Medicated and Feeling Things

It’s incredible how my medication is almost literally my lifeline. If I even forget it one day I spiral into despair that’s not typical of my worst days when I’m on medication, but was typical back before when I was suicidal.

For example, two weeks ago I went to the beach with some friends, some acquaintances, and some people I didn’t know. I was worried about the group dynamic a little bit going into it, since it wasn’t the typical group I hang out with. I was fine when we were at the beach, a little sad, because I’m always a little sad at the beach. I don’t know why, but every time we go to the beach I get a little sad, but it usually doesn’t interfere with me having fun. And I did have fun. The problem came when we were driving home from the beach.

It was about 5 o’clock, I was sitting in the backseat of my friend’s car, and all of a sudden, I felt like crying. I really didn’t want to go home and be by myself (my roommate had moved out a couple of weeks before, and I will be alone for a while until I move into my new apartment) – especially since I had thought we would be hanging out at the beach longer. Then it started spiraling. I was alone because people didn’t want to be with me. I was alone because no one liked me. I was alone because no one loved me. I will always be alone because no one will ever love me. I might as well go home and kill myself.

It started with suppressed sniffles, but soon I was straight up sobbing, waking up the two other passengers who were sleeping and disturbing everyone, myself included. Where had these thoughts come from? I hadn’t been actively suicidal, planning to actually kill myself, in at least half a year, maybe longer. It was then I realized I hadn’t taken my medication that morning. The handful of other times I had forgotten my medication, the same thing had happened. At some point in the evening, probably when my body realized the medication wasn’t in my system (I don’t actually know the reason, I’m not really a science person), something would trigger and I would spiral into depression and want to kill myself. And in this case, I really, really didn’t want to be alone. I ended up hanging out with the group I went to the beach with at someone’s house until about 10pm, and by that time I was tired enough I felt safe to go home and just go to sleep and not do anything harmful. The next morning I double checked, and I had been correct – I had forgotten my medication the previous day.

In some ways it’s scary being so dependent on something like medication just so that I don’t kill myself. I can’t function normally without it. But then I think about it practically – people whose legs don’t work right need wheelchairs or crutches or other aids, and they’re dependent on them too. My brain doesn’t work right so I have my own brain crutches. That doesn’t really make it less scary, but more understandable.

But then there are times when I feel over-medicated. I feel too neutral. I don’t feel extreme emotions at all, and that’s also disturbing to me. I mean, it’s not like I want to feel suicidal, but that feeling was there for so long it’s weird that it’s gone. But the other side is true too. I don’t feel euphoria. All I can manage is a quiet contentment, or a muted happiness. I think this is because one of my medications is a mood-stabilizer.

Recently, I’ve been coming off that mood-stabilizer, because my prescriber also thinks I’m over-medicated. And it feels…weird. Like, I’m more likely to feel sad then before, because sadness is my natural state of being, but I think I also feel happier too. Or maybe it’s just more manic, because I certainly feel more “up” but I don’t know if it’s happier. I’m actually not sure I know what “happy” really feels like. I don’t really know how to feel about this, amusingly enough. How do I feel about my feelings?  The problem is, right now I don’t know if I’m feeling flip flopping emotions and more sadness because I’ve been by myself for nearly a month, or if it’s because of the medication.

I know I need to talk to my prescriber about this, but I’m going to wait until after I move, to see if it gets better.

Overall, I think, what I’m trying to say is: medication is important. At least, important for me. It doesn’t work for everyone – sometimes you can’t find the right medication, sometimes it just isn’t for you. Some people feel that same muted feeling I do, but worse. Other people feel less like themselves when they’re on medication. I find the medication makes me feel a little muted, but more like the me I could be if I didn’t suffer from depression. It’s a complicated issue, and I know only how it works for me.

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100 Days – Selfies for Self Esteem Challenge Update

100 Days ago, I started the Selfies for Self Esteem Daily Challenge. (You can read my blog post about it here).

The point of this exercise is to help increase my self-esteem by taking pictures of myself. I’ve gathered all the photos and posted them on Facebook, so I have a place to keep them together, and so I have accountability. (You can view my selfie album here).

Now here’s the question. Has it been working?

Well, yes and no.

The album is doing what it’s supposed to for the most part. I take a selfie, and I feel good. I look at that selfie, and I still feel good about it. So that’s good.

What’s not good is that most of those pictures look the same. I try to make them look different, but I don’t have good enough selfie skills or a high quality enough camera on my phone to take full body selfies, and that’s where my issues lie. I don’t think my face is unattractive (I don’t think it’s particularly pretty, either, but I don’t have too many issues with my face besides that.) But I hate my body. I gained a bunch of weight, weigh way too much now, and I look terrible and feel terrible.

So I look at my selfies and think, “yeah I’m pretty great” for a moment or two, then go about my day. Over the course of the day, I feel the way my stomach rolls in the way I sit down, I feel the flab my bra is pushing aside, I look at my thick thighs and I start to feel terrible about myself in a way that the selfies aren’t fixing. I look at other pictures of myself, I see how thin I was and think of how dissatisfied with my body I was then and laugh. Compared to now, I was a stick. And so that doesn’t help either.

I fall asleep at night thinking about how ugly and unattractive I am. Then I wake up in the morning and take a selfie. My self-esteem decreases throughout the day, and the selfies aren’t changing that. I still have negative thoughts about myself and my appearance.

But what the selfies are doing is giving me a self-esteem boost in the morning. I’m not feeling terrible about myself all day because of them. So I do feel better when looking at my selfies.

So is it working? I don’t know. Will I continue to take selfies? Yes, probably for the rest of the year. Will anything change? Again, I don’t know. But I’m going to keep trying to boost my self-esteem in general (and also work on getting healthier and in shape/into a shape that I like).