About a month ago, I had a rather disheartening conversation with my psychiatrist. The anti-depressants weren’t working. He basically said that nothing will work until I get some of the complicated issues in my life sorted out. Easier said than done.
How can I do that, though, when I feel like I’m being suffocated by depression and anxiety? I get that I’m not going to feel better overnight, but my overnight has stretched into over a year of feeling like this. I’m really trying to stay positive and optimistic, but it’s exhausting. I’m so overwhelmed by all the things I don’t have control over that I’m paralyzed with despondency. I’m finding very few activities in my life enjoyable and truly don’t know how to get out of this funk.
Some people might say I’m doing this to myself. And perhaps I am, but to what purpose? What am I getting out of this besides emptiness and failure? I want to get up each morning with a purpose, a spring in my step, a knowledge that I’m making a difference in my life and those of others.
Well, things have improved in the last month and I think it was a combination of timing, determination and the new concoction of anti-depressants I’m on. Here’s what I’m referring to;
- Timing – My application for PWD (person with a disability and yes, mental illness is a disability) has finally been approved. This is great news for several reasons, first and foremost being that my monthly stipend from the government increases by $300 and I can now claim up to $800/month of work before it starts getting deducted from my cheque. Additionally, I get an all-zones, yearly bus pass for a mere $45 ( a monthly buss pass in Vancouver ranges from $91 – $170) and all my medical needs are paid for. There are other perks, but those are the ones that will have an immediate and positive impact on my life.
- Determination – For most of my life, I’ve been a problem-solver which has made the last year extremely frustrating and difficult. Hand me someone else’s problems and I can come up with a variety of solutions and suggestions; hand me my own problems and I drown. I’m a firm believer that there’s always another way and that even the statement ‘but I have no other choice’ is a choice in and of itself.
- Anti-Depressants – I agree with my psychiatrist that anti-depressants are not enough. Effective emotional support, especially during times of extreme stress, are necessary. I am getting that from my back-to-work program and from a program my dad recently recommended to me, which the Canadian Mental Health Association has been running for over 6-years. The BounceBack: Reclaim Your Life program is a combination of a DVD course, a series of workbooks and phone sessions with a coach specifically trained to help you maximize the program as it relates to the unique issues in your own life.
I still have a long ways to go, but these three breakthroughs will make my journey out of poverty possible. I can plan for the future and learn how to better manage my stress, depression and anxiety. I can start re-connecting with friends. I can revisit or find new actitivies to be excited about.
Finally, I can start living instead of just surviving.