Faking It

“Fake it until you make it”.
“If you forget your part, or lose your place, just fake it”.
That first statement is one that most everyone has heard. Not sure who to attribute it to.  The second statement is something that our high school band director would advise us whenever we were participating in school symphonic band competitions.  “What people always remember during a concert is the beginning and the ending.  Have a strong opening and a strong close and in between, if you personally get messed up, just fake it until you can catch up”.  Although, if you happened to be a soloist, that advice didn’t work so well.  Hard to hide mistakes if you were the only one up there making noise.

People who are depressed are actually quite good at faking happiness and general “normalcy”.  For whatever reasons, it feels like an adrenaline push to conceal the truth whenever out in public spaces.  And it is EXHAUSTING.   It’s probably much like how wounded and sick animals will try to hide themselves or behave as if everything is perfectly fine; they’re just, you know, taking it easy right now.  Pet owners know this.  It isn’t until your cat or dog is actually quite ill, or is not eating or drinking anymore, that you end up at the vets office where they inform you that something is urgent.  “What?? But, he’s been acting like his usual self!”  If animals could actually speak our language, maybe it would be different.  But then again, mammals have an instinct to not appear weak or injured because other mammals tend to attack or shun each other when they behave that way.  They tend to eat one another.  And humans, after all, are mammals.

However, humans are different from other mammals in many other ways.  We have a language that is incredibly nuanced, massively creative, endlessly evolving, and our language can do other things besides warn or beckon or comfort or express joy.   Our language can actually affect our own brains, our own feelings, our own behavior and health.  Our language can influence other human’s brains, feelings, behavior, health, attitudes.

When I was depressed, I couldn’t remember a time when I did not disgust myself; when I was not ashamed of myself; when I did not hate myself.  The playlist in my head, which ran constantly included such hits as “I’m A Failure”, “I Can Never Do Anything Right”, “I Will Never Accomplish Anything”, “I Am Stupid”, “I Am Worthless”, “I Am Too Weird”, “I Don’t Belong Here”, “I Don’t Belong Anywhere”, “I Always Mess Up”, “I’m An Idiot”, “I’m A Fool”, “I Will Never Do Anything Right”, “I Hate Myself”, “I Am A Disgusting Mess”, “Everyone Thinks So Too”…..and so many more! OH SO MANY VARIATIONS!

The psychologist who managed to change things for me made me do something on our very first visit.  It was after my last episode of feeling suicidal – and it was one of my worst episodes.  It was during my first visit with her after getting a reference from my psychiatrist (and after starting back up on a new anti-depressant).  After acknowledging with great sympathy just how broken and shitty I was feeling, she made me do something, which she laughingly told me was “going to feel really stupid and really silly and really corny right now and it’s something no one likes to do”.   She made me say out loud, “I am wonderful”.  I shot her a look.  “We aren’t going anywhere or talking at all until you say it”.  Then she made me say it again with a little more conviction.  I started crying.  She handed me a box of tissue with an encouraging nod and an even more sympathetic face.  Then she told me to say, “I love myself!”.   I indicated that I just really couldn’t fathom uttering those words and she said, “It doesn’t matter if you actually feel it right now, just say it out loud.  Say it because it is perfectly fine to say it!…Let me tell you, I love myself! That’s right! And I’m proud of it! It’s okay to love yourself! It doesn’t mean you think that you are perfect.  NO ONE is perfect. We all have our issues and our flaws….and it’s okay to love ourselves anyway!”

So I did.  With a huge eye roll.
So she made me do it again without the huge eye roll.

“Okay. Now we can begin to get you feeling better…. because you deserve to.”

Basically (and she acknowledges this) it was a form of “fake it ’til you make it” therapy.
And I have to begrudgingly admit that it works.

It’s not like I don’t still get mad at myself, or even have some suicide ideation anymore, but I’ve come to recognize exactly when something has managed to hit the high volume button on those old tunes.

Breaking those 24/7 recordings in your head of all the stuff you hate about yourself and replacing them with soundtracks of kindness and love towards yourself is crucial to being able to get better.  You have to think of yourself as a friend or family member that you love dearly and don’t want to lose.  Would you EVER say those nasty things to them? Of course not! Would you EVER believe those things about them? NO.  And you know exactly why you would never say or think those things about that person?  Yes. You do.  It’s because you LOVE THEM.  You love them despite whatever quirks or issues they have.  And EVERYONE in this world has quirks and issues and flaws and mistakes.  You do not have to be flawless to be loved.  You do not have to be flawless to exist.  You can love your own self.

