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Question for folks managing MDD, GAD, ADHD...

pookapooka Registered User regular
So.

I have diagnoses of Major Depressive Disorder (recurrent, mild) (/possibly cyclothymia? whatever, it's *jazzhands*), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and 'other' ADHD.

I've been seeing psychiatry folk and a therapist since last November. My anxiety is pretty well-managed at this point; I have difficulties with focus and motivation, and in trying to tweak my drugs, the oversensitive weepiness comes and goes, but I'm high-functioning regardless. What never leaves is anhedonia, and the question of what 'good' or 'healthy' means for me.

Looking back, I have struggled with depression at least since my early 20s, and at 35, I remember feeling that younger me had optimism as my default. Partly a coping mechanism, but moreso my personality. So one of my problems now is creating context -- I know what 'desperate bad' and 'apathetic grayness' feel like, and I'm decent at noticing myself backslide there, but I don't remember how happy and calm feel on a day to day.

I feel relief that I no longer need the security blanket of a benzo with me when I'm out of the house. But it takes a lot to get me out there, and "It's good for you," is basically whistling into the wind. I feel sad pangs when I remember my grandfather isn't alive. I occasionally get to zen-calm after meditating or the cats snuggle on me... and I still kinda side-eye myself when I laugh, it remains a touch unfamiliar. Because I'm in neutral most of the time, it's like I don't really feel things, but I also know that's a defense mechanism from feeling so many things I can't tame and explain.

I'm a bit out of sorts because I'm between therapists, so hoping that gets sorted next week. I know there will likely always be some niggle of doubt, but I'm thinking I just need more time for my brain to adjust, physically and emotionally. I am impatient only with myself, so anyone who has gone through this process -- how do/did you know when you find your normal, ie your best self? The clinical explanation is rather lacking, and I know it's subjective, but I want those subjective stories for encouragement! It's hard to get better slowly after being sick for so long, but the desire in itself is improvement.

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Posts

  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    For me, well, it was when I realized that I didn't need the pills any more because they were simply irritating the symptoms that much. Sometimes the meds are worse than the anxiety.

    I tried Seroquel for two days. Two whole days, and had two monster nightmares and said "Fuck this shit, the anxiety's better than dealing with this." So then I switched off to Buspro and took that for a while. Had some progress, but then I just started thinking. I was still having the attacks, and the only thing I could do was to take more of it. Started at fifteen a day, went to thirty, and then just decided to say "Fuck it all, I'm not doing this any more." It may not have been the wisest thing to simply break off taking the Buspro, but damn if I don't feel so much better than I did. If something came on, I was advised to just use Benadryl to calm it in case the withdrawal symptoms were a bitch.

    Granted, since Buspro works over time and collects in the brain to function with the chemicals there, it takes a good long while to flush out and for your brain to learn to function without the meds again. But it's a lot better for me than watching the damn clock and wondering if I needed another pill. You can't cure it just by tossing pills at it, and there was a time when the brain-fuckery was making my jaw move uncontrollably for a time, which has since faded, thank every divinity out there. Managing med levels in my blood was just too much work.

    I run all right with caffeine as a stimulant for my ADD- it's a heck of a lot easier to find and not as expensive as some of the other stuff, along with not as addictive. I just take some when I need to focus, otherwise I just go about life. It's not a *bad* thing.

    A good therapist is key. You can't kill the problems with the pills, the pills are to make them manageable so you can deal with them, eventually. The therapist is to find the problems and help you root out the causes so they go the hell away.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I have my own bizarre cocktail of brain acronyms, and frankly... I still don't know what normal means. I only know that on the right medication I feel functional. I know if I'm happy. I know if I'm sad. I'm still a little lost on what constitutes an acceptable mix of those feelings.

    I see a therapist. I have come to realize that wherever I go or whatever I do, this will always be the case. I just had to switch and on our first meeting she said "so what are your goals in therapy?" The honest answer to that is that I'm finally at the point where my goals are maintenance rather than repair, and that's difficult to quantify. Sometimes I will feel like I was too much or too little upset about something, or like I've had a string of bad days, and I need someone to help me figure out if those things are appropriate in their context. I know everyone gets sad sometimes, and I know everyone has bad days. But how many bad days? How bad? Hell if I know. It's only very recently that I've stopped trying to find the manual and it's sunk in that no, no one else gets a manual either.. but then their wires are routed and insulated and grounded properly and I'm still sitting here frantically trying to get shit up to code with on a live system with no way to bring it offline first.

    If I talk about it and find out the response was appropriate, yay! Working as intended!

    If not I have info to take back to my prescribing doctor at our next appointment along the lines of "I got too sad" or "I cycled since last time" or "I did literally nothing for two days because every time I got up I couldn't remember why" followed by "maek stahp".

    And... I guess that's okay. It works. Sometimes something needs tweaking up or down. It's not a failure, it's just an adjustment, and now I take more or less of something and it's fine and it's under control.

