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Re: med help/suggestions/advice/does it get better? JohnLA

Posted by Solstice on September 2, 2011, at 16:16:41

In reply to med help/suggestions/advice/does it get better?, posted by JohnLA on September 2, 2011, at 0:57:07

Hi JohnLA - and Welcome!!

When I was at the peak of my depression, I also experienced anhedonia. I had several years of very difficult stressors, during which I believe a low-level depression/anxiety took root. Then, several huge crisis crashed in simultaneously, and I was in bad enough shape that I knew to seek treatment. I was put on Zoloft and Wellbutrin. It is difficult for me to discern whether it was the depression or zoloft that caused the anhedonia. Initially, the anhedonia was a relief, because it was better than the pain and fear that had been overwhelming me. But after a while, the anhedonia itself became counter-productive because - like you describe - I was vegetablish. I didn't care about anything. I eventually weaned off the zoloft, and increased the wellbutrin. Main thing that I'll say that addresses your questions is that on the wellbutrin alone, the severe anhedonia subsided for the most part. I think the worst of it lasted about 6 months. Recovering 'feelings' has been a slow road. I've been on that road for about 4 years now.

Like you, I cut myself off from everyone.. and I didn't care.

There are several components to my relative progress.
1. I cannot miss my Wellbutrin. One day doesn't hurt me, but if I miss two days, I'm in trouble... I can feel myself slipping into a deep, dark cavern.. like something's got me by the feet and is pulling me down. Problem is, though, that the negative thinking that overtakes me seems so logical, that I can't pull myself out. Life just starts to suck so bad (at least in my mind) that I want to stop breathing. So I don't let myself get careless with the Wellbutrin.
2. I have an amazing therapist. Therapy has been crucial. That relationship has, bit by bit and piece by piece, played the larges role in wounds healing, rugged scars softening, and my learning to take risks in trusting others. My T had to push and push and push before I ever ventured out of my cave. T tried to get me to *do* things with people - but I dug in my heels and T eventually settled for getting me to promise to make one phone call to one old friend. It took me two weeks to muster up the energy to do it, and T was quite celebratory when I made that first phone call. Point is, that it was within that therapeutic relationship, including the negotiations about my venturing out.. where I repeatedly experienced myself as understood, cared for, believed in.. and eventually I dared to allow myself to become attached.. which enabled me to explore outside that relationship. I was quite broken. Once I really started to improve.. at times I thought I could 'let go' of therapy.. but I have learned that my progress at this point is still rooted in the safety of that relationship. My T compares it to the toddler who - as they rush off to explore their world, they look back to make sure Mom is still there - and the minute something goes wrong, they dart back to home base to regroup. That's kind of what therapy is like for me at this point.. but the good news is that I don't go into isolation very often. Rather, I engage with the world around me - and therapy is where I figure things out if I get overwhelmed. Don't know what I'd do without it.
3. Professionally, I was in a field hard-hit by the recession. As a result, I was laid off two years ago. I knew I had to find another field - so I went back to college and entered the medical field. That forced me out of my cave and forced me to engage with people. My therapist always wanted to know Everything.. and as a result, T would *make* me look at the successes. I haven't been able to get away with making global negative statements of assessment about myself. So I think it has helped me a lot that I had no choice but to engage. You may want to find something to 'obligate' yourself to that will require you to be engaged with others. In retrospect, I have to laugh at how I did it. I did my first semester entirely online. My was therapist expressed a lot of disappointment.. but capitalized on the fact that I at least had to communicate online and by email with instructors and other students. The next semester, I *wanted* to be online only.. but some classes I had no choice but to do on campus. T was thrilled with that. From there, I had to do the rest 100% on-campus. I think it helped me to do it gradually (being around others).

I no longer have adhedonia, but I wouldn't characterize myself as being at 100% of where I was before with feeling emotions. My feelings are still somewhat subdued, and my passion is much more moderate, but it's way better than it was four years ago.





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