22 votes

Hi, how are you? Mental health support and discussion thread (May 2024)

This is a monthly thread for those who need it. Vent, share your experiences, ask for advice, talk about how you are doing. Let's make this a compassionate space for all who may need one.

26 comments

  1. [11]
    elight
    (edited )
    Link
    It's bad. I don't even know where to begin. Long pause This is going to be a lot of venting. I've struggled with depression most of my life. I've been in a deep depression for nearly a month now....

    It's bad. I don't even know where to begin.

    Long pause

    This is going to be a lot of venting.

    I've struggled with depression most of my life. I've been in a deep depression for nearly a month now. This is the longest I've been in such a state since the death of my first wife, after caregiving for her for years, just over 10 years ago.

    I had to quit my job in Big Tech, a year ago, as it was turning me into an awful person. Despite how much they wanted to hire me, and a good start, I couldn't find a way to make the job sustainable for me while not turning into a monster or not getting fired (which seemed likely just before I quit).

    I'm still unemployed. The burnout was bad. This is a huge source of depression and shame for me. I'm only just now starting to look for work. I work in Tech (big surprise), was a manager for 5 years, and am trying to go back to being an IC. I liked management because I like supporting other people to succeed. But the emotional Labor day after day was killing me. Now that I'm 50, even with more than 20 years as a coder, and a pretty decent one (not amazing, mind you), I'm still unemployed. Granted, I only hung my shingle out for IC work a few weeks ago now. But a year unemployed, even with savings, has been eating at my soul. And abandoning management, because of the mental health impact on me, has been painful; it was part of my identity.

    Add to that, just over the past few months, in no particular order:

    • A dear pet died while we were half a world away. We did the best we could for her but this was sudden and unexpected. I'd never felt so trapped as the 24 hours it took to arrange travel home. And this after having another pet die when we were 8 hours drive from home. These were both old pets and well-cared for. Still, absolutely broke our hearts.
    • My wife and I have been fighting more the past many months—not about the unemployment but the mess that is our home and the impact it has on her. I try like hell to do my part but it never seems to be enough for her. She knows I try but she doesn't notice a lot of it.
    • A fall that injured my left arm and ankle for several months, making house work painful.
    • My mother in and out of the hospital for some kind of infection. Meanwhile, she has been bed-ridden for 2.5 years following a major surgery.
    • A cat I raised from birth, my little girl (no kids, for complicated reasons), who has been struggling with small cell lymphoma for four years, is now clearly deaf, and also seems like she's approaching the end of what we can do for her quality of life.

    My wife seems to struggle to provide emotional support. Ordinarily, I can mostly handle this; I try to take care of myself if she can't be there for me. It sucks. It makes the hurt feel worse.

    But now? In this pit of despair? When I don't feel much desire to keep on living (no, I'm not making plans but I am utterly miserable)? She sometimes says the absolutely most tone deaf things, has no idea she's done it, and it crushed me every single time.

    This is the third time in three weeks this has happened. It's costed me days of attempts to climb out of this pit each time.

    Yes, we've been in couples counseling for months. Yes it has helped a little. Yet my single greatest need, receiving reassurance and solace from my wife, is still wildly inconsistent.

    I'll forego my own issues here beyond having had a decade of counseling, my own healing process, and yet still struggling. Particularly now, each day is hard.

    I've been trying to get myself to go out on long walks for exercise and nature. That's only been happening once or twice a week. The harder the depression hits, the less I have in me to do it.

    I'm trying to bulk up my skills to get back on the job market. I have a big interview scheduled 3 weeks out to help keep my accountable. Yet many days it's just hard to give a fuck and get out of bed much less work on my software dev problem solving chops on nasty coding problems for interviews I expect to be rejected from anyway.

    My wife went on a business trip last week. She thought the time alone would be good for me. Nope! Instead, I felt every bit of the pressure to (1) not make a disaster area of our home lest she come home and (once again) fall into her own depression over the mess of our home and (2) keeping on top of our 3 elder cats' health issues, while struggling to do much of anything, was hard AF.

