The Topomax reign of terror has ended and, thus, so has my depression.
I knew I was feeling better when the person at the store asked how I was doing, and I said, “Good” and meant it.
It’s the little things.
As previously mentioned, I went to see a headache specialist who prescribed Topomax for my headaches.
The Topomax turned out to be no good for me. At all.
In fact, the Topomax caused symptoms of depression. What that means is I have been depressed for the past few weeks. I don’t have to tell anyone who suffers from depression that it has been awful, but, still, it has been awful.
I realized I was depressed because my do not want and lack of engagement with almost everything has been so high. Like, I literally did not want to do anything. I was late to my office hours the past week because the thought of sitting in my office for no reason felt so pointless. And we have meetings, which I largely feel are inane but that I usually am fine with going to because I get to catch up with people, and I just could not force myself to go to them. Everything has felt stupid and dumb, and I come home and sit on my couch and the thought of doing anything else fills me with dread.
This weekend, I was invited to a Halloween party, and I stood in the door to my closet trying to figure out which of my costumes I was going to recycle and the thought just exhausted me and I knew if I stood there any longer I wouldn’t go to the party, so I just made myself leave the house and go because I knew once I got to the party I would be fine, but the idea of the costume was exhausting. The thought of even going to the party was exhausting, and I could and would have used the costume as an excuse not to go. AND I LOVE PARTIES. This behavior is so uncharacteristic of me that I knew something had to be wrong.
Last week, I had to text several people to see if anyone was available to get together to grade/work because I knew that if I did not have anyone to hold me accountable, I would just sit in my house and not do anything. And, y’all, I know I complain about grading and there are a million things I would rather do, but when it’s time to get it done, I will power through, but I was like, “If I don’t get help with this, I’m just going to be staring at my students like ‘Sorry, I don’t know what you want from me because I’m barely showing up for this’.”
So yeah, I knew something wasn’t right. I mean, teaching was basically the only thing keeping me going because I know from just when I’m in a generally pissy mood that engaging with my students makes me feel better, so showing up for work helped. Showing up for other commitments and being around people helped. And then just as I was thinking I should probably get to the doctor, I reread the insert on the medicine and saw the bit about contacting the doctor immediately if I started experiencing symptoms of depression.
When I told my therapist I would rather go back to having headaches than dealing with this, she was all, “Are you sure?” and I was like, “Yeah, the headaches sucked but I was able to show up for my life and my students and my friends and now I’m barely going through the motions. So, yeah, headaches >>>> Topomax-induced depression, for sure.”
I also have actually hated coming home because when I’m with people, the depression is there, but it’s at bay. I’m able to laugh and cut up and have fun. But on the drive home, the emptiness that’s awaiting me has been daunting. I actually just left a friend’s before coming home to write this (it’s Sunday), and I was for a moment gripped by terror that I would cross my threshold and the desire would completely leave me as soon as I sat on the couch–that all my plans for myself would collapse in that black hole of nothingness that’s been swallowing me up lately. And this is different from procrastinating and goofing off because even those things have held no appeal. It’s just been nothing, and that’s been terrifying.
But there is good news. I have started decreasing my dosage and feel better already. In two weeks, I’ll no longer be taking the medicine and in three, it will be completely out of my system. (I wish I could just quit but apparently that leads to seizures and possibly death, and I’ll be damned if I let that happen after all of this. So. Slow as it goes.) I’m writing this blog post. I have been honest with my friends about what’s going on with me. I’ve reached out for company when I’ve needed it. I went back to the gym Friday, and I went to church Sunday. I’m actively thinking of the things I know that I enjoy or that make me feel better and doing them so I can not feel terrible all the time. And it’s working. And for that, I am grateful.
Since my last post, I have been to seven doctors’ appointments, and that’s not counting the ones I took my daughter to before she left for Japan. I am exhausted, and it turns out that I’m not just exhausted because it’s a thing I like to say but probably because of medical reasons.
Here’s what I’ve learned from all my doctor’s appointments:
Ugh, I hate starting blog posts by pointing out how long it’s been since my last post, but, well, it’s been over a month since my last post, so there is a lot to cover, which means that every time I think about updating my blog, I get overwhelmed by the fact that there’s so much to cover, so I just…don’t. This has been a terrible plan because it just gets me farther and farther behind. So, let’s get to it.
Since my last post, the following happened:
1. I turned 40 and celebrated my birthday by having dinner with a friend of mine, my daughter, and some of her friends. I also went to see Toy Story 4 and enjoyed a cupcake.
2. I shipped my daughter off to China for a Buddhist boot camp that she has described as a “hell realm.”
Today is my 40th birthday, which means it’s time for me to do an update of my big list as well as talk about next steps.
A ✅ means I did the thing.
1. I went to a club with my friend last week because it was 90s’ night. First of all, the start time for the event was 10 p.m. AT NIGHT. And yes, I said that like the old person that I am.
Her: Did you nap?
Me: Of course! I have to take a nap just to make it to bedtime.
Anyway, we had fun, but the music was not great. We found at when we got there that it was a mix of 90s/00s, and at the end of the night, we both thought of songs that should have been played.
#AMonthofFaves Challenges and Goals – Reading challenges, personal goals, resolutions – how did you do? What are your goals for this month, this season or next year. Check in here.
✅ means done, obviously.
#AMonthofFaves Routines, Habits and Changes. What Worked this Year and/or What Didn’t. What habits, routines or rituals worked for you this year – either something you kept doing – or something new that you started? What did you try that didn’t work … or what did you used to do that no longer works for you?
Okay, I wanted to make this a teaching reflection, but I am still grading my students’ reflections so haven’t gathered enough evidence on that yet, so that will come later. In the meantime, here are some things that worked and didn’t for me this year:
1. I found a gym that offers water aerobics classes and, since this summer, have been going twice a week. That’s not enough but it’s better than the once a week at the beginning of the year. The summer break was a godsend because I discovered that the morning water aerobics classes are where it’s at, so this semester, I’ve been getting up on Friday and going along with my regular Tuesday night class. For the past two weeks, I’ve been forcing myself to go to the Thursday night class I don’t like all that much so I can get in three days of gym time. This has tremendously helped my mood as I’m sure you can guess.
MON. Dec. 10 – A Day (or Weekend) in the Life. What did you do on Saturday, December 8th … or that weekend – December 8-9. Let’s take a peek into each others lives as as we chronicle what we all did on that day (or during the weekend).
It’ll be weekend for me!
3:30 a.m. – Wake up because I fell asleep at 6:45 p.m. after getting home from the gym. Eat food, futz around online (which includes trying to figure out why a book I know I rated on Goodreads doesn’t have a rating and why another book is showing up as having been read twice when I only read it once).
4:31 a.m. – Heat up some tea, read a little bit
5 a.m. – Have a lie down so I can get up at a reasonable hour and face the actual day
7:22 a.m. – Wake up for realsies, meditate, fool around on Facebook
8 a.m. – Get out of bed, shower, eat, etc.
9:45 a.m. – Head to my support group, run errands, eat some food, futz around online (this will happen a lot)
2 p.m. – Grade papers
2:10 p.m. – Slight grading crisis, phone a friend
So, it’s been several months since I’ve done this (JUNE???), so let’s see if I remember how.
Okay, so I mentioned previously that work had been stressful for most of October (hahaha understatement), so I spent most of November recovering from that and realizing that, once again, I was a mess. I had gained weight again, I had new/worsening symptoms for my IBS, and I (re)discovered just how much debt I’m in. (And the latter two happened at the end of the month.)
Anyway, I was lamenting to my mom about my weight gain and how I don’t understand how it keeps happening because I know I need to manage my weight better to help control my IBS, and I know what to do, and I know how to do it, yet I am always surprised that when I don’t track my food or I make it to the gym less often, I gain weight and then have to start all over again. I mean, you honestly would think I have learned by now.
And my mom said simply, “Because it’s not your default to take care of yourself in that way.”
I was, as the young people say, shook.