I just want to get back to normal. This is hard.
July 16, 2012 11:33 AM   Subscribe

My depression is getting out of hand. I’ve started therapy, and will probably soon be on meds. But I’m having trouble coping, during the in-between times. Help?

Before you read on, know that I’m getting help. I started with a fantastic new therapist on Friday, and have called a psychiatrist for an appointment to discuss meds, and am waiting for a call back from him.

Apologies if this is disjointed.

I’ve been depressed, come to realize, for about three months now. It started out as a chemical depression, one that would have been relatively easy to thwart, but was compounded by a few big personal situations that just pounded the nail in.

My work is intensely creative and social, and I just… can’t do it. I’m getting worse, too. I took Friday off because of this shit. Until that day, I hadn’t showered in almost a week. There were food boxes all over my kitchen. I haven’t been interested in anything I normally enjoy. (I got a burst of inspiration/energy on Friday before my shrink appointment, and fixed all this.)

Work needs me to step up, but I just can’t. I don’t have any thoughts in my head. No ideas. Nothing to contribute.

It’s making me anxious and even more upset.

I want to hide. But I can’t. I’m on the verge of tears. People are noticing. I can’t leave work because, again, I took Friday off.

To add insult to injury, this morning I woke up out of a dream in which I had killed myself. Once fully awake, I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT BECAUSE WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

I am not suicidal! Not even a little bit. But nonetheless it terrified me, and now I’m sitting at my desk wondering what to do, if anything. Call my new shrink?

I have a deadline in a few hours, and I’ve got nothin’. I’m more focused on the “what the fuck was that” dream, and the intrusive negative thoughts that depression brings, than I am on work.

Is there anything I can do right now? Any coping mechanisms that I may not have thought of? Should I call my shrink? My next appointment is on Friday, and that feels like an eternity from now.

It's a bit excruciating asking this question, even anonymously. Ugh.

Throwaway: helpmedealwithdepression@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It seems like you have a lot of anxiety that is being set off by work-related pressure. Can you take a leave of absence or at least have a conversation with your boss about dialing back your responsibilities a bit until your depression and anxiety are under better control?
posted by gauche at 11:42 AM on July 16, 2012


I'm so sorry you are going through this right now. I now how incredibly difficult and painful it can be firsthand.

Just a couple of thoughts, maybe start by calling your new therapist? My therapist has good boundaries, but she also always wants me to call in an emergency. Your therapist might be able to offer a couple of good tools for you.

Also, while you wait for the psychiatrist to return your call, perhaps you could get an emergency appointment with your general practioner/doctor? They could get you started on an antidepressant in the meantime, as it takes a bit for the meds to work.

Short term solutions that I utilize:
First, I'd recommend going for a walk, or even a walking meditation if you can manage that. Just get outside for a bit, walk slowly, try to focus on whatever scenes are around you and be present in the moment. Sometimes I try to remember the mantra "I have everything I need right now in this moment". However, if that doesn't ring true for you, don't bother with it.

Try to not beat yourself up for feeling this way, it is not your fault.

If you have headphones, you could google for a meditation and listen to a guided meditation, perhaps something focusing on compassion or loving kindness, and give yourself the gift of receiving your own compassion.

Other ideas, sometimes, a little treat helps, whatever that might be for you. A chocolate chip cookie, a milkshake, a mocha.

Something else I'm often told when my depression is bad is to treat myself the way I would treat a younger brother or sister, or a child who was suffering. Just be gentle and loving. This will pass, it will get easier, you are doing the best that you can right now.

I hope this helps, feel free to memail me, and if it gets worse, just remember that you have an illness and it is okay to leave work or go to the hospital if you must. Take care of yourself.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 11:44 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, hon. I am so sorry. Depression sucks big-time. There are a few things that I do which seem to help (although therapy and meds are the bedrock of treatment, of course): 1. Exercise. Doesn't matter what you do, just make sure it's hard enough so that you're dripping sweat by the end. 2. Cut out all white sugar, white flour and white starch - steady insulin levels are a BIG help for me. 3. Take an omega-3 fish oil supplement. Like I said - meds and therapy are the big guns, but the aforementioned three things have been my sidearms.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:44 AM on July 16, 2012

Anon. You wrote this question. You got that done. So there's a tickbox check. You're probably also wearing pants or a socially-acceptable equivalent. I know it seems impossible to do things - because yeah, Cube's been there - but you are able to do things. It seems to me like you need 'now' solutions and it sucks when you know, deep down, that you have some long-term fixes starting to gear up but that doesn't make the now any easier. I'm going to write out some of my techniques but they may not work for you. That said, they may.

But you wrote this question. That is your proof, a platform to stand on for today to say 'Yes, I can do stuff.'

See if saying to yourself - if you need to go to the bathroom or a back closet to say it out loud in private, do that - say to yourself, "I will think about this stuff at 7pm." That may help.

You are inherently creative. Can you imagine a chest or box in the corner of a room? Yeah, way over there. It's got a lid. It's a good lid, not one of those crappy off-brand tupperwares. But it's solid. Now. See that box? Open the lid. Shove the thoughts in there and close the lid. If you gotta step on it, do so. You aren't dismissing your thoughts, you're just stashing them to deal with at a more convenient time.

