Tag Archives: depression

Skipping church and other signs of trouble

18 Feb

It’s been a little over 36 hours since my return from the long weekend and, as expected, it’s been a brutal, depressing and anxiety-ridden road back to my own reality. Since I’ve been back I:

…had another B2C (straight from bed to couch) day yesterday, paralyzed by anxiety and lack of confidence with even the smallest of tasks.

…feel even more overwhelmed than I expected, mainly because our water pipes froze while we were away, adding another major task to the ever growing to do list.

…skipped church (group therapy) last night, probably when I needed it most, and in itself a warning sign that I’m neglecting my own self-care (more on this topic to come).

…let my own judgemental, pessimistic outlook on my return become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news? I’ve been looking after my 2-year old nephew who’s home sick from daycare, so I’m out of the house and being (to my mind) productive. What’s more, I’m feeling the proven therapeutic effects of spending quality time with a toddler.

The need for speed…amphetamines for beginners

5 Feb

After two B2C* days in a row, I’ve got a new sense of purpose and vigor this morning. It’s not because of an early walk or a healthy breakfast, nor from any coping strategy to get my mind into gear for the day.  I did none of these things…but I did take my amphetamines.

In addition to my longstanding battles with depression and anxiety, I was diagnosed a couple years ago with adult ADHD.  My wife was the first to be convinced of it, before my psychiatric team even explored the diagnosis, but it would take some time for me to come around.  I had a problem with confidence and drive, not with my attention span.  Besides, ADHD is a disorder for kids, not adults, right?

Only because of my wife’s persistence did I eventually and reluctantly accept the diagnosis.  Along the way she introduced me to great resources like TotallyADD.com and held my hand through several self-diagnosis tests like those from Psychology Today, Psych Central and Totally ADD.  In the end, my symptoms matched up so closely that in hindsight the ADHD diagnosis was a no-brainer.

Just accepting the diagnosis, knowing that much more about how my mind operates, brought a wave of relief.  With a new mental battle front I learned about a whole new set of tools and coping strategies – making lists, setting attainable goals, establishing routines, etc. – to manage my ADHD.  My psychiatrist added a medication to the mix that would prove to be a silver bullet: Vyvanse.

Being a stimulant I expected it would make me anxious and jittery.  I already felt there wasn’t enough time in the day and I was sure that Vyvanse would only speed up.  It turned out to be the opposite; from the first day I took it, time slowed down for me and gave me room to breath.  I was no longer in a mad panic to solve all my life’s problems in a day.  I could see pathways to completing intimidating tasks that until then seemed impossible.  I actually started checking things off my to-do list instead of eternally adding to it.

In short, it worked.

It sounds crazy (of course it does) but I’m actually of two minds on Vyvanse and my success with it.  On the one hand, I see it as an effective medication and part of my overall daily treatment for a clinical disorder.  But for whatever reason, there are other times when I see it as yet another addiction, my daily fix of amphetamines.  I know this is what I do (beat myself up unnecessarily) but feeling guilty about taking medication that works is, well…crazy.

* Note: (B2C above refers to “bed to couch,” where I spent Monday and Tuesday)

How do you say “crazy” in Nigeria?

31 Jan

It’s Saturday today, and so far it’s shaping up to be a day of bare minimums: putting garbage out, running the dishwasher, driving the boy (late I should add) to soccer, turning off the TV.

Continuing the trend, for my daily #just5 minutes of writing I’m taking a passage right out of the book I just finished, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a vivid and beautifully written story of love, loss, race and identity. There was much in these topics I found very relatable, but this passage struck a particular nerve:

“Depression was what happened to Americans, with their self-absolving need to turn everything into an illness…

…she refused to accept the diagnosis of panic attacks because panic attacks happened only to Americans. Nobody in Kinshasa had panic attacks. It was not even that it was called by another name, it was simply not called at all. Did things begin to exist only when they were named?”

What do you think? Are my anxieties real, or merely a luxury of my privileged (and white) Western upbringing?

Either way, look out for Americanah and other great reads for crazy people on goodreads.com or the widget on this page.

That’s 1 in a row…and small victories

11 Jan

In my last post I talked about feeling afraid and overwhelmed by life, and the coping strategy I’m really trying this year of breaking every challenge down to very small, bite sized chunks. Along with setting manageable expectations I’ve already experienced pleasantly an unfamiliar fringe benefit or two.

I’m actually accomplishing what I set out to do. I’m winning small victories, but I’m winning. And in my own quiet way, I’m celebrating.

That’s my #just5 writing for the day. I look forward to checking in (yikes, another therapy term) tomorrow.

In the meantime, beware the mad ravings of a man one day into a lifelong journey.

Another kick in the balls, Part X

10 Jan

Here I go again, less than 10 days into the new year and I’ve found myself in all too familiar waters.

No longer content just to procrastinate on the job hunt and ever growing list of household jobs sitting at 75% complete, I’m now in full on avoidance and fear mode; afraid to check my (empty anyway) email, increasingly weary of leaving my house or answering the phone, some days bordering on the agoraphobic.

I’m writing like mad right now, desperately trying to get thoughts down on paper and posted before I relegate another 3/4 of an article to the purgatory of the drafts folder.

Why? And how is this time going to be different? Because I need to write. Now I see regular, daily writing as an important, therapeutic part of my return to normal adulthood. And this time I’m doing it differently:

1) Taking a page from Einstein (or your source of choice) I’m trying to change my daily routine so I can rationally expect a different daily outcome, thus avoiding some degree of insanity.

2) So that this kick at the can has a moderate chance of success, I’m only making changes in small, manageable chunks – 5-minutes to be accurate. My #just5 approach to goals and change is based on a simple assumption; that in any given day, I know I can spend #just5 minutes on, well…anything.

3) With an idle mind left too long to stew over my shames and fears, I need to get my critical voice and its worst case scenarios out of my head so I don’t become a self fulfilling prophecy. I need to get my fears out so they don’t haunt me. I need to get the bad version of me out so I don’t become him.

Tomorrow’s goal remains, to make music, to make my anonymous confession, to change my routine…if only for #just5 minutes. Even a brief amount of time will tell.

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