Special Edition Post: My Battle with Anxiety & Depression / Diagnosis and Treatments – Part 1
I don’t normally post on Tuesdays, but it has been a long while since I posted the last log saying that I was back and that I am able to be a regular blogger again…FAIL! Well, I wanted to include this special edition post because I think it is the crux of all that ails me and the reason I struggle so hard with the task of becoming a normal weight. I want to make this a 3 part post, so today will be the start of it and it will end on Thursday of this week. Feel free to read the other two installments if this topic rings a bell with you. I know I am not alone in this struggle, and we all have our “crosses to bear,” so to speak, but this is my experience and I want to be completely honest with you. It is also a load that needs to be taken off of my back and writing about it may help me do that.
Some people understand depression because they live with it every day of their life in a hideous way. Others come in and out of it whether they experience it themselves or know someone who has it. Then there are those who don’t have any idea what it is and how it can effect a life in ways that rob a soul of living out it’s full potential.
To be completely truthful, I have Anxiety with Depression in that order. Most of my life (starting around age 8) I have struggled with panic attacks and random freakouts where I feel as though I will die. I know that my Grandmother had these as well and my Father also suffered from terrible stress which caused him to drink quite a bit. My youngest sister has mental health issues too and must take medication to manage her chronic swings in mood. So, it is a biological disorder. But it is also a learned behavior or rather something the body does to protect itself from fear and the unknown. It is VERY hard to stop a panic attack once it begins. I won’t go into the details of how it makes me feel, but imagine you are in a plane at 35,000 feet and the pilot has just told you the engines have stopped working – that’s the sensation in a nutshell.
The depression part is the dark to soft grey cloud that hangs around during the periods between panic attacks. Yes, I have sought treatment from many sources. I don’t like psychological therapy for me because I felt it was not getting me anywhere. The councilors I had were not helpful and I felt they were uninterested in my issues. I am not knocking therapy, it can be awesome if you can find the right fit. Out of the 5 or so I went through, none of them, except for one, was useful. I get more out of journaling, reading self-help books and talking to my mom or sisters about my issues. If you suffer from this combo, I would highly suggest you seek out Lucinda Bassett and find her Cognitive Behavioral program that you can do on your own. It didn’t cure me, but it gave me valuable tools to cope.
I was on medication for about 9 years. They ranged from all sorts of brands. I am a singer, so dry mouth and/or forgetfulness is not something I can tolerate. These are common side effects for these types of drugs. So I finally ended up with Xanax and Wellbutrin as my pill cocktail. Xanax, as you may well know, is highly addictive, so I was overly cautious with that. A friend’s sister was addicted to it so badly that she “fell asleep” on her couch and did not wake up in time to rescue her baby from a fire that started in the baby’s bedroom. He perished, and she has to live with that horror for the rest of her life. I was told to take Xanax twice a day, but I could not function on it, so I nixed it altogether. I have a large stash of Xanax in a drawer if I need it, but I try to never use it. My body does not like it and it takes a few days for even one pill to leave my system (it’s a small dosage). Feeling lethargic and listless is not the life I want. Unfortunately, I got a psychiatrist that is only a pill pusher. Thank God I have the where-with-all to know better. Wellbutrin, on the other hand, is not as deadly or as energy destroying, but it does cause your body to stop producing it’s own serotonin. I was given mixed messages about how long to be on it, but recently I stopped due to the fact that I don’t want to be taking pills for the rest of my life when there are other holistic ways of dealing with depression.
Now don’t get me wrong, some people need to take medication for life due to their diagnosis or severity of mental disorder. My diagnosis was mild (which doesn’t mean it wasn’t bad or painful), so going off of these medications was a minimal risk. I am not convinced in the slightest that they helped me at all with my issues. If anything, they just masked them and, funny enough, I still had panic attacks while under the influence of Xanax on several occasions.
Continued in Part 2….