Guest Post #12: The Journey Inspired (Coping with Depression with Severe Fatigue)

Amanda, from the blog Mandibelle16, is a frequent commenter on this blog. Her own blog features her poetry and creative writings as well as articles about mental illness and her walk with depression. Amanda has suffered from Depression with severe fatigue since 2009. The following describes her first episode of severe Depression (which also featured auditory hallucinations) and its aftermath, and her long journey to wellness. But I’ll let her About page speak for itself. She is a talented writer and poet.

Mandibelle16 – About the Author
https://mandibelle16.wordpress.com/about-the-author/

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Amanda is a writer, blogger, and student from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She began blogging four-years ago to improve her writing skills and share her thoughts on several topics including, her experiences with mental illness.

Over time, Amanda’s blog has developed into much more than it’s original use. She has taken Editing and Creative Writing courses from Simon Fraser University and the University of Alberta to improve her writing and editing skills, in addition to her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature received in May 2007. Her next step educationally, is developing a portfolio for the University of British Columbia for a Master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Only twenty-five percent of students make it in this online program and Amanda is hoping to be one of these students in May 2017.

Amanda also has taken blogging, poetry, writing, commenting, and photography courses through WordPress. She looks to improve her writing anywhere she is able. Amanda enjoys poetry and has been learning various forms of poetry from the website Shadow Poetry. Each new type of poetry is fun and challenging. She writes poetry from WordPress The Daily Post, word prompts and her own experiences, as well as participating in National Poetry Writing Month each year in April.

Amanda has been expanding and fine tuning her writing skills in fiction. She has recently been writing short stories and submitting them to literary magazines (etc.) as well as writing Flash Fiction for four different photo and/or word prompts each week. Amanda also participates in other writing prompts or challenges called 3 Line Tales; she also writes a different themed list each week; and participates in a photography prompt called Echoes of My Neighbourhood.

Moreover, Amanda is writing up her first draft of her first novel called How Was Last Night For You. The novel has been in process for a few years but is close to completion of the first draft. After the first draft, she will be working on corrections offered by another already published writer (with great thanks!) to complete a second draft, before hiring an established editor. Whether the book will be self-published or not is yet to be determined.

In addition, Amanda enjoys the Edmonton sports scene. She is a huge Oiler’s fan (NHL) even though the team seems to only be picking-up great draft picks and not making it to the playoffs since 2006. She is also a huge CFL fan of the Edmonton Eskimos who won the Grey Cup this past November 2015. Amanda also enjoys walking and doing yoga. She loves dogs, reading, shopping, and spending time with her wonderful friends and family.

Amanda also has suffered from a Mood Disorder (Depression) since 2009. She has tried countless medications and few have worked for her due to sensitivities and allergies to many medications. Amanda was in hospital when the she initially fell ill in 2009 for three-weeks and this last Summer for three-weeks to do a major medication change. The latest medication change was successful and Amanda is feeling more energy then she has in years.

Amanda suffers from severe fatigue due to her depression as well as insomnia. Her new medication has helped her in both areas. If you would like to talk to her about her mental issues or your own, please feel free; she is always willing to provide what help she can in that area with her experience over the past eight-years.

THE JOURNEY INSPIRED: COPING WITH DEPRESSION WITH SEVERE FATIGUE
By Amanda, Mandibelle16

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My story begins when I was twenty-three-years old. I had my first ‘real’ job after university and I had recently advanced from the role of receptionist to construction administrative assistant at the commercial development company where I worked. I had been in the administrative role in construction three-months before I became ill. It was Christmas time and I felt worn out. I thought I simply needed to take a few days off work to rest. Although I had no idea what was happening to me, I began to experience the onset of a psychotic episode in December 2008.

My episode began with a person from work (for instance) talking to me as they usually would and then afterwards I would hear an echo after they finished speaking. This echo consisted of this person’s voice altering and them saying something to me that was extremely mean. I knew something was not right with what I was hearing, but I had no idea what was happening to me. My current psychiatrist and I still don’t know the reason I had a psychotic episode. I wasn’t unusually stressed, using drugs, and I wasn’t grieving or experiencing emotional loss.

Work became extremely difficult for me to attend. Often, I would end the day crying. I also had difficulties concentrating on my work because my thoughts were going around in my head at such a rate that I couldn’t organize my thoughts properly.

At home I was having difficulty sleeping and I had begun to lose weight because I refused to eat much. I told my parents what was happening to me. My Mom kept track of my symptoms as they occurred. She had some experience with mental illness from an extended family member.

My second last day of work, we had a fun office party at a delicious restaurant. Later, we went to a different restaurant at night for drinks. The day had been a better one for me but it ended in tears. I thought I overheard a guy in my work saying something mean about me and I left the second restaurant crying.

