Day 33: Area 6, I See You Making Changes

I can’t believe I have written like, 50 posts on this topic. How I am still not famous I don’t even know.

Anyway I have 4 more sessions. And I’m feeling A-MAAAAY-ZING AND ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

amazing.gif

Source

Just kidding. Don’t worry. TMS does not turn you into that type of person. Certainly, you can have moments like that, but you’re not walking around like Pollyanna 24:7, unless that’s what you’re aiming for. In which case yeah, you can probably eventually get yourself there, and you do you. Personally, after what I’ve been through and seen and given the state of the world, I find acting that way somewhat delusional. But if I wanted to? Well…I’m seeing that I maybe have the tools- and therefore, the choice- now. Whereas before, I simply had no chance…not even for a moment.

Unfortunately, TMS does not automatically make me the kind of person who jumps out of bed all ZIP-BE-DEE-DOO-DAH with a ton of energy. It didn’t go that far. I’m still super tired, and I know I say that in every goddamn post, but I’m here to report a truthful experience, and the truth is I am still not a morning person. So there you go.

ashrug

Source

Today Angela and I both muse about how nice it would be to be lying on a beach somewhere. We are both summer people and both can’t wait for it to get here already. She sets me up.

For whatever reason- maybe it’s because I’m tired- the first sequence hits hard.

train

My hand twitches something fierce, like Thing having a seizure.

athing.gif

Source

(This is a more chill Thing).

But the rest of me doesn’t jump, because I suppress it. I don’t like Angela seeing me jump. She worries, and then is all like, “You take your medication today? Try to relax.” Then I feel like a pussy. I mean, I’m on session 33 for fuck’s sake, I shouldn’t be jumpy.

Today, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac on the YouTube. Perfect.

When I am done, I feel pretty good. I realize it’s the third session in a row for this, and I make note of it. Again, external, environmental factors help; there is an Americana singer-songwriter on the train that lifts my spirits, who I am surprised to see this far down the subway line. It seems like he’d be too cool to be down this way- I didn’t think any hipster came that far out on any subway line unless it’s The Great Gray Corridor.

atrain.gif

Source

Perhaps he just came in from Portland and doesn’t know where the cool areas are yet.

apicle

Source

I catch my reflection in the subway window. I look casually cute today. No makeup, but the hair is pretty alright. That’s a step up, considering I usually look rather beat this time of day.

I do ok until lunch. Then I find myself sitting near a woman on the phone with someone or other- I think it’s her man- talking about her lunch and what kind of sandwich she’s having. At first, I am irritated. Who wastes phone minutes talking about bullshit? Who does that? Who is it that gives a flying fuck about your sandwich?

But the anger doesn’t stick today. It comes to me…it’s not about the damn sandwich. It’s about human connection. She’s just connecting with someone and the truth is, this one ain’t exactly changing the world right now and the sandwich is the only thing she has to talk about at the moment. And someone cares enough to hear her talk about her mozz and pesto on a roll. I think, given the context of the conversation, that other person actually asked what she was eating.

I laugh about the idea of not only texting LT about my sandwich, but also blatantly stating the I-Want-To-Connect subtext, as I have a habit of doing when I think he doesn’t get something (he gets things more often than he lets on…he just sometimes is very good at pretending not to). LT would probably find me to be a wacko or a loser or both. And I realize.

I miss having someone who gave a goddamn about what I’m having for lunch. Or if they don’t care, who will pretend they do, because they know I just want to connect with them, just want to hear their voice, just want out of the isolation that a job that encourages limited social interaction lends itself to. And I’m not sure I will have that again. This kinda thing always results in X resentment. I hope X doesn’t take for granted that he was able to jump straight from one person who cared about his lunches to another, without ever having to feel the loneliness of examining his own sandwich, not that he ever ate sandwiches because GRAINS ARE BAD, but, you get what I’m saying.

Anyway, for now, I guess I better get used to talking to myself about my damn sandwiches.

Area 6: I See You Making Little Changes.

Day 32: Area 6, Is This Our New Normal?

A lot of lateness lately on my part. Because I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Seriously, I don’t know why I am so fuuuucking tired every morning.

act.gif

Source

I imagine that waking up to the prospect of going to work to do the same thing, the same thing I do every day, grinds me down; not a whole lot I can do about this. It may also be because I’m just so worn out from going to TMS, every week, twice a week, early in the morning, as a not-morning-person. The novelty wears off, and I know I’m in the home stretch. It’s just a nuisance of an appointment now that cuts into precious sleep.

I am especially exhausted this morning, and desperately need a pick-me-up. I ask Angela for “house music”. Angela has no idea what I’m talking about. After some explanation, we settle on the descriptor “dance music” and…what I get is a Saturday night in a taxi KTU mix. Oh well.

aclub.gif

Source

Be careful what you wish for, but also be careful what you bitch about, because the music cuts out- some internet problem- and now I have nothing. Now I’m longing for KTU garbage, because even that is better than silence (I maintain that Steely Dan or The Eagles is not). I am left to my own thoughts. I was listening to Hideaway by Kiesza this morning, and it’s stuck in my head. It reminds me of LT.

Dammit. Now I’m daydreaming about LT. I do not want to daydream about LT. He takes up enough real estate in my brain as it is, and though he’s cute as a button, it’s still annoying that he doesn’t pay even half the rent.

I try to make my mind blank. Just be.

abruce.gif

Source

And like that, it’s over and I’m out of the chair.

Strangely, I feel pretty good after today. I can’t 100% attribute this to TMS. Some of it is environmental, external. It’s at least a semi-warm day where I won’t be fucking freezing waiting for the (elevated) train. I decide to stop in Dunkin for coffee (I’m not supposed to have it pre-TMS), and see a man passed out over his newspaper, mid-penstroke, various classified ads circled. As I often do when I’m reflecting on mental health, mental states, all this…I wonder what his story is. Do you ever do that?

Do you ever peer over the shoulder of a passed out stranger to see what ads they’ve been circling in their newspaper? No? Just me?

This entry is a shorty, as I don’t really have much more to say about the session today. If anything, it illustrates how, at a certain point, being a TMS patient becomes a new normal, just something else you integrate into your weekly routines. I try to remember how fortunate I am to be able to receive this treatment because I have insurance and that insurance covers it, while trying not to get too angry about the fact that there are so many people who cannot. I try to cheer myself on about how hard I’m trying.

But it’s not easy. I can’t say I have a ton of outside validation, and so it being this private thing I don’t talk about with anyone makes it difficult to be all rah-rah about it. It seems like this, I don’t know, shameful thing at times that I have to keep to myself. We’ve already been over the LT thing, and my closest friends are still in my life, but they’ve dropped off just a bit, having recently dealt with Me In Crisis. They rarely ask me about TMS, even though it’s a chunk of my weekly time…it’s just not a thing we talk about. Maybe it’s because it is a reminder of the past, and they just want to move on and forget about that part of my history…believe that I’m all better now. That I don’t need them now. That I don’t have a long-term thing. That I am normal.

