Tag Archives: psychiatrist

I like to pretend…

“I guess I like to pretend I don’t have this problem.”

I’ll be studying abroad in Hungary in the fall, and was discussing logistics about it during my psychiatry check-in this morning. I was feeling really good and comfortable with the plan we were working out–we figured out how I will get my prescriptions–but then she said to me:

“Yes. But what will you do if you are all the way in Eastern Europe on your own and you become symptomatic again?”

Oh.

I have no clue how, but that concept had completely slipped my mind. I had literally given no thought to what I would do if I was abroad and wasn’t okay anymore. I guess I like to pretend I don’t have this problem.

Even with my disordered eating habits, I have been doing so much better this year than ever before in my adult life. I feel so stable, so good, so in control of myself right now. I take my meds when I wake up, I go to nutrition and counseling check-ups, exercise, write in my diary, keep my food logs– I’ve found a self-care routine that’s working.

For the first time in my adult life, I know what it feels like to not live in constant fear of my illness.

I know I am so blessed and lucky to be able to say that. I never thought I would. But my appointment today gave me the necessary reminder that I will always, always have this part of me.

I will never outgrow my mental illness.

I will never be cured of my mental illness.

My mental illness will always be a part of who I am, and something I will always carry with me– even as far away as Hungary.

I’ve already had six years to try to reconcile myself with my illness, and even so, I’m still trying not to be angry about it.

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Who is in control?

We take drugs in order to give us more control over our lives.

I think about this a lot, and wonder about it. It’s ironic, really.

My Lexapro changes who I am. It directly affects my personality and my emotions. It controls my feelings, and makes me feel stable. It takes away my suicidal feelings and my panic attacks. It allows me to live a life where I don’t spend hours crying in my room or in the middle of class for no apparent reason.

But, it also gives me more control over my own life. Since I don’t have panic attacks, suicidal attacks, random crying attacks (if you will let me call them all “attacks”–as that is how I perceive my mental illness. It is just that, an illness, and one that sneaks up from behind when you least expect it and in an instant changes how you are feeling and functioning), I can make choices about my own life. I can choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, and I don’t need to spend as much time catering to the illness.

With my meds:

I can stay up later without having to worry that I will be depressed for the next week because of it.

I can make it through exams without crying from test anxiety.

I can listen to my friends and give advice without having to worry that it will trigger me.

I now have the emotional capacity to love, and live, and do what I want to do.

The very first thing I do every morning when I wake up is take my meds. Before I even put my feet on the floor, I take my meds. Any time I am going anywhere overnight, I have to pack my meds.

They control me, but at the same time give me my freedom back. It’s confusing.

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Life Update

So, clearly I failed at this whole blogging thing. But what’s new? (; I am an ideas person, and I think of all these great/cool/helpful/super awesome things I could do, then I start them, and then… nothing. Although I’m blogging now, aren’t I? So that counts for something? And my depressive journey will never actually be over; I know it is something I will be living with for the rest of my life, so I don’t have to worry about missing the opportunity, I guess.

In general, to be totally honest, things have been going really well. I am happy– truly, consistently happy– for the first time in years. The meds are working! I realize my last blog post was while I was still on 5mgs, and still trying to get over the initial sickness that often occurs when you are starting psych meds, but a lot has changed since then. My side effect sickness only lasted about 3-4 days, then went away completely. Immediately, I stopped having suicidal feelings (before I started the meds, I was feeling suicidal ~ 3 days a week! It was terrifying, and I wasn’t okay with that. Since I have started, I have only felt suicidal once. I literally never would have thought that would be a possibility for me.)

It took about a month for it to really affect my personality, so to speak, but the effects have fully set in now. It is weird in a way, but I finally feel like myself again. I feel like the girl I used to be before all this started, before 8th grade, before my first major depressive episode. I feel more outgoing, and a bit crazier in the “I want to do things and try new things” sense, and excuse my language, but I don’t give much of a s**t about what people think of me again. I feel so much more comfortable in my skin, I feel so much freer, but most importantly, I feel like my “old self,” my pre-depression self, pre-high school self that I had been missing so much.

