I just have to admit it; I’m trapped in a cycle I cannot stop on my own. I’m depressed and while I can often handle these episodes on my own this is obviously not one of them, since it keeps cycling around again.

I know that here I am preaching to the choir but since it has come up in other venues, and because maybe it is affecting my ability to ask for help, just because my current depressive episode is due in part to a solvable problem does not mean it is not depression, or that I don’t deserve help for it, or that I should be able to magically fix everything by solving that one problem. Okay. That’s out of the way.

Three years ago I had my first major depressive episode. August of 2010 saw me struggling to sleep at night, and sleeping most of the days away. I was employed, and enjoyed aspects of my work, but for about 6 weeks in August and September I was pretty much non-functioning. I didn’t feel sad, or really much of anything except bored. I was frustrated about my situation but even that was muted. A guy I was seeing assumed I was blowing him off for someone else and basically disappeared from my life (rather than ask, but whatever. I got a DVD box set out of it, since he got all “I will zing you as you have, I think, zinged me, ha ha!” about it so NER.) I got sleeping pills from my primary care physician and started seeing a psychology student from my grad school’s counseling center. Between the two I started to pull through. (then other shit happened, which I’ll talk about another time, but the important part is that I got better.) I’ve experienced similar episodes since, and pulled myself through them. This one is holding much tighter, though.

On days like Sunday, when I had a commitment to other people, who I know and care about, I might get there by the skin of my teeth, but I get up, honor my commitment, no matter how much or how little sleep I’ve had, how much I want to roll over and go back to bed. When I have a job I enjoy most of the time, I can do it, too. But now, with no real commitments and certainly none that directly affect anyone but me, I find it impossible. At 4am I am full of energy and think about all the things I’m really excited to do in the morning. At 11 am I am exhausted and just want a few more minutes until suddenly it’s 4 pm and my cats want me to start thinking about dinner. Even if I go to sleep before 2 and wake at 7 or 8, I think “well that wasn’t 8 full hours, I should probably go back to bed for a bit and I’ll wake at 10 feeling more refreshed than ever!” which never, EVER happens. Even after accepting that I feel more awake at 5 or 6 hours of sleep than more, I keep thinking “I just need a little more sleep.” I don’t need sleep. I need someone to depend on me to do things so I can force myself up. Disappointing myself is fine, I guess. I’m used to it. Disappointing others is unacceptable and means I am a terrible person, and I can NOT be a terrible person, so….

A few weeks ago I gathered information for sliding scale mental health clinics in the area, but a combination of laziness, a minor upturn, and stubborn pride* kept me from following up on them. I can probably, with the help of friends, get through this without following up on that research, but I don’t think I should, since improvement I’ve done without a MHP’s assistance seems to encourage me to not get in touch with any MHPs at all, which (most likely) makes things in general harder on myself than they need to be. But the big difference between this episode and earlier ones is that I am so incredibly frustrated with and angry at myself when this happens over and over, I WANT IT TO STOP ASAP and if that means getting help only from friends then SO BE IT GOD DAMMIT THIS SUCKS, I CAN FIND A PSYCHOLOGIST LATER.

So that’s it, basically. I need a non-made up commitment to someone else who will be seriously, legitimately upset with me if I ditch (but also understanding if I ditch because sometimes I get migraines GOD WHY IS EVERYTHING SO COMPLICATED ARGH) so I can start being normal again which will help me not be depressed and asleep all the time.

*a friend in reaction to a fb post of a comic about anxiety disorders, said some things about making the choice to help yourself, and because he made them a) in obnoxious ways and b) insistently and repeatedly when no one was arguing his point because the post was about boosting awareness and encouraging empathy and I didn’t want him to think he had inspired my attempt to help myself when I started looking into it before the facebook post even happened and I’ll be damned if he pats himself on the back for that! (yes that basically became a transcript of my thought process instead of an actual explanation, but it works, okay.)



