Monday, December 17, 2012

Journeying through mental health.

So, I've been planning another post on here for about a week now. Trouble is, I've not been doing terribly well this last week and the trouble with posting to a blog when you're not doing so well is that it's a bit of an effort to sound genuine when, in fact, you're forcing it.

I'm going to try to explore some of those feelings in this blog post.

I don't even know where to start here. Pretty much an overarching statement for me at the moment. So much of the time when I find myself in the middle of a mental health puddle, spiral or whatever, I'm looking around myself and going, 'How did I get here?' Also, perhaps more importantly, 'How am I ever going to get out again?'

I have been seeing a counsellor for about six months about some of the feelings I have been having for most of this year, and that has been helpful, but it hasn't helped. What I mean to say is that it hasn't fixed the situation. It's not in the past yet. It's still a problem I'm having to pay attention to every day, even on my good days, and counting a win on those times when I've had four days in a row without temptation being to burst into tears. Or just throw my hands up and give up on everything. Or else just stop caring. Just for a little while, but the temptation for that 'little while' to become 'just a little bit longer' is there. Trust me, those times haven't been too often.  >.<

I've also been in to see doctors for blood tests to see if there are more physical reasons for things like the exhaustion I've been feeling for almost two years now, as well as the irritation that has been growing only more increased when I miss a meal or even when a meal is a half hour later than I'm wanting it to be. (Times when I'm stuck in a car in the middle of a long drive and suddenly that need for food is upon me are less than pleasant. When you go from naught to crazy within 20 minutes, truck stops become a life saver). There haven't been, and so doctors' surgeries have become another source of frustration, another reason for self-hate and general upset.

The day before yesterday, I was sitting online with Twitter in one window and half a dozen tabs on anti-depressants in another.

It's important, perhaps, to note here: I'm... heavily against the idea of taking anti-depressants. I write this with a mum who has been on anti-depressants since I was in my mid-teens and several assorted friends and loved ones whose lives have been greatly enhanced through the space that anti-depressants offer in order to stand up again and get through day to day life. For them, it's a great help. For me, I'm terrified it will change who I am. I'm terrified I will no longer be able to write. I'm afraid I will start to gaze at everything through a mental glass pane that will separate me from the rest of the world. I'm terrified again that if I start on them, I'll never be able to get off them again, that an anti-depressant addiction will just be one more problem for me to have to deal with.

Whether or not it's irrational fear that has had me haring off in the opposite direction each time anti-depressants have been brought up, the idea I may end up on them despite all of my feelings against them has caused me uncounted hours of stress on top of the already not great feelings of depression, apathy, self-loathing, etc, etc. In short, not a particularly helpful solution on the surface of it.

So I've been trying other things, like seeing a counsellor, seeing doctors, doing tremendous amounts of exercise, all in the effort of finding more 'natural' ways of solving my mental health. And it hasn't been working. And, you know what? I was having a conversation with my partner on Friday night about how my low moods have been making it more or less impossible for me to write anyway of late. For a number of weeks, actually. And I've been quietly feeling really guilty about it. (Enter: feelings of self-hate, self-loathing, etc.)

So there I was on Sunday night, there I was, having a serious look for myself at the information available on anti-depressants, particularly SSRI medications (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) like Lovan, for example. I'm still not sold on this idea of chemical treatment, but I'm starting to acknowledge that what I am doing just isn't working.

And then, staring me right in the face like a little life saver or life line, there was a warning not to take Lovan/Prozac if you were taking, among other things, St John's wort.

Like it was a rope and I was on my very last breath in very deep water, I grabbed onto that life line.

I said to my fiancee, 'Will you take me to the chemist?'

And he said, 'Yes.'

He read with me some of the information I gathered about St John's wort.

This page in particular was a concise and useful source of information on St John's wort --

Amusingly enough, the brand of St John's wort that I've just started on (Nature's Own) also comes with Tyrosine. This supplement's main job is to aid in alertness following exhaustion, one of the other problems I'd been struggling with.

Why St John's wort instead of a tried and proven anti-depressant? Because I'm a gigantic hippy at heart. And, because it was worth my while, emotionally, to attempt something that was still within my comfort levels just in case it worked. And because, even while herbal remedies may be seen as bogus when set next to modern day medicines, St John's wort has a history of being used to treat mild depression since ancient Greek times (as it says in the above link). All of this, is enough reason for me to give it a try.

So I'm here. It's now Tuesday, day three, and if I'm lucky, tomorrow will be day four without temptation to burst into tears, throw my hands up and give up, or just stop caring. And if I get to day five, or day seven, or even day seventeen, I'll have something I want to write about.

And, maybe, opening up with this post will make it easier to post here next time even if I don't.

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