The down side

I try very hard to keep this blog from getting becoming a moody hole of self-pity, but I’m also a big fan of real talk and real-life blogging, and I think some things are worth mentioning, especially because the readership on this blog is so small that I’m sure no one will mind (or notice) if I indulge myself a little.

Like many people, I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I’ve been mildly medicated for these things since 2014 or so, which…truth be told, happened much later than it should really have happened. Up until recently, I’ve had it under control. I did therapy for two years in conjunction with meds. I did meds alone. I started riding in conjunction with meds. Over the summer, I told my doctor that I wanted to come off the antidepressant. I thought it was hindering my weight loss and I didn’t think I needed it anymore.

My doctor told me to hold off a bit because I had a lot of life stressors happening at once. And she was right – in November, I broke my elbow, which was basically my own personal three-month hell because I could do virtually nothing for what felt like forever. On January 8, I moved, and on January 11, I started a new job. We’re in the middle of wedding planning, and there’s a lot of financial stresses associated with that in particular and adulting in general. And now I’ve gone and completely upended my diet.

It’s been a lot.

I had a bout of adjustment issues when I first started my job. Changing jobs was a huge transition. I went from working part-time in a public school, because that’s all that was available at the time, to full-time at a desk job in a large corporate environment. I had a hard time adjusting to sitting in a gray cubicle – alone – all day every day. I knew when I took the job that I currently have that it was going to be largely repetitive over the longterm, and that my ultimate goal was to move into a research position at the same company within a few years, so what I’m doing now is not my end-game or my ideal job. I still have days where I feel a little down because this job is not as inherently satisfying or rewarding or as fun as working with kids, but I have to remind myself that a.) they were never going to make me full-time at my last job, b.) the salary I make now is double what I was making and I needed the money, and c.) the perks are good. Also, there were a lot of things about working in schools that I didn’t love: spending full days in IEP meetings, being constantly yelled at by angry or ignorant parents, physically restraining kids in our behavior program, coming home every day exhausted and drained.

Anyway, I digress. I was doing much better until I started the new low-carb diet program. I don’t want to blame the diet for my mental health, because I realize that it’s a conglomeration of factors that account for the changes I’m experiencing, but I have read quite a bit that substantiates the idea that low-carb diets can cause serotonin imbalances (i.e.: anxiety and depression), particularly in women. I’m going to meet with the dietitian tomorrow and I’m planning to ask her how to deal with it from a diet perspective.

All that is to say, I feel like I’m struggling, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time. I’m finding myself pulling away from things I used to enjoy (although not everything), and I’m increasingly more irritable. I’ve found myself saying to friends, “I feel like I’m getting meaner,” or “Jesus, I’m nasty today.” But it’s every day. I have less and less patience with being at work, and more and more I feel like I just want to be at home. I’ve also had an increase in migraines (four or five in the last month, as opposed to four or five in the last two years) lately. I feel a general sense of ennui. As much as I’m pleased with the weight loss, I need to determine if these emotional symptoms are related to the diet, and if so, how to control them. And if they’re not, then I need my meds adjusted and I was clearly very, very wrong when I thought I was well enough to come off. More than anything, I’m afraid. I allowed myself to get to a really bad place before I asked for help, and I don’t want to go down that road again…but on the other hand, it’s familiar and because of that, it’s oddly nostalgic and comforting, and that’s terrifying.