Maybe I'll be getting better now...?

I am a wreck.

I have never been a shining example of mental health, but it’s been getting worse. The past year or two, I’ve just been unable to function. I can’t concentrate, can’t sit still, can’t get things done, have low impulse control and bad mood swings.

December or so my psychiatrist decided that my medication had stopped working. Apparently the brain is a very stupid organ, and if you are trying to correct a serotonin deficit by taking in massive amounts of serotonin, it will sometimes try to get back to the miserable default by just ignoring the drugs. I am getting really angry about this stupid broken way of doing things. I am getting angry at a lot of things, even when there is no immediate irritation in front of me to get angry about. I took a sociology course last spring and can get myself worked up into a frothing lather over the unfairness of gender roles around the world.

I dropped my courses, dropped my life, took an indefinite medical leave from college. Then I went home to gradually stop the Zoloft, and start something else, and hide away in the basement until I was ready to go out in public. I have been out in public a few times, at the dentist or at a restaurant, and I can hold myself reasonably together for short periods of time. On the outside, at least. On the inside I’m still panicking over nothing and going crazy trying to sit still, but I can make it look like I’m coping. The waiting is the worst part.

I’ve been spending all my time reading books or going on the computer. As there is a limited number of books I can acquire at once, it’s mostly the computer. You might say that the Internet is no place for someone with a mood disorder, and you would be perfectly right. But what else can I do with myself. The Internet helps me not think about things, at least until some jerk on that MMPORPG decides to kill my character just as she was about to finish the quest and now she has to start all over again tomorrow and WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT FOR, YOU MORON?!? I’m afraid I have made a fool of myself several times over on the game’s message board. I’ve tried to tone my questions down, and I haven’t started another thread called “What in the name of everloving eff does this error message mean?”, but somehow the rage keeps coming through. The fact that my computer’s everything-connection is going to helsinki is not helping. My father built the hardware himself, it’s supposed to be better than any of the “planned obsolescence” mass-produced junk, but somehow it’s my computer that’s all fusterclucked. It’s either the M,I,S!-hating gremlins holding a demolition derby, or else the computer’s going on a solidarity medical leave.

Other people don’t help. Everyone’s computers AND my brothers’ video games are down in the basement. I have to listen in on all their idiot blather and violent arguments and my youngest brother expressing his disappointment with his game controls by screaming every dirty word and random sexual reference he knows. He knows he’s driving us all crazy, which is why he does it. And the other brother is right next to me, and I’m having trouble with my self-control, and I am not sure what is worse- when he’s driving me nuts, or when he isn’t driving me nuts because I’m scaring him.

Today I went back to the doctor, who listened about the crying fits and the violent fits and the insomnia and the everything else, and he came to the conclusion that maybe the Zoloft had still been doing something for me after all. So he’s going to put me on Zoloft’s first cousin, Prozac, and see if that one can sneak by my stupid serotonin regulators.

So… maybe it will help, maybe? Possibly? I hate this.

P.S. What I really is hate is that just when I’m trying to post this stupid thing the hamsters have shut down for maintenance. The universe hates me. gives finger to universe

None of this will make anything better, but I wanted to start out by saying - hang in there. I’ve always enjoyed your posts, and your user name makes me laugh because it’s so enthusiastic about the ear! I picture ear bones in cheerleader uniforms.

That having been said - you’re a smart cookie, and in your more rational times I know you know what’s going on. This? Is not one of those times.

So, you know that you’re not in one of those rational times. Remind yourself of that. Keep saying “this is the irrational me, which is not the ONLY me. This is illness talking, and I am not the illness.” It sounds kinda Zen, but when I’m in a craziness in my head, it helps me.

Can you find a place to have some space to yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes every day? Can you take a walk around the block every day (you said you could hold yourself together for short periods)?

Overall, be gentle with yourself. Yea, I know, touchy-feely, but you are fighting a tough fight, and it’s okay to be pissed off that you have to fight it.

I’d offer to gank your ganker for you, only I’m no good at ganking… the brothers I’m afraid you’ll have to deal with on your own, and I hope the medications will soon start working.

Being sick sucks.

Sorry, kinda long…

When I was tritrating up on Lamictal and recently, off of Lexapro, I had some of that extreme rage. I had to pretend to be normal at work and try not to take it out on my partner at home. The only thing that helped was vigorous exercise and staying productive, and since I’m bipolar II and depressed most of the time, it was hard to motivate to do it. Before the medications (many) stopped working, I got to feel what was reasonable ‘normal’, and I just faked it as hard as I could, clamping down on the rage until I could pull hard on that rowing machine. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and with the Lamictal, it took Months because you have to go up slowly or risk a fatal rash.

I’ve finally decided this fall that I don’t want anti-depressants in the mix, because they always stop working after a while and the dropping process sucks donkey balls. It felt like the Lexapro wasn’t doing anything but making me gain weight, but when I went off I felt some of the bad stuff you’re talking about. To me, that doesn’t mean it was ‘helping’, just that it was having an effect.

The fact that they do stop working after a while was the trigger for the bipolar diagnosis after being treated for depression for many years with a plethora of SSRIs. (That and the mood charting I did.) My ‘highs’ were the periods of rage/irritibility and the ‘downs’ were classic depression. I actually think the anti-depressants make things worse.