    I just don't know what else to do. It's damn hard to do much of anything to care for myself. It's so damn hard to care any more. I expect my wife will unintentionally go on making what's already terribly hard even harder. I want to get away somewhere by myself for, I don't know, a week? Just not have to think about all of the daily shit that I otherwise have to take care of. Just not feel any obligation to anyone other than myself.

    But I'm still unemployed. We have savings but I feel like shit spending any of it on shelf right now apart from penny ante shit like Chipotle or yet another fucking computer game that only masks how much I hurt and not well.

    I have a list of "climb out of the pit" activities I can use. It's been bad enough that I rarely use it.

    I got out of the house today for four hours and worked on code quizzes. I found some patterns and took some notes for myself. I felt a little good about that.

    And then I returned home to my wife and remembered every bit of how sad, alone, and utterly hopeless I feel right now. And so here I am.

    Writing this, on one hand, feels slightly cathartic. On the other: terrible. I've heard so many suggestions over many decades. There are no good answers.

    Therapy? Check.
    Medication? Check.
    Exercise? I suck at routines so not enough.
    Social connections? I have woefully few now.

    Having written all of this, I'm not even sure what the point of it was. Screaming into the void. 😣

    12 votes
    1. elight
      Link Parent
      UPDATE: A few hours later I was able to ask my wife to hold me in bed and she did. 🥲 She accidentally harms me at times but she means to do good.

      UPDATE: A few hours later

      I was able to ask my wife to hold me in bed and she did. 🥲

      She accidentally harms me at times but she means to do good.

      10 votes
    2. [2]
      pienix
      Link Parent
      I don't know if I can say something to make you feel better, but hang in there, bud. Are you in therapy now?

      I don't know if I can say something to make you feel better, but hang in there, bud.

      Are you in therapy now?

      6 votes
      1. elight
        Link Parent
        Thank you.🙏 10 years now, yes.

        Thank you.🙏

        10 years now, yes.

        4 votes
    3. gpl
      Link Parent
      Not screaming into the void, because others are reading it! Just know that there is at least one person out there rooting for you.

      Not screaming into the void, because others are reading it! Just know that there is at least one person out there rooting for you.

      6 votes
    4. [4]
      kej
      Link Parent
      As another older married partially burned out tech guy, I just want to say that I can sympathize with some of what you're going through. You've had a bunch of things hit you lately, any one of...

      As another older married partially burned out tech guy, I just want to say that I can sympathize with some of what you're going through. You've had a bunch of things hit you lately, any one of which would be enough to justify feeling really down.

      I have a list of "climb out of the pit" activities I can use. It's been bad enough that I rarely use it.

      Would you mind sharing that list at all? I selfishly want to know if there's anything on there I could use, and I sneakily want to make you talk about it in an attempt to help you do some of them.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        elight
        Link Parent
        The list What tends to work, pick at least 1 Do the self-care even though you don’t want to Take your medication first thing daily, particularly Adderall and Lexapro Shower Ibuprofen: depression...

        The list

        What tends to work, pick at least 1

        • Do the self-care even though you don’t want to
          • Take your medication first thing daily, particularly Adderall and Lexapro
          • Shower
        • Ibuprofen: depression hurts and can cause inflammation. Deal with the physical symptoms.
        • Meditation to be present for the hard feelings and dissolve them
        • Ganbatte (がんばって)
        • VR games in moderation
        • Going for a moderate walk
        • Intense exercise
        • Cuddling a cat
        • Listening to a dharma talk
        • Listening to a podcast
        • Watching Star Trek
        • Listening to music I love
        • Chores: accomplishing something tangible feels better than doing nothing
        • Kenya: https://youtu.be/DoyBgTAZrFw
        • Just do something to try to get one step out of my bad mental state

        When avoidance is called for, pick at least 1

        • Whole day immersion in computer games
        • Long long walk
        • Take a long nap

        What pretends to work but sucks

        • Stuffing my face
        • Stewing or wallowing in the suffering
        • Reading news or Reddit on my phone
        • Sleeping all day
        • Playing over-stimulating computer games for hours to distract from the discomfort