I came back to work one last day but I couldn’t control my emotions which were all over the place. A lady at work drove me home and since that time I have not been able to return to work. I’m still embarrassed how I broke down that day. I had no control over myself and despite the fact my episode was eight-years-ago now, I still feel ashamed for how I acted that last day.

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On December 24, 2008 my Dad and I sat waiting to get into a Doctor at a clinic. The Doctor prescribed me Ativan to aid me with sleep and for anxiety. My parents also took me to the University of Alberta free psychiatric clinic. I went there a few times and they diagnosed me with having a psychotic episode with auditory hallucinations.

Eventually, I ended up with help from my Dad and the U of A clinic, admitting myself to the hospital because I was hearing suicidal voices. I didn’t want to kill myself but I was hearing voices whom were telling me to end my life.

Before I went into hospital, I spent three-weeks at home hallucinating and the thoughts in my head kept going round. I would sit down on the couch and for hours become immersed in my thoughts. Then suddenly, it would be lunch time and my Mom would be home from work to check on me and ensure I would eat some lunch and take my medication.

I was under several delusions and one delusion was that food didn’t belong to me so I wouldn’t eat because I thought that was stealing. During my episode I lost about twenty pounds in a month. I also began to feel physical sensations at times moving up my arms.

Additionally, I stopped taking care of myself. It was difficult to force myself to take a bath or shower and often the moment I thought about it, I would forget I needed to accomplish that small task. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t taking care of my appearance and hygiene because I’ve always been finicky about taking care of myself.

I was in hospital three-weeks and when you are hearing voices from people, the hospital is a terrifying place to be. Hearing voices occurs in a person experiencing a psychotic episode because the synapsis in their brain misfires.

If you can recall any thought or idea in your head that you’ve ever learned, seen on TV, or read about, these ideas or thoughts become misdirected in your brain. A person’s worst thoughts come through as voices they hear coming from other people, the TV, Radio, or out of nowhere. For instance, when I was ill I would hear the announcers on a Basketball game on TV and it would sound like they were only talking about me and not the game.

The Doctor I had in hospital took me off the antipsychotic I had been on from the University of Alberta clinic, and slowly put me on a newer antipsychotic drug called Invega. Suddenly, my thoughts were clear and I wasn’t hearing any voices echoing a person talking to me. The thoughts in my brain stopped circling. I have never had a psychotic episode since, and I pray I never do.

When I returned home, I experienced a depressive episode. I lost my energy and began to have severe fatigue. Although, my fatigue levels have changed from awful to manageable, they are something I still deal with today. Fatigue is different than being sleepy. It has a physical and mental aspect and once you run out of energy a person can do nothing but lie down until they have more energy from resting. In this time, I developed a mood disorder that is likely depression.

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Severe fatigue is a common problem with severe depression.

I also lost some cognitive function which I would later regain. My handwriting for example, was childlike. It took me three-days to fill out my application to my insurance company for disability which was thankfully approved. Reading a simple young adult chapter book such as Twilight or Harry Potter, was extremely challenging at first. It was a couple of years before I could read more than simple adult books and longer still to work back up to being able to read for long periods and read difficult material such as textbooks and literary novels.

I met my present psychiatrist in April 2009 and she took me off of the Invega once we knew I was safely out of the psychotic episode. My psychiatrist switched me to a new antipsychotic because my old one left me with intense muscle pain in my shoulders and neck. For eight-years my Psychiatrist and a Psychiatric Nurse, helped me try tons of medications such as anti-psychotics, antidepressants, stimulants, and sleep medications. I participated in psychiatric testing so we could measure my improvement up to three-years after the episode occurred. We tried an array of medications but the majority had little effect.

Moreover, I had a consultation with a sleep psychiatrist whom I saw every six months. The sleep medications he gave me were a short-term solution to a sleep-disorder that had developed. I had insomnia and had both trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

The results of trying all this medication was excess weight gain. At first, because I had lost weight in my psychotic episode, I needed to gain a few pounds but now I’m thirty-five pounds over a healthy body weight.

My severe fatigue doesn’t allow me to do cardiovascular activity intense enough to burn fat. I was extremely fit before my episode so being overweight is something that has always upset me because I don’t have much control over it. I eat healthy and in small portions but it doesn’t make much difference. Not to mention, when my mood disorder became worse, it was even harder to exercise.

I believe my health improving this last year, is due to letting myself be admitted into hospital for a medication overhaul. Sleeping at night had become nearly impossible. My Doctor had me go off my sleeping medications and on a new antipsychotic called Clozapine which makes a person extremely sleepy when they take it. Clozapine has to be monitored closely in patients because it can cause increased heart rate and increase white blood cell count.

I worked my way up slowly to the right dose of Clozapine for my body and it wasn’t easy. The second and third day after going on a new dose of Clozapine, I would feel awful. Then my Doctor would increase the dose and the cycle would repeat until we reached the correct dose for my body.

