Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Comfort Zones and Expectations

At the beginning of the year, when I was feeling so good, I did a fair amount of acrylic painting, as I said I'd wanted to.  I liked, and still do, nearly all that I created.  Some pieces are influenced by other artists whose work I love; many pieces are wholly my own.

But then I lost confidence, as depression engulfed me again.  And I've stopped painting now...until I feel stronger.

Art, for me, has always been "something to do," a way to utilize my creative skills...but I've never felt compelled to make art, like "Make Art or Die."  For many people, art is what "saves" them, especially when they're going through difficult times in other domains of their lives.  It's not that way for me -- I need to be feeling good inside in order to push forward with art.

And when I say "push forward," what I mean is going outside my comfort zone.  In looking back over my life as a whole, I can see that I pushed through comfort zones, virtually endlessly, in every area of my life, because I had to. The only option would have been to vegetate, to stay totally stuck wherever I was. And being a survivor, that wasn't an alternative I could have chosen.

I can't push myself right now to venture beyond my comfort zone, creatively.  What I'm really comfortable with is collage, so that's where my creative energy is focused these days.  Albeit I'm currently doing less here than previously, because my back and neck have been bothering me lately.  Still, collage is what I continue to gravitate towards when the mood strikes.

Too, I have a couple of small knitting projects in the works, very simple scarves made with my own handspun silk yarns from 10 or more years ago.  Rather mindless, but keeps my hands busy.  I also sometimes have "cutting jags," where I'll spend whole days cutting out ephemera for collage, which I find meditative.

I've had to let go of my expectations for myself, regarding painting, or the making of art in general.  It might even be that those hidden expectations, even though I kept trying to convince myself I didn't have any, contributed to my becoming depressed again.  Other than my interactions with people, which in nearly all cases have soured with time, all of the stress that I continually experience is internally generated.  I see that; I know that.

The healing is about learning, mentally and viscerally, how to do everything differently.  And that is my own personal Mt. Everest.    

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Plan

Thank you all so much for your comments and anecdotes to my last post.  As I said, I can't do this alone anymore, and I realized that I really need this cyber-support system more than I'd imagined.  So I'm back again.

The meeting with the doctor, who's now my new practitioner at the clinic, went well.  He's young yet seemed quite knowledgeable about depression.

The decision about medication is that since we know my body tolerates Prozac, I'll take 60mg/day for six weeks and then see him again.  If I've stabilized, I'll stay on that dosage until such time as I might need to change again.  Then I'll go to 80mg/day, if necessary, same scenario.  We'll find a new drug if Prozac subsequently doesn't work for the long haul.

I'm fine with that, and so relieved that I've got a medical partner now in this journey.

Those of you who are depressed or have friends or loved ones who are, know that there's no cure for depression.  It's a matter of finding the right drug/chemical that will alleviate enough of the symptoms that you can function in life, and feel your best.

So here's to better living through chemistry.  x

Monday, May 21, 2018

Such Is Life

I need to talk publicly about this...

I've suffered with depression for my entire adult life.  I've been on prozac/fluoxetine for the past 25 years, on a very low dose.  I had about three really good years, after the drug took six months to kick in, back in the mid-1990s.

The truth is, my life has always been an emotional roller coaster (if you've followed this blog for the last several years, you'll know why), exacerbated in the last 20 years, I now see, by the fact that that antidepressant wasn't really working for me, or stopped being totally effective, years ago.

I started taking it when I lived in San Francisco and had Kaiser insurance.  Since then, I've self-managed the medication, because I didn't have insurance (until Medicare) and couldn't afford psychiatric care (for medication management).  Also, being the self-reliant, "I can do it myself" type, it honestly never occurred to me, since I've been on Medicare, that I could seek a doctor's help with the depression.

There's also this thing when you're chronically depressed, that even if/when you have periods of emotional equilibrium, when those times end, you don't realize you're depressed again.  You think it's just who you are, to feel so bad inside.

Back in December of last year, I had the inkling to increase my dosage of prozac to 40mg/day from 20mg.  So January through March of this year, I felt really great, better than I'd ever felt.  Then I had a depressive crash in late March/early April, that I still haven't recovered from.  It was only last week, when my closest friend suggested maybe my medication wasn't working, that I had the big AHA moment.  It had just never crossed my mind previously.

Now I can see just how much time in the past 25 years (not to mention the preceding 20+ years) I spent in depressive periods, regardless of taking medication.  And I can see how many of my physical symptoms of the last few years are likely related either to the medication no longer working, or the depression itself, or both.  Shit.

I have an appointment with the MD at my clinic this Wednesday.  I can't do it alone anymore.  I need help managing the depression.  I also have no illusions that I'll ever stop needing ADs.