Saturday, August 24, 2013

It's Been a Red Flag Month

It's hard to talk about my depression, because -- on the outside -- it seems so trivial. I don't have clinical depression, I'm not high-risk for needing medication, I'm not suicidal, and I function -- with all outward appearances -- normally. However, as with everybody, I'm sure, there are seasonal times, hormonal times, or times during the year where your life seems to be running too fast to keep up with, and you just get a wee bit depressed as a result. That's the kind of depression that I'm talking about. It's the self-resolving kind. But for the month or two that it's around, it's a bitch.

I have learned over the years to identify my "red flags" that tell me when I'm in that depressive place. For instance, this morning all I wanted to do was knit and watch Little House on the Prairie. Not a normal response to waking up in the morning. When I start seeing those red flags pop up in my every day life, I want to take steps to remedy whatever is out of balance. I don't know if it would, but I fear that if I didn't change whatever was creating that mild depression, that I would settle into something much deeper and harder to get rid of.

My red flags are things like wanting to sleep a lot, or watching two movies in one night. All by themselves, they are harmless. There's nothing wrong with wanting to sleep for nine hours -- if you're trying to catch up on some lost sleep. There's nothing wrong with watching two movies in one night -- if you're having a movie marathon with friends, or if the only way you can get your son to get off the computer, widen his horizons, and socialize with you is promising to watch something he wants, if he'll then watch something you want to watch. It is a problem -- for me -- when I'm offered a night out with my loverloverman and I opt to stay home by myself and watch Gosford Park and three episodes of West Wing.

I also recognize that my red flags are not going to be someone else's red flags. This comes in handy when I'm trying to avoid diagnosing people with depression, especially my own children -- teenagers who only want to watch YouTube, sleep for twelve hours a day, and not come out of the their rooms, or even bathe. I have to constantly remind myself that they are teenagers, not depressed.

Also, I'm not the center of the universe. If I'm feeling depressed, that doesn't mean that everyone around me is.

I drug myself out of bed this morning at 9 am. Later than I normally wake up. I missed a yoga class. Again. And I didn't really feel all that bad about it. It was kind of a relief. "Oh darn. Too late for yoga." And that's happened, like, four times in the last two months. Also, different than normal for me. More red flags. So, after I did the dishes and made my bed, I pulled out my journal and started writing down things that I'm doing or feeling lately that are making me a little nervous.


1. Feeling mildly overwhelmed (like I have too much to do)
2. Tired (back to needing at least nine hours of sleep a night). Just wanting to sleep. I want to get things done but have marginal energy to do them.
3. In pain -- sacroilliac joint (unrelated, but contributing)
4. Not wanting to go out (prefer to stay in with the snuggly dogs and tea. And a book.)
5. Not wanting to go to yoga (my preferred exercise regimen)
6. Worried about money (again, unrelated, but contributing to overall emotional/physical malaise.)
7. Not wanting to work.

I think it's safe to say that I'm having a Red Flag Day. (Actually, more of a Red Flag Month, or two, but who's counting?)

Having had an up close and personal relationship with my mild depression starting to descend into something darker during my last romantic relationship (two years of long distance), I was euphoric to be in a new one that actually bypassed my seasonal February blahs. (Every February for years. It's weird.) I even warned my new boyfriend that during Februarys I would need extra hugs, and maybe I'd shed some extravagant big fat tears. He said the same was true for him in March. Good. We knew where we stood. BUT. Other than a random day here and there, neither one of us got depressed! Bliss.

Now. Here I am in frickin' August, which has NEVER been a trigger month for me, feeling all redflaggy. I'm actually not too worried about it, despite it just feeling shitty. I'm not concerned that I'll trip into the darker kind of depression, because I believe I know the cause. And that just makes everything much easier to handle. I know the cause; I know how to make it go away.

This time around it's medical.

I went in for my regular three month blood test (I have Hashimoto's Disease -- hypothyroidism), and my levels are low. Time to up the meds. My doctor wrote me a new prescription, but it's wicked expensive so I'm going to finish off what I already have (which isn't working well, but it's better than nothing). Within a week or two, when I start taking the new one, I'll feel much better.

Also, my iron levels are too low right now. I had it checked in June, coming out at 12.8 and my doctor likes to see it above 13 at the very least. Since then I've run out of my supplements, and only just started taking them again. Two months being deficient in iron can also make me tired.

And another thing. I ran out of my liquid vitamin D3 that I take a lot of, due to a deficiency, and only just found some more for sale two days ago. It's been a good long while since I had me some vitamin D3.

Turns out I'm low on everything! Which definitely puts my whole system out of whack, causing fatigue and depression most notably. Hashimoto's symptoms include muscle weakness and pain, too. I wonder if my low levels are contributing to my SI joint pain. It's been locked up, fixed, locked up, and fixed again, but still causing me a lot of discomfort.

So yay! I'm depressed for medical reasons! This is very good news to me. It means I'm not lame. It means I'm not going to stay depressed. It means: things will start looking up, I'll get more accomplished, I'll be able to stomach being social again, I'll stop wanting to knit, and I'll be able to function with less sleep. Win/Win.

I just need to wait another two weeks. Mid-September will be grand.


Anonymous said...

I found this to be a very engaging and insightful post. And I really liked where it took me (and you)—towards a healthy resolution and positive outlook. Thanks, Valerie!

Valerie Willman said...

You're welcome! Thanks so much for reading.