Oh my dears, I am anything but normal.

aeye.gif

Source

But so, not talking about TMS- or even depression- with anyone, it’s like this isolated part of me. I don’t know what I’d do without this blog. I know people “ghost read” it. Either you like me or you like my writing or the content or who knows what, but at least it’s some sort of outside connection in terms of this treatment being a part of my life. So thanks for reading what you’re reading right now.

I’ll close this out with an article on ketamine for treating depression, a reflection of my ongoing interest in developing “as needed/one shot” medication therapies for depression. Ketamine has shown to wipe out suicidal ideation in a matter of hours. Give it a read.

Area 6, Is This Our New Normal?

Day 31: Area 6, We Are Not Uncomplicated

Day 31:

Doc Magnets is at TMS today. Apparently my settings have to be checked over, etc. Doc Magnets puts on Zeppelin.

azep.gif

Source

Doc Magnets has good taste.

For the first time, I notice other patients in the waiting room. Normally there is no one because I’m the first of the day. These two are polar opposites of each other. One looked very nervous (first timer?)

akerm.gif

Source

And one is falling asleep (old veteran?)

acat

Source

It makes me think about my own journey, how I started out panicked, but never really made it to the falling-asleep stage, instead settling into a mild anxiety every time I got in the chair. Not because the treatment scared me, but because I felt like so much rode on it succeeding. It makes me wonder about other people’s journeys- how they felt starting out, how they were at the end. Some people must have gotten better, or insurance would never have approved a non-pharmaceutical treatment. Where are those people now? Did they stay better? What changed in their lives? And what about those that did not? Where are they? Did they try again? Try something new? What happened to them?

There isn’t much more to say about today’s TMS appointment, besides those lingering questions. So I’ll steer off on another topic (as I’ve been wont to do). I’m very interested in the effects of psychedelics on depression. I mention this in my last post to where I was talking to Spice about it. I’ve since done more research; more articles here, here and here. There are even nonprofits, including MAPS and HRI devoted to medical use of psychedelics in mental health, going for whatever angle they think is most likely to get through the regulatory process (MAPS primarily focuses on MDMA for PTSD, HRI on psilocybin for depression in cancer patients).

I’m even more convinced that the illegality of psychedelics is utter bullshit and in fact, a detriment to society, preventing us from what we could be. Terence McKenna put it like so: “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing.”

Another big reason the progress is slow on the legality of psychedelics is that they can’t be patented anymore, so drug companies aren’t interested because they can’t make money off of them. Not to mention that they are not daily maintenance drugs, but more on an as needed basis- sometimes they’re even just a one shot deal.

People are struggling and sometimes dying. But the drug companies, well, they can’t make money off of what could be one-shot deals.

apill.gif

Source

Readers, this makes me very, very angry.

And the more I learn…the angrier I am at Spice for not hearing me out. For dismissing my interest as “trying to be edgy”.

FUCK. THAT.

afuck

Source

It hurts. A lot. Now, I understand concerns about legality. That’s valid. But if you know me, you know that I consider major depressive disorder to be very, very serious, with a huge negative impact on our society as a whole. And if someone wants something to help them with their condition and the law hasn’t caught up yet, because the law is controlled by big companies that are controlled by rich people- who NO DOUBT are using those very substances to help their own mental health if they need it (while making it difficult to obtain for us plebes), I support that.

It feels like a punch to the gut if anyone who truly cares about me and my wellbeing won’t at least hear these arguments of mine out, and claim my reasoning to be superficial, as opposed to a genuine attempt to fix my brain when therapy and medication haven’t worked, the jury is still out on TMS, and ECT has too many disturbing side effects. Even old-school old-timers I’ve talked to, while they don’t agree with me 100%, understand the logic of my arguments.

Spice and I haven’t been in touch since that argument, that triggered that awful episode I had. I felt abandoned by him, who I considered one of my closest allies.

I’m not sure what to do.

aunsure

Source

This is probably not uncommon in people with depression, desperately seeking out remedies for their broken and hurting brains that are unconventional. Bear in mind that for the unconventional outlier of the mainstream, conventionality can be hard to achieve, because conventionality seems to hinge on- in this country- exhausting efforts by people like me to minimize fear (we stigmatize that which we don’t understand and thus, experience fear, as a defense mechanism), and what makes money (watch the drug companies ask the chem labs for something that’s like psilocybin, but is not psilocybin, so they can make money off of it). It’s terrible when you feel like it isn’t enough to be trying to help yourself get better; it also has to be within very strict parameters…parameters set by the powers-that-be that, quite honestly, don’t even care about me.

And what if your therapists were garbage and meds didn’t do shit? Well, conventionally thinking people don’t have answers for you. They just say go to the hospital and don’t kill yourself, profoundly lacking the understanding of how bad of a scenario that really is.

If you are depressed, as you fight this disorder, there are some people- good, well meaning people- who aren’t going to understand your journey, and they’re going to lash out or maybe just leave you. They cannot deal (they should not have to if there is abuse involved; but may not be able to deal with you even if you are not abusive, just depressed). Know that this may not necessarily be forever- you might reintegrate those people if you so choose later on, once you are more on track. There are people who simply cannot cope with the symptoms of depression; even your spouse may not be able to, after pledging forever to you in front of your whole community. That huge step may not even be enough to stand together to battle this illness. You have to let these people go.

alet.gif

Source

Know that these aren’t necessarily bad people. They’re a product of our misunderstanding as a society of mental illness, which manifests in an insistence that we must have smiles on our faces, all the time- even if they are manufactured. This perpetuates ignorance, intolerance and dismissal of those with mood disorders.

And this is what motivates me to keep writing. A huge part of why my blog exists is to try help destigmatize this medical condition by 1) clearing up misunderstandings 2) explaining the biological basis as best I can 3) highlighting the contributions to society one prone to depression can actually make 4) helping the depressed, or those involved with the depressed, feel less alone 5) challenging the aforementioned norms 6) applauding and encouraging further efforts by those trying to get well and 7) being interesting to make it all more palatable.

In this little corner of the blogoverse, to whoever is reading.

abat

(I wish)

Source

So then, to the depressed: regarding those people who HAVE stuck by you, who have listened (not necessarily agree) without attacking you, who have dealt with your bullshit for months or sometimes years…I know how depression sucks you into yourself, but I hope this little bit sticks in your subconscious…value those people. Hold to those people. Sometimes they are going to get exhausted and they will let you down. But if they don’t leave you…know that you owe them big because sometimes you are tough to be around. In your well moments, show them gratitude. Know their efforts matter. Remember that they matter so much, they very well may have saved your life.

To the non-depressed: I know it’s hard. But try not to abandon your depressed friend, lover, or family member. Distance yourself when you must for self-preservation, but don’t stay away for good. Hear them out. Listen to what they have to say, especially if it’s in the context of getting better. Always, always support efforts to get well, even if you question the methods. Do your own homework before criticizing the avenues your depressed loved one is exploring, unless you already have and know for damn sure it’s harmful. Even then, if you must steer them away from something you know for a fact is harmful (like, I don’t know, spending 1K they don’t have on a BS psychic or something),

afortune

Source

do so gently while emphasizing how proud you are of them for trying. Help them get help with their depression, because it’s hard for a depressed person to overcome the shame of what they have, and the overwhelmingness of getting help. It feels monumental to pull it together and find a way out of the hole as it is, the last thing they need is to feel shot down by someone they thought they could trust.

