How do I feel better again?
April 18, 2008 2:26 PM   Subscribe

How do I feel better again? I don't. I don't know what to do anymore?

As I type this I don't know whether to just start crying or to start shouting in frustration.

I just got done with a date, where I said probably -45 words despite the fact that I'm crazy about her and despite the fact that she's very much the same way towards me.

I've battled low self esteem for so long. I've made strides since I started (over 6 years ago) but in the last year or so, it doesn't feel like I've made any. I've always got some kind of anxiety or heart burn feeling in my chest, I'm always second guessing myself in whatever I do. I'm always worrying about what to say and when to say it. I always get frustrated/depressed/etc and it seems like I just don't have control of my emotions.

My dad passed away a month ago and that's been difficult but we're actually getting through it. I don't want to pin this on my dad and a lot of you might say, well Travis you're dad just passed away that's a HUGE factor in emotional health. You would be right. It's just I've felt this way long before my dad passed away, it just adds to it you could say.

I don't know what to do. I just recently started to seriously consider rotating antidepressants. I'd gotten tired of being depressed and taking the SAME anti depressants for 2 years and pretending they worked. I finally just snapped a few days ago and said look I don't want to feel this way anymore. I want to get off this crap (effexor and wellbutrin) and try something so I can get my life back.

I went to my doctor (I see a psychiatrist too) a few days back and told him how I felt. We're giving lexapro a try now and its' been about 3 days on 10 mg. I forgot what I even wanted to ask yall on metafilter at this point. I'm just so frustrated with the way the date with, I'm so frustrated about not being able to be my old self. I'm frustrated about lacking all ability to make conversation (when I make conversation it feels like theres a boulder holding me back). I'm frustrated about being depressed and no antidepressants working for the past 2 years.

I'm tired of there being a burning in my chest the last few months, I'm tired of trying to think positively. It's so damn hard to think positively when your body is feeling a certain way. Seriously, it's so damn hard when you've got an anxiety pang in your stomach and you're like oh just think positively.

Does this ever get any better? Will I ever stop f'in up everything in my life?

posted by isoman2kx to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've taken a few antidepressants, I had a brutal reaction to starting them one time, feeling really awful, sitting around moaning about how bad the recent thing that happened to me was, etc.

That side effect will either get better, or you should talk to your pharmacist/doctor about this.
posted by so_ at 2:31 PM on April 18, 2008

print a copy of this post out and take it to your psychiatrist.

i think you're stressed and still grieving your dad. it's not an all or nothing thing--it can still affect your life even if it doesn't bring it to a screeching halt.

for what it's worth, i had similar feelings and felt more socially capable after starting lexapro.\

it does get better. good luck.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:31 PM on April 18, 2008

I'd gotten tired of being depressed and taking the SAME anti depressants for 2 years and pretending they worked.

I'm glad you're tired of that. Depression is one of those things for which "fake it 'til you make it" doesn't work. Keep trying new meds until you find the med and dose that works for you. Unfortunately, this takes time. My wife was on a ton of different meds as a teenager, and nothing really worked except to zombie her out. She gave up on them, and didn't see a doctor or take anything for years. It finally got bad enough to find a new doctor, and we got lucky that the first new med she tried changed her world almost night-and-day.

Don't give up, something will work. ANd when you find something that works, please remember that you feel better because it works, not because you don't need it anymore.
posted by owtytrof at 2:34 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I was on meds years ago and while they helped some, the process for me was much, much speeded along by regular old talking therapy. I can't tell from your post if you're already doing this, but if you're not, please talk to your doctor about finding a therapist.

After my mom died, I don't know what I would have done without the weekly 50-minute hour. Meds weren't going to make a dent in that.
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Short-term: sweat.

Whether from working out or mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters or whatever. Just sweat. Get your heart rate up, get physically involved in something (anything!) mindless and repetitive and punishing. Get out of your head, and into your body.

Then take a cool shower, eat a good meal, and have a nap.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2008 [9 favorites]

You're getting a sensible range of advice above. To that, I would add: it's only been a month of getting used to your grief. Time really will help with the intensification of feeling that your father's death brought down on you. Give it time, and in the meantime continue to get the medical help you've been seeking.

Good for you to be actively seeking help from your doctors! Incidentally, do they know you are grieving? That's useful information for them to have.

One of the best pieces of advice I got while grieving (aside: grieving and depression are different things, I know, but I still think the advice is good for most people feeling overwhelmed by a crisis) was simple:

- don't look at life as one big event, e.g. "Will it ever get better?" Break it down into small events and processes, and see how you can tackle them. If they still seem too big, break them down into even smaller pieces. Every single step you make is an accomplishment.

Take care.
posted by Elsa at 2:54 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I could've written your exact post, with the exception of the deceased father (and for your loss, I'm so sorry).

The short answer: yes, it does get better. You're doing many of the things you need to do to get there. I'm aware this offers you little comfort right now, but...well, just so you know that it does get better.

