Intro: What's up



Well-known member
Dec 22, 2016
West Coast
Hello: I have been perusing this forum for some days, then finally decided to get in on the "fun." Pardon me in advance if I'm not hip to the lingo (so many acronyms!) or not upholding proper protocols or whatnot. Of all my flaws, I don't fuss over criticism, so have at it.

I'm a 50+ y/o woman. I've hit some fairly tough spots over time. I've pulled thru w/o too deep of scars or lingering regrets. I've tended to find ways to hold myself accountable when possible -- even when external forces were beyond my control -- reason being, I figured I was the only thing I had any control over. Early on I recognized I couldn't change/control others, their feelings or actions -- equating that endeavor to changing the weather, the planets aligning, or apparently how I manage to hit every ding dang red light I come across lately!

I grew up 10 miles outside a small town -- the "boondocks." Dunno if that sequestered childhood imbedded (indoctrinated?) a sort of PollyAnnish subconscious. Very recently I realized that in the past, I always had a baseline optimism, an "energy" in the midst of horrific traumas, doing the heavy lifting sub-consciously. Because for dang sure, I didn't "feel" optimistic during some of those dark days.

I realized recently that I weathered/recovered from previous traumas because deep down I always KNEW it would all work out, even if it didn't. (Stay with me here..) Good, bad, neutral...didn't matter. Life would go on, and funnily enough, some of the most irreplaceable, happiest times in my life evolved from the ashes of some sort of downfall or perceived injustice. In short, (too late, eh? Ahem..) The Butterfly Effect. I would have missed out on some of the best times of my life if not for some unfortunate circumstance that impelled me to be somewhere at a certain time, at a certain place, sporting a certain post-trauma attitude of reservation, reflection, resolve, rebirth.. (Ugh! I know! That's the WORST!)

If you're still with me: I know I am DEPRESSED now -- and not just experiencing profound sadness. This is how it feels to not think it will work out. Wait, check that. I KNOW it will not work out. The kicker is, I don't CARE. At first I deemed it a "Nervous Breakdown," (I think this is anachronistic lingo, right? There's no such thing as a "Nervous Breakdown," anymore as far as I can tell -- I looked). I finally thought I ought tell someone, cuz the path I was on was leading nowhere but complete collapse. I worried about my dog. I wanted a plan in place in case I was hauled off by men with white coats...ya know, like the scene from Street Car Named Desire, except me looking much, much, much, more decrepit than Blanche...

So I tell my atty and... nada. He seemed concerned, pledged his assistance. That never happened. I told a couple friends. I don't hear from them anymore. I told my mom, my lifelong "Rock," only to discover that she is indeed in the throes of Alzheimer's -- which, given her family's history, was pre-ordained. So that sucked. Wads. That there is gonna be a BIG F'n deal, given that another failsafe I unconsciously relied upon throughout time was that no matter what, I could count on my parents to back me up, help me out, give solid advice. So -- now what?

My ex-husband HATES me, which I suppose is fairly standard when one divorces another. Tho, Hand to God, I did not see that coming; and my best friend/husband, wouldn't give me the reason for the divorce, let alone grounds to loathe me. The "why" became an entity in an of itself -- it was my constant companion, a factory of 1000 daily epiphanies, trying to pinpoint the exact moment my husband, my best friend, whom I spoke to everyday, stopped loving me.

A turning point was when the "then," the "why" stopped being the right questions. The moment of release from my quest was the "how." How could I not detect a full extinguishment of a very profound, embedded emotion in my partner? Where was I? How could I have been "checked into the marriage" if I didn't see the absence of sincerity? How hard and how long did he try to fake it? Well, anyway, I don't know if you see where we're goin here but, it occurred to me that my husband divorced me because he did not love me. And he hadn't in a while. So much so, he felt it was as obvious to me as it was to him. Oh, and he's from a uptight European culture, so stoicism and squelching emotions is kinda their thing. What I'm trying to transmit is that with the divorce, I get it, so time to move on. With resolution comes healing. Well, that's the way it's supposed to go, at least for me.

I thought my depression was caused by my ambivalence about the divorce, but -- nope. Then I saw what I was waking up to: a middle-aged woman with outdated skills, hadn't worked in years, struggling with medical issues taboot, blah blah blah... So the future isn't looking too promising. The realization that even the "best case scenario" was bleak and unappealing made it counterintuitive to try so hard to emerge from the muck. This was the dawn of the Existential Crisis. I just stopped caring. Seemed logical at the time: no matter what I did, it didn't seem to matter -- things just became more complicated, more painful; isolation was easier, needn't worry about another trusted friend letting me down. "If the phone don't ring, you'll know it's me" was my impotent (and universally unnoticed) middle finger to folks whom had used me as their priest, therapist, advisor in the past. I was always there for my friends: an eager empathetic ear, engaging in marathon sessions, diving in the deep end alongside the injured soul; provided perspective and support when called for, or an overdue kick in the ass if required. Perhaps this comes off as grandiose idealization of my place in the world. Maybe it is. 'Cuz sure 'nuf, all that prior effort and energy expended on my friends amounted to $h!t come time for me to need a modicum of reciprocation.

