Monday, August 11, 2014


A year ago in July and August, I had a very difficult summer.  I had extreme anxiety and jitters, countered with extreme exhaustion.

On the one hand, I would be unable to hold still, with impulsive bursts of energy in which I would start painting a room or start driving cross-country at 10:30 at night.  On the other hand, I would completely crash in total exhaustion.   All my senses were on hyper-alert making me so anxious and paranoid that sometimes I was afraid to drive on the freeway at all.  Getting out of bed, going to work every day, attempting any activity that required any sort of exertion was totally daunting.  Being on constant high-alert, no matter how much sleep I got I could not manage to recharge my batteries.  

That summer we saw fireworks, I ran a 5K on the spur of the moment, we went on a 1600 mile road trip, I took the kids camping, I painted the basement, we entertained company, and more.  But all I remember was constantly having to muster energy hour by hour, and really just wanting to sleep all the time. We'd make plans for the evening, and I'd have to take a nap before I felt like I could go. It was kind of like the exhaustion I felt when I was newly pregnant, and I wasn't pregnant.  Combine that with the depression I was already experiencing--with a financially difficult year, moving, and two job changes--I felt like a total mess.

It wasn't until my sister and I compared notes on a new medication we had both tried that I connected the dots.  She had had similar side effects to my mania/exhaustion, and it was like a light-bulb turning on. In June I had started taking Abilify.  Abilify is a medication that is supposed to augment the effect of anti-depressant medications.  Instead, it had the effect on me of amplifying my anxiety and depression, and making me even less energized than my already low-energy self. The same thing had happened to my sister.

Flash-forward to this summer.  I also painted a room, saw fireworks, went hiking, went camping, spent time at the pool, and entertained company.  Yeah, I'm tired, but I feel much different. Looking at the stark contrast from last summer to this has been surprising. I've been able to enjoy family activities and work on projects without completely depleting myself.  I may not be the most energetic person to begin with, and I have had depression for a long time, but I feel more like myself now than I did a year ago.

I just keep looking back at last summer as lost time.  Everything that has happened this year seems to be defined by how it is different, and better, from last year.  My Abilify trial (and failure) has created a reference point for me.

Since then, I have found a good balance of medications that allows me to be functional, happy, and hopeful, and I feel a little bit like me!


Thom and Jamie Stansfield said...

Yay! I'm so happy for your success! I hope it continues for years to come!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you are feeling so much better. Enjoy every minute of the summer with those cute kids. We wish we could be there to share some of it with you.

Dad & Mom

Rebecca Reid said...

That is the worst part of depression...that you can't get back the time. It's like you were in the dark and the light comes on. I just think of life in terms of "and it came to pass...." Those dark days do pass. It's hard to look back and remember when Paul was 1-3 and I was in a similar state, but now I can make up for it a little bit. Hang in there. I am glad you are better this summer.