Next Chapters: Mental Health

This post has been surprisingly difficult to write. I have been candid about my mental health from my first diagnosis with major depressive disorder (as evidenced by the depression category here on my site). It is only because I talked with others / read about others experiences that I sought the help I hadn’t recognized I needed. I want to provide that to others, but more importantly I want to help normalize conversations, regarding mental health and neurodiversity, to help combat the social stigma around them.

Despite that, looking ahead to where I want to be/ set goals for my mental health, I get stymied as what to write.

I think that is in part, due to the fact that I have some coping mechanisms that let me function with my wonky brain chemistry. Most of the next steps rely on tweaking my (numerous) medications to hit that sweet spot.

Diagnosis: Depression

My depression has never manifested as thoughts of the world being better without me, or that not being in the world would be better. It took me a while after receiving my diagnosis to see what the effects were.

I became markedly less social, succumbing to “home gravity” more frequently. I also felt comfortable in a job where I got to hide back in my cubicle all day, with record maintenance and project management instead of patron / customer interactions.

Also, my interest in creative endeavors declined. I still considered myself a writer, despite lack of words making it to page. There was just the guilt of not doing the work, and the weight of that and my depression keeping me from picking up the pen.

On bad days there is the urge to cry, even though nothing is wrong, and this weight behind my sternum that wants me to just curl into myself. A stuffed animal or too-tight huge also work to alive that feeling some.

Diagnosis: Anxiety

My anxiety is less subtle, but also seems less prevalent. I’ve had one out-and-out panic attack that I can identify. Otherwise it rears its head by feeling jittery, or like I’m forgetting something, or not starting things, or not sticking with them.

Diagnosis: ADHD

A lot of the symptoms for anxiety overlap with my newest diagnosis, ADHD, combined presentation (clinically significant symptoms of inattention & clinically significant symptoms of hyperactivity). Unfortunately the addition of treatment for this has tilted the balance on my other meds, and we are looking at other possible solutions. But my doctor says both the ADHD and anxiety could explain my wanting to do things, enjoy doing the things, even, yet getting up and walking away from them (often literally), or, even worse, not getting started.

I guess next steps include trying to get that right balance of meds, but I don’t want to only rely on drugs for my mental health.

I’ve dallied with meditation before, and I know that days are easier when I’ve had enough sleep and steer clear of soda. I like the idea of goals and lists, and employ them frequently to get myself organized, but that doesn’t necessarily get me started on any of the items on said list.

I also journal (and sometimes blog). Putting words on paper helps me navigate through the toughest patches. I am grateful to have access to my psychiatrist, and for friends and family that understand if they ask “Are you ok?” That sometimes my reply is “Well, nothing is wrong.”

Because, honestly, sometimes that the best it can get.

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