I don’t know what’s going to come of Spice and I. I’m not sure when or if we ever will be in touch again. Given our history, that stings. And it stings that it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. Do I even want to be friends with someone like that, who seems ambivalent about being in my life? Right now I don’t want to speak to him and he clearly does not want to speak to me. Maybe we’ll eventually make amends, maybe not. For now, I will focus my efforts on those I feel I can still trust…

Area 6, We Are Not Uncomplicated.

If anyone has further thoughts on how one can best cope with and support a complicated, depressed loved one, feel free to post in the comments.

Day 29: Area 6, Who We Gonna Call

acat4

acat3

acat2

acat1

This is how I wake up this morning. The other day I had a pretty bad episode, and while the worst is over, and I’m up, and I’m functioning, and I’m on my way to TMS, I’m still in not in good shape psychologically. After one of these things, there are about 2, 3 days where I’m still vulnerable, where I have to be vigilant. Part of that is reaching out to the support network. Problem is, mine is kind of hit-or-miss. I had friends there for the worst, but the worst was so bad that it seemed once the biggest of crises was over, they drifted away. The whole thing was unexpected for them, and very rough. I guess they thought I was ok now, 3 months later, and I was too embarrassed to reach out to them and say, “I’m still struggling with this. I don’t want to go down that road again”. I should not be, but there were a couple times when I had reached out that way, a couple months back, and they were…less responsive, than when things had reached a crucial head. This is a thing that happens, that I’m sure depressed people can relate to. It sucks, but then you have to just step back, and turn to new and/or different friends.

Which means sharing your deeply personal story again and again and again

ahead

Source

(it might be part of the reason I have this blog), wishing there wasn’t such a stigma, knowing there damn well is stigma and hoping to God they don’t share your personal details with other people.

Problem is, even if I could count on literally anyone I know to pick up the phone if they saw it ring, it’s 7:45 AM and every one of my friends right now is either in transit, getting ready to be or sleeping.

Except the LT. I know the LT is at work already, and would answer my text. But I still don’t know the LT all that well, and I’m afraid to reach out. Not only do I not know the LT well, but also it is this not-serious, tenuous thing…I know he probably has an expiration date, but I don’t want to drive him away just yet with my realness. I feel like mornings with him can’t be calling and asking for support. I feel like mornings with him can only be like

amorning.gif

Source

I wish I could call the LT. I wish we were like

asad.gif

Source

But even my friends know the deal and are like

asex.gif

Source

Sometimes I wonder if it would’ve been better if we’d never been involved, if I’d met him at the laundromat or a local bar and we had become platonic friends. Then there wouldn’t be all this tip-toeing around and feeling like I have to put my best foot forward or he’ll freak out and stop talking to me. We could just be real.

I hate dating. I want to fall in love with a friend.

I hate that it’s 7:45 AM and there is no one else to call. I wish there was someone to call.

I get to TMS and I have to fill out something called the phq9 for insurance purposes, which is a test that basically asks, So, How Bad Are You Really? I check my score on my phone which shows that I am Moderately Depressed. I’m not thrilled. I can only say it is an improvement from my Severely Depressed at the start of this process.

Angela puts on YouTube and at some point I get R.E.M. Guess which song I got! No, not this one. This one would have actually felt comforting.

Nope, it was this one. The one R.E.M. song I despise.

Sometimes I wonder if that song is supposed to be a joke. I can’t believe it’s something we should actually take seriously unless we are rolling on Molly or incredibly stupid. (ETA: I google this later and find it is indeed meant ironically…but there are a helluva lotta people that’s lost on so…I still hate it). I want to throw a bowling ball at the TV.

asmash

Some other stuff comes on but it’s all rounded out by Hotel California and I want to scream through my mouthguard. I can’t stand The Eagles and I can’t stand that song.

But eventually it ends, as most bad things do.

arelief.gif

Source

After TMS, I race to the train, only to get stuck behind folks casually ambling side by side, with apparently no particular place to be at any particular time. After two “Excuse Me”‘s that yield only dumbfounded looks but no actual movement of asses out of the way, the best I can do is one last “I’m trying to make that one” as I shove past. I take the stairs two by two shouting “Man in the green sweatshirt, will you please hold the door?” because if you don’t call on someone specifically, everyone will just look at you with that same mouthbreather stare like “Does she mean me?” and not hold the fucking door. Thankfully, Green Sweatshirt has the sense to do this.

I am aggravated and cranky. It is not even 9 AM.

It is 9AM and I am feeling goddamn sad, and everyone is at work or on their way, and there is no one I can call.

adepressed.gif

Source

I know. I know. I’ve been very depressed for like, 6 months now! Severely so for half of that. I know that’s super inconvenient. I feel like a burden, even though I am merely Moderately Depressed now, and don’t need anyone to come to my rescue anymore, I just want someone to pick up their phone. That is a thing I still need.

I make a note to pick up the phone when a depressed friend calls in the future, because this is awful.

aphone.gif

Source

I wish there was someone to call.

Day 28: Area 6…Area 6…Oh, Area 6….

I didn’t know how else to start this post, other than with this preface. I’m looking back at the notes I wrote on the day, and I am dismayed. Intellectually, I know TMS may not be my miracle treatment; intellectually, I know this has become more about the journey than the final results. Still, I can’t help but feel, though I’m doing all I can to be well, that any level of backslide is a letdown to my readers. It’s a product of our society; we crave that happy ending. That neatly tied up conclusion. Fair warning, there is a degree of struggle in this post. I never promised a perfect, linear course; nonetheless, given the aforementioned, I wanted to give that heads up. I’m still here, still writing in the present day…that’s about all the comfort I can give at the moment. I guess it’s important to note that, like struggles with grief, addiction, etc., progress is rarely linear. There are ups and downs. This was a down moment. But it’s important to include it, because after all, this ain’t no movie script…it’s real life. To the story:

 Today Angela treated me to a little GnR. November Rain, to be exact. The irony of a distraught man having nightmares after his bride was killed- while I’m receiving a treatment for major depressive disorder- is not lost on me. I have two solaces. One is- not to mock your pain, Axl- the corny, unconvincing theatrics of those late night and funeral scenes. The other is the wedding, because I love weddings, especially this one, because Slash plays a guitar solo outside the chapel (that is laughably small from the exterior, considering it’s like a cathedral on the inside).

Have you seen this video? If not, you should. It’s really a short film with music. Beautifully done.

But GnR isn’t really what I was thinking to write about today. I was thinking about writing about something else.

“What something else?”

Well. Um.

Oh God this is always so awkward.

aawkward

Source

I always hate having to admit in the blog to any sort of regression. And yet. Here we are. I’m writing about suicidal ideation today.

Yeah, I know. Anyway, the last post covered an occurrence that made me feel…inconsequential. Erased. There is perhaps nothing worse, feeling like you’ve been abandoned. And I don’t just mean by X. I mean, by anyone who claimed to care about me and what the divorce did to me, who have- merely a few months in- since promptly gone on to cheer on his wacky, bewildering journey that involves him doing exactly everything (and, ahem, the one) he swore he wouldn’t do. So many people, not able to reconcile his great joy with what the cost was to me- inconvenient me, with my embarrassing feelings- just…walked away. They just walked away. All those people. All those people I trusted. I bet no one said a word about the public gloating. It is easier to pretend I don’t really exist outside of social media.