I spent a miserable weekend at home in a hot house in July on too large a dose of Clozapine. Surprisingly, that’s how we found my perfect dose. Now I only have to go for blood work to check my white blood cell count every so often. But Clozapine allowed me go off of a larger dose of antidepressants and sleeping pills. I can sleep amazingly well at night, even though I sleep to 11:00 am because of the medication.

By November 2015, my energy had increased and I was reading plenty again, writing more, and able to take my last Residential Design class. I could last at night for four or five hours meeting with friends. By January I noticed my concentration had substantially improved. Even though my physical stamina is low, I’m able to do yoga and go for a short walk at times which is a huge step up for my physical health from the last two or three years.

A wonderful aspect of Clozapine is that it is the only antipsychotic that actually heals your brain. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as carefree and able as I was at twenty-three-years-old, but each month I experience improvements to my health. Combined with a supplement program that is helping me to lose weight, I’m doing fantastic for a woman who suffered such a terrible psychotic episode and has lived with mental illness for eight-years.

My goals of late have been entering my writing into writing contests for different magazines to have my writing published. I write fiction, poetry, nonfiction and a bit of everything. I have been blogging for four-years as well. In the beginning, it was to improve my writing skills back to what they were when I finished my English BA.

Now I focus on improving my writing creatively. I’m writing a fictional novel on a curse, a sea witch, and two main characters who fall in love. I’m also participating in National Poetry Writing Month in April. You can check out my blog at: http://www.mandibelle16.wordpress.com.

I have gone back to my roots, to my love of literature and the written word. I adore writing and it makes me whole. It’s what I’m meant to do. I’m looking at applying for an online MFA at UBC in creative writing. I believe my family and friends, creativity, positivity, and faith in God, have lead me through difficult times in my life. They have allowed me to find light when everything seems dark.

Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.

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Triggered.

Depression (1)

Some days are better than others. Overall, they are getting better and better, but there are days where I feel like I took three steps back and get trapped in my old toxic emotional thinking patterns. At those times I feel like I’m trapped inside a dark, moldy prison with no one but my own demons to talk to and will never be able to escape. I know that’s not true, and tomorrow will probably be better, but right now, at this moment, I’m in immense emotional pain.  I feel like if I died and went to hell, it wouldn’t much worse than this. I can’t just turn the pain off with a switch, the way the narcissists in my life seemed to expect me to be able to do.

I got triggered. At least I know what the trigger is. Today is my daughter’s birthday, and we were planning to drive up into the mountains and have lunch together. She was supposed to be here around 10 AM. But by eleven AM I still hadn’t heard from her. I began to panic and imagine some kind of catastrophe befell her, the way I always do because the world has always seemed incredibly dangerous to me and no one can be trusted.     You never know when you’re going to get bad news or when the other shoe will drop.  It’s a horrible way to live and I definitely don’t recommend it.   But it’s in my programming.   People think I’m nuts but I can’t help being this way.   It’s hard to change the programming.

Around noon, I finally got hold of her and she hadn’t gotten out of bed yet. She was hung over from a night of partying and she was also depressed. All I could think about was myself and what SHE was doing to ME. I told her I’d been looking forward to this and I’d taken the day off work to spend with her. She told me I was putting her on a guilt trip and she was right–I was. I apologized and told her to try to have a nice day and we’d get together another time. But I still felt triggered  and ornery.  I’d written a nice, positive post this morning about the fun day I was anticipating having with her, and what a great daughter she was, but I couldn’t bear to keep it up, so I removed it.

I spent the rest of the day alternately feeling sorry for myself and being angry. I did nothing but sit on the couch, switching channels mindlessly but not really watching anything, and poking around online but not really paying much attention to what I was looking at. I tried to read a little, but couldn’t focus and would keep reading the same sentence over and over, not comprehending the words. I yelled at my cat for no good reason. I snapped at my housemate. I thought about how much my life and everything in it sucks and how I’m not getting any younger and will probably be dead in the next 25 or 30 years with nothing to show for it.   I thought about how most people my age and even much younger are doing much better than me emotionally, financially, and every other way. They have healthy, real relationships because they were given the emotional tools to have those things.  My programming cut me off from having access to those things.   Of course I was constantly reminded of my inferiority by my unsupportive narcissistic family (I was rejected and labeled “the black sheep” for my failure to attain the “success” in life my very programming denied me) until I cut off almost all contact with them.  I was cruelly told to “sink or swim” but never given any swimming lessons and in fact spent most of my childhood with my head forcefully held under the water. That’s the sort of mindfuck you get when you’re the child of narcissists. You can’t win. You can only lose–and then you’re callously blamed for it. Sometimes you’re even disowned for it. I’ve been treading water–barely–for years, in constant fear of drowning.

The rain stopped and the sun is shining but I have no motivation to even go sit outside on the porch. All I want to do is stew in self pity and self hatred. Why? What good does it do? I hate it. Angry and bitter? You bet. But I refuse to drown in those feelings because I still hold onto hope that I can be a real person someday. I won’t give up on me, even though the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally did.

