Atlas at the Rockefeller Center, taken by me, April 2008
If my depression and anxiety had a Facebook status right now, it would be, “it’s complicated.”
I am doing everything in my power to keep it at bay. I am keeping busy and active. I am doing my therapy homework and trying to change my negative thinking patterns. I am spending time with people, and reaching out to them. I am writing in my journal. I am working hard, and taking time for myself.
There are days now when I content. Maybe even, dare I say, happy. I am making positive strides in changing unhelpful routines.
Still, I would be lying if I said it has all been smooth sailing. It hasn’t. I catch myself ruminating during certain times, and I notice now how my body and emotions react to that rumination. Right now, my biggest fear is that the darkest of my days aren’t over, and will in fact return, maybe even worse than before. Maybe even forever. And it scares me.
Ah, us anxious depressives. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders all our lives, but it’s an invisible weight. I don’t think anyone would have the slightest clue of what I’ve been through unless I told them.
What also scares me is the worry that none of this is my own achievement, and any gains I’ve made is because of my anxiety medication. With that comes the worry of what will happen when I go off it. My doctor has prescribed me a three-month course for now, but I do begin to panic when I think of things returning to the way they were. I don’t want to be dependent on the medication forever, but I also can’t live the way I did earlier this fall.
Right now I have just passed the six-weeks mark, which is when the medication is supposed to really take effect. And I do notice a huge difference. Gone are the dramatic mood swings and the crying jags. Things that used to really upset me don’t any more. Someone will be rude to me at work, and I can feel my anger rise but then quickly get smothered like a fire blanket. I used to come home with a tight chest and upset stomach, but now I come home feeling fine. Even something like driving in the dark, which used to upset me, feels fine. I zip down the road with cars coming at me in the other direction, and where before I used to grip the steering wheel, now I lean back feeling relaxed.
But there is a price for everything, and here it is: I don’t really feel the highs that I used to. It’s not really surprising. I’m willing to bet a lot of people with anxiety and depression also have times when they feel great joy and excitement. I don’t really anymore, and I miss it. Sure, I feel content and relaxed. Things just kind of feel okay, but flat like stale Coke. I’m not really surprised. When you take a medication that reigns in your emotions, it’s likely going to reign in all your emotions.
My family and friends say not to worry, that I should just enjoy feeling better and use the time to relax after an extremely stressful year. But I don’t know, I feel like something is fundamentally missing.
Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer this version of me to the one who couldn’t get out of bed. I’m more productive at work at home, and a much nicer person to be around. And if that’s what it’s going to take to keep me that way, that’s the price I’ll have to pay.
I just wish I could feel more clear-headed and less foggy.