Anyway, my point is that I think mental health diagnosis is more complex than it’s made out to be, which means treatment is really difficult. And in the meantime it feels like you’re in a cage match with your own brain, which is supposed to be on your side! You have my sincere sympathy!

You don’t mention Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) at all - has your psychiatrist/psychologist discussed it with you at all? It is extremely effective for anxiety disorders and depression (some studies put it as effective as medication).

Thanks guys, just fir listening, thanks.

I may have tried something or several somethings like CBT. Is that where they put you in a room with a sweet-talking shrink and you do deep breathing and role playing? I had to stop those, because… ah… how to put this? There is a certain persona used by psychologists, a way they speak and act. I HATE that persona. Being in a room with 90% of shrinks I’ve known is like getting a sandpaper massage. I don’t think it’s something they can help; the last lady told me to tell her when she was getting into “educational tv” mode, and I did, and she just couldn’t do it. I spent a lot of my time fantasising violence and/or ba language.

I hope the new drugs work for you. I’m glad you’re getting medical care, because I enjoy your posts.
Can you get out of the house, even just for a little bit, every day? I think being in the basement with angry brothers just can’t be good for you. Can you move your computer to your room, or even to the living room?

I think it might be useful to try, try, try again with therapy until you find someone whose style works for you. Or at least try one of the CBT books. It may be difficult for you, because you do have to “buy in” to the process to some degree. But our drugs are nowhere near perfect, and it’s good to have some more tools to help you maintain your mood. Sitting back and waiting for the drugs to work may take a long time- it could be good to add in some other techniques. A lot of CBT therapy doesn’t involve “talking about feelings” or anything like that- often it’s short, simple things that you can do by yourself.

You always seem like one of the more sane posters here on the boards. Seriously.

If your doctor makes you feel that way, find a new doctor. Or at least bring a non-MD therapist on board. Your therapist should feel like a friend, not a drill instructor. It can be hard to find someone you feel sympatico with, so keep searching 'til you find the right one (or have your current doctor refer you to someone.)

Oh my darling Straight Dope friend, if nothing else I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. And that may or may not be comforting for you, but your post sure does help me feel like somewhere out there someone is having the same problems I have.

I don’t like therapists either, and I totally understand what you meant.

More drama?

My family is having a gathering down in the Grandparent State this week. The weather is supposed to be good (not guaranteed this time of year, even in the south), the local food is supposed to be great, and I might be sharing a room with my favorite aunt. And I’m horribly conflicted. On one hand, I have major SAD issues. Even in relatively normal times, something dies in me each winter. I HATE the cold, and I prefer to spend the season hibernating inside. Staying indoors drives me crazy, but cold weather also drives me crazy, so it’s a lose-lose situation. So vacationing down south might be doing some major good for my overall mental health. On the other hand, I don’t like being out of my comfort zone. Even on the best trips I feel subtly homesick and can’t wait to get back to my cat. And airports + emotional instability almost certainly = not good.
Anyway, I’m taking the risk and going. I just really really hope the benefits outweigh the issues here.

And again, thanks for listening. I’m trying to be positive-ish, and last night I went out to dinner with my family and was pretty fine (probably because of my new proscription Xanax-lite pill thingie, but fine on drugs is still better than nothing).

I think you made the right choice.

Agreed that this is a good decision. Hope the trip goes well for you - don’t put too much pressure on yourself, plenty of people get a bit stressed out at family gatherings and occassionally need some time alone so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself getting homesick, I tend to get homesick myself even on a long weekend!

So sorry to hear things are going badly for you, M, I, S!. You remind me of myself in some ways (but I like you anyway).

What are some good CBT books, that someone could use to get an idea of whether CBT would be their thing or not?

I don’t think that was CBT at all. Ideally, the goal of CBT would be for you to actually get better, in a fairly short time. Were any of these therapists giving you tools to help you stop bullshitting yourself? If not, it wasn’t CBT.

Some good CBT books:
Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression – Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D.
The Power of Self-Coaching – Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D.
From Panic to Power - Lucinda Bassett
The Feeling Good Handbook – Dr. David D. Burns, M.D.
Anxiety and Phobia Workbook – Edmund J. Bourne
Coping with Anxiety: Ten Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear, and Worry - Edmund J. Bourne, Lorna Garano
Power over Panic - Bronwyn Fox
Hope and Help for Your Nerves - Dr. Claire Weeks
Worry – Edward M. Hallowell

I’ve read most of these myself, and I found them very helpful at uncovering the negative thoughts and lies I was telling myself. Frankly, I think CBT can help everyone, whether you have a disorder or not. It helps you straighten out your thinking and your misconceptions.

Update: that Florida sunshine seems to have done wonders. I won’t say I wasn’t homesick (especially when the airport got snowed in and we had to stay two extra days and I ran out of extra medicine), but I had a lot of fun looking for lizards, reading books, and going to zoos.

ETA: And restaurants. My grandparents don’t keep kosher, so we went out to a lot of restaurants. Fun and yums.

I’m so glad you went! And as I said earlier, I get homesick too, I think it’s pretty normal. Well, by my standards, anyway. :wink: