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02 May 2008 @ 09:04 am
Bitten by the black dog (metaphor)  
I should have realized it yesterday afternoon; I did figure it out yesterday evening.

I'm in a depressive slide again. On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is not at all depressed and 10 is sitting on the edge of the bed looking longingly at Dale's phenobarbital (which I would never actually steal), I'm at about a 6. I'm not in danger; not suicidal or likely to deliberately self-injure.

Thanks to good therapy, I do have the intellectual skills to know that this is temporary and to more or less cope. I'm functioning at about 70%, I think. I'll keep taking my nice drugs (better living through modern chemistry!), I'll play happy-Janet music, I'll slog through it, and in a few days or a week or so the cloud will lift and I'll start feeling better again.

You know what's weird? I don't get completely anhedonic when I'm in this kind of depression. I'm angry and bitter and right on the edge of tears; I want to be hateful and hurtful and push people away (but again, I have developed enough self-awareness and coping skills that I mostly don't do that); but individual things can still be funny and I can laugh at them.

P.S. The icon more or less describes how I feel about Life, The Universe, and Everything right now; it's not directed at any of you, my friends and acquaintances.
Current Mood: determineddetermined
LeiaCatleiacat on May 2nd, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
Is the appreciation of random specific things while depressed weird? I find that with my perpetual depression, even in the blackest parts I still find things that I greatly enjoy. (The trouble is that the enjoyment doesn't last longer than the experience itself, and so they don't improve my over-all general state.)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
(The trouble is that the enjoyment doesn't last longer than the experience itself, and so they don't improve my over-all general state.)

Yes, that, precisely.

I don't know; I tend to associate the concept of depression with complete anhedonia, but I could be wrong.
guppiecatguppiecat on May 2nd, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
I work that way. When I'm depressed, I find certain things absolutely freakin' hilarious... but I never share them because it would take too much work to explain it to someone else, and they probably wouldn't care anyway.

Once I'm in a frame of mind that I realize that other people actually DO care, the things aren't funny anymore.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Am I evil for finding that sadly hilarious right now?
guppiecatguppiecat on May 2nd, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
Not at all.

The longer I deal with this, the more I realize that there is value in depression. It provides an alternate state of consciousness and therefore an alternate frame of reference... and IMO, anything that helps you understand yourself and the world around you is a net positive.


I may need reminding of that when I slip into my next depressive cycle.
fatcookfatcook on May 2nd, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
There is nothing I can to do to help you from here execpt think good and happy thoughts at you.

Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on May 2nd, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
You recognise what is happening and are determined to do something about it. Too many people don't even do that.
Strength and Love sent your way.
Janet Miles, CAP-OM: oopsjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Good Therapy. I think for a lot of people it's not "don't do that" so much as "can't do that" -- they don't have the tools and haven't had a chance to learn the skills.

I didn't used to be able to do this, and I didn't used to be able to recognize it until I'd been there for several weeks.
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on May 2nd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Is there a specific way/style (word is not coming) that helped you realize this? What gave you the tools?
Janet Miles, CAP-OM: hairjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
The tools came from therapy. My pdoc, Nancy Davis, is really sharp, and she doesn't let me get away with shit. With me, she uses primarily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which operates from the premise that thoughts basically control emotions, and that by reframing thought, a person can reshape emotional response. Obviously, that's not a 100% correlation, but for me (and, apparently, a lot of other people) it's a sufficiently good model.

A very basic example of CBT might be dealing with how a person feels after making a mistake. This is not exaggerated; I'm speaking from my own history.

Pre-therapy: I can't do anything right. I suck. The world would be a better place without me. I'm an awful person and don't deserve my good job or my friends or anything (and on and on and on).

Post-therapy (and assuming a reasonably stable neurochem state): Well, that wasn't one of my better moves. How can I fix it? Can I keep it from happening again?

So for dealing with the ongoing neurochem depression, I take an antidepressant. Right now, that's Prozac. For dealing with the bouts of Depression, some of the tools involved:

1. Being more self-conscious/self-aware. Not in the shy, "Everyone's staring at me" way, but in the "keeping track of my state" way. Kind of like Scanners, in the short story "Scanners Live in Vain".

2. Learning to recognize the patterns of actions that Depression causes: I can see those before I become aware of the mental/emotional state, if that makes sense.

