Hope for Recovery and Repair?
June 30, 2012 12:26 PM Subscribe
Recovery from severe depression + sleep deprivation + personality change possible?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You are not my doctor, but I'm looking for thoughts or encouragement from anyone who's undergone a similar experience. I'm holding out for hope that this is reversible.
A few months ago, I had a manic episode. Scary, but dealable. Afterwards, I spend 6 weeks recovering at my parents' house, got on lithium, and felt good. I thought: this is manageable; I'm out of the woods. Then a month later, back at my home, I started getting depressed. I know this is a normal part of the bipolar cycle, but I thought I could "handle" it. I did some therapy, and rooted around for a psychiatrist, but didn't nip it in the bud. I also started waking up at 4 or 5. Then 2 or 3. I felt worse and worse (increasing depression and increasing sleep deprivation). I stopped feeling connected to the people around me. I saw a doc and tried a few medications for sleep (trazodone and doxepin). Trazodone (plus the lithium I'm on) made me feel ill, and doxepin (plus lith) made me feel screamingly anxious the first time I took it, then ill the second time. I vowed not to take it again, but got so desperate for sleep that I did, and woke up feeling confusion and disorientation.
Over the next six weeks, my mental health and ability to sleep deteriorated such that I ended up back at my folks' house, and will be seeing a doctor and therapist here next week.
I realize I managed this really badly. There's a lot I should have done differently, but here I am. And I'm terrified that I'm stuck with this new "self." I'm currently experiencing: no emotion; little sleep; loss of my personality from outgoing, intellectual, and joy-filled to flat, emotionless, and stupid; inability to form complex thoughts or conversation; inability to think about anything but this problem. No memory. Disorientation.
I also feel like my "inner life" is gone. I used to have a running commentary inside, and now there's nothing. I don't have preferences or emotion or taste. This is the scariest thing: my inner thoughts, and inner life, are gone. And I don't have an emotional connection to the world: I don't *feel* what I used to feel about friends, family, birds, trees. I can't think clearly or deeply. I feel aimless from the moment I wake up to when I go to sleep, with nothing pulling me in a direction. I don't have a sense of rootedness. I feel like I'm floating and my old self is gone. I don't have a sense of direction in my day, or in each hour, or minute. It feels like the frontal lobe of my brain got damaged somehow. I feel like I'm looking at the world through a sheet of glass, unable to connect with it.
Frankly, I don't recognize myself-- I feel like I've become a different person, who I don't like. My life feels like it happened to someone else. I had coffee with a friend yesterday, and I couldn't feel anything. She was so full of life, and I could only talk in short sentences. And I didn't even feel pain about it-- just blankness.
I know people recover from depression (I have in the past), but this somehow feels like more than depression, because there's no inner rumination and there's a complete loss of personality/identity. I'm afraid I've hurt my brain with the severe sleep deprivation/depression and maybe with the combination of medications (the waking confusion was alarming to me). I'm scared my brain has shifted into some other homeostasis and this zombie-self is permanent.
I know the brain is plastic, but this feels permanent. Do people recover from things like this? Can I get back to myself?