Finally I got a call from my daughter apologizing to me. She was crying. I felt so terrible. She told me how depressed she was and it sounded a lot like my own depression. She was talking about all the bad choices she’s made. She feels badly because some friends she went to school with are starting families or are getting advanced degrees or have careers and she has none of those things. But she’s just 23.  She blames herself. I could relate. I tried to be empathetic and not think about the way I feel very much in the same boat–only I’m a lot older and don’t have my whole life ahead of me or the options she still does. I assured her that she may be a late bloomer but that she is blooming and to be patient with herself. I may never be a perfect mom, but I will never give up on her or abandon her the way my family did to me, because it’s not something you ever get over. It ruins you. It murders your soul. I won’t let her soul be murdered.

Sorry this post wasn’t more upbeat. But I’m just really depressed today and needed to write about it. It doesn’t help to keep this crap inside.  

What it feels like to be me some days.

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My dark thoughts.

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When I feel like this, the only way I can cope is to write.
I had one of my “black mornings.” I don’t get them every day, but when I do get them, they are overwhelming.
I’m getting less of them than I used to, but even one is too much.

I wake up into whiteness. My white blinds reflect the blue white snow that fell three days ago but the shadowless brightness hurts my eyes and mocks the darkness that rises like a miasma and permeates every cell in my body. I lie on my bed and pull the covers up over my head to keep out the daylight. I close my eyes tight. I will myself to fall back to sleep.

I can’t sleep. Thoughts that are blacker than black filter through my consciousness. They seem to arise from a bottomless pit located somewhere in my upper abdomen. They swirl like a cesspool or a black hole or a slow-moving tornado in my soul: thoughts of death, sickness, poverty, loss, and emptiness suck any lesser, lighter thoughts in with them and consume them like food.

Two words reverberate in my atrophied soul: No Future.

I try to will tears to empty myself of this horrible dread and hopelessness, but the backs of my retinas only burn and my eyes remain dry as tinder. I move my consciousness on the pit at the center of my stomach but all I can feel is my heart slamming into my throat. I swallow hard and kick the covers angrily away.

I need to get up. Even if I could sleep I would only wake feeling worse later. Like I wasted a day, and the guilt would consume me.

I look in the mirror on my door. I look like hell. My skin looks grainy. My hair hangs in oily strings. I really need to do something with it. But I know I won’t.

I turn away and go to the kitchen and make some coffee. Strong coffee, milk, no sugar please.
I take it back to my room, drink it. I know I shouldn’t drink coffee given my mental state, but it always calms me for the short term.

The pain is always worse in the morning. Most of the time I can pretend it isn’t there, but it’s always there, waiting in the shadows, ready to sink its tentacles into any mask of sanity I can muster like the flimsy paper covering it really is.

As I write, the darkness retreats. I find some temporary relief. For now, I can fill the void with frivolity and fake cheer.
But the darkness will be back. It always comes back.

Mental Illness, Depression, Hating Waking Up in the Morning

I can relate to this so much. I wake up feeling this way at least once or twice a week, if not more. Life seems so much more overwhelming and undo-able upon waking up. I really have no idea why. Sometimes the anxiety can get so intense my heart starts to race and my brain feels like it’s screaming.

This sort of free-floating morning anxiety is common in depression and might be the reason why depressed people often wake early and can’t get back to sleep.   But having these attacks isn’t just limited to depressed people.  It could also happen to people who suffer from anxiety disorders or are just under a lot of stress.

I’ve found the best thing to do when this happens is to get up. Trying to fall back to sleep when you’re feeling this sort of mental anguish will NOT work. You will lay there in your bed feeling panicky and wide awake. Once you get up and start going about your daily activities, no matter how daunting they seem, your anxiety level will decrease significantly.

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If you wake up every morning feeling anxiety, depression and completely overwhelmed at the thought of scraping through another day, you are not alone.

Once the day gets going after a few hours, you can get into autopilot mode, or somehow tolerate the things you have to do in order to survive. But upon waking up, you feel like one more day of painful suffering existance might be too much.

You feel alone and like there is something horribly wrong with your life. It is so severe upon opening your eyes in the morning that you cannot imagine anyone else would understand.

You are not alone. This is an important situation that gets worse being left in the darkness. Feel free to express your feelings in the comments here….if you are experiencing…or have ever experienced this.

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Writer’s block.

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I feel like there’s a traffic jam in my brain. Or perhaps, no traffic at all. For some reason I can’t fathom, I can’t work up the motivation to write anything. I feel like my creativity has gone AWOL. I wake up feeling depressed. I go to sleep feeling depressed. It’s a numb, zombie-like depression but underneath that…there’s something coming to the surface. There’s an underlying anxiety and a feeling of impending insanity. I don’t know why. I pray for an answer, some clarity, some ability to process the stuff going on in my head right now, but there don’t seem to be any answers.

