In Episode 24, I discussed mood cycling–mostly, the difference between flat depression and mood cycling depression. At the time, I was taking antidepressants as needed. In my last personal update post, I mentioned that I was recovering from some feelings of depression. Well, the plot thickens…
I believe my mood started cycling again about a week ago, maybe a week and a half by now. I think this is due to a few different factors.
I’ve been taking Cymbalta (the antidepressant) since late December. Once it kicked in, I started feeling significantly better, even having the best Christmas I can remember having due to no depressive episodes. Starting early January, I started feeling intermittently depressed.
I’ve realized that when I’m experiencing depression, I’m naturally inclined to cling to the antidepressants even more than before. It makes sense, even though I know that it doesn’t always mean I should keep taking them. And I was always told that when my mood starts cycling, the sign to stop taking the antidepressants is when I start getting irritable, and here I was not irritable. So for several days, it didn’t even occur to me that my mood was cycling.
Another factor is stress. I’m romantically involved with someone who lives approximately 2000 miles away from me, and, long story short, he needs some help from me that would mean me having to drive there and stay for a while–by the end of February or so. There’s a lot more to that story that I won’t go into. Don’t judge him or me based on this limited information. That drive alone will cost at least $700-800, with gas and two hotel stays. I’m cutting the ~32 hour drive into three days, though I would prefer four, because I simply don’t think I can comfortably spare another hotel room’s cost.
So that’s meant me having to budget, which is hard enough normally because I have no income since I can’t work. Obviously if I were the one with the income, I still wouldn’t necessarily have a fun time, but at least then it would be my money to put toward this or that. Social Security has still not answered my appeal for SSI from the first week of June 2022, no surprise there. I’m in touch with Montana’s Senator Jon Tester’s office trying to get an answer out of them or get them to rush it, just anything, as my attorney suggested it. But that’s another story.
I have car work that needs to get done before I drive all that way, but it’s been impossible to save up that sum so far. Luckily, I have a friend who has lots of experience as a mechanic, and he’s going to take a look at things for me to see if we can lessen the blow on my wallet. I got a diagnostic on it just today so I know exactly what’s wrong, so now I feel like I can relax for a minute while I wait for my mechanic friend. I have other costs that are admittedly very minor in comparison, but some of it requires advance planning.
I’m in the process of regular appointments with a nephrologist (kidney doctor) because my creatinine (measure of kidney function) has been fluctuating–my nephrologist says that with my lab results, they’re only at about 57% functionality. I had to re-schedule an appointment with the ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor to try figuring out why my ears are so unbearably itchy all the time. Now I just have to hope that these steroid ear drops last me until May. It’s close to when my next dental cleaning is supposed to be, and if I miss the window for that appointment they’ll take me off the list. Hopefully I’ll be getting back to Montana by late April or so. I have medications to make sure I have refilled as close to when I leave as possible. I had a follow-up appointment with my primary physician that I’ve already re-scheduled, and of course my monthly appointments with my psychiatrist, who will hopefully tell me I did the right thing by stopping my antidepressants. So I’ve been having to call around to re-schedule appointments and communicate things to my doctors and figure things out. Luckily, I’ve gotten everything done that I can right now, and the rest should be able to be over telehealth. So that’s helped me relax more too.
I tried donating plasma with BioLife to get some much-needed funds. I’ve tried a couple times before. One of those, they didn’t like my left vein, so they turned me away. Another time, my heart rate was too high. Since I started working out several months ago, my heart rate has gone down to a healthier rate, and I’d hoped my veins were better with how much more water I have to drink now. So this time, they approved my veins. I passed through vitals. Did their questionnaire. Unfortunately, because I’ve had brain surgery and have PTSD, they turned me away again to have my doctors fill out some notes first saying that it’s okay for me to donate plasma. My primary physician sent in the brain ones right away, but my psychiatrist has yet to send in the mental health ones. That has still been a stressor, though with some of the other ones being somewhat handled, I’m starting to calm down.
I’m looking forward to this trip, even if it’s not really a “luxury” trip, don’t get me wrong. But I am obviously not prepared and have about a month and a half to figure everything out to be out of state for who knows how long. Earlier this week, my compromised emotional state combined with the stress only added to my cycling mood. I only started to suspect it was really cycling on Tuesday, if I remember right. So I did what I’m supposed to–I stopped taking the antidepressants. I didn’t feel great on Wednesday, and I had a really bad depressive episode on Thursday, but today–Friday–was very good. It would seem the adjustment to no antidepressants, even when it is necessary, is rough on the emotional state.
In conclusion: Stress almost definitely contributed to the gradual cycling of my mood, which may or may not have happened on its own at this point. Though it was without irritability, I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m cycling. I’ll have to consult with my psychiatrist at my next appointment, but I mean, how complicated can it be? It wasn’t flat depression. After a few days off of the antidepressants, I have seen some improvement. I’ve also sorted out some of the things that were stressing me. But it’s only been one day so far…