10.24.2010

Anxiety and Depression

Maybe you're wondering what happened to me. Did my dissertation proposal explode in my face, leaving me in a coma? Did Greta finally toss me off the balcony after I forgot her outside for the 10th time? Did graduate school finally get to me? Yeah, it's the last one. I'll explain.

My whole life I've been an anxious person, tending toward insomnia. I remember when I was seven years old, my baby cousin died of SIDS. There were weeks on end where I couldn't sleep because I was terrified that I would die in the night. Over the years, I've lost sleep and made myself sick over things both big and small, both present and future, both real and imagined.

There have been times when the insomnia has become depression, or perhaps the depression has become insomnia. Several years ago I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have used a light box and melatonin, coupled with exercise to help me cope with the gray Midwest winters with a lot of success.

During the last year, however, the anxiety and depression slowly spiraled out of control. It finally reached a breaking point shortly after my last post. I suddenly couldn't cope with anything anymore. I cried about dirty dishes, snuggles from Greta, disagreements with Mr. H-B, and especially about my dissertation proposal and teaching duties. I took about a dozen pregnancy tests before I finally concluded that there was something else going on and that I needed help.

I began seeing a psychiatrist about six weeks ago. He prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well as a sleep aid. To say that the change has been remarkable would be an understatement. To say it has been easy would be a lie.

The first week on the medication was worse than the weeks leading up to my first psychiatry appointment. The medication made my insomnia worse because it made me so jittery. However, once my body got accustomed to the medication I realized just how rough the last year had been. It felt like a cloud had lifted. I could suddenly focus on my work without flipping out about how much there was to do. I stopped crying about, well, everything.

It was difficult for me to admit that I couldn't talk or even pray myself out of the anxiety and depression. I'm so grateful now for the medications that I've been able to take to help me overcome this. I'm so grateful for my therapist who helps me talk through my anxiety and understand what I can and cannot control. I'm so grateful for my wonderful family who has supported me without judgment. Most of all, I'm grateful for Mr. H-B's kindness to me when I was insufferable.

I hope that I'll continue to feel better because it's kind of awesome!

10 comments:

Sylvia said...

I can so, so, so relate. I went through 9 years with undiagnosed (but very evident) depression, and then had to wait another 5 1/2 to find a medication that worked (during which I kept thinking that it was all in my head - after all, the medications weren't working, right? - and that I could scripture myself out of it). When I finally found the one that worked I felt better immediately, even though it kept me up most of the night for the first week or so. Hooray for modern medicine and the sanity it reinstates.

I still have occasional insomnia, which is no fun. But I have a medication for that too, which I take if it's been more than a week or so. Again, hooray for modern medicine.

Yours in spirit and battle,
S.

Señora H-B said...

Thanks for sharing. I know there are so many people out there that struggle with this. It's brutal at times.

I have said a lot gratitude prayers for modern medicine in the last few weeks.

melissa said...

I'm so glad that you've found something that helps. I believe in meds wholeheartedly. You're a lucky girl to have so much love and support from family and especially Mr. H-B. :) xoxo (Bain)

Señora H-B said...

Yes, I count myself very lucky to have him. Our families are also great because they're very non-judgmental about meds.

Katy said...

So many people struggle with depression and anxiety and are too ashamed to get help. Thank you for being so open about it. I'm glad you are feeling better!

And thanks for updating your blog! Its good to know you've come back from the dark side!

Señora H-B said...

Thanks, Katy! I was initially ashamed that I needed treatment. However, thanks to many online and in real life friends, I can now see that there is no shame in it. I have an illness, which I have probably had for many years. I need help with it! It still makes me a little anxious to admit I can't do it all on my own, but life is so much easier now that I can say "I need help".

Elizabeth said...

Mania,

I'm so happy for you! Even in the writing of your post, you sound more relaxed. Here's to more of feeling awesome! Love you!

Señora H-B said...

Thanks, Bizzy! I really appreciate it. I definitely feel more relaxed than I have in at least a year (possibly my entire, anxious life!).

Kelly said...

Maria, I know I'm a couple weeks late to the party, but I'm so glad you found something that helped. It's hard (SO HARD) to admit when you can't do it on your own. I came from a family chock full of depression and other mental health issues and had always prided myself on beig the normal one. Ha! It took a bad break-up and an inability to do anything for an entire month to admit that I had to do something about it. I could have probably gone on anti-depressants about 5 years earlier and things would have gone a lot differently in my life. But the point is, evenutally I found what I needed.

I tried to wean myself from it a couple of years ago, just gradually. Well after some huge fights with Jason and a lot of tears, which confused him to no end, I told him I had been trying to get off the meds. I don't think he was such a believer in the meds before and saw them as a crutch, but since that time, he has been the biggest proponent of me staying sane (and medicated).

I found out the extended release stuff worked better for me because taking a pill at night kept me awake.

Anyway, I think you'll find this is much, much, more more common than you could have ever imagined. Hugs to you!

Señora H-B said...

I'm definitely finding that to be true. It seems like everyone I know has either gone through the same thing or knows someone who has. It's nice to know I'm not alone. And that there's no shame in getting help.