        Questions to ask

        • Have you been sleeping abnormally? Going to bed too late? Or just sleeping poorly?
        • Has work been abnormally challenging lately?
        • Have you been eating too much junk food and not enough good food?
        • When was the last time you drank some fluid?
        • What feelings are you avoiding right now?
          • Do they remind you of a childhood experience?
          • Are you feeling like you don’t matter? Or that no one cares?
        4 votes
        1. [2]
          kej
          Link Parent
          That feels like a lot of self-awareness went into making that list, thank you for sharing it. I think it's interesting how video games span both the helpful and unhelpful sides, but I guess that...

          That feels like a lot of self-awareness went into making that list, thank you for sharing it. I think it's interesting how video games span both the helpful and unhelpful sides, but I guess that makes sense in the same way that some books or movies or music are better than others for getting yourself going again.

          1 vote
          1. elight
            Link Parent
            I find video games fun. When I'm depressed or physically ill, they can mask pain for the duration I'm playing. That can be useful, at times. There's only just so much value one can derive from...

            I find video games fun. When I'm depressed or physically ill, they can mask pain for the duration I'm playing. That can be useful, at times. There's only just so much value one can derive from confronting depression directly over any given period of time. What to do then with the rest of that time so as not to suffer needlessly?

            1 vote
    5. [2]
      ahatlikethat
      Link Parent
      Hi. Reading your post, what resonated with me is what you said about your first wife and your pets. My mom died from cancer almost exactly 4 years ago. For ten years I was her primary and pretty...

      Hi. Reading your post, what resonated with me is what you said about your first wife and your pets. My mom died from cancer almost exactly 4 years ago. For ten years I was her primary and pretty much only caregiver. No one can imagine what that is like until they go through it. I am so sorry for your loss but also so respectful of your having done that.
      I lost the best dog I will ever have suddenly through an aggressive cancer last year. We now have two 20-year-old cats (one was my mom's) and a 17-year-old cat who is my heart. She nearly died last year through the horrific negligence of a emergency room vet. I've spent the last year trying to help her live the best life available to her now (cognitive damage caused by an extended period of low oxygen, don't get me started), and with some other problems, I feel it's probably I'm looking at her last months. I can't bear to think of a time without her, and I also don't want her to suffer. We communicate well, so I'm hoping she'll tell me when she's ready.

      I bring this up, because for me, the situation with my pets brings up a lot of the desperation and sadness and helplessness I felt toward the end with my mom. Like no matter how hard you work and love and care, you can't stop them from dying, but you can't not try. Maybe it's like that for you, too? People tend to gloss over other people's bonds with their pets and their grief when they are gone. I just want to say I hear you, that I honor those bonds you have, and that I hope the best for you and your family (including your pets, of course.)

      1 vote
      1. elight
        Link Parent
        This is exactly what it's like for me. ❤️

        This is exactly what it's like for me. ❤️

        1 vote
  2. [3]
    pienix
    Link
    Ups and downs, but generally better, I'd say. Since the beginning of this year, I've been dealing with stress and sleep issues. When I get stressed, if affects my sleep. But I can get stressed...

    Ups and downs, but generally better, I'd say.

    Since the beginning of this year, I've been dealing with stress and sleep issues. When I get stressed, if affects my sleep. But I can get stressed when I don't sleep well. Sometimes I get stuck in this vicious cycle of stress, no sleep, more stress, worse sleep, ...

    This time I really couldn't take it and longer, went to the doctor, who put me at rest for a month. In my second week now, just realizing how exhausted I was. Sleep is better, but still some way to go. Still quite sensitive to stress, though. So very glad that I don't have to deal with work for another couple of weeks.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      rosco
      Link Parent
      Glad to hear it's going better! Out of curiosity what does this mean: Is it time off work or a sleep program?

      Glad to hear it's going better!

      Out of curiosity what does this mean:

      went to the doctor, who put me at rest for a month.

      Is it time off work or a sleep program?