Depression thrives on this sort of isolation.

ahallway

Source

I’m going to get into some sticky territory. But we have to drag these things out of the dark corners they’re relegated to, or we’ll never understand them, and as long as that’s the case, we’ll be terrified of them. Being terrified means we won’t speak of them, outside of that hushed-tone way…and a big part of this blog is about destigmatization. Stigma doesn’t help anyone.

arecord

Source

(Ugh. I sound like a broken record.)

Well, here we go.

Putting it bluntly, I had my first suicidal ideation in a very long time. Last night. What does that mean? Suicidal ideation means thoughts of suicide. To be clear, it does not mean suicidal intent, and there is a big difference. And now at this time, I find myself running through my head right now The Questions the Therapists Ask. One such question:

“Do You Have a Method?”

Yes, actually, there is a method. That method has been established since the month before I broke down last fall. Because I am a planner and I am a pussy about pain. Not sharing further on that, thanks.

“Do You Have a Time and Date?”

No, no time and date. That there, a schedule, that’s the true sign of suicidal intent. When it’s an appointment on the calendar. So no, I would not say I have active suicidal intent.

Let me talk about distinguishing between suicidal ideation and intent, because I think these two things get conflated at times. And it’s really important to know how they are different…and indeed, how they look different- at least, when it comes to me, and potentially a lot of other people. This matters, what signs to be on the lookout for, because obviously we don’t want people to kill themselves.

Here’s how suicidal ideation and being acutely suicidal often differ. The states of mind feel very, very different.

Suicidal ideation: There is a lot of psychological pain. This is because I’m fighting the thoughts. They’re admittedly quite strong and shockingly horrific in their intentions, because humans are generally programmed to be horrified by being destroyed. The impact of this bewildering- dare I say, robustness- of depression’s (not my) conviction is enough to leave me gasping for air, push me to the ground, leave me not just sobbing, but howling, pulling and scratching at…whatever. My sheets, the carpet, my clothes, my skin. Weakened, helpless.

acat

Source

Oh I’m sorry, did I startle you with imparting the particulars of my illness? Many apologies. Just kidding I’m not sorry. Get used to it. It’s an awful thing to have, and a lot of people have it, and we’re talking frankly about the shit it does.

I’m about to knock you off kilter again. That aforementioned, disturbing episode of a psychologically tormented human? That’s…actually a good thing. For me, anyway.

Here’s why. It means I’m reacting in a resistant way to what’s happening to me. It means I’m kicking and screaming inside. It means I’m fighting. And fighting….fighting is a good thing.

So what does bad look like?

Suicidal intent: It does not look like fighting. It is beyond the pain of fighting and moves into the territory of resignation. It looks like cooperation. It looks like the army that has surrendered and is now trudging, zombie like, towards wherever the enemy says it has to.

awar

Source

It looks like being an accessory to the…well…

It looks cool, calm, and collected. That is the emotional state of someone who has a plan to- excuse the choice of words but…execute. As a natural born planner, I’d have to have a certain amount of togetherness in order to do such an extreme thing. I’d have to have a certain level of detachment to disassociate myself from how terrible it really is. Beyond the plan itself, and the prep work of settling affairs, nothing else matters. There is no left over energy to devote to crying. There is very little fear. When there is very little fear, it is often too late; only something circumstantial could work as a lifeline. Someone found the perfect words, the perfect action…the point is, it’s a hell of a lot harder to combat the depression of someone with intent.

This stage- where depression has its grip on one totally- is where there is commitment to the plan, and part of that commitment is lying to everyone around you about your plan, because they will attempt to stop said plan. This is why often, No One Saw It Coming. If you know someone who was in a really bad bad emotional state recently, and then suddenly, they seem almost disassociated…too content, very much in their own world for no discernible reason (i.e., they weren’t just on a week-long ashram retreat or something), in the moment to where they don’t talk about the future…or suddenly pick themselves off the floor after pounding their fists and screaming about suicide, with a startling, fresh focus to go somewhere alone…yes, you need to worry then, and keep an eye on them.

I know that sounds awful, because you can’t know for sure they’re experiencing intent. But that’s my point, you see. That’s why we need to see ideation for what it is- an expression of an illness, not something to be so horrified by that we just avoid people going through it. We should help people going through that.

This minimizes the chances of the individual ever crossing over into intent. The frenzied, turbulent chaos of suicidal ideation is the thing that seems to scare people. But in reality, to me, it’s actually less frightening, because it is merely an expression of pain. A lot of people have trouble with seeing that, but I don’t. I wish fewer did. Consider the alternative to the howling and writhing in resistance to the pain- someone calmly, unblinkingly stepping off the edge of a cliff. The latter is far more disturbing, because you cannot come back from that.

More reason, when you are in a balanced state of mind, to try not to feel scared and helpless when someone is experiencing a depressive episode involving ideation: ideation is far less focused. Given that so many psychological (and physical) resources are devoted to expressing pain in that state, one has less of a chance of the suicide being carried out. There are just fewer resources to draw on. And in a severe episode, suicidal thoughts generally do not adhere to a time and a place that makes sense. It is a voice I do not agree with that screams at me, “DO IT HERE AND NOW”. Which, though extremely upsetting, is- for me- ridiculous. I mean, what if I’m in an office building and the only option is to be a jumper, which would create a huge mess and there’s those 3 agonizing seconds of falling and of course, you can fail? Being hardwired to plan and keep things tidy, this is not a thing I see myself doing.

What we don’t want is so many episodes where someone doesn’t get help, that they cross over into intent, because the pain of the episodes day after day is just Too. Fucking. Much.

I would try to explain all this to therapists, but the second you even say you have a method, in ya go to the ambulance, then they lock you up somewhere, where you don’t get better via say, individual therapy….you just have to do arts and crafts, eat far worse food than you’d choose for yourself, and also don’t have access to things like shoelaces, computers, phones, fresh air, and other things that will totally kill you. It makes me want to make the joke that they don’t have to deny me access to those things, because literally none of those objects are a part of my method.

ahorror

Source

Dark, I know.

But sometimes we make these jokes. To cope. But back to the subject at hand, “You say to help, but how?”

Good question. I know that if I feel I am in danger, I am far better off in terms of recovering in my home, as long as someone is there. I tell you this because it’s something to think about when you offhandedly recommend someone call the hotline, because That’s What You Do…which can lead to involuntary commitment if the caller says the wrong thing. Which (depending on the hospital, I suppose, although you don’t get to choose if you’re involuntarily committed) often does more harm than good (why? that’s another post, but just trust me, I’ve done my homework). I mean, if there are no other options and the person is alone then yes, the hotline, but if it’s possible for someone to just simply be there in that suicidal person’s comfort zone (usually home), do that, if you can make it there and mentally handle it. Sometimes that’s all the person needs, is the presence of another person.

