Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday. Because it is her birthday I know that tomorrow it has also been 2 years since the day that I finally gave up in despair and walked into a doctor’s office for the first time in my life to say “I have depression issues.” I was 27 years old. I wouldn’t apply the word anxiety to myself for about another year. It was funny that it was on her birthday, but it also seemed appropriate in some weird way. I spent my entire life trying to manage this, insisting I could control and deal with this. It’s a family trait. It made sense to me that on my mother’s birthday I would make a choice that I knew she would never make and also never tell her about it.
My friend came with me to my appointment that day. If she hadn’t, I don’t know if I could have walked in. I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t hide it. When the nurse took my blood pressure she gave me a strange look and asked how much caffeine I had had that day. I shook my head and said I was just very nervous. She said the readings were useless, she waited to take them again at the end of the appointment. They were better but still quite high. It would take almost 6 months of regular doctors visits before my blood pressure would look normal when they took it. I hated that my body could just betray me that way. No matter how calm I might be able to look on the outside (and granted, I was not doing the best job at that but I was maintaining), all it took was a cuff and they could tell I was climbing the walls internally. Didn’t seem fair.
I was terrified that they wouldn’t believe me, that nothing I had experienced would be bad enough. For someone who has so desperately needed validation for her entire life, that would have been the most shattering possibility. My doctor gave me the two little tests to fill out, 10 questions each I believe. She wrote me a prescription without much trouble, wanted to know about my family history and how long this had been happening. I told her since adolescence which is when things got really bad although truthfully I remember being depressed when I was much younger. The whole appointment lasted less then half an hour and I walked out with a prescription and another appointment, plus a referral for a psychiatrist. It was considerably less traumatic than I had expected, although I was still shaking. Adrenaline is a bitch.
The process of finding the correct medications over the next few months was not exactly a joy. The first medication they put me on made me extremely anxious and suicidal. My doctor added another one to stabilize the anxiety, so I was on low doses of two things, which seemed to take away the feeling suicidal but not necessarily keep any other feelings at bay. When I was moved to the psychiatrist for medication management, he upped my first med and I became very suicidal again. I have a difficult time admitting when a medication (or lack there-of if I forget to take them) is causing a reaction. It seems like something I should be able to think my way out of. I can see that it’s not logical so I feel like my brain should be able to fix it. Note to anyone else who ever feels this way: don’t try this. It’s not an effective coping skill. You can’t fix your brain with your brain when your brain is the thing that is misfiring in the first place. I spent almost a week with a knife to my throat every night before I finally listened to my friends and made a call to the psychiatrist’s office. There was a few days on anti-psychotics to “calm me” (I don’t recommend it although I suppose it might have been necessary) and then a switch to a new medication. So you know. It was kind-of a shitty couple of months. BUT. After all of that. My therapist brought up that she thought I had ADD. I thought this was a completely insane conclusion until she brought the evidence to me and all of a sudden my life started making a lot more sense in light of this new information. I was kept on a mood stabilizer and an anti-anxiety med and also put on a medication for ADD and I have to say? Things have been a lot better for quite a while now.
I’m not exactly fully cured. I don’t know that it’s a medication thing to cure or if “cured” even has a concrete meaning with these things. I still struggle with anxiety (and if I miss a dose or two of my meds for some reason, it spikes pretty quickly) and certainly things still happen that can send me into depression (very possibly more on that later in this month) but as far as the overall stability factor goes… it’s remarkably better. I was just thinking a week or so ago that I actually cannot remember the last time I had intrusive suicidal thoughts, which for a lot of years was just a normal part of my life even if I wasn’t super depressed. I may get sad or anxious but I am generally more capable of dealing with it, it generally lasts a lot less time. For years I was worried that medication would change me or fuck me up somehow but all it’s done is lower the background noise in my head enough that I can do the things that are actually important to me. So you know. Two years later and I’m really, really grateful I walked into that office and said what I was totally sure I would not be able to say until I had to. I’m also grateful that I do not have to see my mother tomorrow. It’s been a hell of a two years. Meds are one of the things that allowed me to get to where I am now. It seemed like a good time to take a moment to acknowledge that.