I'm sad.
October 29, 2013 8:32 AM   Subscribe

So, I've had depression issues off and on for the last 25 years or so.

I am on meds, and have just recently started seeing a therapist. I'm not suicidal, although the idea of 'checking out' is sometimes attractive (not dying, just taking a break from all my shit).
This last episode has been lingering since April and the last 4-5 weeks have been torture. I have little to no energy, appetite, or enjoyment in things I used to like. I feel like an empty shell, and my emotions run from hysertical sobbing to flat.
For some reason, the mornings are particularly difficult I tend to feel better in the afternoons and evenings and I'm not sure if it's because it's close to the end of the day and I can go to bed soon (I like going to bed) or for some other reason. Has anyone out there experienced anything like this?
Many thanks.
posted by jen14221 to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. That's depression. I suggest going to your doctor and having your meds adjusted.
posted by Specklet at 8:45 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for what you are going through. I have felt that way before, although not quite so severe - my main problem tends to be anxiety with related depression.

How long have you been on meds? I found that when I started, it took a while to feel any different, and it took a good couple of months before I felt like I "woke up", looked around, and thought, "Wow, things don't suck!" If you haven't been on meds for this long, then give it a bit more time. If you've been on meds a while now, it's time to get back to your doctor and ask to have your prescription tweaked.

There are a lot of what I like to call "stop-gap" measures that fill the holes between therapy appointments. Exercise. Mindfulness. Yoga. Accomplishing one small thing per day. Then I get to my therapist's and begin the heavy lifting, as it were. Until you start feeling better, I would concentrate on therapy and try to fill the holes with one small thing that is good for you. Which thing fits you best is very individual - MeMail me if you want some more detail/ideas.
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:46 AM on October 29, 2013

100% sounds like your depression is not being managed well. Talk to your doctor to see about changing up your meds.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:46 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Just read my comment and I want to say I totally didn't mean to be so terse or sound flip; I'm running after a toddler. I hope things get better for you soon!)
posted by Specklet at 8:49 AM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Has anyone out there experienced anything like this?

Lots and lots and lots of us have. Between AskMe and my RL friends I kind of feel like about 80% of the population seems to be dealing with or has dealt with some degree of clinical depression. Those are both self-selected populations, granted, but still, you're part of a large crowd.

Hang in there. Keep on with the therapy, keep on with the meds, don't be afraid to switch up the meds if they're not working -- it can take a lot of experimenting to find the drug or combination of drugs that works for you. Exercise helps, getting outdoors helps, sunlight or bright lights can help.

I don't know if this will help you, but personally I find it helpful to remember that depression is just my brain lying to me: it's telling me that I'm sad even when that's not the "appropriate" feeling for the situation I happen to be in. That knowledge doesn't make me feel any better in the moment, it doesn't prevent the depression from continuing to lie to me, but it does remind me that it's not permanent, and not "real".
posted by ook at 8:52 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Before I was put on the right medication, I sat in a doctor's office two days after my 25th birthday asking if I could have something 'that will just put me to sleep for a few weeks'. It seems weird, but it's more common than you realise.

When I get really depressed, my body just wants to shut down, and I feel incredibly tired, mentally and physically, to the point that I've taken annual leave so I can just do very little for the day. Are you in a position to be able to clear your calendar for a day, or a week? In the UK, if I went to my GP feeling like this, they would advise that I was signed off work for a week. (I know in the US there isn't really any such thing as sick leave though.)
posted by mippy at 8:56 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yuuuuuuuup. That's depression, alright. I'm sorry you're in the throes of it. I've dealt with it on and off for, oh, 20+ years now. Some things I've found that help a little:

- Treat yourself as if you have the flu. You may not be PHYSICALLY sick, but you ARE sick ("special-sick" is what my friends and I bitterly call it). Treat yourself kindly and carefully. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, don't expect much of yourself, eat soup for dinner every night if that's all you can manage.

- If you don't feel SOMEWHAT different after a month on the meds, be suspicious. If you don't feel MARKEDLY different after two months on the meds, see your doc again and ask to change/increase them. Getting the right combo of drugs at the right dose can (rightly) seem like tossing a fistful of darts at a board, but you and your doc need to keep trying, because when you DO hit the right combo, it'll make all the difference.

- Get an half-hour of natural sunlight each day if you can. I am no believer in New Age-y woo AT ALL, but this does somehow make a difference.