A lot of depression has to do with chemistry.  I happen to know that well.  A lot of it also has to do with language; namely, the language you use with yourself.  If you can beat yourself down into a pulp with negative language in your head, it stands to reason that you can help to heal yourself with language too.  If you can fake happy language outwardly to other people, why the hell not fake it to yourself?  The only difference is that instead of deceiving other people to make them feel okay, you can change the way you think of yourself in order to actually crawl out of the hold that depression has on you.  And that is worth doing.

It’s hard work because it involves breaking lifelong habits.  But it isn’t impossible.



It’s In My Head

At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, I sprang awake with one fully formed thought in my mind:  Maybe I actually am crazy!

Other words quickly followed: delusional, flaky, insane…

A massive pressurized feeling of having been up until this very moment completely divorced from Reality, lost in a temporal world of my own making, floating along in another plane of existence, burst through my chest.  My family and friends have observed this ditziness in me, especially of late, and they have been tolerating me out of love and concern! That’s what’s really going on!

I managed to shove it all away, placate myself that I was just having a moment of self-doubt; that Depression was struggling to gain a foothold again by pulling me down into its’ endless burrow of negativity and self-hatred.  I closed my eyes and burrowed into my pillow instead.

When I awoke again, I went about my day attending to the usual mundane things that somehow exalt themselves with meaning. Things that I had imbued with grand importance:  Cleaning and organizing and planning and “nesting” and creating a schedule and cleaning some more; a training program,  if you will,  for getting my shit together once and for all; to get things prepared for my Master Plan of becoming a Creative Entrepreneur (to use a fancy-pants term for “artist who can help support her family”).

I couldn’t help thinking to myself in the following days that I was, truth be told, feeling a bit manic lately.  I wrote some of it away to being off one of my meds. But my mind has been all over the place with hopes and dreams and plans and schemes and determination and “keeping positive” and a stubborn willfulness that things are going to work out the way I want them to.  I’ve been feeling restless, impatient, hopeful.  I’ve been doing things with a hyper-focus and a strange stream of energy; all while putting other things on the back burner (where they smolder with a threat to break out into a fire).  I’ve been thinking and planning and doing for “all the things!”

But today, that feeling I had Sunday night at 3 a.m. is prying open my mental space again, siphoning out my optimism, gassing panic into it’s place….

I’ve become suspicious of myself.

<a href=””>Suspicious</a&gt;

I Often Worry

I often worry. No surprise there to anyone who knows me. I worry about all sorts of things, as all people do. I fall into the category of people, though, who worry too much. Way too much. I know this about myself. I try to deal with it.

I know that parents always worry how well a job they are doing raising their children. They worry if they are screwing their kids up somehow. After all, parents have pretty vivid images of how their own parents raised them and it most definitely affects the kind of parent that they want to be. But, often, there is a huge gap between the parent you want to be and the parent you actually are. And that is, of course, because no two people are ever exactly the same; no two children, no two adults, no two families. That whole “Life is a box of chocolates” thing.  The wishing that kids came with individual instruction manuals thing. Hell, the wish that you had come with an instruction manual!

This piece touched me just now because I often worry as well. I think my husband does too. I wonder how my children are going to remember me, my husband, us.  I wonder how our depression will affect them; has affected them. Because it’s certainly affected everything that he and I have done and do. (Damn you, Depression!!)

I’m curious and anxious about what things look like to them, how things feel to them. Very anxious. Very worried.

Anyway, I enjoyed this piece by Lisa Lim about how things seemed to her.

My Mother Would Walk Miles Upon Miles

By Lisa Lim on Mutha Magazine

“I’d ask, “Mommy, why don’t you have any wrinkles?” “Because I don’t think that hard about things,” she’d answer.” Memories of a mother — and her struggles with homelessness, depression, and varicose veins — in comic form.

via My Mother Would Walk Miles Upon Miles — Discover

So It’s Come to This

“She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day”
– The  Rolling Stones


I had a really good therapist before my current one, whom I adore, by the way. I switched just for the sake of consolidating things. She was seeing my son at the time and it seemed convenient to go to her since our issues were overlapping.

Anyway, this previous therapist said in response to a question I had about the whys and wherefores of depression that, lacking any traumatic experience, “it’s all about brain chemistry and that’s pretty much it”.

I’m convinced. And it’s all so weird. And fascinating.