    I will say this: It is really, really nice to feel things that exist in a normal range of human emotion. If I find the cereal I wanted, I say "yay, I was looking for this!" and move on to the next thing. If they don't have it, I say "crap, oh well. :/ I can get another cereal." I do not need to feel divine ecstasy nor profound grief at the presence or absence of the right flavor of cheerios. I no longer have ALL OF THE HAPPIES or EVERY SAD in response to fairly minor stimuli.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    Dear satan


    bowen
  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    Going all bi-polar is a damned bitch. You feel happyhappyhappy one day and it's great... and then you spend two in bed because you just can't get out of the sad thoughts.

    Stop the ride, please, I want to get off and be normal and have emotions that don't feel like a disco ball going every which way.

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    bowen
  • NobeardNobeard North Carolina: Failed StateRegistered User regular
    First of all, you're asking for help, both from trained and certified professionals and regular folk. So high five for that, you deserve it.

    Here are my own subjective thoughts and strategies. I have depression and panic A panic disorder. What trips me up the most is not sticking to my meds. I'll forget to refill them and just not get around to it. Also, money has always been beyond tight for my family, so I would stupidly not pay to get my meds and try to tough it out and then I wind up screamcrying on the ground. Now, I'm not saying you have to be a totally passive participant in the whole meds thing with your doc. Its still your body and your life. If you do like @JaysonFour, just keep your doc in the loop.

    Meds are able to bring me out of the dungeon and up to the ground floor. After that, for me it's putting thoughts and emotions into context that helps most. Is it appropriate to feel [x] to the severity I am right now? Can I do anything at all to resolve this problem right this second? If I can't, then there is no need obsess over it right now, it's ok to do something else. A big thing with myself (and other people I know personally) is that guilt is waayyyyy overdone. Nobody needs to beat themselves up over little things. Sometimes guilt is an appropriate emotional response, sometimes it ain't.

    What is normal? There ain't no normal. At least, there is no objective, universal standard of normal. We all think there is, and we all try to reach it, but everybody is faking it, at least some of the time, to some degree. I actually like it this way. If we all act normal and do normal things, normal becomes kinda real, and we all benefit. There is a true normal, and that's the personal normal you define for yourself. What does your best self look like to you? Why does your best self look like that? Since you've been able to stabilize and make the hurting stop, what do you want next? You don't have to answer those questions to me or anyone else, just yourself.

    I'm not saying we are going to have an autocratic dystopia, but things keep happening that look like they come from an autocratic dystopia.
    bowen
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    well you should be able to feel happy or sad, emotions are normal.

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  • pookapooka Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    I have my own bizarre cocktail of brain acronyms, and frankly... I still don't know what normal means. I only know that on the right medication I feel functional. I know if I'm happy. I know if I'm sad. I'm still a little lost on what constitutes an acceptable mix of those feelings.

    I see a therapist. I have come to realize that wherever I go or whatever I do, this will always be the case. I just had to switch and on our first meeting she said "so what are your goals in therapy?" The honest answer to that is that I'm finally at the point where my goals are maintenance rather than repair, and that's difficult to quantify.
    This is basically where I'm at. I still have difficulty knowing 'happy', but I am grateful it's no longer 24/7 numb/panic. I'm between therapists because mine is on maternity leave now, but when I first started with her, I was in crisis. But like I mentioned, I'm pretty high-functioning, so at our first session, I had a dubious internal chuckle when she estimated how long it would take to resolve my issue; she's pretty astute, so it was likely just an attempt at reassuring me rather than simple underestimation.

    But I'm kinda now at ease with thinking I just need a brain/life coach to keep me on course. It's taken the better part of ten years to get comfortable with the idea, but hey.

    Part of that is getting a neuropsych assessment, and the ADHD diagnosis back in May --no, self, your brain is just different... triangle peg!-- which alleviates a lot of the guilt and self-blame I had saddled myself with. I really cannot solve this through pure brainpower. It has given me context for a lot of how I struggled when I was younger, and I'm finding it easier to treat myself gently.

    It helps that my therapist is a badass, and we have really good rapport. Having someone to keep me honest, who cares but is unaffected by my choices, is invaluable. I start to notice the lack at about a month, but I also have basically zero social outlet irl, so I'd almost certainly improve more if I could maintain that. I don't like the idea of being on meds forever (and will transition off if it's sensible), but if this is what keeps me from living in a fog, so be it.
    Sometimes I will feel like I was too much or too little upset about something, or like I've had a string of bad days, and I need someone to help me figure out if those things are appropriate in their context. I know everyone gets sad sometimes, and I know everyone has bad days. But how many bad days? How bad?
    [...]
    If I talk about it and find out the response was appropriate, yay! Working as intended!

