Finding the Blips in the Flat Line

It’s been a long time since I’ve published anything. I’ve still been writing, it’s just that everything I’ve written is so personal (like more than usual) that I don’t want it on the Internet, at least not right now. And nothing I’ve written is about mental health.

Prior to graduating from university, I felt like I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with all the ideas I was having. I was constantly being exposed to new things and I was actively involved with the mental health community at our school.

Since then, though, I’ve pretty much plateaued. I have nothing else to say. I haven’t experienced anything new in terms of my own mental health, and I haven’t experienced anything new in my personal life that’s worth publishing.

Sure, I’ve taken up rock climbing and the ukulele, done better and longer speeches, experienced my first full time office job, and met the real love of my life, but none of those things have led to any new revelations about mental health.

I guess I should be grateful that my own mental health has stabilized and that I no longer experience the depressive episodes that plagued me in the past. I have lots of time to pursue my hobbies, like writing this blog, because I’m not sad and tired all the time. But…if I’m no longer on the roller coaster, what am I supposed to write about? I still have no problem giving speeches and presentations, because I can say the same thing to different audiences. But blogging requires new material all the time.

Because Bell Let’s Talk Day, the largest mental health movement in Canada (whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny that), was coming up soon I felt pressured to say…SOMETHING. Anything. And I was forced to carefully consider why I feel like my shallow well of talent has run dry.

I ended up thinking that maybe I’m just not being creative enough. What worked for me in the past isn’t working for me now, and that doesn’t seem to be getting any better. But it’s okay to change. It’s okay for your priorities to shift. There are other projects that I have in mind, only one of which is mental health related, and if I want to pursue those avenues that’s okay. And it’s okay for me to write about other topics this blog – it is mine, after all.

Image result for crazy ex-girlfriend it's a lot more nuanced than thatI think that what I’m experiencing in terms of my mental health right now – AKA not much of anything – can still be interesting if analyzed closely. From far away, it may seem like a constant flat line, but if you zoom in, you can see tiny blips up and down. I still have moments where I’m overjoyed and moments where I feel absolutely crushed. As Crazy Ex-Girlfriend says,  it’s “a lot more nuanced than that”, and I think those nuances have the potential to be fascinating.

I also still have a few remaining symptoms, the most notable of which is low energy. I came across this article a few days ago and it was really helpful to see (and also helped prompt this post) because I had no idea this was a ‘thing’. The author of that post describes it as chronic depression fatigue, which I think is perfect. It’s not because I don’t get enough sleep. I do. I don’t exactly go to bed early, but I don’t stay up super late either. And yet, getting out of bed before 10 (sometimes even 11) feels like pure torture. Even with that much sleep I still feel tired during the day and my motivation is generally not great.

The medication that I’m on, Wellbutrin, used to manage this symptom very effectively, but I’m quite sure that its effects have now worn away to almost nothing. There’s no way to know for sure unless I stop taking it, but I think that my success now is due to all of the therapy I’ve done, which taught me tools to manage my thoughts, and positive life experiences.

I’ve tried a bunch of different medications to add to the Wellbutrin, but so far none have worked. My only remaining option medication-wise seems to be increasing the dosage of the Wellbutrin itself. My doctor has told me that is a perfectly viable option, but that scares me, because if I increase it now, that likely will be the highest I can ever go. What if I only get a year or so of normalized energy levels like I did when I started taking it, and then for the rest of my life I’m back where I am right now? If that’s going to be the case, should I wait to do that until I really need it, such as if I ever have a baby? But at the same time, if I don’t do it now, will I ever achieve my professional goals (or even figure out what those goals are)?

That’s what I’m dealing with right now. It’s not anywhere near as bad or thought-provoking as my past experiences, but it’s not nothing, either. Thinking that I couldn’t possibly have any more mental health related problems unless something tragic happened to me or I went off my meds is what caused it to take so long for me to even recognize what I’m experiencing for what it is.

I thought that I was just feeling a bit directionless after graduation, and then I thought that I had lost my passion, and then I thought that maybe I just hadn’t actually found my true passion yet, because after all, the last time I found something I was passionate about was 4 years ago and I was at a completely different stage of my life. All of that is true. But that’s not the end of the story.

Dysthymia, WTF 1
Small Peculiar

For starters, I still haven’t determined what my true passion is as an adult woman, and I think that the symptoms of depression that I am still experiencing might be part of the reason why. Depression narrows your perspective, so subtly in my case that you don’t even realize it. That is why dysthymia is so evil. It just sneaks up on you and slowly over the course of many years derails your life and prevents you from achieving all that you could have, and you don’t even know it’s happening until it’s over and you look back in regret.

I spent the first 20 years of my life living like that, and when I think about it, it makes me angry, and what I regret most is not figuring out what my passion was THEN. I regret not getting involved with clubs at school and trying out new hobbies. I regret not trying to meet different kinds of people. I regret that I was so stuck in my own head and this victim mentality that it didn’t even occur to me to dream bigger.

Maybe that isn’t what’s happening right now, but if there’s even the smallest chance that it is, I feel like I owe it to myself to do everything I can to change that, even if it means increasing my Wellbutrin dosage.

And starting now, I’d like to dedicate myself as much as possible to just doing whatever the hell I feel like (within reason) and see what happens. Maybe something will stick. Maybe next year I’ll be right back where I started. Maybe next year I’ll be backpacking across Europe with a Spaniard named Sergio. Who knows. Anything could happen.

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