Losing Joy

How would you feel if you lost your capacity to feel joy?  Where is the meaning in life when all of the things you love no longer make you happy?  It’s perfectly normal, my doctor says.  He says it means the meds are working.  I have a problem with this logic.  Logically, you would think if depression medications are working then the person taking them should no longer feel depressed.  I suppose this logic would depend on your definition of what depression feels like, though.  

For me, the opposite of feeling depressed should, logically, be feeling happy.  That statement takes some very complex emotions and simplifies them as much as possible.  Maybe ‘feeling happy’ is a little too optimistic.  I would settle with feeling content or simply not feeling sad the majority of the time.  

As I understand it, doctors aim for ‘stability’ when medicating a depressed person, which basically means the person doesn’t feel desperately sad or completely hopeless.  It can be a harrowing battle of tinkering with psychotropic medications to find some kind of balance which could be described as stability, everyone is different in this regard.  The real bitch of it is you can find such a balance and it will work for an extended period of time, after which your body adjusts to it and it either stops working completely or stops working as well as it did at first.  Also, there can be side effects that create problems in other aspects of your life that didn’t exist prior to the medications.

My most recent major medication change has, seemingly, changed my personality in pretty big ways.  I don’t recognize myself and I don’t feel like I fit properly inside my skin anymore.  After my body went through the initial shock of the medication change I felt good; I felt confident, I was writing, reading, taking pictures, interacting with the world, and living my life like a ‘normal’ person would.  Roughly five months later I am a shell of that person.  My confidence has withered awayLosing-Joy to nothing.  I rarely write anymore and when I do I generally hate what I write and publish only a fraction of what I’ve written.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a book.  I used to snap photos everywhere I went and loved using Instagram, now I look around and can’t think of a single thing to photograph.  We have pets that I used to adore, now I wish we could get rid of them.  Every time one of our cats jumps up and tries to snuggle me I make my husband shoo him away because I find the interaction overstimulating.  THIS IS NOT ME!!!

There is no longer anything in my life that brings me joy or happiness.  Let me rephrase that.  Everything in life that I used to find fulfilling, things that made me happy, no longer do.  Did I suddenly lose interest in all of my hobbies?  No.  My doctor says this is perfectly normal based on the psychotropic medications I am taking to treat my depression and anxiety.  Well, that’s comforting.

When I am in the midst of a major depressive episode I generally do not want to live.  I am engulfed in a complete sense of hopelessness, a darkness that is all-consuming.  Currently, the only emotions I feel on a regular basis are fear and sadness.  I am scared of this person I have become and do not recognize, and I am mourning the loss of the person I once was.  I do not want to live the way I was when I was depressed.  I also do not want to live the way I am living now.  This is not who I am.

losing-joy

THIS is who I am.

I am a compassionate, loving person who enjoys laughing and spending time with friends.  I am an animal lover who struggles to not take in every stray kitten in town because they all need somebody to love them.  I thrive on connecting with people and interacting, whether it’s in person or online.  I can read a novel in two or three days because I just can’t put it down.  I love taking photographs, even though I am far from a professional because I like to document the beauty surrounding me.  I am fiercely loyal and will help my friends or family in any way that I am able.  

Yet… I am none of those things lately.

Are my only options one extreme or the other?  Severe depression or mere existence?  At least when I was depressed I had moments of clarity, I had the capacity to feel joy, however fleeting it may have been.  What I am feeling, or not feeling in my life now almost mimics depression.  The majority of the time I am sad and anxious, which are the symptoms these medications are supposed to be treating.  So here’s my question… Am I really better off now than I was before?  Are taking psychotropics worth losing myself when I am already lost to begin with?  What, dear reader, would you prefer?

There are still pieces of me remaining under this veil of drugs and depression, the proof is in the writing of this piece.  I don’t want to disappear and I am trying to hold on.  I know I am not alone in my struggle, that there are people who love me and want to see me well.  I’ve beaten the demons of depression before, too many times to count, so chances are I can do it again.  This current state of affairs, however, is a perspective I am not as familiar with and certainly not comfortable with.  I must find a way to get my life back.  Life feels hopeless at the moment but rarely is any situation truly without hope.  So while I cannot see it or feel it, I will try to remember hope still exists.