My GP prescribed Wellbutrin to add to the Lexapro I’ve been on since…forever it seems, and since I mentioned that I’m on the low end of the spectrum of ADD, he agreed with my therapist to let me give Adderall a whirl. “Right now, you could use something to get you going”.

I said, “here goes nothing” and took my 5 mg of Adderall this morning and my 5 mg 6 hours later.

My review:  It certainly helped. I wasn’t rushing around. I wasn’t feeling manic or shaky or revved up. But I got things done today. I was moving. The weirdest part is that I found myself looking at household chores I normally would find rather odious, like scooping cat litter or, yet again, cleaning up after one of our dogs who still doesn’t have the hang of house training, and tackling them without too much disgust or resentment – resentment!! – that it fell on me to do for the umpteenth time.  I think that’s what I’m feeling rather bemused by right now. I did find myself muttering occasionally about wishing I wasn’t the only one who did these things on a regular basis…but there wasn’t the anger sticking in my craw about it; the hurt of feeling like the scullery maid. I just felt like a….responsible adult!!! An amiable, responsible, capable, adult. Oh. My. God!!!  I did the dishes, I took out the trash, I cleaned up all the Legos sprawled across our dining room table, and then decided to finally tackle the painting of our laundry room, which has been one of the hundred or so things on my to-do list for months. And I’ve been in a good mood while doing it all!  Weird. Just weird.

I will admit that in my stupid and foolish youth, I may have partaken of some illegal drugs.  Even though I know Adderall is basically amphetamine, I don’t have any of the feelings brought on by what I did illicitly in my younger days. I’ve been calm.  I’ve been relaxed, but not like OVERLY so. I’m not irritable or skittish or “high”.  I just find myself looking at things that need taking care of and thinking “okay, I’ll do that; I can do that…right now”.  And then just….doing it. I’m not paralyzed anymore.

Just. Like. That.

“Mother’s Little Helper”……


Brain chemistry is fascinating.

Just Waiting

Yesterday I did nothing but sleep.
Well, almost nothing.
I managed to drag myself out to get my blood drawn.
Today I went in to see my General Practitioner about the results.

I haven’t been able to get an appointment yet with either my psychiatrist or my psychologist.

I was wondering if something might be up that could explain why I’ve been feeling the way I do. Wondering if there was anything in my blood work that would indicate anything other than pure depression. Like, you know, cancer or something.

You see, the last time I was this down, it was right before I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I guess I’m just a little superstitious. Or paranoid. I think the Cancer Card allows me on the latter.

Aside from my cholesterol being extremely high (Turns out I get to be “special” again in the genetics department. This time it looks like I may have a rather rare inherited cholesterol problem), everything else seems pretty damn normal.

Nope. Nothing other than pure depression to explain why I feel like a marionette who’s been suddenly dropped by whomever was pulling the strings; by someone who inexplicably became bored as hell and quite abruptly threw me to the ground and left the building.

The good doctor has prescribed me some extra medication to try and entice that string-puller back to play. Apparently, antidepressants can suddenly just stop working. I really don’t like the idea of having more medication, I really don’t, but at this point….
Ah, Lexapro, why’d you have to give up on me? Was I too much? Was it something I said?

Still going to follow up with the other doctors. Whenever I manage to get ahold of them.

For now, I’m just waiting.
Waiting for the pharmacy to call.
Waiting for tomorrow morning to give the new meds a whirl.
Just waiting for my puppeteer to come back.



Lost Weekend

This past weekend was a doozy. I’m trying to decide if it falls under the category of depressive seizure …or tantrum?

All I know is that on Saturday, about 4 pm, after spending almost all of the day knitting, (Yes. Knitting. It seems to be the only thing lately that I’ve got the interest or the energy to do. I think it keeps me hyper-focused and therefore, relatively calm…usually) I found myself crawling into bed with my napping husband and simply losing…my marbles and my will, and, it felt like, everything else.

I couldn’t quit crying because all that kept stomping across my mind was:

“I quit. I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I’m useless. Nothing changes. Nothing is going to change. I’m a failure. I’ve always been a failure. I never accomplish anything. I never finish anything. I never follow through on anything. I’m no good. I’m no good for my children or my husband or my friends or my parents. I’m just not good at this. I’m not good at living. Never been good at it. I don’t have the energy. I’m never going to get better. I’m never going to make anything better for anyone. I simply can’t do it. I don’t WANT to do it. I don’t want to try anymore! I don’t WANT to do ONE. DAMN. THING. I don’t have the desire to do anything AT ALL. I don’t want to see anyone or be seen by anyone. What’s the point of anything? I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. FUCK IT ALL. I’m just DONE. I SUCK at this and what’s more I don’t even think I care anymore….”

