Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Truth About Depression

This is a rather difficult post to write.  I am not sure what to say or how to say it.  What to share and how it will come across.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 14 years-old.  Therapists along with medication were my treatment off and on throughout high school and part of college.  At times, I was doing fine and other times I just wanted to lay in bed and scream.  Or cry. Or be snippy with my parents.

It was actually during my Freshman year at UPenn where I also learned that I have an anxiety disorder.  Sometimes the anxiety would be beneficial.  A little anxiety to force me to get off my butt and get that paper done so I could enjoy (obsess over) the rest of the weekend.  Other times, it truly disrupted my life. I would become so worked up over my classes and lack of time to do homework that I would become frazzled, obsessive, and not eat.  Who has time to eat when there is an A&P test to study for?!  I lost ALOT of weight and freaked out my family when they saw me over Winter break.

Major Depressive Disorder.  MAD-seems sort of fitting. Generalize Anxiety Disorder.  GAD.  A miss-mash of letters and labels.  That is all they are-labels.  Labels that place a stigma upon you, but also a label that guides health care providers and therapists on how to help you.

It has been 11 years since then I have been doing relatively well. I finished college, then graduate school, held down good jobs, and now raise my little girl with my wonderful, supportive husband.  There are of course the usual ups and downs.  I try to maintain a healthy diet (notice I said "try"), workout, get enough sleep, and then practice some of those important CBT (cognitive behavior strategies) as well as eat chocolate.  I also take medication.

I recognize that some people have strong feelings about medication, but for me, it is necessary.  One would never tell a diabetic not to take insulin so why should someone who has a serotonin imbalance be criticized for taking a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI)?  When you have a headache, do you not take Tylenol?

It is frustrating when people say things like "why can't you just be happy?". Um, we would all love to be happy and we want to be, but it does not work like that.  People do not choose to feel this way.  Goodness, who would?  It is truly a chemical imbalance involving the neurotransmitters of the brain.

The key is, we can choose to try to get better.  Yet, depression is just that--hopelessness, helplessness, and, the thought that life cannot possibly be better.  That IS the definition of depression.  Fortunately, in CBT, I learned to recognize my triggers (ie lack of sleep) as well as my early signs of depression/anxiety.  That is where I am at.  Recognizing that I am starting to slip into depression.  Recognizing that things are not improving even with my coping mechanisms in place.  Recognizing that perhaps I need a bit more help.

I have been seeking the natural Vitamin D daily.  I have my Thankful Thursdays, my regular sleep routine (the Ellie 4am wake up is NOT helping said routine), yoga, and color-coded list making.  I employ many of my CBT strategies (even when I am not in a depressive episode).  Now, I have made the visit to my psychiatrist where it was determined that perhaps the Lexapro just wasn't cutting it.  That maybe it is time to shake things up.

On Monday, I saw a cardiologist.  I was correct in assuming that last Wednesday's "left-sided chest pain with rapid heart rate" ER event was related to my ever increasing anxiety.  My cortisol levels must be through the roof.  Talk about a wake-up call.  God, I am hearing You loud and clear!  I hear You.  I need Your help and guidance.

Things need to change.  This little girl needs me. . .




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2 comments:

  1. A gigantic bag of M&M's coming right up girlie! We love you!! Hugs!! xoxo

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  2. I'm glad you posted this! I really admire people who are willing to ask for help when they need it. It's not always easy.

    A friend of mine was really struggling with anxiety and depression and felt so much better once she got the medicine she needed. We all have to take care of ourselves. For us and for our kids.

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