Look, it's obvious you have a lot going on right now: your father, some medication difficulties and the relevant frustration and depression, and some longstanding self-esteem issues. Those are all pretty heavy hitters.

I'd recommend taking some things OFF your proverbial plate right now. Most of the things you mention cannot be removed from your plate, but you can reconsider your social outings.

You say you're crazy about this woman and I can appreciate that. She may very well be the bright spot in an otherwise dreary patch. But right now I'd recommend that you think just about yourself. If you would continue to date her at this point, I imagine you are likely to continue to beat yourself up over your lack of perfect response to her. I think dating at this juncture is only going to feed into your negativity toward yourself, which is unwarranted. This likely has absolutely nothing to do with your being a bad person or not being a good guy to date. This has more to do with the fact you're not in a dating frame of mind RIGHT NOW.

My suggestion is to be honest with her and inform her that you need to take a step back right now and work on some things within yourself. You can always couch it in terms of needing some time to absorb the loss of your father, which isn't completely untrue. You don't need to delve into details about your depression and medication.

If she is as wonderful as you sense she is, she's going to extend to you a friendship that will not only verify her wonderfulness, it'll give you the support and space you need to tackle your demons.

Someone once told me to be gentle with myself and at the time it sounded trite and psychobabbly. But over the years I've returned to that phrase again and again. You are a person who has had some heavy shit fall on you recently. You are likely not a superhero. You can do yourself a lot of good by recognizing that you are a human being who is in pain and who is taking steps to alleviate that pain, which will not go away quickly. Be patient with yourself and acknowledge that you cannot surmount all of these things in a day, week, or even a month.

Obviously, that's easier said than done. But being patient with yourself can come in many easily accessible forms: it can mean no overtime at work for a while, not pressuring yourself to be the perfect date right now, not getting frustrated with yourself for not overcoming your anxiety fast enough, etc.

Just accept the avalanche right now. You are facing it head on. You are imperfect. Remind yourself you are doing things to make things better.
posted by December at 2:55 PM on April 18, 2008 [5 favorites]

I second the sweat advice. In fact I need to take it myself. It's easy, and totally counterproductive, to sit around mentally chewing on things too much. Get out and walk around. It won't solve your problems but it will almost certainly make you feel better, which will put you in a better frame of mind to solve your problems.
Also, 10 mg sounds like near-nothing, although I'm not familiar with that particular drug. I should follow that with an emphatic IANAD.
Good luck.
posted by arcadia at 3:25 PM on April 18, 2008

As odd as it may seem, the point you're at now, where you're saying "I want to be better," is exactly where you need to be. Keep that in mind as you work with your doctor/psychiatrist. That will alone will take you very far. Remember the process might take a while but you're on the right track continuing to work with professionals.
Also, I've found that a good sweat and a B complex vitamin daily really has helped. Please do a search on "depression" here and read the absolutely invaluable advice from so many others who have suffered and managed to find a way to survive and thrive with this illness. Good luck to you ... and so sorry for the loss of your father.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2008

Travis, try to be easy on yourself for the next few weeks. Wait for the Lexapro to do its thing. Once it does, you will probably have far more energy with which to deal with things than you do right now. If you're anxious, Lexapro might also help in taking away that anxious "background noise" that makes it so difficult to focus on things enough to change them.
posted by houseofdanie at 3:32 PM on April 18, 2008

I'll add to the chorus of people telling you to be easy on yourself. I also want to let you know, if you haven't heard it before, that effexor is one of the most brutal antidepressants to come off of. So if you feel worse before you start to feel better, keep in mind that there are a bunch of chemicals in your brain working themselves out, and that the chemicals are not "you." And mefimail me if you want. It's not possible to have too much support.
posted by emyd at 4:23 PM on April 18, 2008

Grief plus depression is quite a buttkicker. I know.

While you are working through all this, try to get into the sunlight sans sunglasses as much as possible, and also if you can try to get some exercise. These are practical things that really do help along with what you are already doing.

While you are at it if you have a coffeegrinder buy some whole flax seed and grind a tablespoon or so each day-put it in your oatmeal, or on your salad, or a smoothie, etc...I have found that it really does also help with mood elevation.

Meanwhile, do be gentle with yourself. A month is really not that long a time when you are talking about grief. Some things just flat take time and grief is in that category.
posted by konolia at 4:42 PM on April 18, 2008

Skimming down the list, I didn't see anyone telling to go talk to a therapist. Antidepressants can only do so much - therapy is where you can really learn to change your thinking. If it all possible, you should find someone you talk with once a week. In the meanwhile, many people recommend Feeling Good by David Burns. It is a great book but if you are depressed as it sounds, it will be easier to do with another human (aka a therapist) guiding you along.
posted by metahawk at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2008

It gets better, but the bad stuff goes away in waves. You'll feel a little better, then all of a sudden another wave hits and you're thinking, "well, crap - have I made NO progress here?" Then that wave goes away. And over the time the waves are smaller and weaker. A therapist told me this shortly after my mom died 15 yrs ago.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:29 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I went to talk therapy for 18 months...learned a lot, talked through a lot of crap that needed to be talked through...I'd go home, try to act on all the things I was learning about managing my emotions, etc...self-esteem, blah, blah, blah...I knew it was all good, but I couldn't live it out...I'd end up depressed, in tears, driving around afraid to walk into a store, never wanting to call a friend...etc. The world felt dark and I felt hopeless and like a failure b/c I couldn't change, with all of the great therapy...he WAS a good therapist.