My psychiatrist and I decided to up my dose, so now I am taking 10mg Lexapro every morning, and still have “check-up” counseling appointments. But I no longer feel like I need my appointments. They make me feel safer right now, since I am still trying to figure myself out, but I don’t spend my time counting the days down until appointments, trying to convince myself that I can hang on for “just 3 more days…”

All this being said, please don’t think I am trying to sell the idea of meds to anyone. They have worked for me. I don’t know how long they will continue to work, or what kind of biological effects they will have on my body and brain, or what the past few months would have been like for me without my meds. All I can say, and all I feel comfortable saying, is that they have helped me and they were the right choice for me at this point in my life. Everyone is different, and everyone is at a unique spot in their journey.

Sometimes I joke with my friends something to the effect of, “I won’t let anyone take my meds away from me! They’re mine!” … Except I’m only half-joking. I am terrified of what is going to happen when/if my meds stop working. But for now I am just trying to live in the moment, and soak in the good feelings.

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Let’s Start from the Beginning

I had my first visit with a psychiatrist yesterday. I wasn’t terribly anxious about it– having been in counseling on and off for the past five years, I have plenty of practice talking about my problems, my life, my medical history. And although having to start from the beginning (“I had my first episode of major depression when I was 13, in eighth grade…”) over and over is exhausting, it can also be refreshing. Not only does it give a new set of earns to listen, but also a chance to reflect on your history and see what new connections come to mind.

But the longer you’ve been suffering, the longer, more complicated, more convoluted the story gets. For me, as of right now, my story includes chronic depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thinking, disordered eating, insomnia, and self-injury. It takes something out of the ordinary to make me feel happy. I feel “neutral” most of the time. When I’m in a major depressive episode, I feel like I just got hit by a bus. I worry a lot. I get panic attacks that make me feel like I’m drowning. The worst panic attacks happen at night, though, when I’m alone, and, having lost my sense of sight to the darkness, am consumed by thoughts of how tiny I am, how insignificant I am, how I am going to die someday, and how even if God does exist, that eternity is a long time and what if I don’t like Heaven? A lot of days I want to run away, or to die (although I don’t really want to die, just to not live the way I am at the moment). Even though I’m not, I feel fat. I might weigh myself 6 times a day, in secret, obsessively. Some nights I can’t fall asleep because my thoughts are consumed by what I ate that day, trying to decide if it was “okay” or not, and what I will do the next day to “control myself.” There are nights I can’t sleep at all, and have to watch TV to try to escape my incessant thoughts. Sometimes I hurt myself. I dig my fingernails into the skin on my back to try to get out all of the feelings that are controlling me. But then when I realize I’ve done it again, I feel guilty and weak, and am mad that I can’t stop myself. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I’m me, and all of this is part of my story, part of who I am, and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of any of it (most of the time).

Generally, though, I’m fine. I go to college, have good friends, and a loving family. Most days my symptoms are not bad, they’re manageable, and although I’m rarely happy, I’m… doing alright. I’m doing the best I can. And I have so many good things going on in my life.

What finally made me decide to see a psychiatrist was the suicidal thinking. There’s a difference between being suicidal and suicidal thinking. I think about dying a lot. I think about wanting to run away, to leave. I think about how much suffering there is in the world, how much pain I’m in, and how much more pain I’m going to go through in the rest of my life, and wonder if there’s even a point to go on. But I know that I won’t kill myself. I feel very safe with myself, and I don’t actually want to die. I still have some hope. There are good days and loving people that make it all worth it.

But I worry that there will come a day that I’m in so much pain that I’m not thinking straight, and I won’t be able see that little bit of hope anymore. Because when you’re depressed, your thoughts aren’t your own. They might come from your own mind, but they’re not yours. You don’t have control over them. The depression hijacks your thoughts, it takes over and you don’t think the same things you would if you weren’t sick. That idea scares me. And as I get older that idea seems like more of a real possibility, more of a real threat. I’ve been struggling with depression on and off for more than five years, and I worry about some invisible pain-tolerance threshold that I might be approaching. I want to be able to live my life, and see the beauty in the world, and feel happiness the same way I used to. I don’t know if that’s possible, but if there’s something I might be able to do about it, it is definitely worth a try. I will never get back the time I have spent sick and depressed. I don’t really want to keep giving away my life to this illness.

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