Filed under FROWN, I'm a nutter, mental health

13 responses to “Trapped

  1. One argument for seeing a professional, if you can swing it. I hope I don’t make you mad, and I say this as someone who has both struggled with MH issues and is currently depressed due to circumstances. It is not fair to yourself or your friends to count on them alone to be your support system. Just as depression is as real as a broken leg – you wouldn’t ask your friends to carry you around just because getting crutches is difficult. It’s a strain on your friends and they aren’t professionals so they are not as well equipped even if they are well-meaning. And not having a professional help (and possibly medication to help with the chemicals in your brain) does not do yourself any favors either, because you end up living with this crap longer and harder than you need to. Hugs to you, Mel.

    • Melissa

      Are you able to get some kind of insurance? Have you checked out how much it would be to sign up under one of these new exchanges? Since you have no income, are you eligible for Medicare or any state medical benefits? COBRA? I agree with the above poster as well. I have frequent bouts of depression and anxiety. I have medicated at times. I always get out of bed and go to work because I HAVE to. If I had a choice, there are probably days I wouldn’t. I don’t have a safety net. Being able to get out of bed to do something with or for a friend but not being able to do it for yourself sounds like the bigger issue, and obviously relying on friends to motivate you isn’t going to solve that particular problem. So it sounds like professional help is warranted, regardless of whether you get another motivator, like get out of bed or you’ll starve death. I don’t jump out of bed for joy at the prospect of going to work or cleaning the house, but I can do it whether I want to or not. I guess that’s just basic functionality, but I don’t see how friends can help with basics like that long term.

      • Re: Insurance, I can’t afford it on my own (like COBRA or whatever) and as far as the insurance exchanges go I need to know where I’ll be living as of Jan 1 for them to be of use to me. If I don’t get a job, I’ll be moving in with mom and dad again, which puts me in VA, which means no, I am not eligible for medicare nor can I afford the insurance options the exchanges offer. If I am in MD, I am eligible for medicare through the insurance exchanges, but it won’t take effect until Jan 1 (and before then I am not eligible for medicare, I looked into it earlier this year) and without knowing where I’ll be living, I can’t apply to the exchanges anyway. Assuming my parents don’t change the date on me again and I don’t get a job, I’ll be back in VA in about 6 weeks.

        I agree that valuing others more than myself is a problem (though it is one that has kept me from fulfilling my suicidal ideation many times so it is not entirely a bad thing) and that relying on friends is not a long term solution. I am not looking for them to provide me a long term solution but to help me break the current cycle so I can establish a new one, my concern being that if this happens I’ll put off getting the professional help I need. Either way, the professional help I’ve found to be available to me in my current situation is not necessarily the help I need, it’s just what I can get.

    • *hugs back* Thanks, Carly, that’s a good point, and the latter point is what I was trying to say in the second-to-last paragraph (excluding the footnote).

      • I’ve been thinking about this more (because I am worried about you). Years ago, I chose a therapist based on proximity to my apartment. I had my mom drive up (about an hour) to drive with me (about 5 minutes) to the appointment because I just couldn’t handle going on my own. It can be hard for me to ask for help, or admit I need help, or admit I don’t always have all my shit together. I know insurance and money and access to care is hugely stressful and depression can make even easy things difficult. Getting out of bed is hard, sleeping is hard, waking up is hard. If those things are tough, of course finding and going to an appointment with a professional is not easy. Maybe friends can help make calls and identify health care providers. Maybe someone can volunteer to go with you to an appointment? Maybe you can solicit donations to help cover a few visits? I am sure that people want to help you feel better, but it is hard to defeat depression. Hang in there.

      • I’ve had a couple friends reach out with things they have done or are doing that are worth a try, and another who has a task that needs doing but she hasn’t had time to do it that I might be able to do, hopefully giving me a reason to get up…I also have a couple Leave The House events this week (a friend is taking me to a Caps game, my cousins’ band is playing in DC this Sunday and they are comping my ticket) so while it’s not the sort of help your talking about, I’m definitely getting help. A couple others have talked about struggles finding a professional, and I am pretty confident they’d be willing to help in the ways you mention if I ask.