    If not I have info to take back to my prescribing doctor[...]
    There are moments wherein I feel like I have no affect, and I wonder if that's an overactive defense mechanism or what. But I feel like a heel when my beau makes some dumb joke and looks at me expectantly, to no response. Dead fish! And then I babble on the rare occasions I get into conversations with others, and feel like a flippin' overexuberant weirdo. Frustrating. ...Like you said, getting feedback on that is good for building the manual, as it were.

    Part of why I started this thread is because I'm working on being more consistent in tracking myself; I was doing well at journaling for a bit there, but fell off. I'm very self-aware and forgetful, which is a vexing combo when you're trying to regulate meds. It's easy for me to fall out of habits, and planners are hit and miss. So seeing how others mentally approach this business might garner something I can apply.

    Thank you, everyone. From reading the responses so far, sharing different experiences from folks I'm familiar with is really helpful.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Or maybe he should make better jokes.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    Dear satan


    Calica
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    I remember when I was first medicated for severe depression (this was before they had warnings for "only for adults 18 and over", so I was taking it when I was like...13 or 14) and at first I definitely felt very very numb. The part about laughing that you mentioned really struck a chord with me - I remember that I had to teach myself how to laugh again. Laughing sounded and felt super foreign to me, but I remember trying to err on the side of "a bit too hard of a laugh" or "a bit too much laughing" so I could relearn.

    When I felt better a year or two later, I went off the meds. A few years after that, I went back on them when life was getting hard again. I noticed that every time I went back on the meds (the same kind, Zoloft), the feeling of numbness returned...so I always ended up going off them at some point in the future, because I'd end up feeling better, life would have calmed down at that point, and I felt like I could go without the meds. I hated the feeling of emotional nothingness, so that was also a plus to going off of them.

    I feel like I've been trying to chase the idea of "normal" for a number of years, and it's a hard thing to figure. I've decided that whatever feels good to me and "healthily functioning emotionally" is my normal. For a long time I think my normal was "slightly more depressed than the average person", but since that was an improvement to me, that worked at the time.

    I haven't had a bout of depression in many years now thank gourd, but it replaced itself with a large batch of generalized anxiety (which apparently is not uncommon in the slightest). When it got really bad, I decided to try meds again, but I asked this time if I could try a different kind, to see if it would help me from becoming the emotionless blob from before. Sure enough, these new meds (generic Celexa) have been fantastic. While I'm definitely in a healthier mindset now than I was years ago, I feel like trying different meds helped me out a lot. I don't feel emotionless anymore, and I feel like I can bounce back from bad moments waaaay faster than I was ever able to before in my life.

    Having a good therapist is excellent, and I was also super lucky to find one who was extremely intelligent and astute, and kind. She was good about showing me that I have an internal dialogue where I shame myself a lot for not doing things, not doing them enough, not making enough progress in something, etc. She helped me to feel like my current "normal" is a good normal - and that I've made a lot of progress, and I should stop shaming myself for not doing enough. Everybody has a different normal, and I think the goal we should be aiming for is just a place where we feel healthy and functioning. I feel better now than I have in years, and if somebody asks me how I feel on any day, I can genuinely say that I really feel "good"! Which is amazing. :)

    I think it can be a long learning process (and a self-accepting process) but I've become much better at feeling and expressing a full range of emotions over the years. For me it involved some self-teaching, like it sounds you're currently doing, and an aim to find some level of balance. That all helps a ton. It felt awkward for a long time, and almost like I was acting/faking it, but I think practicing the range of emotions I wanted helped bring me to where I am today, where I can express them and feel comfortable doing so, and genuine in my expression. :)

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    pookabowen
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    I actually found that my adhd meds help with my anxiety which I'd apparently very common

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    pookaceresbowen
  • HeraldSHeraldS Registered User regular
    There's no such thing as normal. There's better, worse, and where you are now. Strive to be better each day but accept that it's not a straight path forward. Give yourself some grace when you fall down. Keep getting up. You'll work out the rest of it as you go.

  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    To be honest, the only reason I did what I did was because I happen to have a medical professional close at hand- my mother's been a nurse specializing in psych services and geropsych for years and years, and she helped me out with getting off the meds. The trick to managing it is to talk to someone who knows how to work meds, but only if you have someone who can help you and understand what needs to happen. I will say again- IANAD. What I did was under the support of someone who knew what the hell was going on with brain meds.

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  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    GAD here. I've learned not to worry too much about whether I'm happy. I go for pretty content or generally ok. In some ways I think that really is happiness... it doesn't need to be some kind of giddy amazingness like we imagine other people might be feeling.

    Emotion-focused therapy suggests stopping from time to time and asking yourself how you're feeling and why. It can be surprisingly difficult, but useful in establishing your personal baselines.

    Want to find me on a gaming service? I'm SwashbucklerXX everywhere.
    3DS Friend Code: 3823-8693-5976
    Final Fantasy XIV: Neema Chelewae, Hyperion Server
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