Of course, a person behaving psychotically (speaking nonsense, intense paranoia, hallucinating, etc.) or violently towards others is another can of worms, but I don’t have experience in those areas. I’d venture to say most suicidal people are not those things. They just feel alone and inconsequential and hopeless, which causes the emotional pain. The presence of another helps dispel these notions.

ahug.gif

Source

Listen, I’m aware there are a lot of generalizations up there and what I’m saying can’t apply to literally every situation you can think of. All I’m saying is there is 1) an alternative way to look at things other than E’erbody Call the 911, and I’m explaining why that makes sense…2) That we need to try not to be freaked out by extreme displays of emotion, and I give reasons as to why it’s better to keep a cool head and face the ideation problem head on instead of avoiding it.

And so. Back to today. Seeing as I am, at the moment, on the side of Ideation Mountain and not looking to find my way in Intention Valley, I do turn to someone. That person talks me down. That’s all I really need. All I need is to know I am loved, that not everyone has gone crazy and adapted this new normal that X &…eh, let’s call her “O” for fun (because omg you guys THEY ARE THE PERFECT COUPLE SOOOO “X&O”, GET IT??!!) have whipped up to suit their purposes, because not doing so- asking questions- means being uncomfy. There are people who can deal with the uncomfy reality of the abandoned ex-wife that is me. I am lucky these people exist, and I do not take them for granted. I would do anything for them.

I recover, I pick myself up the floor, I give the depression a gentle beatdown with the- excuse me if this sounds corny- newfound power I have, fueled by outside love and support. I am frustrated, because this isn’t supposed to be happening. But if I look at it objectively and simply say, Welp, this is what it is, I admit I have a small amount of pride that I knew just what to do to counter Maj and send her back down to the pool  where she belongs.

I don’t know what to say about the fact that I’m on Day 28 and this still happens. All I can tell you is that TMS is not necessarily a miracle cure, episodes happen a lot less, and when they do, I handle them better. Maybe this isn’t the perfect solution for me. Or maybe I will just need a second round. Maybe my brain will always struggle with emotions. Maybe the balance I have found will make it easier for me to look into other treatments so I don’t struggle. The point is, it’s better than before, when I had no idea what I was doing. It really is.

Those who have been suicidal may very well be nodding with a certainly level of understanding right now,

amariah.gif

Source

so I hope those who have experienced intense ideation feel a little less alone. And those of you who thankfully have not, I hope you’ve come out from underneath your chairs

aduck

Source

and gained some perspective in terms of what to fear and what to merely be on guard with, should you have a suicidal loved one. And if God forbid you are in that situation, what you can do that will help them.

Which is often a simpler solution than we realize. Sometimes all that’s needed is not a phone call to have that person taken away, but something as simple as patience, objectivity, and compassion. And yet, sometimes those things are a lot harder to do than what you thought you should be doing.

Yeah. I get that.

Next post: Day 29: Area 6, Who We Gonna Call.

Day 26: Pull Me Into Focus

My session is not interesting today. Angela pops on the helmet, straps me in, in goes the mouthguard, on goes some 60s rock. I dig. The pulses begin. Series of 30, 55 times.

abam copy

I used to count them more because I couldn’t wait to get it over with, but they don’t really hurt now, I’m used to it, so I daydream. Mostly ruminating over what I can do about the fact that lately I feel like a fumbling, bumbling puppy.

apupper

Source

Clumsy. Scattered. Unfocused. I’ve always sorta had issues with focus but lately it’s ridiculous. I should clarify, I don’t have any problem on focus when it comes to the LT; the dopamine and norepinephrine  rushes as of late take care of that. What I mean is, I’m less focused on the right things, to the detriment of things such as Hey Where Did I Put My Keys. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a thing TMS fixes. I have to. And I’m giving myself a good talking to in the chair. He is young and fickle and carefree and will be careless when it comes to matters  of the heart and I say to myself

acalm

Source

I don’t like this phase. It’s making me anxious. Most importantly, I don’t want to lose focus on the importance of my writing due to temporary excitement. The person won’t last- people often don’t- writing is mine always. Even though I’m not sure this is part of its job description, I still find myself begging Area 6 to pull my attention into tighter focus…

afocus

Source

on the right things.

Lost in thought, the session is over sooner than I expected. I leave a little frustrated; I have this whole blog about TMS…of course I want to be that classic success story. But that “lift” TMS patients talk about, that happens about session 20…I’ve had no discernible “lift”. No defining clarifying moment in my brain where the clouds part. I’d be lying if I said I’ve now transitioned to a general sense of well-being (and I know how “well-being” feels, because I’ve caught glimpses of it; i’s truly an incredible state of mine to be in). It’s how I guess most people generally feel? And I wonder how it would feel to be that way…generally.

Yesterday I talked to another friend who has depression; I tell him I haven’t hit “the dark place” since that trigger in late January.  I gotta see that as progress. And I don’t know what to attribute that to other than this treatment, because therapy doesn’t seem to do a damn thing. But mostly I’m tired and anxious because there’s just so much going on for me to deal with, a lot of stemming from how my life changed radically just a few months ago. That being said, I do have my up moments, when I’m around good, supportive people…and yeah, sometimes even when I’m alone. So, I don’t feel like a total failure. I guess I just thought I’d be further along by now. I am the mother wondering why her inner baby hasn’t started walking yet by the first birthday. Like I feel like I’m so close, I have it in my hand, and yet…

ababy

Source

I wish I had something more uplifting to say to you today. This clumsy entry, not the crown jewel of my posts, I wish it had more to offer (but isn’t that life? A parade of mostly mediocre events, marked by the occasional spikes of memorable highs and lows). I guess all I can say is to take into consideration the progress you do make in treating your depression. If you’re treatment resistant, despite all your best efforts, don’t blame you (I mean, what’s productive about that anyway?)- blame, I don’t know, blame modern medicine for not being quite there yet.

amed

Source

Give yourself credit for your attempts to get better, even if no one around you will because they don’t know jack about going through it in the clinical, long-term sense (or, in some cases, after having rejoined the happy masses, have made themselves forget) and just want you to be “normal” like, now.

I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if this post didn’t exactly stir something profound within or give much of The Oomph or The Feels, but as I churn these out, there’s always hope for a future more engaging read, yeah?

#myownworstcritic

Area 6, Pull Me Into Focus.

afocus.jpg

 

 

Day 25: Area 6, I Just Want to Hang in the Balance

I mention something about the blog today, some note or something or other I’m taking. Angela asks me about the name of the blog. Eek! Nope. Not ready.

aeek.gif

Source

Subject changes, Angela then gives me tips on how to get out of jury duty.

How am I today? Super scattered. But can’t I give myself a break, even if a lotta people won’t, holding me up to the standard of a not-depressed person? Because for someone who’s juggling a job, and my side jobs, and this blog, and this treatment, and a social life, and downtime, and other creative pursuits no one seems to want to stop reminding me I should also be doing, I’ve got a lot on my plate. And honestly, I know people who are doing just fine emotionally, who are far more cognitively scattered than I am, on the regular. Example: have you seen how tourists- and I’m not talking ESL, but rather, English speaking tourists- order at a Starbucks in Manhattan? It’s like the most complicated, bewildering endeavor they’ve ever been known to undertake.

astarbucks

Placidly, unapologetically. Like it’s totally cool. I do not understand how you hold down a job if you cannot order coffee. I sometimes am feeling like I’m literally falling apart at the seams, but usually I still have the wherewithal to order coffee. Because other people are waiting. If I cannot manage to order coffee in a timely fashion, I do not order coffee. Because other people are waiting.