One day we discussed the recurrent pathos of my life, despite our progress in therapy and he referred me to a Psychiatrist colleague, I started medication; 6 weeks later, my therapist saw no reason for me to come back. Told me to come as needed. I didn't need. I had learned so much in therapy, and at long last, with normalized brain chemistry, I began to be able to live it--to apply what I'd been learning for a year and a half. My life has changed for the better consistently over the ensuing years. I tried going off medication. I immediately fell into another depression. I stay on antidepressants.

Every few years the one I've been on becomes less effective or quits working entirely. Months go by trying to find another combination, or individual med that does the trick for me. But I eventually find the magic elixir so that I can feel like other people naturally feel because their brain chemistry just WORKS! I've continued to read excellent books and online info to learn about chemical imbalance in the brain. About Unipolar depression. And about the Bipolar disorder my therapist believes my father had, and the depression and other mood disorders that run in my family. It sounds to me as if you have an ongoing, persistent depression, and not simply a situational one. So I concur w/ the suggestions to find a good med, or combo of meds. Make sure you are seeing a Psychiatrist who is creative, continually educating him/herself, and do a lot of online research yourself so you can walk in w/ ideas. Psych Central is a good site...there are many others.

It's hard for some people who are depressed to persist in finding a good Psychiatrist, and a good med combo because both can take awhile. I always look for a Psychopharmacologist (psychiatrist w/ special interest in pharmaceutical treatment of mood disorders)...frankly, I've had the best luck, twice actually, with Psychiatrists who are also Neurologists. If you have acquired 2 MDs and 2 Phds you are smart, and hard-working, and probably pretty curious...that's the Doc you want. If you have trouble with finding the energy, or the hope, to keep searching until you find the best provider and the best well as a good therapist to go with, then try to enlist the help of a friend or relative. Since I've been successfully treated I've been able to help friends who are in this situation. It can be overwhelming when you are under that dark cloud, to feel like there will ever be sunshine again. But there will. Please feel free to contact me.
posted by mumstheword at 8:18 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have faced bouts with depression twice. The first was from 1993-1995 and the second from 2001-2003. Wellbutrin was the anti-depressant that worked for me in each case. All those others though ... pfft.

Paxil sent me to a rubber room, Zoloft made me downright stupid and Celexa messed with my digestive system to the point of dehydration. Psychoanalysis was beneficial, but eventually it evolves into nothing more than banter with the analyst. It is only valuable as long as learning and insight are occurring.

I got better, especially the second time, by mobilizing my energy, then taking action to improve my condition by contacting those who could be of benefit. There were many helpers, both in real life and online. I got on the correct med for me, improving my physical health. I worked on the stressors in my life and found methods of counteracting the interference. I opened new channels of communication and expanded old ones. I sought second opinions and received more thorough examinations, looking for other physical ailments. At first, I had to make myself do things I didn't feel like doing, but motivation did return.

The recovery was remarkable, even the therapist was impressed with the before and after. A pat on the back for us both. I regained the ten pounds I lost; the dark circles and hollowness around my eyes left; confidence and self-esteem were restored; my energy levels returned, and most importantly, I'm not sick. So now what? For the short term, I'm going to savor the moment — enjoy the serenity. In the long term I treat myself through strength and knowledge.

Ask yourself, what have you learned about coping with depression that you can carry forward and use in the future? Continue to build from there.
posted by netbros at 8:49 PM on April 18, 2008

feeling good
undoing perpetual stress
The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz (for the anxiety/always worrying)

omega 3
walking outside

expect failures and false starts in your journey, and even, to switch metaphors, maybe even take some time out to whine when you fall off the horse and hurt yourself. but then get back on the horse and keep going. and maybe sometimes you'll go down the wrong path, etc. and definitely take some time to curse and whine then. then...get back on the path you want to be on. it can take time.
message me if you want to talk more.
posted by Furious Fitness at 11:38 PM on April 18, 2008

in terms of the date, write her a note, but keep it short.
send a small note to tell her how u would like things to work out.
and if you need space, jsut tell her, and she will understand.
posted by edtut at 4:06 AM on April 19, 2008

I'm not going to add alot to whats allready been said, but do your best to find an activity that helps you stay as social as possible. Very hard, but necessary both to help you get better and for when you feel better.
posted by munchbunch at 8:51 AM on April 19, 2008

Some people find that acupuncture has a profound affect on the emotions. I wouldn't use it to replace anything that is working, though.
posted by pointilist at 10:01 PM on April 20, 2008

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