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Brenda
@bren1985

Posts: 24
Joined: Nov 01, 2017

Unable to function

Posted by @bren1985, Nov 1, 2017

Hi everyone,
I’m having a lot of difficulty functioning. I sleep excessively (11-14 hours/night) and feel extremely tired throughout the day. Most of my days lately have been very empty – I haven’t been doing much, at all, except sleeping and eating (and feeling guilty to eat so much – it seems like a waste since I’m not doing anything; I get these terrible cravings for carbs). I don’t know if what I have is chronic fatigue syndrome, hypersomnia, or depression – or perhaps all three. I’m incredibly afraid that I have lost my ability to concentrate as I’m a graduate student (in Environmental Studies) under pressure to finish my research by April 2018; the way things are going, I don’t know if I will ever get better enough to complete the research…I used to love studying (it was like therapy for me – especially because I’m studying nature, which has been very healing in the past), but I can’t engage with it as I used to and that feels very painful.

I had my first episode of severe depression (which involved hospitalization) at 17 and had many more psych ward stays over the years; I’m now 32, and I really feel like my life is over in a way. The only person I have in my life, consistently, is my mother (whom I live with; she is 62). I am very grateful for her support.

I don’t know whether I should try antidepressants again (I have been on more than 10, over the years). I’m very wary of them (especially of side effects) and feel they won’t work anyway. Yet, I’m really not able to function and feel very stuck. I also deal with other chronic conditions (like migraine and IBS); I take a triptan for migraine, and there is a small risk of serotonin syndrome when using antidepressants with them. That’s one reason I’m wary. I’m open to seeing a psychotherapist again, but it can take a lot of time and energy to find an appropriate one. In the meantime, I’ve been reading some CBT and mindfulness books and tried doing a bit of very simple yoga – though I’m often too tired to do much of it.

Sorry for the long post, just wanted to reach out as I feel isolated in this and I’m losing hope – especially after struggling since a relatively early age. I worry that the future will be a repeat of the past, and it terrifies me. I would appreciate any advice/insights/words of support please. Thank you so much. I’m glad this community exists.

REPLY

Hi, @bren1985. Glad you’ve come to Mayo Clinic Connect, and that you’ve had the courage and taken the time to share with us about what is going on. Very sorry you are feeling so isolated and that you are losing hope.

You sound like a very bright and self-aware person. It also seems like you are working on some self-care with the yoga and books you are reading, which is great.

Also glad to hear that you have your mother for support in your life.

I’d like to introduce you to @jimhd, @hopeful33250, @lilgrizz, @parus, @overwhelmed, @tomgrinley, @comtesse, @amberpep, @contentandwell, @mrmaid11, @johnbishop and @danybegood1, as I believe they may have some insights for you. Hope you can all meet up here on this thread.

Have you gotten to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling?

Hello @bren1985

I would like to join Lisa in welcoming you to Mayo Connect. You have joined a very strong, encouraging community of people who, like you, have posted about some of the difficulties we all face from time to time. Depression is a difficult road to travel, isn’t it? The very things that you know that you must do in order to get better are the most difficult things to do because it involves movement and talking with others – the very things that don’t feel very comfortable right now.

Like Lisa said, I would encourage you to talk with a doctor about how you are feeling. There are always new medicines and therapies that can assist you and it looks like you are doing some good work on your own. You are also very articulate in expressing your feelings – a most important trait in the healing process.

Have you started keeping a journal of your feelings? That is often a good first step. When you read about CBT, write down thoughts as to how you can put these ideas into practice.

Will you keep in touch with us and let us know how you are progressing in your journey?

Teresa

Hello @bren1985, I would also like to welcome you to Connect and let you know that you are not alone in your feelings. I know it took a lot of courage to reach out and share your story and I believe that is a great step to helping yourself. Your story is not unlike our son’s who was also very bright. I taught him how to play chess when he was in the 4th grade and would let him win occasionally (I’m not a good chess player ☺). Then he took lessons at a summer camp and played me about 3 times winning all 3 matches. After that he wouldn’t play me anymore – not enough of a challenge.

His episodes also started when he was young – 12 or 13 and he’s now 47. He spent well over a year in the hospital and over the years has been on many medications most of which caused him to sleep a lot. He has had several doctors/psychotherapists through the years and they have helped him try different medications and adjust the time of day he takes them so that he sleeps better at night and can function at work.

