Sober and Depressed

Sobriety hasn’t been all it’s cracked up to be. I’m miserable and more depressed than ever, but it’s not because I miss alcohol. It’s because reality sucks, and I’m still sick. 

Alcohol and positive thoughts kept my mental health afloat for years. I have ditched them both in order to be the real me, which turns out to be: Depressed. Hopeless. Cynical. Exhausted. And if this is all I have left, I can’t wait for this journey called Life to be over.

Whenever I attempt to improve my life, something kicks me back farther than before. Every single time. Not joking. It’s been going on for so long, I’m starting to think there is a mistake in my existence within the universe. It makes me think I’m not allowed to have certain things, basic things in life, even things that most people have or are born with. Things like the security of knowing you will have a roof over your head in three months. Or things like having a team, a tribe, or any type of support – or anyone I can trust. (Good thing therapy starts tomorrow.) 

So, it’s time to face reality, because I am too tired to keep working towards things that will never be. I do not have the energy to put forth anymore; I am burned out, and I used positive energy on things with good intentions that didn’t pay off and sucked me dry. My good intentions actually put me farther behind in life, and that’s a hard pill to swallow when depression is at a low. The whole dreams will come true if I work hard, is not a reality; it’s a fantasy. Because in the USA, if you get sick and can’t work, you can lose everything. And that is why reality sucks. 

Positive quotes and memes can only do so much. Meditation is difficult when your mind just isn’t there. I haven’t ditched positive quotes completely, but I’m not seeking affirmations the way I used to. Pretty sure I burned out on those, too, probably having seen them all three times apiece on social media. Trying to shove things into my head without having dealt with everything else is just a bandaid for my brain. All of this “think positive” stuff is great for a while, but it’s not reality, and it can be a huge disappointment thinking this might cure depression. It’s basically lies we tell ourselves in order not to jump off a cliff. While it can be helpful for some types of depression, it’s not for mine. 

People pushing positivity when you’re in a deep depression is equivalent to religion being forced on an atheist:  It doesn’t work.

It can actually be more annoying and cause resentment and mistrust, since you’re not understanding depression isn’t a mood or condition that goes away by reading a hopeful quote; it’s a disease. After all, if it only took a few quotes and meditation to make us feel better, don’t you think we’d have done that already instead of suffering for months or years? Besides, a certain type of depressed person isn’t going to believe in positive thoughts, because they’re too depressed and hopeless. 

A few family members have suggested taking anti-depressants. While I’m not opposed to it, I want that to be my last option. I have tried anti-depressants in the past, and the physical side effects made me feel worse. I flunked a semester of college, because their own college psychiatrist overmedicated me. The school wouldn’t excuse me either monetarily or academically, because I didn’t fill out the paperwork within the tiny timeframe – even though I couldn’t get out of bed or function. (I was also managing motherhood to a 6-year-old.)

During my junior year of college, I went to counseling and given Elavil (amitriptyline). It definitely elevated my mood, but I also experienced every side effect listed here. The psychiatrist kept upping my dose, then put me on something else in addition to Elavil (perhaps Paxil, but I can’t remember), and I couldn’t get out of bed.  I literally moved like a sloth – extremely sluggish. I was thirsty all the time, because it caused dry mouth. It also dried up my sex life and made me want to sleep and sit around and do nothing at all. I couldn’t get out of bed, because being overmedicated made me extremely lightheaded and unable to walk or stand without almost passing out. All of these side effects certainly didn’t help my mood, which meant it wasn’t working for me. 

I took Elavil until they switched me solely to Paxil, which made me extremely calm and uncaring. The best part was I wasn’t getting mad about things, but I also just didn’t give a shit about anything anymore. All I wanted to do was eat peanut M&Ms, so that’s what I did. I gained about 10 pounds in about a month, which is a lot when you’re under 5’5” and clothing no longer fits. 

In the meantime, I had a neighbor on antidepressants and saw what it did to her; she’d been dealing with it for years! It looked to me the antidepressant train was a nightmare trip, worse than depression itself. I wasn’t sure antidepressants were the right solution for me, so I quit taking them altogether. 

I tried antidepressants on other occasions, but the side effects screwed up my life, which is worse than what I already dealt with. Prozac gave me bad headaches, so no mood lifting there. Something else I tried kept me awake all night, like speed. What good is that, when it was supposed to help insomnia? Sometimes I feel that when it comes to antidepressants, it’s just an experiment to see what works, but I don’t want to become someone’s mental illness experiment.  I’m not sure I trust antidepressants are the answer for me long-term, but they did help short-term mentally, so maybe I could try it until they start making me feel awful again. 

Regardless of what an antidepressant can do, they can’t fix my current problems, because they’re beyond my control. First and foremost, my physical issues need to be addressed before I start something new. My symptoms change or worsen or get better, and introducing a new substance would be a bad idea, in my opinion. I know the physical issues are definitely contributing to my misery, so I would like to fix that first. My PCP never followed up on another doctor’s order from September 21 to see about this possible pinched nerve. And as far as I can tell, the VA hasn’t switched my PCP yet (I was told it can take several weeks), which means I am sitting in limbo with my health – again!! 

Planning right now is useless, because without a diagnosis, I don’t know how long of a recovery I have. One thing I’m not a fan of is being restricted or limited from living my life. I sit here waiting, feeling defeated, because I’m unable to move forward in so many ways. 

So yeah, being sober and facing reality is depressing. 

6 Comments »

  1. I wholeheartedly understand what you are going through. It’s very difficult. I’m also aspiring to be a published author someday and it’s hard to fight through the depression to keep going when the publishing industry is full of rejection. I’ve noticed my depression get worse since I’ve stopped drinking too.

      • I think it might. Certain life triggers don’t help. For me it’s having high expectations and aspirations and feeling like they’re still out of reach. Though I speculate that even if I were to get published I would experience depressive episodes.

        • I understand that feeling completely. Having a story published and read on air about 10 years ago on NPR was a huge hoo-rah for me. But it lasted only a moment. Then I was like, “Now what?” And nothing has happened since.

          • Mine gets worse when I also see other authors zooming ahead. Getting book deals, contracts, awards and I am sincerely happy for them but it’s like – when is it going to be my turn? The whole publishing industry feels very unfairly hyper critical, ultra sensitive now to everything, people all have triggers, and what gets published is also subjective. More whites get book deals than minorities too even in the 21st century of “diversity-awareness.”

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