I can’t think straight. I had a bad panic attack at work yesterday; it came out of nowhere. I was out of control. I embarrassed myself and was shaken the rest of the day.

I’m using various techniques (prayer, meditation, long hot baths) to calm myself down, but it’s only a temporary fix and I still have no creative ideas for new posts. I forced myself to write this one. I’ve said many times before that writing is at least in part a discipline. You have to make yourself write, even when you don’t want to. Then it gets easier. But I’m ignoring my own advice.

I feel like my small life is growing smaller. I’m isolating myself more. I think about death a lot (not suicide, just the idea of death and it scares me). I keep asking God to intervene and lift my mood but this time he’s sleeping on the job.

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I know I have to take responsibility and make myself get out of the house sometimes and make myself write. But when the time comes, I just find it so hard to get motivated. I have problems with the seasons and always get depressed this time of year. But this didn’t happen last year. I wrote like a maniac a year ago and worked through a lot of emotional stuff. I was full of ideas and writing allayed any depression I would have experienced.

I have faith though. I know this is temporary. I know God is there and is sitting back for a reason. He wants me to work through this on my own. I feel like I’m on the edge of an epiphany, something new I need to discover about myself.

I know this post won’t win any Pulitzer prizes and isn’t at all inspiring but at least it’s something. I know I need to just sit down and make myself write SOMETHING every day, even if it sounds uninspired or even stupid. I need to tell my inner critic to STFU. I’m not trying to impress anyone, just get my thoughts on “paper” so I can process them and learn from them. This is only meant to be a journal, after all. Maybe this will even open a discussion about writer’s block and I won’t feel so alone. I’m also going to look into therapy.

Sometimes a dog.

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I wish I’d snapped a picture of Khyna while under my care, but this photo of another dog looks very much like her.

Sometimes an animal, in this case a beautiful German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix, can turn your day around and make you realize what is really important.

All morning a strange golden dog with pointed ears had been nosing around my yard. She sat on my porch whimpering and started to scratch at the door. I looked outside to see what was going on, and I saw her sitting there at the door, looking at me with sad brown eyes. She started to whine a little, and then got up and walked around my porch, looking confused.

I squatted down in front of her. She seemed friendly. Definitely someone’s pet. I noticed she was wearing a collar with some metal tags. Her name and address was embossed on one of the tags: Khyna (pronounced Keena) allowed me to look, and then licked my face! She needed me help her get home. For some reason, she (or God) had chosen me!

I noticed the address was in a new development up the road, not far away at all. I happened to have a retractable leash that we had used for Dexter (who never could learn to walk on a leash properly) and Khyna sat down obediently while I attached it to her collar.

I liked this dog. I decided that if the owners didn’t want her anymore, I would clean her up (she was all muddy from having been out in the nonstop rain) and take her in until other arrangements could be made, or I might just decide to keep her myself.

We walked together in the pouring rain. I didn’t even mind the gloom or getting wet. Khyna stayed right by my side, not pulling on the leash or hanging back. She stayed slightly ahead, as if leading me, even though I knew now where she lived.

We turned into the development and she moved a little faster. I think she recognized we were close to her home. As we approached the cul-de-sac where her owner’s home was, a man pulled up in a Jeep and rolled down the window. He was grinning like he won the Lotto.

“OH MY GOD! You found Khyna! My wife has been worried sick about her. I just bought her flowers to cheer her up but now I can give her the flowers and Khyna back too!”
“She’s a beautiful dog. Very sweet too,” I said.
“That she is,” the man said proudly. I could tell these people loved this dog and she had just gotten lost and come to me for help getting home.
“How long has she been gone?”
“Since last night around 8 PM. She likes to run off sometimes.”
The man pulled into his driveway and I unhooked Khyna from her leash. She bounded off into the open garage as the man opened the side door for her to go in the house.
He turned back to me. “Thank you so much. You have no idea how much this means to us.”

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There was no cash reward, but the happiness and look of relief on the man’s face was all the reward I needed. And his wife would be happy too.
I walked home through the rain, feeling like I’d just won a million dollars. The sun might as well have been shining.
Sometimes doing something kind for a stranger can turn depression around.
Especially if it involves an animal.

The neverending rain and depression.

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I can’t seem to shake this seasonal funk I’m in. It’s been raining steadily for a week now–gloomy, overcast, steady rain that goes on all day and night, not the intense but shortlived thunderstorms of summer that are somehow energizing.

I don’t like fall in this part of the country. It always rains a lot, and as much as everyone crows about the “fall colors,” I don’t think they’re that special. This isn’t Vermont with its sugar maples that turn brilliant orange and red, or Colorado with its neon yellow Aspens–here the trees just look unhealthy. There’s a few spots of bright color here and there, but the numerous oaks and sycamores just turn from green to brown or a deep purplish red before they go bare for another winter. It’s depressing. Maybe up on the Blue Ridge Parkway the sight is prettier, but I don’t have a running car right now so I can’t go there.