 

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21 thoughts on “Losing Joy

  1. I think this is a hugely brave piece, and that YOU are an immensely brave person, not just for writing it, but for living it. I’m so glad you recognise the difference which has been wrought in you by the medication, and that it’s a side effect of trying to combat your condition BUT I think it sucks that this is the impact it’s having, and I so, SO wish there was a way to get you back to YOU ❤

    P.S. I love the pictures, and I love you as whichever version you're feeling like at the time because YOU are wonderful.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Abbie, I’m sorry you got such a bad roll of the depression meds dice this time. I remember Nicole Lyons writing much the same a while back, and another blogger I follow is in the middle of a big meds change following an inpatient stay. There must be a better way that gets the balance right and relieve the depression without squashing the You. Remember, you have friends who will see the hope for you when you can’t see it yourself (dear Lizzi being a case in point). And, thank you for sharing what is going on. Do not be silent thinking to protect those who care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nicole wrote an amazing piece about her horrendous experience regarding psychotropics for my series this past May entitled Medicated Madness. I call this the ‘medication game’ which I’ve played for many, many years now. It is what it is and the meds will change again at some point, for better or worse. Your support is greatly appreciated, Robert. XX

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh honey, this broke my heart. I feel similarly to you. Meds dull my happiness as well as depression, which is why I fought being on them and have even gone off. The steadiness seems not right. The joy is something i miss when I’m on them. Hugs. This is such a brave post. Thank you for hitting publish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you know it wasn’t easy hitting that damn ‘publish’ button!!! Luckily I had encouragement to do so, and I needed to get it out there. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and yet I wouldn’t wish these feelings (or lack thereof) on anyone…

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  4. You basically wrote about exactly what I am feeling right now. I have just started meds again and I give a fuck about pretty much nothing – everything is flat and dull and lifeless. I did wonder why I hadn’t heard from you in ages and I’m sorry to hear that this is the reason. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reaching out and commenting, as you’ve noticed that’s been hard for me lately. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through similar experiences with medications, it’s awful. Let’s try to catch up soon, XX

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  5. I’m there, right in the shitty void with you. I could have written this if I’d had the will. You have just explained where I am now. I know that doesn’t help and in this state of apathy, connecting with others seems futile, but the glimmer of the ‘you’ that was before, is tucked away in there somewhere. I keep telling myself that. I hope it’s true.

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    • It does help, Lisa, to know I’m not completely alone… though, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I would never wish these feelings – or lack thereof – on anyone. I honestly believe we are still in there, that it IS true and the meds are simply stifling what makes us ‘us’ at the moment. We will find the way ❤

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  6. FIGHT

    FIGHT

    FIGHT

    My heart was heavy when I finished your beautiful, brave post. And then.. the above is what I wanted to tell you. I know you are fighting – I see it in your words.

    These words are so important (I don’t need to tell you this – but I was glad to see these words in your post.) “I’ve beaten the demons of depression before, too many times to count, so chances are I can do it again. (YES, you can!) Life feels hopeless at the moment but rarely is any situation truly without hope. So while I cannot see it or feel it, I will try to remember hope still exists.”

    And love still exists. You are important… you deserve love and hope and feelings beyond just “existing”. So sending hugs and blessing to you – this virtual stranger up North – who understands completely. You’re stronger than depression – even if you don’t feel it right now. So.. FIGHT! Your friends and family are right beside you – swords ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These are beautiful and wonderful words from a ‘virtual stranger up North’ that are deeply appreciated!! Thank you so much for the encouragement! You are right, I am a fighter and I won’t stop fighting now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. (I apologize for how late this comment is, I’m just catching up on my blog reading again.) Remember that your doctor is working for you. Has your doctor told you that this effect is only temporary or is this the best you can hope for from these meds? If it’s the best that you can hope for you absolutely have the right to tell your doctor that meds that make you have the same symptoms that they are supposed to make go away is *completely* unacceptable. And stupid. No matter whether the doctor thinks the meds are “working” you are the one who has to live with the effects of them and you have the right to ask for better. You have the right to try to find your joy again. I really hope that is comment is more helpful than hurtful, I honestly cannot see how any doctor would be satisfied with this sort of result and the thought that yours might be infuriates me. (((Hugs)))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never apologize for being ‘late’ in commenting, I just appreciate your taking the time to do so at all. Also, your comment is not hurtful in any way. I am currently in a very intense vocational program that I refuse to drop out of so a med change is out of the question until the program is completed. My doctor said he would never want any of his patients to live this way but the only option for me right now is to maintain stability. I probably should have mentioned these facts in my post but I wasn’t thinking about it from a perspective such as yours. However, I fear there are doctors out there who may not be as concerned with the side effects I’m experiencing, you know? I truly appreciate your concern on my behalf. Whether my doctor is ok with it or not, it is still a nightmare to experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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