Wednesday, May 21, 2008

mail from down under

my refrigerator!
My refrigerator.

My life has been on the chaotic side lately. My time has been committed to the theater since December, first assistant directing Murder in Green Meadows, then immediately after as part of the Run for Your Wife cast. And not that I'm complaining; it's been a blast. I just feel like I lost control of my "Lisa time" and now I'm running to get caught up.

I've also been dealing with that rotten, stupid, frustrating depression. I'm now seeing someone who can specifically treat it, instead of just receiving a crapshoot of drugs from a general practitioner. I've been diagnosed with "atypical depression" (which you can read all about at the end of this blog if you'd like).

This is nothing new, and nothing to be upset about. It simply gives a name to what I've been struggling with my whole life, so it's a relief to me. One of those "ah-ha!" moments where I read the description and wanted to shout "that's me!" I'm excited and moving forward.

I'm on all new meds and slowly feeling better. I've been feeling down for so long that I almost forgot it wasn't part of my personality. The base level Lisa is happy, optimistic, and energetic. I lost her along the way, left her somewhere in the muck of the bizarre past five years. It's not like me to want to lay on the couch, take multiple naps, eat and sleep too much, feel like life is hopeless, and hate myself. I've been ignoring these red flags for too long.

The support of all my friends has been wonderful - they've been there for me even though I've been horrible about returning phone calls and e-mails, and have turned down many invitations to hang out because I wanted to be home in my jammies.

And when someone you only know from the blogging world, from Sydney, Australia, sends you happy presents in the mail, you know you're going to be o.k. Genevieve sent me the above photos, along with an encouraging note. I immediately put them all over my refrigerator, anchored with my gargoyle magnets from Wales and my Winston Churchill magnets from England, and every time I see them I'm happy. The fact that someone I have never met took the time to send me some happiness in the mail and make me feel special is just awesome! So thank you, Gen! You'll never know how much that means to me.

Here's the info on atypical depression. I have three major risk factors: being chronically ill (with Lyme), having a family history of depression, and having some not-so-fun childhood experiences - so it totally makes sense. Luckily, with the right medication combination, it's completely treatable. I feel like I'm getting my life back.
Atypical Depression

Sufferers of depression with atypical features will respond to negative or positive external events. They'll feel deeply depressed or somewhat hopeful depending on the latest situation they are faced with. Their mood will brighten considerably when dining out with friends or enjoying a good movie. But when they are alone, their mood will slip back into the dark depths of depression.

Patients with atypical depression tend to have an earlier age of onset than those with other subtypes (it often first appears in the pre-teen or teenage years).

Atypical depression is a type of depression that overwhelms an individual almost to the point of emotional paralysis. Oftentimes, atypical depression is set off by perceived as well as real rejections so that even a constructive criticism is taken as a personal affront. If you are battling atypical depression, you probably feel extremely sensitive to criticism.

You may eat too much and turn to comfort foods when you experience atypical depression. Don’t be surprised if it’s hard to get out of bed or if you sleep more than 10 hours with atypical depression. People with atypical depression feel sluggish so that even daily ordinary tasks seem too complicated and cumbersome. A romantic break-up or death in the family may set off serious symptoms of atypical depression. Atypical depression often follows rejections by close friends, co-workers or family members.

Atypical depression is one of the most common kinds of depression. The name atypical depression comes from the fact many of its symptoms are opposite to those of some severe depressions. For example people with atypical depression tend to overeat and oversleep. In contrast, people with depression can’t eat or sleep, and feel anxious instead of numb.

According to the DSM-IV,1, the official guide to psychological disorders, atypical depression is characterized by mood reactivity and two or more of the following criteria: hypersomnia, increased appetite or weight gain, leaden paralysis, longstanding sensitivity to interpersonal rejection that results in significant social or occupational impairment.

Symptoms of atypical depression:
  • Sleeping more than 10 hours
  • Cyclical depressive mood
  • Emotional sensitivity to criticism and rejection
  • Feelings of lethargy and emotional paralysis
  • Increased appetite and food/carbohydrate cravings
Risk factors:
  • Loneliness
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Health problems or chronic illness
  • Lack of social support
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
If you have atypical depression, you are at higher risk for more serious and sudden major depression. You may not even know you have atypical depression because you feel depressed most of the time. You may try to hide your symptoms of atypical depression by working harder, going on diets, analyzing your failed relationships and staying on a rigid schedule; however, you have only covered up your atypical depression not cured it.


Genevieve said...

It was my pleasure to be able to send you those little presents. :)

I suffered from depression for seven years before seeking help. When i began my medication and started feeling better, i couldn't believe that not everyone woke up in the morning feeling sad and tired about life. It had become such a big part of me that i didn't realise things could be any different.

I sometimes still describe myself as pessimistic and melancholic but my friend pointed out to me yesterday that a person who manages to find beauty around her cannot be melancholic or pessimistic.

What a revelation that was.

Megan said...

love ya, lis