Thursday, November 16, 2006

Change of Shift, and Other Medical Adventures

The latest Change of Shift, the nursing blog carnival, is up over at Life in the NHS.

And in other medical news, I'm horribly behind in every aspect of my life (except, of course, blogging, although even there I haven't responded to some recent comments), and yesterday I had a pretty disheartening conversation with my therapist, who's making noises about either upping my antidepressants or adding another med. At this point, I'm well past procrastination and into the realm of psychomotor retardation, that fun depression symptom where everything takes three times longer than it should because you feel as if each limb is weighted with several dozen pounds of lead. Also, thinking is harder than usual. Since I more or less think for a living, that's particularly annoying and inconvenient. This is rarely a good time of year -- it's grading-crunch time for academics -- but this year, it's much worse than usual.

The problem with depression, though, is that you can't see it on an X-ray or in a blood test. Rationally, I know that this is a realio-trulio chronic medical condition, and that -- as with any chronic medical condition -- I can expect flare-ups. But there's still part of me that suspects that the real problem is that I'm lazy and inefficient. If I were only more ________, I wouldn't be having these problems. Mental-health Mad Libs! Such fun! Fill in the blank with the adjective of your choice!

However, I don't want to up my meds dosage (I've already had a little tachycardia on the current dose, and I'm not eager for more of that), and I'm also loathe to add another drug. So I promised my therapist I'd try a bunch of other things, and see a psychiatrist for a meds evaluation if the other things don't work.

Number one on the list of other things is light therapy. Fall's usually my favorite season, but this year I've noticed myself hating the shorter days, which suggests SAD. So last night, Gary ordered a light box from Amazon. If anybody out there has experience with these gizmos, please let me know.

I was extremely grateful that my therapist didn't tell me to stop blogging. She said, "No, I think that's good for you. You enjoy it. It's a form of self-care." Gary agrees.

And now I really must go try to get some grading done. I was doing pretty well last night, but then the phone started ringing with calls from people I hadn't heard from in a while. Conversation with friends: self-care, or procrastination?


  1. Susan,

    I'm so sorry to hear that you're struggling. It is a difficult time of year, and, while I find myself fluctuating wildly just depending on what "time of the month" it is, I also note a steady decline in my mood as the days grow darker.

    If it helps, your comments to me on the writer's block were helpful and heartening. And at the same time, your brain certainly doesn't SEEM to be slowing down, if your writing is any indication.

    Wishing you all the best and I'll be thinking about you.


  2. Thank you so much, apgaRN! This comment means a lot.

  3. Self-care! Talking on the phone with friends you haven't heard from in a while is most definitely self-care! And since I can't seem to get off my own little gerbil wheel long enough to drop you the e-mail I owe you, I may call you up myself soon and give you the opportunity to do a little more. (But don't worry, if it's a bad time we can always talk later.)

  4. I hope the light works. I'm convinced it works for some of us, but we're all different.

    Try putting the following above your monitor, mirror, wherever.

    I am beautiful. I am loved. I am valued.

    Just to remind yourself. The rest of us don't need to be reminded.

  5. Susan, I'm sorry to hear that your depression is flaring up. I think talking with friends is a form of self-care, and sometimes that time taken now will mean you can focus on things you do because you have to later.

    You're in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope the light works well for you!

  6. Thanks, Claire and Martyn and Nickie!

    Claire, the best time to call would be Saturday afternoon/evening (after 2:00 our time, after 5:00 your time), if that's possible.

    Martyn: Thank you! And actually, intellectually, I know all that stuff. The intellectual/emotional disconnect is one of the hardest aspects of this; I can talk a great game cognitively, but have trouble feeling it.

    Nickie: Thanks for the prayers. I hope the light works, too!

  7. Susan,
    I'm sorry to hear that you are struggling. If you need to call someone, call me. I'd love to hear from you. If you don't have my phone number I'll email it to you.

    Both my sister and I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. In me this is self diagnosed because I recognized the symptoms from talking to my sister who is a psychiatrist. My sis has those wonderful lights that she swears by when she can't get out in the sun on a regular basis. I really hope yours work for you. I could use a set myself but they are darned expensive.

    Hugs and all the Peace, Hope and Joy! you could wish for,

  8. Laurel12:33 AM

    I am also grateful that your therapist did not ask you to stop blogging, as long as you are enjoying it, of course. I have been quoting large portions to your entries to a friend who is considering CPE training. But don't worry, he has already agreed with me that volunteer chaplains, with or without CPE, are absolutely a blessing! I do hope you find ways to ameliorate your depression. I would like to add you to my prayers, if you do not mind (I have been trained to always ask first.)

  9. Conversation with friends: self-care, or procrastination? I think definitely self-care. Depression can make you want to pull away from other people, so connecting with others is good.

    I hope the light box helps you. Some days coming to your blog is my light box.

  10. Thanks for all the comments!

    Lee: Yeah, they are expensive, and it's pretty ironic that I feel the need to buy one, since we live in the sunniest state in the country. But I figure my health's worth it.

    Yesterday was sunny here and the sun came in my study window and hit me in the face first thing in the morning, and today I feel better -- so I'm very hopeful about this!

    Laurel: All prayers welcome! And I'm glad your friend is now properly educated about the role of volunteer chaplains. ;-) Is he considering an extended CPE unit, or a summer intensive?

    MLR: Yes, connection's definitely an important factor, which is why I talk about my depression here even when I feel self-concious about it, or as if I'm boring. (Depression is a really dull illness, I have to say.) And thank you for the comment about the blog; that moves me very much. And I hope my entries will be lighter soon: it may take a little while, though!

  11. And I hope my entries will be lighter soon: it may take a little while, though!

    They don't have to be light. It's the compassion, kindness, and humanity that leave me feeling lighter of heart.

  12. Enjoyed this piece - maybe enjoy is not the right word. Empathize maybe. Curious how the light box thing works out - maybe a future post? I hate this time of year because of the light deprivation. Hard for me to do anything after 3PM! Also liked the above article i found via Dr. A.

  13. oh i forgot to say, the conversations with friends - selfcare or procrastination? definitely both with me, kinda like blogging.


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