Now, my therapist and I work in a psychodynamic / Jungian framework so we discuss dreams. Consider that 'Death' is traditionally seen in, for example, Tarot work (which can be adapted brilliantly to be a psychological tool) as a changer. A renewal agent. Tranformation. You are in the early stages of taking big steps. Perhaps you're scared that taking these steps is going to kill off a part of you, or that the change will be too big. Yes, that's a terrifying dream. My terrifying 'early therapy' dream involved all my teeth falling out. If dreams are important to you, go out tonight, after work, and go to a nice bookstore and buy a nice journal. Pop it by the bed with a good pen or a pencil and allow yourself to write dreams or dream fragments in it. This can help put them in their place so you aren't thinking about them all day. You can still give yourself time to think about them, but they're written down and not going anywhere now.

Memail me if you feel like you want to. Cubes ain't judgemental regarding this type of matter.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:00 PM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]

Could your boss let you work from home? I've been there and sometimes a different, non-pressured environment may help.

And while I'm sure you would absolutely hate this, you may be protected under FMLA but that would mean documentation about your condition and most don't want that stuff documented. However, it's better than losing your job. Just a thought.

The anxiety of depression and obsession over feeling like utter crap does not help. Do you have a guilty pleasure? For me, it's Starbucks hot chocolate and putting headphones on. Sometimes it took me writing on a message board how I feel in that moment of panic/depression to get it off my chest and yea, hate to admit it, have people who have been there say it's ok.

And it's ok.

Mefi mail me if you wish. Meds made a difference but I've been what you've been through too many times and too many jobs to count.
posted by stormpooper at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2012

Three things that helped me when I was the prey of depression each spring -- before and while an awesome psychiatrist sprang me permanently from its jaws --

1. Tell the negative voice in your head to shut up. Be firm about it. Sorry, not listening to the self-critical critter one second longer.

2. Ask yourself why you don't deserve to have a clean body, food debris in the trash, and a chance to see your friends. Really, why shouldn't you? Even criminals are entitled to those little items.

3. Make yourself go to work and see your friends. If you have nothing to contribute, that's fine. Just go hang out.

Good luck and keep visiting with us as needed.
posted by bearwife at 12:51 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would call your GP or OBGYN and make an ASAP appointment; see if they can give you a short-term prescription for an anti-anxiety drug you can take as-needed, like Xanax or Valium. Alternatively, call the shrink and see if you can be seen sooner.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:53 PM on July 16, 2012

I've successfully hidden my depression at work lots of times, so let me address the deadline you've got in a few hours.

First, get some coffee, sugar, or whatever you need to get a temporary lift. Or go outside and walk around, run up and down the stairs a few times. Whatever it takes to shift the energy you are feeling. I have a coworker who gets exasperated easily and uses cough drops for this purpose. You basically want to hit a reset button on your mood as best you can.

Next, set a timer for fifteen minutes. Use the one on your phone. Write down ten crappy ideas in fifteen minutes. This is not going to be your best work. It's just going to be one thing you do over the course of a long and fruitful career. Ten crappy ideas. You can do that.

Next, check in with us and tell us how it's going. You can memail somebody in the thread if you want.

Pick one of your crappy ideas and throw something together. Again... not your best work. It doesn't have to be your best work. You are going to have a long career. Help is on the horizon, you've got appointments lined up, and you just have to keep things rolling till then. You can do that.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:56 PM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

I hope you got through your work deadline alright. Working while depressed and anxious is awful. I've been there, I am there more often than not. Here are some things that have helped me out.

- I don't know what kind of hours you are working, but if it's possible to find a graceful way to cut back on your hours, I say "go for it." It was absolutely unbearable when I was working 10-12 hours a day. I would hide in the bathroom doubled over with anxiety or start sobbing as soon as I got home. Is there a friend you trust who could help you brainstorm a proposal to give to your supervisor? I think it would be best if it could be framed in a positive way, rather than a "mental illness" way. It sucks, but I feel like employers don't often have much sympathy for people who are mentally ill. I couldn't find a good way to make that arrangement happen at my last workplace, but luckily a great part-time salaried position with benefits opened up at another place and somehow I got offered the position. If there is a way to negotiate that with your workplace for, say, three months, try.

As soon as I cut back on hours, I was able to take more time to cook for myself, shower, sleep, and make progress in therapy. I'm nowhere near all the way better yet, but I'm much more stable than I was about eight months ago.

- In the short-term, do you have any vacation leave? Could you fudge the truth and maybe tell your employer that you're spontaneously going to take a trip for a week (or two or three)? (I don't like lying, but I don't like being judged by employers for needing time off to cope with mental illness either.) Then stay home and -- with the help of your close, trusted friends -- get the basics of your life on track and see your therapist twice a week.

- The other thing that helped me out was slowly understanding that missing a deadline or messing up at work sucks (and might cause your employer to consider letting you go), but you won't die. I think I used to be afraid that anything bad happening at work or whatever was going to feel so incredibly painful. But you know, sometimes you mess up or cannot meet a deadline. You still live. So go easy on yourself. I repeat this to myself whenever I'm getting upset about work.

- I also agree that an anti-anxiety medication might really be the simplest short-term fix right now. My psychiatrist prescribed me Klonopin, which I take as needed. It helps shut down the worst part of anxiety while I'm at work so that I can focus.

Hang in there. This can get better. You're truly not alone in this.
posted by pinetree at 5:23 PM on July 16, 2012

Are you taking any nutritional supplements right now? I'm not a doctor or any other type of trained medical professional, I'm just somebody who's been struggling with this damn disease for 35+ years now, but I've found that taking fish oil, vitamin D, and an iron supplement make almost as much difference as being on or off the Wellbutrin does. You might pick up some fish oil and vitamin D (is there a Trader Joe's near you? they have pretty good prices) and see if they're helpful.

Very best wishes. Hang in there.
posted by Lexica at 7:28 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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