Please don’t give up hope. I know the situation can seem bad and you may be struggling now but it’s just one point in time of your life’s journey. You have brighter days ahead. Like Lisa, I’m also happy you are taking some positive steps with the self-care. Keeping a journal as Teresa (@hopeful33250) suggests is a good idea. I think it may also help you communicate your feelings with your doctor.

Hoping for some answers and help for you.

John

Your symptoms are very similar to mine. I truly think you should see a psychiatrist who will talk with you and decide what medication you should be on. There are new ones these days. I feel like you do some days, But I have gotten better and the symptoms are not all the time. Good Luck.

Welcome to Connect, @bren1985

I seem to go through phases of sleep binges. I have sleep apnea, and see the sleep doctor every 6 months. He usually tells me that I need to sleep less, the idea being that I’d have more energy during the day, and have better sleep. I try to stay below ten hours, but I know that I’m more alert with 9. I set my alarm, but I usually turn it off and sleep another hour. Some people set alarms and put them in a place where they have to get out of bed to turn it off. I need to do that, myself. Sometimes I will sleep for 12 hours. I just don’t wake up except to go to the bathroom.

I know that excessive sleep can contribute to depression, and conversely, depression can keep a person in bed. Medications that I take at bedtime are sedating, so that probably makes me sleep longer. But the things I take, I take for a reason.

Have you had any ideas how to limit your sleep? Maybe ideas I might use? My wife only sleeps for 8 hours or less, but she won’t wake me up, even if it’s been 12 hours. I can get up after 7 or 8 hours to go to a doctor appointment. It’s hard to figure out. Let me know if you have any ideas that work for you to cut back on the number of hours you sleep.

If depression is affecting your life, it’s best to get help. Talk with your doctor about it. Maybe he’ll have some suggestions.

Jim

It sounds like we have a similar story but my diagnosis is Bipolar. I would have depressive episodes, get treated for a while and then stop treatment because I felt better. When I felt better I would thoroughly enjoy studying and staying up all night to write papers. I accumulated two Masters degrees along the way.Eventually I was properly diagnosed with Bipolar and realized that when I felt “well” was simply a manic phase and almost as destructive as my depressive phases.

Now, however, my moods are stable and I am doing much better. I am also on an SSRI but I don’t have the same risk for serotonin syndrome that you do. There are, however, other treatments available. I juts yesterday read about Lithium being used for treatment resistant depression. Of course, Lithium comes with its own side effects.

Either way, keep on seeking the right treatment and find someone good to work with to try different things. My psych nurse is wonderful and has led me through many med changes until we found something that works for me with minimum side effects.

@lisalucier

Hi, @bren1985. Glad you’ve come to Mayo Clinic Connect, and that you’ve had the courage and taken the time to share with us about what is going on. Very sorry you are feeling so isolated and that you are losing hope.

You sound like a very bright and self-aware person. It also seems like you are working on some self-care with the yoga and books you are reading, which is great.

Also glad to hear that you have your mother for support in your life.

I’d like to introduce you to @jimhd, @hopeful33250, @lilgrizz, @parus, @overwhelmed, @tomgrinley, @comtesse, @amberpep, @contentandwell, @mrmaid11, @johnbishop and @danybegood1, as I believe they may have some insights for you. Hope you can all meet up here on this thread.

Have you gotten to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling?

Jump to this post

Hi Lisa,
Thank you for the very warm welcome, and introducing me to other members. I’m also glad I’ve found Mayo Clinic Connect; what a lovely community.

I don’t think I’m very bright or self-aware, but you’re really kind to say that.

I will be seeing my doctor on Monday (the earliest he is available).

It’s nice to meet you!

-Brenda

@hopeful33250

Hello @bren1985

I would like to join Lisa in welcoming you to Mayo Connect. You have joined a very strong, encouraging community of people who, like you, have posted about some of the difficulties we all face from time to time. Depression is a difficult road to travel, isn’t it? The very things that you know that you must do in order to get better are the most difficult things to do because it involves movement and talking with others – the very things that don’t feel very comfortable right now.

Like Lisa said, I would encourage you to talk with a doctor about how you are feeling. There are always new medicines and therapies that can assist you and it looks like you are doing some good work on your own. You are also very articulate in expressing your feelings – a most important trait in the healing process.

Have you started keeping a journal of your feelings? That is often a good first step. When you read about CBT, write down thoughts as to how you can put these ideas into practice.

Will you keep in touch with us and let us know how you are progressing in your journey?