Due to unexpected abandonment, and absence of a trusted team of allies, I find myself alone in this struggle. This isn't a "boo-hoo" moment, coyly appealing for a barrage of sympathy. It is what it is. I don't mind being alone, truth be told. It's safe. It's easier. May not be a giggle-fest, but it's definitely not sorrowful. Tho, productive it is not; which is triggering the influx of hordes of new people: creditors, landlords, doctors.

For various reasons, I decided to re-launch an effort to restore hope. When I was dealing with my spinal injury, I feverishly attacked pain on every front: diet, alternative methods, phys therapy, yoga... I was engaged, informed, and motivated to improve. That's somewhat where I'm at now with this; taking an active role in figuring out why I am where I am, and searching for the best method(s) to combat this cloying, debilitating depression.

My atty called in a favor and got a therapist to call me at home, which was a big deal. I hadn't been out of bed for days (maybe weeks). The therapist encouraged me to reach out to my PCP. So, I did. The PCP responded with disdain, condescension, and walked me out the door with a "good luck" "happy holidays." The therapist referred me to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist cost $360. I thought "well, you get what you pay for": if she charged such a high fee, she must be a bang-up, no bullcrap pro. Instead, much to my dismay, she focused on addiction and my usage of pain medication (all closely monitored and prescribed by my pain mangmnt doc who had seen me every 4 weeks since 2012). I was frustrated by her inability to table that bias in order to take a more comprehensive view of current affairs. (I'm not addicted, nor do I abuse pain meds -- it's not my bag. Full stop.)

The psych went as far as to say that pain medication CAUSES cognitive impairment (a factor I'm contending with, tho most likely stemming from 3 head traumas suffered w/in a 15 month period preceding the onset of depression); spending an inordinate amt of time on the non-issue of addiction (it'll speed things up if we agree for now to stipulate that I do not have a pain Med problem). Then, without too many probing questions -- exploring a 50 year span absent of even one depressive episode -- diagnosed me with BiPolar II. To recap what $360 yielded: pain meds caused my cog impairment, and I have BPII. "Do you want a receipt?"

I put in the time to examine her dx, first with the effects of pain meds. I read study after study; articles from medical journals; research that is current. I already knew the answer, but it was vindicating to find that folks with chronic pain benefit from improved quality of life, improved mental acuity, and were higher functioning when pain was managed with proper medications/dosages. The caveat, obviously, is when a pt is addicted or abusing the medication -- huh-flippin'-duh.

Then as to BPII: Sure, who wants to be labeled with a mental disorder?, so I was more than skeptical. Still, ANY dx is better than not knowing what to treat, right? So I took online tests (yeah, hardly reliable, duly noted), and read all that I could to find my behaviors -- past and present -- fitting w/in the scope of this condition. That too may be unreliable, as I'm the one judging myself, so I asked folks who have known me for decades. I asked for honesty, not comfort. I probed about distinctive mood shifts they'd witnessed, heard about. No one seems to see the connection. And yes, BPII is amorphous and hard to dx b/c of its nuances, I get that. But with all the accounts I researched, I still haven't found an "oh, hey! That's so me!" moment.

There are many branches to the story -- tho apparently I only know how to write the "extended dance version" of anything -- sorry. I want to engage in discussions on treatments, on diagnoses, on psychotropic medications (the psych thought I ought to be on a mood stabilizer, Lamictal, which my pain doc calls "a dirty drug" due to the considerable side-effects). I've taken 6 kinds of psychotropics over the years, ALL preceding this depressive state. Two for smoking cessation, two for pain. All of those meds resulted in negative side-effects, but I always fully recovered after cold turkey cessation.

The last two, both SSRIs, were prescribed by my PCP b/c I was still weepy about my divorce. This was the pivotal event. There was an immediate shift in everything about me -- I literally couldn't "wake up" for the 3.5-4 months I was on them. It took months more for the narcoleptic symptoms to subside after I stopped taking them. I never recovered my energy, my motivation, my drive, my FEAR of consequences.

So, this is me. Here I am. I'll be milling about, looking for insight into finding the best course, to better understand how to approach this. If you've stayed w/ me this far, wow, good on ya! Hope to find sense among those "in the know." I won't be much use to others, but maybe there's someone out there who sees something in my journey that will be of value. The End (whew! Huh?)

Oh, BTW: Happy Holidays!

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