Friday, January 13, 2012

Why get out of bed?

Wow.  Who knew how complicated this blogging thing could be?  Not I, though I suppose I hadn't given it much thought.  Now that I think I have a handle on the basics of layouts, gadgets, favicons, etc., and having deleted yesterday's post entirely at least once (found it in the cache of my laptop though. HA!  Take THAT, technology!), and radically overhauled the look of the blog, I can finally get back to writing something.

Given that my father thinks I already put too much information about myself "out there" on Facebook, I'm sure this whole project is going to be a topic eliciting large sighs, slight shaking of the head, squinting of the eyes in mystified but benign disapproval, and the urge to freshen one's bourbon.  My husband  says I have no pride, which, I suppose, will allow me to actually put forth some of the more interesting experiences I've had and views I might hold.

This blog is the first project in at least a year, maybe more, that has grabbed my attention.  A couple of weeks ago I had a mood log entry (I am a fan of My MoodTracker and use it to track mood, meds, sleep, energy, stress, you name it) trying to list reasons for getting out of bed.

I have been plagued by anxiety and depression most of my adult life, with major disruptions in graduate school and for the past six years, beginning about eight weeks after my daughter was born.  For me, disruption first manifests itself as anxiety.  Basically, imagine what it might feel like to be forced to function under threat of grave bodily harm and that's what it feels like.  I usually feel some combination of stage fright and twisting of the stomach, nausea, cold waves running down my arms and back, a sense of unreality and detachment, and the urge to run and run or to hide under the covers in motionless, passive, semi-sleep in order to numb-out from the continuous onslaught of cortisol.  This can and has been controlled  by various medications multiple times.

After the anxiety is curtailed, the depression is unveiled.  This is characterized for me by extremely low energy, no urge to wake from sleeping (I once stayed in bed until 4pm, ate, took a  nap, and went back to bed at my regular bedtime still feeling tired.), the strong urge to sleep as an escape, very negative self-talk, and overuse of caffeine in order to function.  And, please know,  I am not one of those people who wakes up happy.  For me to get up while depressed, I must be dragged from sleep each time by some externally placed deadline like an appointment or something.  Otherwise I close my eyes and it's 10am, then 2pm.  Being me, being a parent, having so many unfinished projects around the house, disliking my house and its clutter, and not being one of the thin young moms I see everywhere is overwhelming and overstimulating.  The only comfortable thing to do is curl up on the couch under my special blanket (my aunt made for me, it reminds me of my mother) and close my eyes and listen to NPR.

To combat all this, to date I have seen counselors, done Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and worked closely with my psychiatrist trying following medications (this is where Dad purses his lips and starts to frown):
  • Paxil..................................My Side Effects:  tremor
  • Imipramine........................My Side Effects:  weight gain, sleepiness
  • Desipramine......................My Side Effects:  weight gain, sleepiness
  • Zoloft................................My Side Effects:  extroversion, low libido
  • Celexa...............................My Side Effects:  weight gain, sleepiness, utter crushing of libido
  • Remeron............................My Side Effects: impatience and extreme anger, agressiveness
  • Viibryd..............................My Side Effects:  extreme and debilitating anxiety
  • Abilify...............................My Side Effects:  enough mania to be uncomfortable
  • Wellbutrin (current)..........My Side Effects:  uncertain since I've not taken it alone
  • Cymbalta (current)............My Side Effects:  weight gain, sleepiness, lowered libido
So there I was, on a Saturday, trying to figure out what would really make me actually WANT to get out of bed.  (In my head I am hearing Miracle Max from The Princess Bride asking the Man in Black, "What is it you've got to live for?")  I am somewhat less ashamed that I should be that neither my husband nor my kids were on that list.  However, I am telling myself that this is a symptom being expressed.... Anyway, the list went something like this (in no particular order):
For what would I be willing to leave my safe, comfy bed? (positive things only)
  • If Jesus (not the historical person, but the ever-present diety) were real
  • Meeting someone beautiful or important
  • Free cosmetic surgery
  • $$$
  • Return of my house (my Dad sold my childhood home last year) or opportunity to move to better house (I *SO* want to live in Maple Lawn, MD!)
  • Maybe to help someone?
  • Science fiction made real, i.e. time travel, space travel with warp/hyperspace drive, etc.
  • Opportunity for no-consequence pairing with superior male if possible....   You know, the kind of thing where both members of a couple have the one (always some fantastically unavailable celebrity) person that if there was the opportunity to be with them it'd be OK with the spouse.
Otherwise I'd rather stay in bed and have everyone leave me the f--- alone.
Dan:  Don't you want to see your kids?  Go outside in the beautiful weather?  Eat?
Me:  NOPE.
Pretty shallow huh?  Remember, lack of interest in usual activities is classic depression!  So really, having a new interest that I'm willing to invest in is a very big deal, and likely the consequence of my changing the timing of my meds (I think).  I have just discovered in the past week that if I take my current meds before bed instead of in the morning, I feel pretty good, much more stable and normal.  It was actually quite a shock the first day because it had been so long since I'd not felt half asleep and emotionally fragile.  I'd actually been a hair away from suicidal on two occasions in the past months and all of a sudden there she was:  the Julie who could handle things, the grown-up who could step-up and do what she needed to do without it being a big deal.  "Oh my God, I know you!" I said out loud while driving somewhere.  I realized that my stomach had stopped feeling sick and I didn't feel like an incompetent shell of who I was supposed to be, masquerading as the real thing, about to be unveiled as an imposter at any moment.  I felt enormous relief for the first time in months.


As my "group" (I go to a Women's Cognitive Therapy Group in Annapolis every two weeks or so) leader would say, "So, WELCOME."  Welcome to my new blog.  I think it is going to be fun.



  1. A wise man often said to me... if it works, keep doing it. If it doesn't work, try something else. Repeat as needed.

    You're doing what you can and coping with meds and behavior and organizing yourself for best possible outcome! Proud of you and all that you have accomplished!

  2. Thanks, Chrispy. Also for not pointing out my typos, I just saw a couple. My hope is that putting this out there might help someone dealing with similar issues. I found myself just looking for stories from someone else's experiences. There's a lot of cries for help out there, which are hard to read when you already feel bad, but not much matter-of-fact this is what I've dealt with, you can too. I am also planning on including a lot of resources for people who just don't know what to do or where to start so they can do some self-help education. It's not going to be all depression all the time though. Just need to start there to give the other stuff context. Thanks for the support! jb

  3. Enjoying your writing, but keep coming back to this one. I am fascinated by your claim "If Jesus were real, then you would be willing to get out of bed." I would love to hear more from you about what would constitute Empirical data for the existence of a higher power.

  4. Thanks for the comment. I will work on it! But right off, I would encourage you to check out Carl Sagan's book On the Varieties of Scientific Experience. It very well encapsulates my view on the topic. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Can't wait to work more on this. Thanks. ... My husband also recommends Sagan's Demon Haunted World.