No news is good news

Not much new to report. Back to work full time, only getting ECT treatments in maintenance mode – once every three weeks. Last one switched to Friday so my second day is on the weekend instead of having to take two days of work off.

Between the latest meds change and the ECT things are fairly stable. My mood is much improved, and I’m doing things like hobbies and getting out of the house on a regular basis. Granted, most of that is for therapy. I am taking a DBT course (Dialectical behavior therapy), weekly individual therapy sessions, and the Face-it men’s depression support group. Add the periodic ECT and I have a lot going on. But it’s all working together, and I’m looking forward to spring.

Work is hard. Both physically and mentally tiring, and I still feel I’m playing catch-up. As we get busier I’m sure it’ll get better, but I’m plugging away and time will make everything better. My care team was against just going full bore full time, but things are slow enough that I feel I’m being eased into it.

How’s it going?

It’s a question I dread. Most of the time it’s someone asking me literally how it’s going. Like, a normal “Hey” question. They’re not trying to figure out if I’m depressed or anxious or where on the scale I am, mentally. It’s usually just a greeting.

I’ve landed on “It’s going.” as a standard response. Because if they don’t want to know how it’s _really_ going, I don’t want to go into it with them. And if they _do_ want to know exactly how my mental state is, they’ll ask more probing questions.

I haven’t gotten a ton of “How’s it going” with the corresponding sad eyes and tilted head – but I’m always waiting for it. But it’s such a loaded question and there are so many things to say. But half the time I’m not even sure, myself. So having to answer it is having to look deep inside my current psyche and figure out just what’s going on in there.

Long Answer

The med changes have shaken out and things are looking up. Wife reports that my slow decline between ECT treatments isn’t happening in this iteration, and my spirit is actually positive. I had an intake interview for a DBT program today and had to explain what it’s like when I’m depressed – and I’m enough “not depressed” that it was hard to actually verbalize. But we got through it and I’m starting their program in two weeks. Happily, it’s in the evening once a week so it won’t impact work.

That’s the other half of how it’s going – work. I’m working as much time as I have available, which means near full-time with the exception of ECT days (which are going from 2 to 1.5) and the odd appointment day. (An appointment day is when I’ve jammed all of my latest appointments into one single day so I can minimize time away from the office.) My energy is back up so I’m not soul-crushingly tired until mid-evening, rather than mid-morning. And I’m getting back into the workday groove, which is nice. When I was on the day program I was leaving before lunch and that just wasn’t feeling like actual work days.

Fun side note – the ECT has been affecting my memory, but most conspicuous is my memory of media. Movies or tv shows that I don’t remember having seen. So I just recently binged season three of Fleabag (again) and loved every (repeat) minute of it as a completely new experience. Episode 3 is the best episode of the entire series.

Short Answer

It’s going. 🙂

My New Therapist

Met with the new shrink on Friday and it went well. We spent the whole time going over my history, and she seems cool. The weekly check-in isn’t the standard PHQ and GAD form, so those trends won’t be in the system for me as regularly anymore, which will be odd. I’ll still do it for my psychiatrist, but that’s monthly at best. Maybe I should do it myself at home just to keep a frame of reference. My numbers have been crazy high lately, so it would be good to watch them (hopefully) go down.

The stress about going back to work has to do with an expectation that I’ll be back up to full speed by the end of the month. ECT treatments and followup days aside, going to full time that fast is scary. My care team universally feels that schedule is too aggressive. Unfortunately, they haven’t offered a “preferred” schedule. I’ll push for one this week. The team at work has grown enough, and the theory is that off hours coverage will be assigned, so the environment isn’t exactly as intense as it was when I left. But going from light hours to full time will be an interesting challenge. I do look forward to walking home from work on the regular, though.

Holy Cow!

Had a maintenance ECT session today and it was a whopper! Dizzy and woozy all day, slept for hours and hours. Still not quite steady on my feet.

It hasn’t been going very well recently, so we’re going to stick with a two week repetition for the maintenance sessions.

Saw my psychologist for the last time last week- she’s moving on to a different position. I’ll miss her dearly, as she really “got me.” I see my new one on Friday, stop fingers crossed she’ll be a good one too.

Every time I see a doctor (primary, psychologist, psychiatrist) at my clinic I fill out a survey on my anxiety and one on my depression. This wow score was the worst ones I’ve ever had. Partly because of the changes in therapist, but also because I’m stressing about going back to work.

It’s not the holiday, it’s the disruption

While the Holidays can be tough for some people because it highlights family, or loneliness, for me it’s the disruption. Days off or working from home, events and dinners to be planned and executed, family expectations and time spent killing time. It’s the break from normal routines and schedules that can be trying.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and my family, so it’s a special time of year for me. But there are times when it’s difficult to escape if you’ve overloaded on stimulus or just need a break. And when it’ all over it’s always a bit of a letdown, staring down the barrel of the rest of winter.

