Saturday, September 05, 2015

Depression, Anxiety and Climbing out of the Pit

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Aiden, Olivia & Owen - First Day of School 
So you know how I just sort of dropped off the face of the planet for the last year or so? Well... I am attempting to climb back out and join you all in the land of social once more. Maybe.

Depression and Anxiety are not new in my life but for the most part I've had them relatively controlled for the past several years. But then something major happens - like moving across the country - and my mind says NOPE and I enter this sort of spirally decline.

That is what happened to me over the past year.

Oddly enough I was AWARE of what was happening I just didn't know how to fix it.

Over time my anxieties began to pile up and multiply. It started with just events and new people and bigger things causing me to freak out. But then I couldn't handle phone calls anymore. Or answering the door. And then even leaving the house became a huge issue. Driving anywhere other than the exact same road to and from the kids' school was absolutely out of the question. Stopping and getting gas for the van? No way. Going to the grocery store? Nope.

And then it got worse. Things INSIDE my house started triggering my anxiety. All of a sudden the thought of organizing a closet or making supper would cause a complete breakdown. One day I forgot how to make kraft dinner. I stood in the kitchen and could not remember how to make kraft dinner. I had to read the directions 3 times just to make sure I understood.

I couldn't write anything and I began to talk less and less and the couch became the safe spot.

That is not the way I want to live my life.

It is a very frustrating thing to know exactly what is going on and to be powerless to just fix it.

In his recent post Tears in Rain Wil Wheaton wrote about his own depression and he said this:

“The thing I think we have to remember is that there is no finish line with depression, anxiety, or any other sort of mental illness. We’re on this path, and the path is constantly changing. Sometimes it’s flat and well-marked, and we can see all the way to the horizon.” I realized that I had gone from shaking his hand to holding it. “Other times, it’s so heavily shrouded in fog and mist, we can’t even see past our fingertips and we need someone to show us where the path is. And sometimes, we come to a wall that we don’t think we’ll ever get over. I’ve been staring at the base of that wall for weeks, and just now you helped me remember that there are always handholds to get up and over it.”

So that is what I am working to do now - I am finding the handholds. 

After gearing up my mental and emotional energy I went to one doctor and explained the situation and he very unhelpfully told me I should just continue to use the coping skills I learned in counselling and sent me on my way.

In his defense I was probably not forceful enough in telling him what I needed. I very rarely am. Doctors visits are another one of those anxiety inducing events for me and my mind tends to play some lovely tricks on me once I am there and I just start nodding along with whatever they say. It's ridiculous really.

After a couple months I went to a different doctor and asked for a referral to a psychiatrist. He gave me the "are you suicidal" checklist and since I am NOT suicidal he told me I am fine and that all parents of special needs kids are stressed out and sent me on my way.

He's not wrong. All parents of special needs kids are stressed out and I am not suicidal. But that does not negate my need to see a psychiatrist.

After that I decided to go the mental health route and got myself an appointment with a counsellor. Several months ago I went to the initial intake consultation where they assess you and decide what to do with you. I finally met with my new counsellor this week for our first appointment. She seems very nice and I think she knows what she is talking about. She took about 12 pages of notes and told me she plans to give me a diagnosis and refer me to a psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and deal with the medication part of things.

I am very relieved.

It takes a lot of energy to get help but now that things are moving along I have hope that there will be improvement and a (relatively) normally functioning life isn't too far off in the distance.

I am very thankful that I have an extremely strong support network. My husband just keeps on carrying on throughout it all and that is a true gift. My best friend lives about 3 minutes from me and has taken such good care of me over the past year. I would be lost without her. My kids love me no matter what. And of course I still have a wonderful network of friends online from all over who don't let me disappear into my own pit of despair too deeply.

Don't worry - I said very nice things about all of you when the nice counsellor lady asked about my support network even though I think she questions the legitimacy of "online friends".

I hate that writing is one of the first things to go when my depression hits but I promise to TRY and keep writing along with trying to get better. That's the best I can do at the moment.

Also if YOU are struggling with depression and/or anxiety there are about a zillion of us online here who are already in the club so please don't feel like you are alone. I found the post Strange and beautiful by the Bloggess awhile ago and it has some wonderful advice in it. Plus she is amazingly funny and a wonderful example of laughing through your pain.



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