Also, several rich people I’ve worked for. All the assistants in the world cannot seem to pull them out of perpetual confusion. To be sure, they annoy. And yet! How well tolerated one is, when one has money and clout.

I’m well aware I’m ranting, and this seems to have little to do with TMS. But in a way, it does, because TMS has to do with my depression, and a part of my depression is that I’m frustrated when with all I’m doing, I’m often called upon to DO MORE, and I wanna be like, My Brain Is Undergoing Some Rewiring, I Am Actively Working On It, Give Me A Fucking Break, Thank You For Your Patience. Part of it is me. I don’t tell everyone. I bet if you’re depressed and have very little money and/or clout to ensure a degree of tolerance, you don’t either. Because then the pendulum swings

apend.gif

And it’s like, “Oh, then you must be capable of hardly anything. Looks like we’ll have to keep a close eye on you.”

aeyeroll.gif

Source

Oh, good Lord. This is so prevalent in American culture, thinking in extremes. It’s always either the end of the world, or the beginning.

Anyway, I’m spaced out today and yeah, I did something flaky, I left my wallet at home. Angela lends me cash so I can get a Metrocard because she’s super cool and she trusts me. I also had no way to pay the cab driver when I got there earlier because that’s when I realized I left my wallet at home, and I- this was a first- paid the cab driver with a check. Because he was super cool and trusted me. This reminds me that there are good people in the world who cut slack when you mess up instead of enacting some sweeping character assessment of You As Fuckup, as long as you own the fuckup, apologize and do what you can to fix it.

Ok so that rant’s over.

No sax covers today- Angela fires up YouTube and puts on…DEF LEPPARD! AAAHHHH1111!!!!11!


GIFSoup

Specifically, Animal. Solid tune. And I’m thinking, “Be great if Hysteria came on.” And then- HYSTERIA COMES ON.

And I’m like OhGodILoveThisSongIWannaBeAll

adef.gif

I laugh to myself for a second because I think that if this was a hundred years ago, “Hysteria” would be my diagnosis…which basically meant “sad with woman parts”.

And the next song that comes on is Armageddon and in my head I’m all

adef.gif

And the TMS pulses magically line up with Rick Allen’s drumming

IMG_6071.GIF

And I’m flooded with good memories, drifting back to summers flirting with carnies, wearing

ajean.jpg

strawberry lip gloss, bangs curled and sprayed so expertly you might call it sculpture. Concerts (but never Def Leppard…Sad!), notebook doodles about whoever my crush was at the time, and dreaming of NYC so I could hit CBGB’s every weekend. Angela is a bit older than me, and I wonder if she was one of those teenagers I idolized back then, who, with all my expertise, could still get her hair soooo much more perfect than I could ever hope to. Then I get to thinking about my best friend from back then, how we’d dress alike and go out and lie about our age. She isn’t with us anymore, and I miss her. God I miss her, still after all these years since she passed away, wishing she was still here, so we could talk about back then…

Goddammit. From happy to melancholy again. And yet…that is life. It’s both things. I have to remember that.

I leave and I’m feeling pretty upbeat. My mind starts to wander. Remember the LT from the prior posts? I randomly think to myself that he looks like Prince William, but I make a mental note to clarify that if I tell him this, what I mean is Prince William circa 2005, not present-day Prince William, because there’s a difference. I mean-

awil.jpeg

So, you know. Getting old is a bitch. Unless you’re Prince Harry.

unnamed.jpg

I was thinking if I had more time I would make a chart of William and Harry and how William was super pretty like his mom and Harry looked like a Weasley child and then William started to look like his dad and Harry got rakishly hot. I think if this chart existed, the intersecting point would be about 2009.

I think dumb things like this all the time, but it’s relevant here because I’m happy to know I can think of the LT now with a bit of humor, not be super stressed out, ever since I did that little bit of legwork to help understand why I kind of spazzed on the first date. Maybe I’ll even tell him about the 80s eventually, which, if you missed it, he missed out on. But probably not any time soon. I mean yes, we both know how old I am, but there’s no need to put emphasis on it…I barely know the guy. Funny, he kinda knows about the depression already, but not #my80slyfe. Sometimes I’m incredibly backwards.

But someday, I think, maybe if we hit that infatuation stage, I’ll tell him about how my first hair metal…ahem…cassette tape was in fact Hysteria, and only because in the record store my parents asked the saleslady (I saw her as a “saleslady”, but looking back she was probably only 17) if Appetite for Destruction had swears in it, and she totally sold me out and goes “Yes it has the swears” and I was shooting daggers at her then all ready to throw an Axl-level tantrum like

agnr.gif

Source

But then I chilled and picked out Hysteria and my parents asked if this one had swears and she goes “No it does not have the swears” so they let me have it and…well, I have the sales…girl to thank because I looooved that album (ok she actually said, “It’s pretty clean”, meaning, “no swears”…that being said, the lyrical subject matter was a different story. But at least she kept it vague, so I didn’t end up walking out of there with some NKOTB garbage). I especially loved this song. If LT’s attention span wouldn’t be enough to hold for an entire album (I mean, Millennials, RIGHT?), if I could play one song it would be this one because it just…

…it makes me happy, it makes me kinda sad…a nostalgic summation of preadolescent good times and heartbreak and an appreciation I didn’t have then of how important that time of my life would be and how maybe I wouldn’t have lived it as fully if I was constantly reminding myself to appreciate it but…how I also wish I’d taken just a moment, somewhere, to do just that. #IntentionalRunonSentence

Area 6, I know everything won’t be perfect after this. All I ask for is a little balance.

Day 1: Area 6, Where Are You?

Insurance approves, almost, except for just ooonnne last So…How Bad Are You, Really? pop quiz, conducted over the phone by the practitioner. I don’t need to outline the specific questions; instead I’ll just put it this way: if the DSM-5 is the Holy Bible of psychiatry, this line of questioning is fucking canonical in honing in on a diagnosis.

Just pulling off the road for a second: I do swear a lot in this blog. There is a lot of pain and frustration in this process, and while there may be times I’ll actually take you down very dark (or very bright) hallways, it would be too much if we actually walked down every single one we pass and then hung out there. Still I don’t want to pretend they’re not there either, so My Swears are a form of acknowledging those places whenever this blog drifts past them. If you don’t like them, just replace the naughty words with “Ouch” or “Ouching” in your head when I’m talking about dark hallways, and “Epic” if you were born after 1972 or “Boss” if you were born before 1972 for bright hallways. Ok? Ok.

Anyway, I answer the questions, and by the end of it- having answered most of the questions with “Most of the Days” (other possible answers were “more than half the days, less than half the days, not at all, etc.)- yeah, ok…I’m tearing up. It’s one thing to know you’re in not in too good of shape privately. It’s quite another to say it out loud. I answer these questions out in the hallway at my job and, astoundingly, no one passes by the whole time. Until I hang up and lose it. My saving grace is the fact that while the ladies’ room always has someone in there, the stairwell does not. Sob it out, girl, sob it out. I go to bed early that night.

