It’s Okay If You’re Not Okay

I’ve written myself into a bit of a pickle, I’m afraid. My overarching goals for this blog are candidness and encouragement. Good, great. Those are good goals.

But what happens when those goals are suddenly at odds? What happens when being truthful means I have to share things that are not exactly inspiring or fun to read?

Do I cross over to new territory, and share the hard stuff while the hard stuff is happening?

That’s sort of where I’m at today.

Share or no?

Freeing, but scary.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

I don’t discuss my depressive symptoms much, partly because they are less frequent, and partly because I haven’t had much specific treatment for them, which means I feel much less able to share tips and advice. And I also lack the vocabulary to express my symptoms clearly.

I did get a diagnosis of persistent mild depressive disorder at the same time as my social anxiety diagnosis two years back, but my mood has been really stable for a long time lately.

But sometimes, seemingly out of the blue, my mood will nosedive. I don’t just mean I feel a little “blah.” I mean I feel like a piano has fallen on top of me, but slowly. This is what I’ve been dealing with since Saturday night.

Resist urge to hermit

But… so cozy…
Photo by William LeMond from Pexels

I don’t really *want* to share this, because when I have phases like this, my inclination is to retreat, hibernate, and pretend everything is okay when I do communicate with others.

I hate to be a bother. I hate to be a drag. I hate to worry people.

But I don’t want to do pretend anymore.

I don’t want to just blog when things are easy, but let my blog go dead when my mood is low.

And I don’t want my “candid” blog to really only be candid when I’m happy. That really defeats the purpose of what I’m trying to do here.

How it feels

Get that bowl of encouragement away from me, lady.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

My mood is low. So low that my chest feels heavy, and also hollow, like it could cave inwards.

My brain is very, very foggy. I’m lethargic. I’m very irritable.

I did miss my dose of sertraline on Saturday, which is unusual for me, but I’m skeptical that I would feel any effects this quickly. (I took last night’s dose.)

Times like this

At times like this, my mind goes to things like, “What do I really bring to my family, other than the ability to robotically go through the motions of life?”

At times like this, I feel like my struggles with anxiety and depression aren’t just restricted to my inner world. They hurt my friends and family. I hurt my friends and family.

At times like this, I feel a little foolish for feeling so optimistic about my “journey.” I see how far I still have to go. How much emotional rubble I’ve left in my wake.

Basically, at times like this I get very melodramatic and doomy-gloomy.

But this time will be different

I just want to feel like this all the time. Is that so much to ask?
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

There is, actually, a faint silver lining.

This time, I know it will pass.

This time, I know I will feel better when the clouds lift.

This time, I know I get to see my psychiatrist in a couple of days.

This time, I’m not hiding.

The more you know

Life will not feel like this forever.

That certainty is greatly comforting to me. (I don’t *feel* comforted, because I don’t really feel anything right now, but in my mind I *know* this is comforting.)

Don’t hate me; I can’t bear it

I hope this doesn’t come across as wallowing in self-pity (I’m not wallowing, maybe just dipping my toe a bit), or fishing for sympathy, or crying for help.

And if you’ve interacted with me recently, please don’t think my mood is the result of anything you did or said or didn’t do or didn’t say. That’s just not how these episodes work.

I’m really okay.

I mean, okay, I’m not okay, but I know how to become okay again.

I just want to share the hard parts, too. Otherwise what’s the point of a mental health blog?

Be kind to yourself

I’ll take this opportunity to say that if you’re struggling today, I feel you. I really do. Let’s send each other good vibes and go easy on ourselves, k?

You dog. Me cat.
Photo by Snapwire from Pexels

Let’s try to think of how we would want our best friend to treat themselves if they were feeling low — and let’s try to be a little like that with ourselves. (I know, I know, I REALLY don’t want to either. That’s the mood talking, though, not you.)

Is Anxiety Medication Worth It?

Medication is not a magic cure-all. But it could be what lets you function well enough to do the deeper work (like therapy) and the physical stuff (like exercise). And sleep. And that’s pretty amazing.

Finding the right dosage and perhaps combination of medications can be a painstaking, drawn-out, frustrating process. But when you get the right balance? It can make all the difference in the world to someone who has already suffered enough from their mental health challenges.

And if you have anxiety, haven’t you already suffered enough?

Here are two things to know about when considering medication, based on my own experience:

1. Side effects are real (but they might be worth it)

There’s a lot of fear about side effects, and for good reason. I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist. Over the years, I’ve dealt with:

  • nausea
  • sleepiness
  • hypervigilance
  • sexual side effects
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • brain zaps
  • appetite changes
  • dizziness
  • and more

You have to weigh the side effects of medication against the debilitating effects of leaving the mental health disorder untreated. In my case, I would have suffered from a lot of the above from having severe untreated anxiety anyway.

This was my life before starting medication:

  • I couldn’t drive.
  • I struggled to go out and do things.
  • I would stress-cancel a lot.
  • I couldn’t handle even the idea of therapy.
  • I basically wanted to hibernate all the time.
  • I had a really hard time feeling like I was actually in charge of my own life.
  • My world became small and lonely.

Medication helped free me from my own mind enough to start driving, become a mom, start therapy, pursue my freelance work, and write about my experiences online.

At its best, effective medication can put you back in the driver’s seat (literally, in my case).

2. Medications can be combined to ease side effects

Combining meds can help you get the benefits of both medications, while trying to balance out some of the side effects of each.

For example, SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction, but a medication like Wellbutrin (buproprion) can reduce that effect.

Personally, I’m currently taking Wellbutrin in the morning and Zoloft (sertraline) in the evening. Wellbutrin is an excellent medication for mood-related disorders, so it helps with my depressive symptoms.

But it’s also “activating,” and on its own it can make anxiety worse. I started to feel very squirrelly and agitated. So we added Zoloft, which is an SSRI medication commonly prescribed for social anxiety, among other things. It helps with anxiety-related symptoms and with balancing out the activating effects of Wellbutrin.

Final thoughts

Medication is not magic. But it can be a lifesaver.

We only get one life. Isn’t it worth making that life the best we can with what we know and what we have access to? For many people, medication can do that.

It’s like introducing a leash to this situation:

It’s not for everyone. But it might not hurt to look into it. You deserve to feel better.

I’m not a doctor, though. Listen to your doctor. Obviously. 🙂

Do you have any thoughts on medication? Leave a comment!