I’ve been stuck inside my house for days, waging war on the camel crickets and the fleas I can’t seem to get rid of. I’m working a lot more. My roommate is moving on Tuesday and I haven’t found a replacement yet. It’s dark when I get up in the morning. It’s getting dark shortly after I come home from work. Yesterday was actually cold and I had to crank up the heat for the first time since April. I’m tired and draggy all the time. I barely have the energy or motivation to cook dinner. I’ve even been avoiding my friends because I just feel like I’m going to drag them down with me.

As far as my writing, the ideas have been coming like an old man’s teeth–few and far between. I’ve been resorting to either reblogging other people’s stuff, posting fluff or pictures, or recycling old articles I wrote, due to the dearth of original ideas. Actually I do have one good idea for a new long article, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to write it. I’d promise I’d write it today, but I don’t trust myself to stick to that promise. I know if I don’t though, I’ll be feeling terrible about it.

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Last fall wasn’t any different from this one weather-wise, but I was new to blogging and the excitement and novelty of that kept me motivated and able to beat my SAD symptoms. I did have a lot of worries, as I recall. My daughter was still having drug issues and was facing 30 days in jail (she is doing a lot better a year later–she has matured a lot and become much more responsible). I wasn’t sure I was going to get along with my new roommate. My ex was still abusing me through text messages. But blogging was like a whole new world, it felt like doors were opening everywhere.

Sam Vaknin, the “god of narcissism,” found this blog in November (my least favorite month other than December) by Googling himself (haha!) and actually made some nice comments and shared some of my articles on his sites and social media. That gave my blog the early jumpstart it needed and I was ecstatic. As far as I know, he still comes here to read but he no longer comments or shares anything. That’s okay because this blog is doing well on its own now, without anyone’s help. But the novelty and newness of it is gone. I don’t see any new doors opening. I know I have to open those doors myself (the next step would probably be writing a book) but I just don’t seem to have the energy or motivation.

Last year at this time the ideas were almost coming too fast–it was actually frustrating because I didn’t have enough time to write about everything I wanted to write about. Now it’s all I can do to think of any original ideas at all. As far as writing about narcissism, what more is there to write about it that I haven’t already? I don’t know whether to keep the focus on narcissism, or shift the focus to general mental health, or just turn it into general purpose blog. I’m stuck. Blogging has brought me so much joy; what happened?

I feel like I’ve reached a blockade in my path to recovery. I know that isn’t really true, and it’s just depression making me feel so negative, and it’s just a matter of working through it or waiting it out. I know it will pass; it always does. But I feel like I’m running in place but going nowhere. The weather isn’t helping.

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This too shall pass.

I know the only way through this is self discipline. I have to make myself write even when I don’t want to. Once I get started, I get into it and that tends to lift my mood and my imagination begins to work again. I also have to make myself get out, in spite of the gloomy weather and no car. I have the company car to drive; I can at least go up to the store in that. Walks in the light drizzly rain aren’t so bad; it isn’t freezing cold out. I haven’t been to church in several weeks either. It always make me feel good to go, but for some reason I’ve been sleeping in instead. Then I wind up feeling guilty and miserable (not because I’m offending God–I don’t think attending church is necessary to “please God”–but because I know I’m doing myself a disservice by skipping).

So today, instead of sleeping in, as I’ve been doing on weekends lately, I’m going to make myself write, make myself go out for a walk in spite of the dreary weather, maybe even take a short drive. Read a book. Clean the house (it needs it). Do something that will make me feel like one of the living. Sitting around feeling sorry for myself and sleeping half the day away is going to get me nowhere fast. I got away from my abusers, but the way I’ve been treating myself is self abuse! It’s possible to be as toxic to myself as my narcissists were to me. I know I’m not the only person in the world who struggles with this time of year. And spring is only 5 1/2 months away! :mrgreen:

Hey, I actually wrote a new article that’s more than two sentences long! I think I feel a little better already.

On having seasonal affective disorder (SAD), dishonesty, and a few other things.

This is going to be a long post, because I have so much to say.
I haven’t been completely honest about why I haven’t been posting as much (being overworked and tired is only part of it) but I was very confused about all these emotions I’m having and wasn’t sure where to begin, even though I wanted to talk about it. I just felt so overwhelmed and confused I was sure anything I wrote would overwhelm and confuse the hell out of anyone reading it and make no sense. Even now, I’m having trouble knowing where to start and am not sure this is going to make any sense, but I’m going to try, since I have the time.

1. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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Let me start with the most obvious and simplest to explain. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Last fall, I was so new to blogging and so excited by the novelty of it that my excitement over my new “toy” overrode my usual feelings of depression I get when the days become shorter, colder, and gloomier. I even thought I’d been spontaneously “cured” but it’s back this year. It always starts around late August, when the days are becoming noticeably shorter (and this year, the trees begin to change early too). The fact that it’s still as hot as a pizza oven makes no difference. SAD is triggered by lack of daylight. It really starts to kick in after the autumnal equinox (September 23 this year) when the days begin to become gloomier and grayer and the nights are longer than the days. In this part of the country, there’s always a lot of rain in the fall and overcast days. I know we need the rain, but my brain doesn’t care and the darkness always triggers depression, which causes me to feel sad (SAD is a good acronym for this disorder!) and as gloomy as the gray days, and any motivation I have or energy goes out the window.

The string of upcoming holidays, which seem to mitigate the gloom for normal people (and even make them feel happy), don’t help me one bit. In fact, they make things worse. Halloween isn’t too bad (it doesn’t cost much and isn’t a “family” holiday), but Thanksgiving and Christmas are a different story. As a person with no money and who is not in contact or close to most of my family, the holidays, especially Christmas, are very difficult for me. Besides my children, I have no one to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with. Christmas is so overcommercialized and you are made to feel somehow defective or different (in a bad way) if you can’t afford to buy a ton of gifts (and don’t get many either), don’t love Christmas music, or can’t get into the “holiday spirit.” I know Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus, not crass commercialism, but unfortunately our society has made it that way, and if you’re a poor person with hardly any family and few close friends, it’s really hard to not get depressed.

I always begin to feel better sometime after Christmas, and usually by early February my mood is improving, despite the cold weather. Again, this has to do with the lengthening days. In fact, every year I look forward to the winter solstice, because it’s then that the days begin to grow longer again. It doesn’t take too long for my body to notice it. And once Christmas is over and done with, I feel relief. Then it’s just a matter with putting up with 2 more months of cold and gloomy, overcast days. And because I live in the South, the winters here are not long. It’s usually warming up by early March or even the end of February, and the first signs of spring can be seen then too. I always notice my energy level and motivation increasing, and my mood becomes more upbeat and positive.

So the lack of motivation caused by my SAD (and blogging no longer being the novelty it was last year at this time) is partly responsible for my not writing every day the way I used to. But that’s only part of it.

2. Coming to terms with being a covert narcissist.

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The other part is a lot harder for me to talk about, even though I’ve talked about it before, and nothing bad happened when I did and people didn’t unfollow this blog in droves, the way I had feared. About two months ago, I began to self identify as a covert narcissist (in addition to my having BPD and Avoidant PD). It explained the “Aspergers” I was sure I had up to that point. I don’t want to belabor again how I made this discovery or why (if you’re interested in reading more about that, I wrote several articles about it in early-mid August and started another blog, intended to help people with self-aware covert narcissism and BPD who do not want their disorders), but for some reason, I began to feel a lot of shame associated with the “NPD” label, based on the general attitude toward narcissists, especially those who have been abused by them (and the attitude is understandable).

Although I didn’t want to be dishonest because this blog has always been a place where I can be completely honest and would not have discovered this truth about myself had it not been for writing honestly about my feelings every day, I clammed up just the same. I began to fear people’s judgment of me for being “one of them” (even though I’m mindful and think I do pretty well not acting in narcissistic ways) and feeling like maybe I should downplay the “narc” label. After all, it’s just a label, right? And not even a label given to me by a therapist or mental health professional, but a self-diagnosis which might be wrong anyway. I can’t even bring myself to add “covert narcissism” to my list of disorders. BPD’s bad enough.

But in spite of all that, in my gut I know my self assessment is correct. I’ve become very hesitant to call too much attention to it however, because of my fear of negative judgment (which in itself is a part of both BPD and covert NPD). I know it’s silly, because it was abuse itself that made me this way. In the past few months I’ve hesitated to write articles about abuse, because knowing I have covert narcissism made me feel like a fraud. But I’m not a fraud because I am myself an abuse victim–one so badly damaged I was infected with narcissism myself. That’s why once I got over my rage and hatred toward narcissists (which I worked out through my earlier blog posts) brought on by their abuse, I found myself attempting to understand why they did the things they do. It took several more months of completely honest writing (running naked in public) that pulled the scales from my eyes and made me realize that I myself had the disorder and was trying to understand myself!

It took an email I got this morning from an ACON (who I had confessed about my narcissism to) that said she could understand how I could have been infected and that as long as I was aware and trying to change (which I am doing) that there was nothing wrong with my writing for ACONs and in fact, she had been helped by my articles and would continue to read them. Most people, in fact, have been very supportive and understanding. I was actually shocked by this, given how demonized NPD is.

I know as a blogger who writes primarily as a form of self therapy, that I cannot get any better if I stop being honest. I worry far too much about what others are going to think, or that I will be disliked, or people will judge me harshly. I suppose this is natural, having been judged harshly by my narcissists all my life, so I always assume the worst will happen. It rarely does, but just the same, it makes me clam up and leave things out.