      7 votes
      1. pienix
        Link Parent
        For now, just time off work. Take away all other things that cause stress, to get my stress level back to normal. It was not easy to let go. Especially because there are some things I literally...

        For now, just time off work. Take away all other things that cause stress, to get my stress level back to normal. It was not easy to let go. Especially because there are some things I literally cannot not do, so I can't completely cut off work.

        Luckily, sleep has been improving, but if it wouldn't, a sleep program or something similar would have been the next step. I also have some appointments with a therapist.

        After this month, we reevaluate with the doctor. It's no use going back too early; I would simply fall back into the same patterns. So it might be extended, we'll see.

        2 votes
  3. [6]
    X08
    Link
    My situation is stable but dire. Depression is lasting well over a year now, seeking out a psychologist and now being into group therapy to deal with my demons from early youth onward. I want to...

    My situation is stable but dire. Depression is lasting well over a year now, seeking out a psychologist and now being into group therapy to deal with my demons from early youth onward. I want to be optimistic but I can't. I use drugs sometimes to alleviate some of the darkness and to remind myself what happiness is but, it's tough, it sucks and I see no hope for the time being.

    Or to quote Metallica on this one (pun intended);

    Darkness, imprisoning me, all that I see, absolute horror.
    I cannot live, I cannot die
    Trapped in myself, body my holding cell

    My depression has currently entered a slow phase and it's haunting, bleak and really hopeless.
    Again, I wish I could be more positive but it's just focusing on the day to day situations at this point.
    The idea of having a family is slowly fading out of sight as well since I'm in my mid 30's and I won't be able to meet a partner, date with them for a while, move in, settle in, then having a kid all within a neat time frame.

    Owning a house is practically out of bounds too as I have no finished higher education to speak off and getting back into that feels like such a monumental task at this point I fear I'll never be able to. I'm a failure, a fuck up, a washed up teen being forced to live an adult life. I try to watch series, movies, play some games but even that won't help to cope anymore.

    It sucks, I hope y'all are doing better.

    7 votes
    1. [5]
      elight
      Link Parent
      I'm sorry. Wishing you a measure of hope to find the will to care for yourself. I know how hard it can be; I'm there with you right now. Do you have a therapist, apart from your group work?...

      I'm sorry. Wishing you a measure of hope to find the will to care for yourself. I know how hard it can be; I'm there with you right now.

      Do you have a therapist, apart from your group work? Anti-depressants?

      Not sure if it helps but the two most helpful tools I've found, other than therapy itself, are not cheap as insurance covers neither:

      1. Stellate ganglion blocks, guided by ultrasound, treated much of my anxiety
      2. Ketamine 1-2/week, by prescription, coupled with a blindfold and gentle music, helps me understand my suffering. In that understanding, there can be some relief. Coupled with therapy, it has been even more powerful.
      4 votes
      1. [4]
        X08
        Link Parent
        Self-prescribed #2 is my go-to, except the longer lasting analogous version called deschloroketamine. It's less intense, a lot more smooth and makes days a lot more bearable. #1 seems really...

        Self-prescribed #2 is my go-to, except the longer lasting analogous version called deschloroketamine. It's less intense, a lot more smooth and makes days a lot more bearable. #1 seems really interesting and I'll have to dive deeper into that. Thanks for your message.

        Don't forget to drink plenty of green tea to make sure your bladder health isn't declining from the ketamine though.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          elight
          Link Parent
          Doctor didn't mention needing to be particularly concerned about it. You think, even at 1-2 doses per week? As far as intensity, the psychedelic aspects are where I find the most healing. It gives...

          Doctor didn't mention needing to be particularly concerned about it. You think, even at 1-2 doses per week?

          As far as intensity, the psychedelic aspects are where I find the most healing. It gives me perspective on my life I've never been able to find another way. To each their own.

          SGB was profound. Not sure where you're located but James Lynch in Annapolis, MD is not only one of the pioneers in the field for SGB treatment of anxiety and PTSD but also an outstanding human being. The strangest thing was literally feeling the anxiety drain out of me, as the SGB took hold. The results don't last without a lot of work afterward. Having put in a lot of that, my anxiety is maybe 1/3 to 1/4 what it was.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            X08
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I'd have to row a boat across the Atlantic so I'll kindly pass on that, but thanks for the offering. I'm a Nursing student so I have some insight but don't take my word for it. I just try to keep...