- Exercise is a huuuuuuge help. However, the doldrums of depression make it hard to find the energy to exercise, so this is a pretty crappy conundrum. But if you can even manage to walk for a few miles on the treadmill while reading a trashy magazine, it'll help.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:05 AM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

To answer the part about feeling worst in the mornings, this is due to your cortisol levels being naturally highest overnight, but in anxious or depressed people, this spike causes the fight or flight feeling that will make you feel worse.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:06 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have to have my antidepressant medication adjusted every couple-few years when my body gets to used to it and it stops working. Definitely see your doctor.

posted by michellenoel at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2013

Have you had a sleep study? Husbunny had crippling depressive episodes, his CPAP has changed his life. Sure, he still needs his meds (don't we all?) but he's a sunnier and happier guy since he gets air while he sleeps.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on October 29, 2013

Vitamin D
Fish oil
sunshine (natural vitamin D among other things)

Recurring depression issues over 25 years could be mismanaged nontypical Bipolar disorder. Which is not quite the same thing as "full" Bipolar with manic episodes but strong unipolar depression shouldn't recur on any sort of frequency outside of major life events. This is controversial but I would read "Why am I still depressed?" and consider lamictal
posted by lordaych at 9:19 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

You have a medical condition. That condition is causing you distress. Seek medical help - adjust meds, consider alternatives, eat more mangos. I don't know, but professionals should be able to help you sort this and get back on track.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:31 AM on October 29, 2013

I agree with lordaych. My depression didn't start to lift until my undiagnosed atypical Bipolar was addressed. I'm not saying you have Bipolar, but you could have something else comorbid with the depression that's making it harder to treat. Are you in a situation where you could take some time and go to a partial hospitalization program? I did a few weeks at one and it really helped me get back on my feet.
posted by Biblio at 9:45 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Advice to depressed people to get some air and light on a regular basis is hundreds of years old; it is not "New-Agey woo" any more than advising people to get enough sleep is.
posted by thelonius at 9:52 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've felt similarly and I'm sorry that you feel that way. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read the posts on Hyperbole and a Half about depression. The latter actually address really well, in my opinion, the feeling of not exactly wanting to kill yourself but just not wanting to be alive so much.

Also, when I've been really depressed, I feel like all of the things going on in my life are just annoying obstacles between me and my bed. When I'm in a better place, I look forward to doing things besides sleeping.

Mornings suck for me, too. There are very few things that sound better than not getting out of bed. I've found that it helps to make biology work for me rather than against me by having dinner early and not snacking at night. That way, when I wake up in the morning, I am really hungry and by the time I've gotten up and eaten something, it's easier to do the next thing in my day, whatever that is. Another thing you can do is have a big glass of water or two before bed. Then I have to get up in the morning to use the bathroom and it's easy for me to say from there, well, I'm already in the bathroom, might as well take a shower, and so on.

I think you should see your doctor but you're certainly not alone and maybe doing some of the things above would help. Best wishes.
posted by kat518 at 10:07 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding exercise. If you can drag yourself out of bed and head out the door for a walk before you're fully awake enough to change your mind try it for a couple of weeks. I've dealt with depression on and off for more than 40 years, exercise and sunshine work better for me than anything else. If you're in a cloudy climate or it's too cold be sure to take vitamin D.
posted by mareli at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh man, this is how I felt until my depression started being managed properly. Especially the part about liking to go to sleep. If you've just started on your meds, hang in there. If you've been on them longer than a few months, see about having them adjusted.

Make it easy to take care of yourself. If you're too lethargic to cook/ eat, keep meal supplements on hand, and lots of low effort/ high nutrient stuff like peanut butter, cheese, pepperoni sticks, and frozen meals. If excercise seems like to much work, just put on a shoe. Then rest. Then another shoe. Rest. Then talk yourself into going outside. You can walk around the block, but you don't have to- you can just stand in the fresh air if you want.
If keeping your space clean is a challenge, it's ok to eat from disposable dishes, and just have two outfits that you recycle. As much as you can stand, keep your curtains open and one window cracked to let in fresh air. Drink as much water as you can convince yourself to.

Encourage yourself. You're really strong to get through this, and quite soon in the scheme of things, you're going to find that life is going to get much easier.

Hang in there. You can get through this.
posted by windykites at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nthing that mornings are just hell for me when I'm having an "episode." The only thing that helps is talking myself through each step ... as gently as possible: "OK, Nubian, take off the covers. Now put your feet on the floor. Walk to the bathroom, etc." My "episode" voice sounds like Daphne from "Frasier." Do what works for you.

An episode that lingers for seven months is just brutal. Please call your doctor and discuss some other medication options. Also, do everything you can until the day of the appointment to be good to yourself. Eat your favorite food (if you don't have energy to make it, order takeout.) Wear your favorite, most comfortable underwear. Just whatever you can to get through the day.

Sending good energy your way!
posted by nubianinthedesert at 10:20 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Has anyone out there experienced anything like this?