Good thing too, because the clinic is kind of a hike. And I have to be there at 8 AM. And I am not allowed to have coffee until after the treatment. And I am not a morning person. I blankly stare out the window during most of the subway ride, which is mostly above ground.

Doc Magnets is there, just chilling on the couch. He’s sort of like a youthful Santa, I think, although my brain is probably just making this unimaginative conclusion because he’s heavy and has a big laugh and it’s the holiday season. He’s wearing an argyle sweater that I would really like except that argyle anything sort of stirs up old memories in me that make me sad. My mind is wandering and I push to focus. He has me fill out some paperwork and then I launch right into my questions because…hey, You Know ME!

And he explains a lot of what I’ve already talked about: area 6- specifically the precentral gyrus, sends signals to the hypothalamus. This is sorta what that path looks like:

abrain

He talks about the worn off receptors. He shows me diagrams of the brain. He tells me that the TMS machine sends 35 impulses over the course of 2 seconds, 55 times, with a short break each time. He tells me that they have to find Brodmann area 4 first, which is apparently done by measuring my motor threshold. I am a little lost on the particulars here, but I do pick up on the fact that pulses are administered, and the minimum amount of power necessary to make the hand jump involuntarily- that’s the motor threshold. Measuring that helps Doc Magnets personalize the treatment settings and determine the amount of energy required to stimulate brain cells. I guess that whole rigamarole tells him when they’re hitting Brodmann area 4 just right, as well. From there, it’s just a matter of a measurement to determine exactly where to go on area 6.

Doc Magnets is pretty patient as I hit him with questions while he’s trying to, you know, work. There was someone right after me- so I guess they don’t really build in time for an on-site Q&A; presumably other patients do not get as in-depth with their questions as I do. Perhaps they are intimidated or just don’t care or they just really trust their doctor. I am intimidated too, but I do care and don’t trust anyone, so. I’m sure with everyone else it’s more along the lines of “Will this hurt” and “How long does this shit take”. But I’m cut from a different cloth, and- along the lines of being told “You should be a lawyer!” by my landlord when I question my lease terms, or “You should be a detective!” when investigating the highly plausible scenario that a hospital’s billing department fucked up- Doc Magnets declares somewhere along the way of my line of questioning, “You should be a SCIENTIST!”.

An aside, I’m never quite sure if this is a straight compliment to my inquisitive and thorough nature, or if it’s a backhanded compliment/code for “You’re a pain in the ass”. When I hear this, I often reply that when I was a baby my mother used to leave me outside in a pram and wave colored scarves in front of me because she read somewhere the sensory stimulation was good for early brain development, and that’s what made my brain so GD active and not complacent, so they should totally feel free to pass the credit/blame on to her for my meddlesome nature.

Anyway, the tech- her name is Angela- thinks Doc Magnets’ joke is very funny and she gives this look like “Isn’t he a SCREAM?” Angela thinks Doc Magnets is hilarious in general. Sometimes they speak in Russian and he just seems to have her in stitches.

So anyway, I have to sit down and wear this goofy cap on my head, used for purposes of measuring my skull, to keep the earplugs in (this shit is MRI-level loud), and it also has some chin strap action (I know, I know, try not to get too hot under the collar, boys) that locks in my jaw because once they turn that sucker on, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on. And we’re not even up to full power. The coil is positioned over my head and then it does its thing with the pulses.

Oh, here’s what the setup looks like. We could stand to break up this wall of text with an image anyway- so I can hold your attention, ya squirrels.

abrain

That white thing that looks like a helmet- that goes on the head. That’s where the coils are. The screen in the back shows the settings.

So…what does it feel like, really?

FUCK ME IT’S LIKE TWO GODDAMN WOODPECKERS STRIKING MY HEAD.

Clean version: it’s a hard tapping sensation. It’s uncomfortable.

“Try to relax”, Angela says. Angela will say this many, many more times over the course of treatment, because I never will get used to that first hit. I start counting the seconds in between repetitions- it’s about 12- so at least I know when the next one is coming. But it doesn’t do much for the anxiety- because I still know it’s coming. Except when I don’t, because my mind wanders. But then there it is- BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM (repeat 30 more times real fast) and I damn near jump out of the chair. “Try to relax.” I’m also counting the repetitions themselves. “5 more”, Angela says. “I know”. “You have been counting?” I nod. She finds this funny. I find it funny that anyone wouldn’t keep track just to keep themselves sane. She says that people eventually start napping during the treatment.

Napping. While two woodpeckers nail your head. Every 12 seconds. These people must’ve walked in on Klonopin.

I can’t believe I have to come in for this at least 31 more times. Area 6, Don’t Let Me Down.

 

 

Stigma and Self-Consciousness (Take 2)

I’m supposed to be diving into, you know, personal experience with TMS, aren’t I?

I am. Because that’s what the blog is about.

And yet here I am looking back, just about to jump and-I’m feeling that same feel I felt when writing “Uh Oh, No Going Back Now!”

Self-conscious. Anxious. That stuff.

In my defense, stigma is stigma is stigma. I still feel it. Because as much as I’ve thrown out there about biological bases, as much as I’ve heard “Receptors! Yeah! Totally not your fault!”…still. Something came up in therapy. Unless you’re in crisis, the deal is with our society, people generally just don’t rally around the depressive. Even the recovering one. People are like, scared of that. We’re- on the surface anyway (more on that later)- not what you want to be. In our “don’t stop, don’t think, just go-go-go” society, I’m very conscious of this. Sure, others may find your fight “admirable” but at the end of the day, that love and admiration is too often held at a distance. Too close, and your damage will somehow taint them. This is the stigma I’m talking about. I know it. Been there! Done that! And would you look at that- I even made the t-shirt.

IMG_7881

And even now and then, I’m the one who creates the distance. Sometimes even I love me from a distance (and that’s where the real trouble started).

Because Get Real. Who wants that? Wouldn’t you rather be the Golden Girl? The Golden Boy?

The people, they flock to the Golden Girl, the Golden Boy- the one on Instagram with the sunny smile in the studio with great lighting, without depression. There is good reason why we do this. We are attracted to what we ourselves wish to be. A sunny smile in a sunny studio immediately draws us in.

And you know? I happen to be that person sometimes. #blessed and living that #nyclife. No, I mean really. Sometimes I am. Not just on Instagram. In real life!

But probably not here. Here probably isn’t the place for it. Here is the place to give attention to the other side. This is a space for those who are not Insta-ready. We have a sea of happy faces selling us stuff. But what about the rest of the human condition? So I’m trying to fill a gap. I’m not trying to sell you anything. Except maybe some understanding topped with a dollop of comfort.

Anyway, most people do in fact have that other side. Sundrenched Studio Sam, more than likely, isn’t feeling la-di-fucking-da all the time. Maybe he feels that way never. Maybe he’s living a lie. But do we care? Unless he’s someone very, very dear to us- I guess in the moment when we want to feel good we don’t really care. What matters is that his brand convinces you it’s real.

