Month 4 Health Update: Trying to find stability

Bird sitting in chain link fence on a sunny day.
Optimistic? Not yet. But hopeful? Yes.

Finally back on track with health updates! Overall, the news is good, it's just been mentally (and physically) exhausting so far. Still, I've come a long way.

In my last update, I shared that I was working on some things in my marriage.

I love privacy so I won't go into a ton more detail, but I've learned a lot about how relationship dynamics can affect both partners' health over time. Sometimes it's from baggage we brought to the relationship, sometimes from living in survival mode or bad habits we've fallen into.

Since my last post, we've both been working in and outside of therapy to figure out how and why we're struggling and what's needed to move forward. There's still a lot of work to do and a lot of trust to rebuild, but I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be together on that Scottish beach next spring.

One thing I've been doing is identifying some areas of relationship struggle that trigger health episodes like suicidal thoughts and setting boundaries for myself.

A few examples:

  • I will not set aside time I don't have for others when I need it for myself
  • I will no longer take on the full mental load of managing household chores and focus only on my own unless specifically asked for help
  • I will leave the house at the time I say I will, even if that means leaving partner behind if he's running late
  • I will take time away, either a few hours or a day or two, when I need it and always let partner know how I'm feeling and where I will be

Both of us being in therapy is now a condition of our relationship moving forward. We're also working on evening out our financial responsibilities so he can stop working odd shifts at 3-4 jobs and I don't have to be the primary breadwinner.

Again, these are all big things and take time to explore and sort out. But we've made some progress already and that's a huge relief.

Now on to the actual health update!

Mental health update summary

I'm happy to say that I'm back to a stable-ish place. It's been a bit of a journey experimenting with medication, but in general I feel better about where I am and what I'm doing to work on myself.

Anti-depressants and the side affect issue

During some more difficult days when my anxiety was up, I really struggled to sleep even on multiple medications. To counter that, we tried upping my sleeping meds, but it soon became clear the side effects outweighed the benefits.

The higher dose was causing extreme fatigue, serious memory issues, lack of focus, and constant brain fog. I nearly got into several car accidents one weekend while driving, struggled to remember details, manage projects, and recall if I'd taken my meds, and I still wasn't sleeping well.

We lowered the dose again and switched briefly to a different, much more expensive, medication to see if it would help. But it required a serious routine adjustment for mealtimes and after a few days, the results just didn't seem worth it. So now we're back to the original prescription at a lower dose.

I still only average 6-7 hours of sleep a night, but I consider that a good starting point. Since I'm not supposed to be on sleeping meds long-term, I'd rather take something with decent results and work on lifestyle changes that help me sleep naturally.

It's just been difficult since I always seem to have to drop everything to focus on survival when my depression dips again. But I'm working on it!

How physical is depression, really?

Another struggle has been the physiological side of depression and anxiety. I've always thought of depression as being all in my head, so to speak. As in, it affects my emotions and mood and not much else.

But my experiences have really challenged that perception.

Sometimes my fatigue is so intense, I get short of breath and struggle to walk properly. I'll often lean on walls to get around, cook sitting down in my rolling office chair, and take baths instead of showers. My speech can be slurred or slow down, causing me to sound a bit drunk.

I tend not to leave the house for anything except light exercise on those days. Blurry vision, brain fog, and confusion also make it a challenge (and dangerous) to drive. On the worst days, I need help moving around or can even be temporarily catatonic.

Based on some recent conversations, this is a fairly unusual experience. I have lived with intense episodes of fatigue for as long as I can remember, but now this is a regular part of my life, it's really begun impacting my functionality. I'm even looking into mobility aids to help me get around.

A friend rightly pointed out that there could be other underlying conditions at play. So while I would really love not to deal with an additional diagnosis, I'll be looking into this more closely.

But again, while this isn't remotely ideal, being able to recognize and name what I'm feeling, how it affects me, and ways I can mitigate it is incredibly helpful. It's also a positive sign that my cognitive dysfunction is receding a bit.

A happy note

Overall, I've really been doing a lot better these past few weeks. Since the medication correction, it truly feels like a fog has lifted.

I have way more energy, I'm getting outside at least once a day to walk or run errands, have started reading and sewing again, and am even occasionally social!

When the psych asked me to describe my recent mood, I said "hopeful", an answer we were both happy with. Mostly, I'm hopeful that we're on track for the moment and I can begin focusing on a healthier lifestyle.

Things like swimming at the local rec center, spending time with friends, and eating healthier will all have long-term benefits. I just need to take my time and be aware of my own limitations.

Final piece of good news: I booked our AirBnb for Scotland next spring! So next April is now my deadline for meeting some health, wellness, and relationship goals.

It's nice to have something tangible to look forward to.

Catch you next time!