So here’s to hoping I can stay awake for midnight on New Years.

Gut Wrenching Cry For Help

I saw my psychiatrist in passing the other day and we had a nice exchange of smiles and waves and both went on our way. Pretty typical, especially since I’m at the hospital often enough that I’m seeing my care team in passing.

What was different about this one was that this was the first time in at least a year that I saw a member of my care team, either by appointment or coincidence and didn’t have an immediate gut wrenching feeling of desperation. I didn’t instinctively want to throw myself at them and plead for a solution. There were times where simply seeing my primary doc or my therapist made me want to burst into tears for no reason. There were times where I just wanted them to lead me to check into the hospital.

It’s nice to have something feel “normal” again. But I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Treating myself

Ok, time to start using this memory problem to my benefit. This weekend I’m going Christmas gift shopping, and in addition to the items on my list, I’m going to buy a few things I would never think to buy myself. I’ll wrap them, and place them under the tree. Since I have a maintenance ECT treatment Monday, this weekend is pretty much writing to temporary memory.

A sip of Lethe …

Lethe is the mythological Greek river of forgetfulness.

I have been having some issues with my memory. To be honest, this latest period has been about 5 months, but to my mind it feels more like one or two. Obviously I can’t know what I don’t know, but there are times that people mention an experience and I can’t remember it at all. A few examples..

I decided to watch the classic movie “Dumbo” the other day. It was interesting, but I felt like it was good to be finally seeing a true classic. And good preparation for watching the remake some time. My daughter came home from wherever she had been, and asked me why I was watching it again. Apparently the other day the two of us had watched it and really enjoyed it. It was a bit of a humorous situation, but really disturbed me because none of the movie was anywhere near recognizable. And there’s some messed up stuff in that movie! You would think I would have remembered that.

Last week at group one of the regular members was missing, but I could not for the life of me remember them. Finally, after more prompting than I’m happy to relay, I made the connection and remembered. But it was like they were describing someone I’d never met.

A wonderful Old Fashioned.

And sadly, the wife and I went out the night before Thanksgiving to a local restaurant, one of our favorites. It wasn’t until a few nights ago that she mentioned it and I had no recollection. I had even checked in and posted to Facebook. I couldn’t remember what I ate or drank, what we talked about, or even where we sat. And we had a lovely evening, from what I hear. In our younger days the night before Thanksgiving was reserved for going out clubbing, dancing and drinking with friends. These days we settle for something a bit more mundane but just as enjoyable. It was good to catch up, and to talk about how things seemed to be getting better. While (many of) my prescriptions warn away from alcohol, it was a special occasion so I had a cocktail. I hate that my depression doesn’t allow me to drink. Both because alcohol is a depressant, but that it can affect how my meds work. So yes, I had a drink that night and maybe that exacerbated the memory issue, but sometimes you have to live your life.

.. and a heartbreak

Last Friday we went out with two couples who are some of our dearest friends. We went to the traditional holiday show, and then came back to the neighborhood and tried out a new restaurant. The show, company, food, and evening were all great! I’ve been feeling a bit more like myself, and this felt like a celebration.

Until we started talking about it and I really got to hear my wife talk about how bad it’s been. And for how long. And the things like the memory. The Thanksgiving eve experience being just one of many important times that are just gone. I know it’s a byproduct of the depression, the ECT, the meds, the whole deal. But it’s been so hard on her and she’s been such a helpful saint. She was not telling the tale to hurt me. But that broke my heart, to know how much I’ve put her through, knowing that there are always possibilities of relapse, and we have no idea what ups and downs are to come. It’s been a few days now, and I’m feeling a bit better, but that sting is going to be with me for some time to come.


Back To Work

Today I went back to work for the first time in a Very Long Time. I’ll be doing halftime and continuing the day treatment program in the afternoons. But it sure was nice to be back in the office. I spent the whole time playing catch-up, and while the goal is for me to fill the same role that I’ve had in the past, for now I’ll be more of a player-coach.

Didn’t get lost in the ramp or skyways, and remembered all the security codes. Yay me! Our sub-office has been rearranged and it’s really nice. I’ve got a position by the window and enjoy a good view out the window and down the row of workers.

By the time I left (after ~4 hours) I was fried. Working my way back up to a full day is going to take some effort. But it was exciting being there and I didn’t glaze over even in the last hour catching up with the boss. It’s also handy that it’s December, and things are a bit slower than usual. By the first of the year (or so) I’m hoping to be back up to speed, back up to full time, and back up to running my team!

Maintenance

Once a week now, while in maintenance mode. And then we go two weeks, and finally we go once a month. I had my first in a week this Monday, which went well. Came home and had a nap to let the grogginess clear, but haven’t really gotten back to 100%.

And is it bad that I enjoy the IV? While it hurts getting poked, the sleep hitting is like being on a rollercoaster, feeling the whole world roll over your head and you’re asleep.

Back to work on Monday, dipping my toes in lightly at first,