Category Archives: Uncategorized

it’s probably hormonal

I’ve never had “regular” hormonal cycles, but I could always tell a few days before I started bleeding because everything suddenly seemed unmanageable and I’d cry for hours for no compelling reason (even by my standards).  I am hopeful that this is what began happening this week. I am fearful that I won’t last until my partner gets home from a trip abroad.

Actually, my intense anxiety about the accident and hospital bills had mostly supplanted my otherwise crippling depression. Making for a horrible but novel experience of the world in which everything was unsafe/terrifying but at least I was focused on *not* dying or being hurt by these things. My usual mode is kind of the opposite.

The thing about depression is that anything from hormones to a bad few nights’ sleep to working 30 hours at a service job where people are basically ass holes to you and confirm that your personhood is worth less than your staff attire, anything can set it off.

So I’m hoping a good cuddle with my cat, good nights sleep, maybe starting my period, and a shower can help put this beast back in the box. I don’t have much if any hope that anything else can.


In which our heroine gets hit by a car and is now terrified of everything

I don’t generally have a lot of anxiety. My default setting is depression. Most things in the world make me sad. Most things do not scare me.

Then I was crossing the street and got hit by a car. After a traumatic event like this, it would make sense for someone to be scared to cross streets, or even to be on the road in general. And I am certainly scared of those things. But with enough deep breathing, I can cross streets though, even the street where I got hit. Unfortunately, the arrival of an 18,000 hospital bill made it now terrifying for me to open my mailbox. The terror has spread to every time I think about leaving my apartment.  I feel very much like a scared possum who is playing dead with all her heart, trying to hold still enough that the world will pass over and go away. Even things that I like to do are terrifying because they involve moving and that might give away to the universe that I’m not altogether dead. yet.

I have a potluck to make food for. I have a vacation to make reservations for. I have a future to plan. But like all possums I have no sense of scale of these terrifying things. All hope seems fatal.

Oddly, most of my usual coping mechanisms for mental illness – see friends even when you don’t want to, go swimming a lot, make sure you’re eating enough veg, keep doing laundry and dishes, pet cats, read something interesting – are precluded by the terror. I spend a lot of time sleeping and staring blankly into space. The usual reassurances that this is temporary and if you just don’t die in the next few minutes it might get easier – do not apply. It doesn’t get easier, it actually gets harder. More things start to seem terrifying. Going to work even though my job is not at all hard takes an enormous amount of effort. The laundry room is down two flights of stairs and who knows what could happen on your way down there. Seeing my partner is hard because he wants me to be engaged in our relationship and I am scared he will see through my death ruse and leave me.

The fact that none of this is based in reality, that I’m not about to be murdered or (even worse) made to feel hopeful, has no baring on my emotional response. I didn’t think I would get hit by a car crossing the street. Now all I do feels like I’m about to be hit by a car, every second, indoors.

In defense of suicidal thoughts

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.

on books as solace and books as escape

when I was busily avoiding high school with suicide threats, attempts, and general emotional chaos/destruction, the only thing that would help me exist was my books. I read everything and anything – sweet valley high for the melodrama, simone de beauvoir for the trenchant existential analysis, books about kids stuck in hospitals with cancer, books about young women growing up in apartheid South Africa, books about King Arthur that I had to read in the middle English because… I don’t know. I wanted the real story. I must have been the only 14yo in my freshman class to read all of Mein Kampf and beg my parents to send me to language school in Germany so I could study to read it in the original language. Of course, I could spend time doing this because I spent zero time in school or on my actual school work.  I desperately wanted to know things and understand and also desperately wanted to be anywhere but where I was.

I think I went to my doctoral program for similar reasons.

Right now I’m in the middle of three books. One is a rereading of a young adult favorite about magic, one is Arundati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” and one is George Saunders “Lincoln in the Bardo.”  Between all that reading, I’ve been rewatching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”  I’m dissociating pretty hard.  I learned this as a coping mechanism at a young age.  It has benefits and drawbacks, like all coping mechanisms.

I feel connected to the stories that I read, I feel less lonely, and yet i have the overwhelming sense of dread that comes from putting off something important. That Sunday-night-is-coming feeling that all the ways I feel are just waiting for me beyond the pages, that going to grad school and reading a ton of books and opening myself up to all these other stories actually did nothing to help me deal with my feelings. Even though they helped me get through 35 years of life.

My current romantic partner isn’t a reader. This is yet one more thing that we don’t share. And I think it is all connected. He doesn’t have emotions that feel overwhelming. I think books are where I meet my best friends.

On letting the state in

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.


It’s the start of fall squash season and I’m still suicidally depressed. I still wake up crying most days. Today I have two butternut and two acorn squash to cook for lunch/dinner at work, and I’m still crying.

I feel like I’m trapped in one very painful moment in time while the world moves through at normal speed.

For every recurrence of depression in adults, it gets harder to treat.

I haven’t found a medicine that makes these days bearable.

I have a posted of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Brooklyn bridge hanging on my walls, along with all my other queer paraphernalia.  My cat is showing me all of his toe beans.

I am still crying but I have squash to cook.

Medications and “Side” Effects

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.