More or less continuously for the past fifty years or so. I've been on and off various meds over that time and, honestly, the best I ever achieved with them was, at best, a sort of moderated depression. My coping mechanism has been to internalize it and just accept that that's how I'm made, like the color of my eyes.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:13 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry you're feeling so bad. I read The Mindful Way Through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn and it helped me.
posted by mermily at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2013

Yes, when my depression is bad, the mornings are always the worst. If you start waking up a couple of hours early and can't get back to sleep, that means it's getting pretty severe. These are sort of classic symptoms.
posted by Ouisch at 1:20 PM on October 29, 2013

Yup. Agree with most of what's said above, especially bits about having your doctor look at your meds, sunshine, moving more. I really loathe exercise - which in my head is some kind of cruel torture with good effects that are too far off to be recognised and bad effects that are so immediate that it's hard to want to do it - but going for a gentle walk in the sunshine doesn't seem like exercise to me. So maybe try some kind of activity that you can summon up energy to try for a while. Doesn't have to be a 5k run or hour-long workout, it could be a walk around the block or 10 minutes of Dance Dance Revolution. Whatever.

The other thing that I am trying to do is be aware of the negative thoughts and feelings and recognise them, name them, identify them. Not letting them rule or win but just acknowledging that they're there. It helps in a weird way. I think of it like Le Guin's Earthsea, in which knowing the true name of something gives you power over it, whether it's a person or a pebble.

Just started crapping on about my own experience of depression, which has gotten rather acute lately, and realised it may not actually be what you want to hear. But if you want the solidarity of a fellow-sufferer, memail me.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:28 AM on October 30, 2013

I have struggled with this (and still do). Nthing much of the advice given, but one thing I did want to add is that one insidious effect of the depression is making me feel like I couldn't confide in others. Like, "Oh my problems aren't THAT bad. Some people have REAL problems." Or,
"I should probably call Bob ... But I'm sure he is busy and doesn't want to hear about me and my life. My life sucks. I suck." And so forth. This is the depression talking to you. And it is lying. Remember: depression lies. And, as you can see just from the responses to your question here, you are not alone, and you do have people who are here for you. If you have anyone in your life you think you can trust to talk to about any of this, consider doing so (if you haven't already). The impulse to curl up and hide is part of the disease.
It bears repeating: Depression lies. You are not alone. Go easy on yourself.
posted by bookgirl18 at 7:47 AM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

More stuff:

The book "Feeling Good" was good for me -- I didn't get through all of it, but learning to recognize the various negative thought patterns was helpful. I didn't do exercises and worksheets and shit, I just kept reading and thinking about them and to be perfectly honest, it was easier to recognize them in other people before I recognized them in myself. Just don't point it out to someone else when you think they're exhibiting "all or nothing thinking" or whatever.

Mornings are always the worst for me when I'm depressed, but I'm not a fan during manic episodes either. I'm just not a morning person most of the time, unless I'm on some weird unsustainable health kick and going to bed ridiculously early, which feels gnawingly wrong to me inside.

Everything seems worse in the first light of day to me. My lawn looks worse. My workday looming ahead seems worse. My bed is fairness. Life is not fair, because what, I'm supposed to leave this place and enter the world of shittiness?

The biggest thing that helps is not only getting enough sleep, but getting up early enough to have a somewhat leisurely morning before going into work, feeling some control of my morning. The worst thing for me is having lots of latitude to come into work any time I want (within reason, say 11AM) and then laying their in bed dreading work while fully awake for a full hour or more instead of just getting to work and facing the day so I can get out at a reasonable hour. I do think that jumping out of bed military style, like really forcing yourself to get out of bed when you realize you're awake, or you have to be awake, and you aren't really going to benefit from much more sleep (which is a hard thing to accept sometimes, but I don't think many depressed people need more sleep so much as they crave it to escape pain) is the first confidence-boosting-step of facing a crappy morning. If negative self-talk starts early on, it's hard to stop. If you drive or commute to work, don't go in complete silence like I've done with totally depressed -- listen to some music, or a comedy album / radio, or something beyond your own internal dialogue that connects you to something outside of your head, before you have to deal with other people.
posted by lordaych at 11:36 PM on November 7, 2013

Response by poster: You guys, thanks for all your responses. I am so glad I reached out. Just reading all your coments made it a bit better.
Right now I am a completely different person. I have been in therapy weekly, on new meds, and I am not sure what the deal is or what's working but it's working. Maybe I just snapped out of it. Who knows? I am going to continue with my therapy/meds regimen and try to be thoughtful about things so I don;t end up in that pit like that again.

Again, many thanks.
posted by jen14221 at 5:17 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

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