Teresa

Jump to this post

Hi Teresa,
Thanks for your nice message and I’m glad to meet you!
I used to keep a journal in the past; it would be a good idea to start writing again. Sometimes CBT can be a real struggle as I can’t always come up with “alternative/more balanced” thoughts that I actually believe. It’s nice to hear that there may be some hope with new medications and therapies.
I would love to keep in touch, and thanks again for your support.
Best,
Brenda

@johnbishop

Hello @bren1985, I would also like to welcome you to Connect and let you know that you are not alone in your feelings. I know it took a lot of courage to reach out and share your story and I believe that is a great step to helping yourself. Your story is not unlike our son’s who was also very bright. I taught him how to play chess when he was in the 4th grade and would let him win occasionally (I’m not a good chess player ☺). Then he took lessons at a summer camp and played me about 3 times winning all 3 matches. After that he wouldn’t play me anymore – not enough of a challenge.

His episodes also started when he was young – 12 or 13 and he’s now 47. He spent well over a year in the hospital and over the years has been on many medications most of which caused him to sleep a lot. He has had several doctors/psychotherapists through the years and they have helped him try different medications and adjust the time of day he takes them so that he sleeps better at night and can function at work.

Please don’t give up hope. I know the situation can seem bad and you may be struggling now but it’s just one point in time of your life’s journey. You have brighter days ahead. Like Lisa, I’m also happy you are taking some positive steps with the self-care. Keeping a journal as Teresa (@hopeful33250) suggests is a good idea. I think it may also help you communicate your feelings with your doctor.

Hoping for some answers and help for you.

John

Jump to this post

Hi John,
Thanks for warmly welcoming me here.
Your son, and you, are much brighter than I am – I am sure of that. I am really bad at chess, actually. I am so glad that your son is doing better these days.
I really appreciate your giving me some hope and encouragement. It’s great to meet you here.
Best,
Brenda

@nancyr65

Your symptoms are very similar to mine. I truly think you should see a psychiatrist who will talk with you and decide what medication you should be on. There are new ones these days. I feel like you do some days, But I have gotten better and the symptoms are not all the time. Good Luck.

Jump to this post

Hi Nancy,
That sounds like a good idea. I live in Canada, and sometimes it can take a while to see a psychiatrist as there are often long waiting lists…but I did make a few phone calls, and with some luck I might see one this month. It couldn’t come sooner.
I am glad that there are new medications around these days; it’s good to have options as I really didn’t benefit from some past trials. At the same time, I feel that medications alone won’t be enough for sure, so I hope I can get therapy too (also on a waiting list for this).

I am so glad to hear that you have been getting better and don’t experience these impairing symptoms all the time anymore. Thanks so much for the good luck, and I wish you the same.
All the best,
Brenda

@jimhd

Welcome to Connect, @bren1985

I seem to go through phases of sleep binges. I have sleep apnea, and see the sleep doctor every 6 months. He usually tells me that I need to sleep less, the idea being that I’d have more energy during the day, and have better sleep. I try to stay below ten hours, but I know that I’m more alert with 9. I set my alarm, but I usually turn it off and sleep another hour. Some people set alarms and put them in a place where they have to get out of bed to turn it off. I need to do that, myself. Sometimes I will sleep for 12 hours. I just don’t wake up except to go to the bathroom.

I know that excessive sleep can contribute to depression, and conversely, depression can keep a person in bed. Medications that I take at bedtime are sedating, so that probably makes me sleep longer. But the things I take, I take for a reason.

Have you had any ideas how to limit your sleep? Maybe ideas I might use? My wife only sleeps for 8 hours or less, but she won’t wake me up, even if it’s been 12 hours. I can get up after 7 or 8 hours to go to a doctor appointment. It’s hard to figure out. Let me know if you have any ideas that work for you to cut back on the number of hours you sleep.

If depression is affecting your life, it’s best to get help. Talk with your doctor about it. Maybe he’ll have some suggestions.