Now, I know that some people will probably read that and say: “Aah, shut up with your whining already!” and proceed to lecture me about how much better I’ve got it than other people in this world….and they would be right.  Some might say “How can you say you don’t care, when you have children who need you?!”…and they would be right too.

I do have it so much better than many people.  I am very aware of that fact. I would venture that I’m even MORE aware of that fact than a lot of others. I’m not living in a city that’s being bombed. I’m not running for my life from people who want to enslave me to their way of thinking or kill me. I’m not without food or clothing or clean water or a roof over my head. By virtue of the color of my skin, I don’t have to endure a lot of what other people have.

I love my children and my family with every fiber of my being. That’s why this hurts so much. Because I still feel like a total zombie and I know that they deserve so much better. They deserve someone who is completely present and involved and attentive and capable. Don’t make a mistake. I. LOVE. THEM.

I KNOW I’m so much better off than a lot of people. I KNOW I have a lot to be grateful for. Strangely enough, it doesn’t make me want to pull myself up by those bootstraps that seem to have been misplaced around here somewhere. That doesn’t make me feel any better about myself or our situation. In fact, it makes me feel even worse. And maybe that’s the real intent of the person that would lecture me about my seeming ingratitude. Tough love or whatever. SHAME her out of her silly sadness and despair and self-hatred! Yes! That’s the way!! Fight fire with fire, shame with shame!!! Pile it on!!

Trust me. I’ve already tried.  My mom too. And various friends. And the Shame Pyre is burning quite well already, thank you very much. Plenty of fuel. No worries there. But it doesn’t change the feelings or make them hurt less.

Anyway, this seizure or tantrum or whatever the hell it is went on and on: in and out of sleeping and crying for several hours, in between wondering what the hell I was going to do about this predicament of simply not wanting to go on…wondering if just rotting away in bed was an option. Finding a half-hearted chuckle in realizing that I was actually safe from my suicide ideation because I honestly didn’t have the energy to actually get out of the damn bed and do anything about it.

Hubs dragged himself out to take care of what the rest of the household needed – in way of keeping kids and pets company and feeding everyone.  I’m glad he seems to be on the way “Up” since my track definitely seems to be a very slick and slippery “Down”.

The monster in my head that had been muffled and shunted into a straight-jacket and thrown into a triple-locked trunk in my head by my up-until-now-beautifully-efficient anti-depressant and years of cognitive therapy and a good kick in the rumpus by cancer, came unleashed this weekend and went on a bender.

Around 11 p.m. that night though, I started wondering if maybe my cancer has returned; if maybe it has metastasized and is now in my brain and maybe that’s the reason I’m feeling this way. After all, prior to my TNBC diagnosis back in 2011, I had been suicidal. I couldn’t help but remember an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and died roughly six months later; how she had become pretty unpredictable towards the end – mood swings and behavior problems. Then, from the depths of the sewage hole of my mind, very faintly, gurgled up a tiny voice that said, “But, I don’t really want to die!”.

AHA!!!! THERE SHE IS!!! SHE’S STILL BREATHING!!…. the voice I needed to hear.

I slid slowly out of the covers, shuffled to the kitchen, took my medication, ate a bowl of ice cream and went back to bed.

I’m still feeling very bruised and shitty.  Still don’t want to leave the house. Still don’t want to socialize with anyone. I just don’t feel capable of it. Energy level is still extremely low.  I’m grumpy and irritable and bone-tired (for no reason) but at least the Will to Live finally piped up…whatever good that will do.

Managed to do the dishes yesterday. Scooped the cat litter. Vacuumed a bit. Yippee.

Making doctor appointments now.







This down-ness, this emotional flat-lining, this…..general all-around blech, has got to stop.

Hibernated pretty much all day today.
I seem to be doing that every other day now.
My crown accomplishments? Getting a shower. Picking my daughter up from school.

Thinking of upping my meds. On my own. Executive decision. An experiment.
My psychiatrist says that 20 mg is the upper limit on what I’m on.
My therapist, who has a degree in Pharma, says that 40 mg. is.

I’m just……too numb.

Considering my last post, I guess that makes me a Zombie/Werewolf hybrid.