  2. All I can say is that I’m sending good thoughts and energy to you. *hugs*

  3. Justine

    I know you said other people have thrown suggestions at you but I’ll tell you mine anyway. In Virginia each county has a Community Services Board that provides therapy and psychiatry on a sliding scale. I went to the one in Prince William county when I was in my early 20’s and had a great therapist although my shrink was only so-so. After my divorce I didn’t have insurance for awhile and I got counseling at The Women’s Center ( They have a sliding fee scale but only have offices in DC and Vienna. I really recommend getting professional help. If you could do it on your own or with just the help of your friends then I think you would have done it by now.

    When you mention Medicare in January I am assuming you mean expanded Medicaid since Medicare is for the old or disabled. I have been on Medicaid for a year and have gotten great care for my physical and mental health including $0 prescriptions. I know you are not eligible right now but I did read that in MD if you get temporary cash assistance then you will also be enrolled in Medicaid. I have been getting food stamps and TCA since February. I know it can be embarrassing and hard to admit that you need that level of assistance but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. I would suggest going to the Social Services office in any case, it doesn’t hurt to at least gather information.

    I was just recently approved for social security disability insurance for my mental illness. It’s a intense, tedious process but if your depression is really affecting your day to day functioning then you may want to consider it.

    Sorry, I’m not close enough to have any activities for you to engage in. I know you already volunteer with DCRG but maybe you could do some more volunteering. It would give you a solid commitment and would probably help your self-esteem. Plus, depending on where you choose to volunteer it could look good on your resume. I volunteer at the library once a week and I always have a little spring in my step when I leave there for the day because I know I’ve gotten out of the house, accomplished something constructive and for at least that one day I beat my mental illness, it didn’t beat me.

    That’s my two cents.

    And yeah, that FB guy was a dick.

    • Hi Justine! *waves wildly* more help is totally cool-I haven’t found it overwhelming, just helpful for planning how to deal with this, so thank you ❤ I'll look into the women's center and TCA.

      You read my mind about volunteering. Melissa had suggested it before as a way to potentially help me get a foot in the door for a job, but at the time I was worried it would take time away from the job-hunting process. Lately I've been thinking about doing it so my days aren't just a vast wasteland of time.

      • Justine

        I know they say networking is a big part of job hunting these days so I think it would be an even trade off if you happened to spend a few hours a couple times a week volunteering instead of job hunting. I would be more than happy to do internet research for you on anything if that would help at all. I know for me the internet research phase is the easy part. It’s getting up the energy and courage to make the phone calls and go to the appointments that’s hard. I just want to try and be helpful even though I am far away.

      • yeah, I hate calling people I don’t know. I’m also worried that I’ll have to stop when I move home because of distance traveled (anywhere close to where I am now is much farther from mom and dad’s–even with DC, I’m much closer to most of the city from here than from their place) and I hate the idea of signing up to volunteer and then not being able to do so after a few weeks. it might have to wait until december.

  4. treblemaker909

    I think the best thing is *knowing* you’re on the edge of a slippery slope. It’s way worse when you don’t realise until it’s too late and you’re already at the bottom of a hole.
    I don’t know if it’s the time of year or what, but I can definitely feel the creep coming on, so I somewhat feel your pain. I’m glad that you’ve recognised it though and you’re being proactive. That in itself is a good sign.
    Just keep doing what you’re doing, every little helps including sharing it with us. xxx

    • I know several people who have harder times in September, so there might be something you that time of year thing! This is more a climbing out on the other side than being proactive, but I figure it’s still good that I can do that, rather than just continuing to wallow in the mud at the bottom of the hole. Hopefully next time I get near the edge, I’ll recognize it and and find a way around! ❤

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