These labels can be so damaging, and make those of us who want to change ourselves afraid to admit the truth. It was bad enough admitting I was BPD, because of the negative stigma associated with that. But admitting you’re “N” is even more scary. Some people think you’re the devil himself. But why should it be that way? It’s just a label. If I’m not acting out or hurting anyone, then it makes no difference to anyone but myself. It’s something I need to deal with. I can’t get any better if I don’t come to terms with that reality and on some level, accept it.
I could be wrong anyway (but I don’t think I am).

I felt so much better when I left nothing out, when I was so candid and brutally honest about the most personal and embarrassing and shameful things imaginable. It was scary but I never once regretted it, and found myself growing and changing, becoming happier and more confident (in a real, not a narcissistic way). I was feeling more empathy for others and becoming less shy. I was finding myself connecting with people in a way I was never able to, and was beginning to feel like I mattered. So why would I stop?

I judge myself and don’t want to “own” this label, but realistically, how could someone have been raised the way I was and NOT develop a Cluster B disorder like BPD or NPD? I was both scapegoat AND golden child, and constantly receiving contradictory, mixed messages (I was perceived as either “better” than others, superior, and expected to live up to some ideal image of a child my parents had for me, or I was told I was worthless and bad because I was unable to live up to that unrealistic ideal). This isn’t something I chose; it was something done to me. Narcissism is contagious.

And that brings me to the third issue behind my depression and lack of motivation…

3. Fear of parental disapproval.

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There’s another reason why I’ve been less motivated to write. The way I was raised has everything to do with all my emotional problems and my mood swings, inability to connect with anyone emotionally, or feel like I’m leading a fulfilling, successful life. It even explains why I married a malignant narcissist and spent 27 years with him as a codependent, abused wife (covert narcissists–and BPDs–often pair up with higher spectrum or overt, grandiose narcissists and are almost always codependent).

But lately I’ve been afraid to write about my parents and their emotional abuse of me, even though they were my first (and because my personality was still forming, my most toxic), abusers). I can’t blog honestly if I leave my experiences with them out. But I’ve been afraid to write about them just the same, and that’s because about 6 months ago, I found out my parents had found my blog and were reading it. That might make anyone clam up, but no real names were being used, so I wasn’t guilty of slander or libel. It might even do them good to read about the way they made me feel, even if they didn’t care or tried to project everything back onto me (because I wasn’t lovable enough as a child, or am a “loser” who makes “bad choices” today or whatever it is they’re saying about me). It would certainly do ME good to be honest about what happened. After all, this blog is my self-therapy and with any therapist, you would talk about your childhood and the bad parenting you got, so why wouldn’t I write about it? It’s not as if I’m losing anything by doing so, since (as far as I know) I’ve been disowned anyway. I’ve been the black sheep for years and am NC with my mother anyway.

But I still fear their judgment, for God knows what reason. Why do I write openly about my ex’s abuse and not fear his negative judgement? What makes it so different? What makes that “okay” and writing about my parents “not okay”?

I worry way too much about the negative opinions of others, and that in itself is part of my narcissism. I was bullied as a child and that didn’t help either. I put far too much importance on what other people think. I don’t think I lie excessively, but leaving things out is a kind of lie too. I lie by glossing over things, not talking about important things that affected me and caused my problems, not admitting the way I really feel about something, downplaying both my abuse (due to fear of my parents judging me even though they already do) and my own disorders. When I lie by omission, it’s still a lie, and I’m not doing myself any favors either. In fact, the fear of negative judgment feeds on itself, and I imagine the worst outcomes and that tends to feed my fears even more, making me even less motivated to write.

So what I need to do is not worry about what everyone will think, and go ahead and write what I feel and let the chips falls where they may. If I’m harshly judged by some, so be it. Those are probably not people I would want to have anything to do with anyway.

A small part of my depression is because my car needs major repairs and my job only pays enough to pay the bills so I’m living pretty much from one paycheck to the next (and working a lot more). I’m going to go ahead and ask for donations via Paypal but I’ll do a separate post for that and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone.

So that’s where I’m at. I need to start writing about everything I’m feeling again, starting from today and stop worrying about what a few people think and censoring myself because of them. They don’t matter, but my growth as a person does, as well as those who get something from reading this blog. Censoring myself for fear of negative judgment is one of the things I need to work on getting over. It helps no one, least of all me. Haters are always going to exist, no matter what you blog about. I can’t lose my original focus and why I started blogging in the first place, and lately I’ve been slipping. That needs to stop now.

You may find this article inspiring too, if you blog and are afraid to be completely honest.

Too depressed.

Bad day. Hour long fight with my mobile provider. Car barely running. Work sucks. Fall is in the air and the trees are already changing and that doesn’t help.
Too much stress. Too much anger at my parents for making me what I am. Too much pain and regret. Too much grief to handle. I’m not that strong; right now I feel very weak.
I’m much too depressed tonight to write anything longer. I’m sorry. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.