Monday, February 21, 2011

Bootstraps


So I've decided that the new funk probably is a resurgence of depression; the question is what to do about it. The immediate answer is to exercise more, since I'd gotten somewhat lax about that. Since Saturday, I've gone to the gym every day, and I'm indeed feeling a bit better.

One of my goals here is to stay off meds, at least until after my sabbatical. There are three reasons for this:

1) Meds suppress creativity, at least for me, and while the funk has too -- although, again since Saturday, I've been managing to write a bit every day -- I can't afford a solution I know will mess with my writing. I need to get a lot of writing done during sabbatical.

2) I suspect the mild chronic pain I've been in since October, from my back, is one factor in the funk (although the pain's slooooowly getting better with exercise and chiropractic treatment). I'm positive that the extra ten or twenty pounds I'm carrying around haven't been helping my back, and I gain weight on meds.

3) Meds are expensive, and will undoubtedly become more so when our medical benefits crash and burn on July 1, which is also when I'll be on reduced sabbatical salary.

(Note: In "meds" here, I'm including herbal treatments like St. John's Wort, which I've been told by clinicians are just naturally occuring, under-regulated versions of the same chemicals Big Pharma puts in antidepressants.)

One obvious and time-honored alternative would be therapy. However, I've done a lot of therapy in my life, and I know pretty much all the cognitive strategies out there, and I can talk circles around anybody or anything. My most recent therapist acknowledged this in our final session; both of us felt that the sessions had been more like very pleasant conversations than like therapy sessions, but he said that was basically because I already had all the insights other people come to therapy to get. (This isn't because I have any special qualities; it's because I've spent decades in therapists' offices.)

So today I began, yet again, a search for a therapist around here who does something other than cognitive talk-centered stuff. My sister helped out with a websearch and found a local Jungian whose name she sent me; I found another local Jungian who's particularly interested in spiritual issues; a psychologist friend suggested yet another local Jungian.

Not a one of them is on my insurance. Aaargh! Not that insurance will be a heckuva lot of help once the sabbatical starts, anyway (see point three above), especially since therapy is more expensive than meds, which is one reason why meds are so popular.

I'll keep doing research, and in the meantime, I'll do my best to stick to my exercise schedule. I'm even considering buying an elliptical for the house, so I can work out on days when I don't feel up to dragging myself to the gym. To my disappointment, the good machines are both very pricey and too large to fit easily in the house. Gary said we could clear out room in the garage, but exercising in a windowless space, among boxes and dust bunnies and spiders, just doesn't appeal to me. I'd want the thing near a window, to combine light therapy with the workout.

Picky, picky! Yes, I know. Aren't chronic invisible illnesses fun? But with a bit of luck, continued exercise will get me over this hump. I know it will help the back and the weight, and my gym membership's already built into our budget (that's one thing I'm definitely not giving up during my sabbatical). Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.

6 comments:

  1. It is hard having this devil that keeps coming back to plague you. I do hope you can avoid the prescription meds. Good Luck!!

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  2. Anonymous6:50 AM

    Dear Susan,

    Prayers ascending.

    Love,

    Jean

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  3. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Good luck w/ the therapy. I'd had the same experience you describe: gone to therapy for years, understood everything, could explain it to anyone, but still no great change in how I felt. So for a number of years I just stuck to the meds. Then, a point came where my shrink suggested I talk w/ someone. I fought it for a while, but finally went with it to, if at least nothing else, get the crap out of my head.

    I'm a 52 yr old man. At my first session walks out an attractive 30-something woman. I immediately think, "Well, THIS isn't going to work." (Both because she was too young plus I was attracted to her.) Long story short, it was the best 2.5 years of therapy I've had (and only ended because she moved away). She kicked my butt, in a kind and gentle way, challenged me in a way no one ever had, and got me to truly see my part in what made my life what it was. I'm not cured by any means, but I've mad big strides and my life is eons better than it was before. I'll never downplay the power of therapy again. The right therapist can make all the difference in the world.

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  4. yes, fingers crossed.

    and prayers said.

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  5. Many prayers for you, Susan. I empathize - I have come to terms with the fact that I will likely be on my pink pills for the rest of my life, but was still disappointed a couple weeks ago when I had exhausted my coping strategies and realized I had to go back on my adjunct treatment because of what it does to my appetite and memory.

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  6. Thanks, everybody! Claire, Blogger inexplicably ate your comment -- but thanks for that one, too!

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