            I'd have to row a boat across the Atlantic so I'll kindly pass on that, but thanks for the offering. I'm a Nursing student so I have some insight but don't take my word for it. I just try to keep up on medical research if it's in my own interest. Ketamine and its derivatives can have a destructive reaction on your bladder wall. For what it's worth research (link) has shown that EGCG has a protective effect on the bladder wall. Anecdotally I can confirm these findings to be effective in my situation, but that is from someone who's been basically a chemical plant for the past 8 months trying to find solice in anything.

            To summarize, drinking green tea won't hurt you and may keep the side effects from ketamine use at bay.

            2 votes
            1. elight
              Link Parent
              Noted! Yeah, I've read similar about ketamine and urinary tract/bladder issues. And I do love my Itoen green tea! Good find re: green tea benefits.

              Noted! Yeah, I've read similar about ketamine and urinary tract/bladder issues. And I do love my Itoen green tea! Good find re: green tea benefits.

              2 votes
  4. smoontjes
    Link
    Well I still have all the same problems that I had last month, more or less. Won't bother you all with a big, long rant this month but long story short, I am getting really tired of all my mood...

    Well I still have all the same problems that I had last month, more or less. Won't bother you all with a big, long rant this month but long story short, I am getting really tired of all my mood swings. Like to the point that I'm fine one day, next day I feel I should check in to the psych ward, and the day after that I'll be fine again.

    I'm having another round of jaw surgery on Friday which is awful and I hate it. This will be my fourth surgery in total in this last year (and 2 months) and I am so done with it.. I wish my body would just properly work.

    On the other hand, I am trying to hold on to the good things, like I can very much feel that the strategies I learn in therapy are working most of the time. Today is 45 days since I last sh'd. And I was at my old salon in Copenhagen yesterday and he remembered me, and details about me, despite it having been 2 years since I last saw him! Took a huge leap with his advice and got me a whole new hair style - he took about 20 cm off so that feels really nice and unlike last year, I won't have this bona fide scarf around my neck for this year's summer..!

    6 votes
  5. [2]
    Notcoffeetable
    Link
    Lately I feel myself slipping into some form of depression. I think it's a confluence of factors coming to a head. I'm doing okay but I'm hoping writing and sharing this will help me right the...

    Lately I feel myself slipping into some form of depression. I think it's a confluence of factors coming to a head. I'm doing okay but I'm hoping writing and sharing this will help me right the ship before a spiral happens. I don't struggle with depression often but have at different ponts in time due to external circumstances.

    The past couple weeks my motivation has been really low. My interest in hobbies has vanished.
    • I don't like my job. It's been an issue for a couple years and I've just crossed the 3 year mark. It's pretty typical for me to get bored of a job at this point so I think that is a factor. But the really challenge is that I just don't like management. There are things I like about it, mentoring, watching junior team members grow into their role and making big impacts, getting their due recognition by other leaders in the business. What I absolutely despise is the politicing, glad-handing, wielding power. It's just gross, draining, and a waste of my technical skillset.
    • There are lots of opportunities in my business that I could move in to within the US or even AU or UK if I wanted. The problem is the politics. I get treated extremely well, performance reviews are excellent, and my visbility is at the global CEO/President/Board of Shareholders level. Leaving my position but remaining in the company would severely hamstring the team I lead and unintentionally look like a vote of no confidence on my direct leadership. The issue I have is that the work I do is boring, I give my team the interesting projects becasue they have the time to commit to them.
    • My compensation is highly dependent on trends in commodity cattle markets. Our beef businesses lost money operating most of last year so I made about 15% less than expected and 30% less than I would have averaged over the previous 5 years. I make good enough money that it isn't a big deal in my day-to-day but sets me back on future plans and savings.
    • I had several big competitions in my main hobby (powerlifting) this spring. Going into that my training schedule was 6 days a week. In some ways it was nice because high frequency drowned out other anxieties. Now that summer has hit and I'm not planning on competing for a while we're in a more standard 3 days/week schedule. Which means noise elsewhere feels louder and I have a harder time keeping up momentum and adherence with the days off inbetween. I've never been someone to claim my exercise is therapy, but I think the lower frequency is probably connected with some hormonal changes.
    • I started playing videos games again. It's a hobby I've always enjoyed but have taken extended breaks for years at a time. Even though I avoid the skinner box type games I wodner if the easier dopamine hits are causing problems.
    • The last year was difficult in my relationship. Not really our connection but it was very difficult for my partner who went through a lot jobwise. Which meant there were a lot of emotional demands on me. I think I did well by her and I'm proud of how we got through it. But there I feel like there is an emotional toll on myself that is just starting to show itself.