Now look. I know there are some people that are genuinely Sunny Studio Suzie 24:7, but unless there’s someone in your life that you really care about who is depressed, that’s probably not you, because SSS would likely find reading this blog a real drag. If it is you? SSS, you have your purpose, you really do, and I encourage you to learn what you can and flex your empathy muscles. But- sorry, gal- you probably can’t relate to this stuff (and that’s not your fault, any more than it’s a depressive’s fault for having what they do).

With depression being pretty common, it goes to show that not everyone, all the time, is #blessed and #lovinglife. So where are we supposed to go when we’re not that? Should we isolate ourselves because we are not Smiles and Yays, figuring no one wants to be around us?

That’s not right. There isn’t merely room for us in this world. There’s actually good reason for us to be here.

Because while Sunsoaked Studio Suzie and Sam can make you feel kinda good, when you’re really in the funk, sometimes you just want to be understood. Heard. Guess who can understand and hear you the best.

A recovering depressive.

I say “recovering” because, while it’s not a hard and fast rule, someone who is really in it, not receiving adequate treatment (or any at all), may not serve this same role. That being said, they have the potential, and that’s the heart of this blog- to encourage people to get treatment, that they may fulfill their potential. If we didn’t treat depressives like social pariahs, if we invested in these people who, in fact, tend to score pretty high on empathy…once the beast is tackled, just imagine what they could do for the greater good? All stigma does is disregard a large group of people unnecessarily, or coerce people into shoving their condition to the side, ignoring it, while putting forth a bunch of BS about how they too sit, perpetually, in a gorgeously lit studio. Then behind closed doors, they retreat- because pretending is exhausting. And there is no energy left for recognizing their true potential, when it was all used up on the fake one they invested in…just to keep people from walking away.

Recovering depressives- I actually think we’re kind of fortunate. In order to push through to the other side, you are forced to live an examined life, not just bulldoze through without mindfulness. I think we are more aware of how little we know, and that mindfulness must be a lifelong journey. Is there motivation to do this when everything comes easily? I’m not sure. But I know the experience- if you manage to live through it- provides insight to be shared with someone else walking through the muck. Insight that someone who hasn’t been through it (unless they’ve extensively studied, and even then, I’m not sure how much that makes up for personal experience) probably can’t give.

Recovering depressives know that they are not a part of the small percentage of people with the Pollyanna gene. And that’s ok. I mean, imagine if we were ALL like that? Seriously, do you know how much gorgeous art would not exist? And a recovering depressive does not expect you to possess the Pollyanna gene. They are some of the most empathetic, patient people you will ever meet when it comes to your hurt. The recovering depressive knows- and embraces- the wide range of emotions- and can acknowledge the beauty you possess even when you have no smile on your face. They can see beauty in melancholy. In vulnerability.

That damage you’re worrying about catching?

IMG_7882

(no, you’re not out of the loop on a meme or something- I just really, really needed to lighten the mood)

….that damage…most people have it. Imagine emotional baggage was like HPV, but with the former of course being far more contagious because you can get it simply from- you know- social interaction. You’re probably going to catch damage from people in your life, and it doesn’t matter if that person tells you about the damage (or knows they even have it) or hides behind a sunny persona or not. At least with a recovering depressive- who makes it known It Ain’t Always Sunny In Here- you know what you’re getting. And yet- the kicker? People with MDD are some of the most positive (if not terribly sunny) people you might ever meet. After all, we have thoughts we can’t control that say we’re useless and worthless and go crawl in a cave and expire, and we keep trying to find ways to get better. Even though our own brains (and without your brain, what are you?) constantly threaten to turn on us, destroy us. We. Just. Keep. Going. Do you know how much strength and optimism that takes?

So if we’re recovering, don’t write us off. You won’t catch anything, except maybe a shred of emotional intelligence and a little more sensitivity when you open your own closet door full of skeletons and you trust us to peek in. I think these are traits that maybe you would also like to have?

If we aren’t recovering, I know…we’re difficult. Please still don’t write us off. With a little help, we have the ability to create and make you laugh and foster connections and relate and sit silently with you when you cry without trying to “fix” you and- yes- persevere- in ways that the perpetually joyful and psychologically advantaged simply cannot.

Lastly, words of encouragement for the stigmatized that helped me: to have sunk deep into the concrete cracks of depression and still manage to push yourself out-well, yeah, you are going to be torn up. You are not going to be as pretty as a sparkling Disney rose sitting pretty in its own pot. You aren’t going to be as robust as the roses that thrive on a bush, surrounded by thorns to protect you. But my oh my. Bent and broken as you are, you pushed through concrete. That is some impressive stuff. Some real strength. It really is.

If you don’t believe me, then listen to Tupac. I dare you to defy Tupac.

Next time…finally….Day 1. Area 6- It’s Go Time.

tupac_shakur_1996_death_row_interscope_records_photofest_WEB-630x416

 

“Area 6 Can You Read Me”, Explained

So, last time I was talking about the hypothalamus; it’s pretty deep down. Right now there are two brands of TMS machines being used, Neurostar and Brainsway. I can’t for the life of me see much difference in terms of how effective one is vs. the other. I can tell you that Neurostar is marketed as “repetitive” TMS whereas Brainsway is marketed as “deep” TMS. I’m going to be getting Brainsway.

There is something intriguing to me about this phrasing- going deep. It sort of reminds me of a deep dive, hauling out the stuff I’ve been carrying for years that’s not so easy to pull off when simply neurosnorkeling. Or a long pass in football. None of this 10 yards by 10 yards crap. I want that shit straight to the end zone. My little neurons Nae Nae’ing in the end zone celebrating the touchdown.

Oh wait. Nae Nae is so 2015. My neurons are hip to the kids. So, when they hit the end zone, they do this:

So if the thalamus is the end zone, Area 6 is the quarterback. Area 6 is essentially short for “Brodmann Area 6”; for purposes of research, the brain is divided up into these sections. Here’s a handy map:

aneuron7

The hypothalamus doesn’t have a set Brodmann area, far as I can tell. But it’s sitting close to areas 41 and 42. When 6 gets the TMS, Doc Magnets says it sends signals down to the hypothalamus. Again, the changes aren’t instantaneous; they happen over a course of weeks or even months.

In any case, Area 6 is my champion, my possible liberator from MDD. I am placing a lot of goddamn hope in Area 6’s ability to deliver the goods. To that end, I talk to Area 6 a lot. I don’t give a crap if that sounds crazy. Not when so much hangs in the balance.

Area 6: my lifeline.

So in the future it’s pleas in the morning: Area 6, how hard are you throwing down those currents?

So it’s anxieties at the clinic: Area 6, how many passes did you complete? My neurons…they um…ran off on da plug twice? Ha? Hahaha? Laugh or I’ll cry?

At work, during another crying jag it’s: Area 6, can we move these currents down the brain any faster?

And when negotiating yet another personal hurdle, with a fairly good chance I’m functioning on a lower level than the other party: Area 6, is any of this fucking working?

Area 6, is there anything can do to help? Area 6?

So it’s whispers in the night: Area 6, are you up right now?

Area 6, Can You Read Me?