3. Training myself to believe that which I do know intellectually: This will pass.

4. Training myself to "fake it 'til I make it"; that is, to follow my routine: get up, eat food, take meds, go to work, shuffle paper. *grin*

5. Training myself to, once I recognize the onset of Depression, run everything I say through a conscious, intellectual filter. That's the hardest. I spend a lot of time biting my tongue (or sitting on my hands) in order to filter out the self-destructive / hateful stuff and only pass the neutral or constructive bits.
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on May 2nd, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Cranching. Got it.
A lot of that makes good sense.
Maybe I can try to think that way. I don't get really depressed, but I do have a constant state of low self ego.
Many thanks!
kshandra on May 2nd, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
Having Been There and Done That just recently (I'm back to about a 2), have an extra icon for these situations. And go, us, for being able to recognize what we're going through as we go through it.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
Great icon.

Actually, though, for me, when I'm in this state, I don't hate everyone, I just hate me. Transactional analysis would describe it as "I'm Not Okay, You're Okay".
kshandra on May 2nd, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
I have it on a shirt, too; it makes a fantastic "last day of con" shirt. (I love you all...now get the hell out of my sight until next year. *grin*)

It doesn't work for me in all cases, either. Sometimes I hate me, sometimes I hate them, sometimes I hate everyone including me....
Barbrahirah on May 2nd, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
amaebi: Richard's handsamaebi on May 2nd, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
*thumbs held for you*

It sounds as if you and I do depression in much the same way. I'm fortunate, though-- for me it's circumstantial, and thus hasn't appeared for quite some time.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
browngirl on May 2nd, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't venture any kind of advice, but I read this, I'm imprsssed with your self-knowledge, and I'm thinking of you.

*hugs you warmly*

(FWIW, I think the icon is really clever.)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you. You might want to check out ceruleanst's other ambigrams.
mr profit's girl friday (and all week long)tiferet on May 2nd, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
I've had frequent bouts with the black dog and I don't consider it the least bit odd that it doesn't affect your sense of humour; I've written some of my funniest pieces during Depressions. Frankly, most things that are funny are funny because in some way they are painful. Depression is far from being the absence of humour; it's the absence of joy.

Hope you feel better soon.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Based on prior experience, I should start doing better in a week or so. If I don't, I'll head back to Nancy Davis for a "tune-up".
Arthur and Kevin's Nellorat: sad_drawing_womannellorat on May 2nd, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
Right now I'm managing myself carefully so as not to get depressed; I wish I had more to share, but anyway, you have a good mind and you're doing what needs to be done. *hugs*
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 2nd, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Good luck to you, too.
Maggiesillymagpie on May 3rd, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
I suspect the belief that you experience solid, unrelenting unhappiness during clinical depression is a convenient myth. I know that when I've been suicidally depressed, I've still found individual instances humorous or pleasurable. Granted, my humor skews darker than usual, but it's there. I think the truth is that the overwhelming experience of your life is miserable, and the little glimpses of humor and enjoyment are fleeting and too brief to balance out the misery.

I'm glad you feel you're handling your feelngs, but if this persists, check with your therapist and your doc, okay?
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 3rd, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
Yep. I promised Dale that if I'm still at this level in a week, I'll make an appointment with Nancy Davis.
(Deleted comment)
Bladerunnerbldrnrpdx on May 3rd, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
I know I definitely have a harder time in spring than any other time of year. I've always written it off to being the end of the school year. Public school end-of-years were hard enough with everyone going off to do their own thing leaving me mostly on my own all freaking summer. College meant having to leave school and go back to the family home and find work for the summer (always a dismal prospect). After that was grad school. Now I'm still on school schedules. Spring means Endings where Fall means Beginnings for me. Endings mean Change and frankly, I Fear Change. Mostly. Not entirely. But enough to be mostly true. And a little funny. Mostly because it makes me ramble like this. Okay, I'll stop now. :)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 3rd, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I think I may have accidentally triggered this bout by letting myself get insufficiently hydrated on Thursday. Not dehydrated, but not hydrated enough, and I bet that + heat was enough to fuck with the brain chemistry.

Which reminds me of the joke: What's the difference between a pregnant woman and a burned-out lightbulb?

Answer: You can unscrew a lightbulb.