    I just feel like I need to make a change. We discussed moving to be closer to her family and friends. While we could easily do it financially it seems smarter to stay where we are, we love our place, our landlords are the best I've had, and rent while not cheap, is very competitive. I have a job prospect outside of the company but that is progressing glacially slow. I have a lot of trust in the friend who offered the position, but it's a planned expansion of his team so he's working the politics inside his business to make the position available.

    I want to spend more time sharpening my coding skills. I've spent most of my career writing code (C#, javascript/nodejs, python, magma) but some how it never seems to be recognized by businesses. I find it difficult to spend time after work working on personal projects.

    I guess I just feel in a rut and I absolutely hate ruts. My partner is wonderful, understanding, and supportive. I'm going to work on adhering to my workouts better and commit more time to being outside in the evenings. It's just difficult because so much of my day feels swallowed by work. I'm working or commuting from 7am-6pm. We want a family but I'm flabbergasted at how anyone makes this work.

    1 vote
    1. Raspcoffee
      Link Parent
      Yeah, our lives aren't designed around working in a village anymore. We've grown extremely far away from how we are supposed to live for the live society wishes us to live. It's funny in a sad way...

      I'm working or commuting from 7am-6pm. We want a family but I'm flabbergasted at how anyone makes this work.

      Yeah, our lives aren't designed around working in a village anymore. We've grown extremely far away from how we are supposed to live for the live society wishes us to live. It's funny in a sad way how our society is not social anymore, when they share a lingual history.

      I hope you can manage to find a way to make a proper life in this society. It's hard unfortunately, which I struggle with myself as well. So I get where you're coming from.

      1 vote
  6. [3]
    BeanBurrito
    Link
    I was groggy yesterday morning and afternoon. It was a day off, so I made the most of it by pushing through a long to do list I made. To help matters along I had a bottle of iced black tea I made...

    I was groggy yesterday morning and afternoon. It was a day off, so I made the most of it by pushing through a long to do list I made. To help matters along I had a bottle of iced black tea I made by also steeping dried ginger with it. I infrequently consume caffeine, so the tea hit me hard.

    I noticed on the elliptical at the gym that my heart rate was much higher than usual.

    In the evening a friend called to tell me that her efforts to a restraining order against a mentally ill, armed, and violent estranged husband fell through. She was rubbished in court.

    I got sensations of anxiety like I haven't had in a few years. I ended up staying up all night. I feel like garbage, and still slightly anxious. I'm hoping to stay up close to a regular bed time to reset both my clock and anxiety levels.

    1. [2]
      Raspcoffee
      Link Parent
      Man, sounds like yesterday was a hellish pile of you. I hope your situation is more calm now. 💕 Being tired, trying to work to your own issues to then get that while poorly rested sounds draining.

      Man, sounds like yesterday was a hellish pile of you. I hope your situation is more calm now. 💕 Being tired, trying to work to your own issues to then get that while poorly rested sounds draining.

      1. BeanBurrito
        Link Parent
        I ended up taking the day off of work. The day went pretty fast. I calmed down and got a full nights sleep. Thanks for replying.

        I ended up taking the day off of work. The day went pretty fast. I calmed down and got a full nights sleep. Thanks for replying.

        1 vote