to no reason, I mentally check to see if I’ve taken my meds today. But I have very little faith that taking them will help.
Things that have been proven to help: good books, a clean apartment, cats, sunshine, exercise, stretching, time with lovers. I can usually get at least two of these things per day. Maybe I should start thinking about them when I begin to cry.