Jim

Jump to this post

Hi Jim,
Thanks for your message and it’s nice to connect with you on here. Sorry you also struggle with excess sleep…it’s a very frustrating problem. I have a family member with sleep apnea whose sleep (and daytime fatigue) improved with a CPAP machine; do you use one?
I actually went for a sleep study recently, as I may have something called “Idiopathic Hypersomnia” (in addition to depression), but it will take a while for results.
I’ve definitely felt that the excess sleep worsens my depression. It’s hard to have a good quality of life when sleep dominates it 🙁

I too have set multiple alarms (and even placed them far away); but usually what happens is that I hit snooze on all of them, and even if I get up to silence an alarm I immediately go back to sleep afterwards. I often don’t even remember waking up to turn off the alarms…it’s like I am in a daze.
A doctor in the past suggested using a light box (used for SAD but also may be helpful for non-seasonal depression) in the mornings; I tried this the past and it helped only slightly. I may try it again as I have nothing to lose. It was also suggested to get my Vitamin D levels checked out. I live in Toronto, Canada, and lately the days have been very overcast…though my excess sleep issues still occur on sunny days. A psychiatrist once put me on Modafinil (a wakefulness-promoting agent), which helped a little, but I couldn’t tolerate it due to the headache side effect. Sorry I don’t have any better ideas; excess sleep is a tough nut to crack, so it seems, unfortunately.

Thanks for encouraging me to get help. I really hope your sleep issues get better, and hope to stay in touch.
Best,
Bren

@tomgrinley

It sounds like we have a similar story but my diagnosis is Bipolar. I would have depressive episodes, get treated for a while and then stop treatment because I felt better. When I felt better I would thoroughly enjoy studying and staying up all night to write papers. I accumulated two Masters degrees along the way.Eventually I was properly diagnosed with Bipolar and realized that when I felt “well” was simply a manic phase and almost as destructive as my depressive phases.

Now, however, my moods are stable and I am doing much better. I am also on an SSRI but I don’t have the same risk for serotonin syndrome that you do. There are, however, other treatments available. I juts yesterday read about Lithium being used for treatment resistant depression. Of course, Lithium comes with its own side effects.

Either way, keep on seeking the right treatment and find someone good to work with to try different things. My psych nurse is wonderful and has led me through many med changes until we found something that works for me with minimum side effects.

Jump to this post

Hi Tom,
It’s funny you mention that because I had a diagnosis of Bipolar Type 2 due to one hypomanic episode sometime in my early twenties. But for me, I never had that again so now it’s just morphed into recurrent depression with no hypomania in between (and actually more of a low-grade depression in between severe depression episodes). It seems there is a lot of variation when it comes to individual patterns. That episode of hypomania was definitely self-destructive (and unfortunately, not even remotely productive), and plunged me into an especially severe depression.

I’ve been on lithium, but wasn’t comfortable with it due to side effect concerns. Thanks for reminding me there are other treatments available, and for encouraging me to keep seeking treatment that works; that gives me some hope.

I am very glad to hear you have a great psych nurse who helped you through med changes (they can be so tough and frustrating!), and that you found a good medication regime.

Nice to meet you, and would love to keep in touch,
Brenda

Hi all,
Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful replies to my posting. It was nice to feel so welcomed here.

Sorry if I didn’t “properly” reply to everyone (not sure if I had to use “@”)…still figuring out how this works.

I’ll see my doctor next Monday, and will wait for a psychiatrist and therapist. In the meantime, I’m setting small goals: like just getting outside and walking our dog around the block, and perhaps going to the library for more CBT/mindfulness books. I don’t feel ready to tackle harder tasks, like getting back to research, just yet…it feels too overwhelming and I feel too scatterbrained 🙁

Thank you again for your kind support, and I am also thinking of everyone here.

-Brenda

Hi Bren. I too have sleep issues – mostly insomnia and lately bad dreams. I am a 72 yr. old woman who always needed 9 hours to feel my best. I now suffer from interrupted sleep and sometimes don’t nod off until 5 am! However, I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. I suffer from Depression and Anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Ocasionally, I have slept 10-12 hours almost uninterrupted and I accept that as my body telling me it needs proper rest. Don’t fret if that’s your case. If it becomes a nightly event I would check with my doctor. Happy Dreams.

Hi Brenda! I am happy I am not alone wiith experiencing sleeping disorder as well as morning anxiety. I also live in Canada in the french part (Quebec), that’s why it’s hard for me to rEspond to all messages … Mornings feel like hell for me. I will see my psychiatrist next Monday to decide which medecine I should try. I am also having ect and I don’t think it really helps right now. I Think the weather really doesn’t help and the time of the year as well. I will try the lightbox, in case it might do something positive.

Wish I could have news from you when it’s possible. I am also on the community and I feel it’s good to be part of it. Please excuse my english …

Wish you the best!

Sylvie 🙂

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