High-functioning depression, that’s me.
I can fake it like the best of them. Hiding my true feelings is an art form for me. There are so many ways I can tell you “I’m fine, I’m excited, I’m darn glad to be here.” In some ways, this is always true. Being anywhere is always preferable to the alternative.
But being myself in every situation is difficult.
And letting someone, anyone, know how I truly feel is often impossible. I can dance around the edges, implying that I may have an issue, but blurting out how I feel doesn’t happen. I temper my responses based on the person asking.
With unhelpful thinking, I’m trying to mind-read and figure out what they will feel is the correct answer.
Then I respond, based on what I have deduced. My response often has nothing to do with the question, but everything to do with what I think they think the answer should be.
Writing this out and reading it out loud, I can see how messed up this is.
Later this morning, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist to discuss my medicine. Currently, I am taking 300 mg of Wellbutrin XL every day. This switch got rid of the morning lethargy I experienced for almost six months.
It took a new doctor and a fresh look to make the change.
My new Psychiatrist has been my hero ever since. And I am sure that she can help me understand what is happening now. For several months, I have been OK. OK is OK, but I don’t have great days, bad days, good days, slow days. Each day is the same. I have been here before.
READ MORE: Groundhog Day
Seeing that I am in a rut is hard when you are in the rut.
My Peer Advocate says I shouldn’t be the tough guy. She is encouraging me to be clear and honest with my psychiatrist so that she has real information to work with. I agree that this will produce the best outcome.
But am I strong enough to tell the truth?
Or will I resort to my high-functioning depression? Doing this will make my depression happy. Depression is OK with me being in high-functioning mode. It knows that it is in control and that it is making me jump through all kinds of hoops to show that I am normal, that I am OK.
My depression uses whatever tools fit the situation.
If I am circling the drain, depression gets me to keep secrets as it nudges me closer and closer to the edge of the abyss. And when depression cannot get me into one of its “up against the wall scenarios,” it uses other techniques.
Pulling out one of the unhelpful thinking styles that it champions, gets me thinking.
And the more I think in an unhelpful style, the more depression likes it. But this creates tension and anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. I end up doing everything in my power to avoid the feelings, to show a positive face to the world. And the effort consumes every ounce of energy I can muster.
So, when the day is done, I retreat to my bed, depleted.
The following day I am at it again, faking my feelings and saying what people expect me to say. This has left me unsure of what I need. And very unsure of how to say it. Plus, I become aware of what they may think and that changes how I respond, as well.
Being afraid of what They May Think, was something I challenged the day I walked into the hospital.
I am afraid of the stigma I see related to mental health issues in general and depression specifically. How can I be open and honest when I may be penalized in the workplace? Admitting I have depression could change the relationship I have with some family, friends, and co-workers.
I am afraid to be honest with everyone, so I only share my depression with a few people.
But I want to share because I am sharing things I am thinking with anyone who reads this. I put my 424 blog posts on Twitter and Pinterest. And my website is open to anyone 24 hours a day. From the first day of writing this blog, I have vowed to write honestly and openly about whatever is on my mind. So why did I put up with high-functioning depression for so long?
And why would I be afraid to tell my doctor the truth?
Well, it’s time to leave for my appointment. I will get back to you on what I say and what we decide about my medication.
Am I Ready to Tell the Truth to My Psychiatrist? – Part II, Three days later.
My appointment ended at 10:00 AM.
I walked out of my doctor’s office with a new sense of myself and the issues I face. It was, in the end, a good thing that I called and made the appointment. It turns out she has seen this before. And after explaining my feelings, she was able to offer her professional medical opinion. And that was what I wanted.
I told her about putting on a fake face.
And the fact that I am back to having very poor sleep. Once again, I’m waking up at 1 AM, 3 AM, then 4 AM. Worse than the sleep issues, I am slipping into unhelpful thinking. Mostly I am fortune-telling. I conjure up the outcome of events that have yet to happen. Then I decide how they will end up, and then I can avoid the event entirely because I have already decided the outcome.
I am excessively worrying about the future because I have anxiety.
My doctor explained that Wellbutrin is doing a wonderful job of decreasing my depression. And the void from this transformation is now being filled with anxiety. I feel like I am in a tag team match. First depression throws its best shot. I get that under control and now anxiety has tagged in and wants a piece of me.
After reviewing options my psychiatrist recommended I add 10 Mg of Prozac.
She stated that it had a strong record of relieving anxiety, especially when combined with my depression medicine. And the 10 mg dose could be increased if needed. She thought that this was a newer SSRI, and it should relieve the anxious feelings.
So now I am on a two-medication cocktail; 300mg of Wellbutrin XL, and 10 mg of Prozac.
It has been three full days. The side effect of a sensitive stomach has not happened. And to the reduction in anxiety? Well, the jury is still out. My doctor suggested it would be a few days before I might notice that it is working.
Going about today, I could not tell if it has kicked in yet.
But I cannot rule out that it has started. I imagine that the medication needs to build up a little before the full effect is noticed. I know that I shouldn’t be overanxious about it working. And there is a backup plan if I need another boost.