Discover more from Inane Consumption
On 75mg of Amitriptyline, taken once a day, at night.
Plus a list of depression related consumptions
I’ve been thinking a lot more lately about depression and anxiety. Probably because we had 45 days of triple-digit heat and my particular brand of depression seems to flair up during the summer, not the winter. Additionally, I learned this year that there is actually a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for the summer. Though it’s most commonly associated with winter, people do report being hindered by the summer. Usually, in summer time “patients tend to feel more distressed than lethargic as in winter depression.” That’s a little consistent with me. I’m someone who likes the winter a lot more than I like the summer (though I do love swimming which is a notable summer activity).
Truthfully I’ve always pushed back against the idea of having depression. Mostly because I don’t have the worst depression possible. I’m not spending days in bed unmoving or even having suicidal ideation. I’ve always been like “oh I am depressed but I don’t have depression, I just feel bad right now, nothing to see here.”
Which is weird, because I was depressed when I was younger. More so than most people I know actually realize. I spent a lot of my high school experience just depressed in my room sobbing every night and having fairly frequent thoughts about suicide. But again, I wasn’t depressed, just sad.
That type of misconception can be pretty standard too. Especially among men who face worse forms of mental health (and health) overall as society expects them to spend less time sharing their emotions. Additionally, a fact I learned from this great Post Reports episode on the silent crisis in men’s health, symptoms of depression can look different in men anyway. It can be marked less by the common forms of lethargy and more as anger or aggression—both things I had a LOT of during high school.
Mostly I’ve been thinking about it more and more after going back to therapy (and quitting again) after my last job left me in a state of high anxiety nearly 24/7. It’s been years since my brain and body have been in that active state and the sudden shift in my thinking helped me see how far I’ve come from that past state to the state I’m currently at.
A large part of that is probably because I started taking an antidepressant, sort of by accident. I got prescribed 75mg of Amitriptyline, an older style of antidepressant that works by boosting serotonin levels in the brain, as an off-label treatment to some really bad gut pain I had years ago (that still kind of impacts me). The result wasn’t immediate, and I was in therapy at the time, going weekly or bi-weekly to try and get a better handle on my anxiety, mood, and overall self-esteem. I associated most of my positive gains with going to therapy and I don’t want to discredit that either, it did help me, but I was also getting a lot of help by just adjusting the levels of serotonin in my brain.
I listened to an episode of This American Life recently that featured a story about someone with depression and their experience of not getting prescribed anti-depressants. Instead, they got intensive talk therapy, and their body and mind sort of rapidly deteriorated. In it the narrator has a bit about anti-depressants, how when people are on them they start noticing a change in their thinking. People can report their brains feeling empty and their thoughts feeling clearer. How that sort of seismic shift can give the body more time to heal, and the brain a better ability to process.
That tracked with me. I’ve had a hard time explaining it to people who haven’t been on antidepressants and have struggled with intense anxiety or depression. It took a couple of weeks, but I remember distinctively having this creeping sensation that suddenly I could think a bit clearer, and process things a bit more. For me, my brain felt emptier and my anxiety was easier to tackle.
The combination of anxiety and depression can be harder to tackle or understand. Like most things, it’s a spectrum. You can have a clinical diagnosis of depression or anxiety, but ultimately they’re things you experience. Sometimes your anxiety is high and other times your depression is low. Often, people with depression and anxiety sort of spiral out. In moments of high depression, their brain doesn’t have the resources needed to tackle the anxiety. So your anxiety increases, which decreases your sense of self-worth, which in turn makes your depression worse and worse. Additionally the two mirror or mimic each other: depression can look like anxiety, and anxiety can look like depression.
At least that’s how it is for me.
As my brain started shifting my thoughts got clearer. The extra serotonin gave me a better mental frame to tackle the anxious thoughts I was having all the time. Having more time and space to feel less anxious helped my brain build better connections which made future bits of anxiety easier to handle. A sort of domino effect with the final impact being that I felt overall better.
Which caused me a lot of guilt. I was in this weird situation where on one hand I felt like I was making a lot of positive growth mentally and emotionally. On the other hand, my long-term relationship was crumbling around me, probably at least partially impacted by my anxiety and depression. Not that they were the cause, I don’t earnestly believe that. But if you’ve been in a relationship with someone with high anxiety and depression or a low sense of self-worth you start to understand how our own internal visions of ourselves can impact those around us. Having anxiety or depression doesn’t make you selfish, but it can leave less room for other things.
Anyway, it’s something that’s been consuming me a lot more this year. It’s probably part of turning 30 and recognizing the radical ways I’ve changed as I enter into a new phase of adulthood. Equally, it’s also probably related to celebrating 3 years with Zach and knowing that in a year and some change it’ll be the longest relationship I’ve ever had.
If my mid-twenties represented a rapid change and growth in my own relationship to my mental health and internal self, my early thirties should probably be focused on nurturing those changes. That also means giving a name to things: accepting that depression and anxiety can play a part in your mental health but aren’t a part of you.
Or something like that.
As I’ve started writing more (or again), I’ve felt an internal pressure to come to some sort of profound narrative related to my depression. Which is ultimately not how depression or anxiety really work. Yes, sometimes you get over a temporary depression associated with grief or a life event, but mostly it’s a feeling everyone has that some people have more.
Additionally, most people don’t seek out stories for an answer to their depression. Instead, they seek our narratives that give a name or shape to what they’re feeling, that help make something more amorphous seem concrete. The beauty of that type of art is not its ability to promise us a permanent solution, but to keep us company or help us feel seen.
Or, again: something like that.
A list of things I’ve consumed lately when thinking about depression:
Bug Like an Angel, Mitski
Fast Car, Tracy Chapman (the original is pretty good honestly idc)
Soak up the Sun, Soccer Mommy
Hand in My Pocket - Alanis Morissette (an earworm giving me a lot of grief)
A lot of bad Bluesky posts now that I’m trying to ditch Twitter (X) and permanently shift somewhere else.
Buttercup, Slaughter Beach, Dog
After Party Seasons 1 & 2 - Glad we’re in a new stage of media that’s bringing back the murder mystery.
Too many Civilization VI games.
Pumpkin cream cold brew from Starbucks (even though I’m trying to spend less there so I can have some chance of buying a house in my lifetime)
Thanks for reading Inane Consumption! Subscribe for free to make me feel good about myself