Mental Health

For the first time in my life I have the proper treatment for my mental health. It is utterly amazing what medication, and the right help from professionals can do. I have been medicated in the past and/or seen a psychologist and done tests, etc., but never have I felt [consistently] like this.

[side note: one of my pet peeves is when people ask me what happened to make me depressed or anxious… or tell me to be thankful for what I have… I know that sometimes, depression and/or anxiety are triggered by external events but in my case, it was/is primarily a chemical imbalance coupled with my reaction to situations, because of my nature. I know it is just ignorance but I wish that mental illness wasn’t so taboo so the general public could be more educated. SO MANY people deal with a mental illness of some kind in their lifetime. It would be so awesome if they didn’t feel wrong or alone while suffering]

Part of me can’t help but feel ripped off for the past however long of my life where I’ve struggled and struggled with depression and anxiety. It’s like a veil has been lifted from my face and I’m shocked into the realisation that this is how most other people feel all the time. Sure, I’ve had periods of my life without depressive episodes or major anxiety… but in the past month (since my psychiatric evaluation, mental health plan and consequent med dose increase) it as though I’m finally seeing in colour. Everything is clearer.

But you know what? Aside from happiness, contentment and feeling so damn greatful… the strongest emotion I’m feeling is PRIDE. Because now I can see that I coped so freaking well with that heavy veil of negativity clouding my thoughts. I am phenomenally strong. Depression, especially, is like walking through life in heavy layers of cold, soaking wet clothing with rain belting down on you – but everyone else sees a dry, warm version of you.

Depression robs you of basic motivation. Not in a ‘oh, I can’t be bothered right now’ kind of way… but in a deep-set, heavy, burdensome way that hits you out of no where. Often I would wake up with no will to do anything, I felt utterly hopeless – but I DID. Even though nothing seemed worth it. I kept going. I was a fucking brilliant mama considering the inner struggle I fought most days.

Anxiety weakens you. So alongside all of the above, I found myself doubting every action that I did make. At it’s worst I felt immobilised by fear. Anxiety attacks sure can be traumatic. Despite being mental illnesses, I went so much physically. The scariest part of anxiety attacks and suicidal ideation for me was that I partially dissociated anytime that things got too heavy.

My mind was so cruel to me. I was my own worst enemy. Every doubt and fear was fleshed out in my mind and I turned it in on myself. There was so much self-loathing.. so much pressure and expectations from myself. I think to those who had no idea, I came across as negative and self-centered. However, these thoughts are uncontrollable. Without help, it’s simply a downward spiral.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday when I was talking about the future with Mike. I said to him “It’s so strange, since Lucy’s birth I have this overwhelming desire to make our dreams a reality.” I have always been determined, even when depressed, so it didn’t even occur to me that my drive was altered. But here I am with what feels like an injection of ambition and strength. & again, that makes me proud, to think that despite all the chemicals in my brain robbing me of my motivation and ability to positively look forward to the future; I sure fought through it.

It is funny adjusting to not dealing with the symptoms of severe depression or generalised anxiety disorder. Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully this will be my new normal. Depression and anxiety are so familiar to me. Particularly in the past 4 years. I’m still working through some of my internal dialogue and those automatic thoughts that have been my ‘go to’ when things get hard in my life. I feel like I have got to get to fully know this ‘new’ Rachel.

I don’t like what it took for me to truly actively seek help and help myself (I may talk about it in the future). But I’m so proud that I did. I’m so proud and thankful for the people in my life who have helped me through this (especially my husband and sister). Nothing I could do could repay them.

Anyway, I’m writing this quickly to share where I am at… and hopefully to inspire others to actively seek help if they are in that dark place. Things CAN be better. Believe me, I never thought so until proven otherwise. I always said that ‘it’ (depression and/or anxiety) was “just how I am”. & you are so much stronger than you think.

———————————————

OH, & I’m 24 today! Happy birthday to me :) Waking up to little Lucy and Cammy cuddles was the best birthday pressie ever!

Why I won’t be blogging until further notice

Trigger warning: talk of depression, anxiety disorders & suicidal ideation/suicide.

I’m usually one for reaching out and talking about the difficult topics.

But in the past 6 or so months, I have been struggling (in varying degrees) with so much mentally.

But talking about this is so much harder now… Previously I had never been in that place.. Where I couldn’t bring myself to care and I was terrified of myself & my thoughts.

Now, I am too vulnerable. Anything but support is potentially damaging.. And putting yourself out there on the Internet pretty much guarantees a variety of views/beliefs.

I know the stigma too well. Even in my real life I’m surrounded by people who don’t take mental illness seriously, let alone my mental health. I know that so many people do not understand or accept mental illness and/or generalise and have a warped view of it.. not to mention the hurtful comments about medication and therapy.

I’m glad though, because this means they haven’t felt like I have.

However, it hurts. It pains me to hear people talk about depression and/or anxiety like it isn’t a serious issue.. Or like it can be overcome with optimism.

I know how blessed I am, I don’t take anything for granted, I know that I have so much to look forward to. I know that there are great qualities about me. It’s just not that simple.

At the same time, I get it.. Because I distinctly remember not-too-long-ago thinking that I could use my intelligence and sheer will to change the way I felt… to stop the seemingly never-ending stream of self-hate or put an end to an anxiety attack. I’m only now coming to terms with my mental illness and what it means.

It is true that that there are tools to help cope with how you react to situations.. but there are so many other factors in play. Mental illness is (often) chemical and it’s nobody’s fault, and it’s not a result of not being able to talk yourself out of slipping into thought patterns. Believe me, I’m determined, clever and strong.. if that were possible, I would have done so by now.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I won’t be blogging because I’m struggling to share my thoughts.. not just with strangers on the web but with people in my life.. especially those who don’t really know me.

————————————————————

P.S. Also, I best let you know that I’ve increased the help and support that I can and am working hard with my psych as well as my healthcare team to do the best that I can to get through this, particularly when my hormones are so high. I will be ok, I know that.

Beyond Struggling

I wasn’t going to share this but I figured I share everything else so why not.

My doctor has told me to abruptly wean off my medication for my anxiety disorder. I won’t go into the why, but I have been taking 50 mg of Zoloft (sertraline) for 18 months and have weaned of SNRIs and SSRIs in the past… it’s never good.

I’m one of the unlucky people who gets several of the symptoms of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome.

Browsing the internet, I found this list of the possible side-effects that you can get from withdrawal. I have put the symptoms that I am getting in bold.

Neurologic symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty walking

Somatic (bodily) complaints include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

Less common difficulties:

  • Shock-like sensations
  • Parasthesia (skin crawling, burning or prickling)
  • Visual disturbances (blurred)
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills

Non-specific mental symptoms:

  • Shock-like sensations
  • Agitation
  • Impaired concentration
  • Vivid dreams
  • Depersonalization – sense of unreality and loss of self
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts

———————————

Lucky me, right?

I won’t lie, I’m struggling. I can’t drive because of the shocks, vertigo, fatigue and lack of concentration. I can’t be the kind of mum I usually am.

I just can’t wait for it to be over.

Luckily, I am not anxious or panicky so I really feel like this is a good thing in the long run. & I know it won’t last too long, but at this point it feels like every minute longer is too much, you know?

I took my last tablet a week ago and I could be in for another week or more of this. It is phenomenal what one pill can do to your body. Sometimes I feel like an illicit-drug addict, jittery and on-edge.

I know it will be worth it in the end. But I want to break down and give up sometimes. I know I’m doing what I have to, and that I am just being a good Mum, but sometimes I wish that things just were simple.

Don’t we all, I guess.