I can’t pinpoint the start of it, but depression and anxiety took over my life.
To be fair, anxiety has always been a big part of my persona and I’ve battled with is successfully for over a decade. Depression on the other hand is a tricky and sneaky little monster. I suspect the failed IUIs back in 2013 is where it truly started. That third failure destroyed me beyond words. More than I’d ever admit to. The subsequent requirements to try again (weight loss, hormones, pills) also destroyed me. There’s a well-known connection between infertility and depression, but I wasn’t convinced that was it. I’m not exactly sure I’ll ever be able to pinpoint it because my body has been through hormonal hell for a very long time and that wreaks havoc on my mental status. It becomes impossible to tell why I’m crying… am I PMSing? Am I sad? Is this stress overload? Am I just exhausted? Is this yet another birth control effect? I never fucking know. Just when I think I have a grip on it, I lose my shit over something else or we switch meds or life gets in the way and the line blurs again.
The thing is, there’s nothing I can truly do about the hormones. Having finally found the right doctor for my lady parts, I’ve been given a diagnosis, some hope, and some final answers. The long and the short of it is that because I’m trying to have a baby and have many abnormal reactions to hormonal meds, I can’t take anything and I can’t have anything permanent done to my body yet. There was a lot of progress with my diagnosis and having a good cry with my doctor (who hugged me a lot) has allowed me to truly have accept that no treatment part of it, but I still had to figure out how to deal with my head. So I tried a lot of vitamins and supplements and they helped a LOT with so many things, but there was still this lingering thing I couldn’t identify.
After a few sleepless nights here and there morphed into several sleepless nights a week and eventually into no sleep unless I took OTC meds – then maybe 3-4 hours a night, I knew I had a problem. Lack of sleep does so much harm to your body. You can eat very little and still gain weight, you’re stressed out constantly, and you’re exhausted ALL THE TIME. But there was no end in sight and doctors have never been good to me. EVERYTHING gets blamed on my weight and ignorance takes hold so after two of them told me to exercise to sleep better, I gave up. Never mind the fact that I was showing a million signs of mental illness. No, no. It must be the fat cells in my body. Fucking doctors.
If you don’t deal with your problems, they will eventually manifest elsewhere. That much stress and lack of sleep for months on end took its toll on me and a previously managed and maintained anxiety disorder took a sudden and painful leap into the forefront of my existence. My coworkers realized something was wrong long before I did. My mom noticed too, but she has a 6th sense about her babies. Dean did not. He was the one person I could briefly control myself around him because I spent the least amount of time around him. We have 2-4 hours a night together depending on when he gets home and when he falls asleep and since I would go to bed with him but be awake all night, it was easy. I’d been hiding my anxiety from Dean for a while and he had no idea my heart raced daily (which will also exhaust you) and I felt on the verge of a panic attack every day. It’s also very likely I was in denial of it as well. I had managed very well to keep it hidden from Dean until our anniversary surprise trip to Las Vegas. We had a blast and truly enjoyed our anniversary. We made some great memories and were very happy. Inside I was having a hard time in the casinos and then Halloween night there were SO many people I was starting to lose it, but he still didn’t catch on… until the flight home.
Everything I’d kept hidden was forced out of me like a volcano. My claustrophobia went from tolerable to deadly, my heart was pounding, I was sobbing, and I felt like everything was closing in on me. I couldn’t breathe, I was suddenly feverish, and my skin was swelling from edema. 30 minutes into the flight I just wanted to be knocked unconscious but there was no relief. That flight home was the worst flight of my life. (I am STILL having nightmares about it.) When we landed, I had to get out of there and into the open air, but of course we sat longer and then people moved slow. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown and land in the hospital. It ended up taking almost an hour to taxi in, get off the plane, and get to outdoors, but I finally got outside while Dean grabbed our luggage and truly breathed for the first time in almost 5.5 hours. Then the parking lot shuttle showed up immediately and it was boiling hot in there so I started to panic. I couldn’t breathe again. Thankfully our stop was first so when we got out, I literally sat on the ground and cried.
Imagine how shocked Dean was to see me suddenly falling apart and not knowing how to deal with it at all. I think his head imploded on some level. Then a few days later we had dinner with friends. I was dragging my feet about it and trying not to go which shocked him further. I finally went and then a political conversation happened and I exploded. I ALWAYS hold my tongue with political conversations but this time my brain could not control my mouth. Even worse, the shit I was saying made zero sense at all and I had this great point, but I could not connect it. All they saw was a crazy woman losing her mind. Eventually I stormed out. We drove home and Dean was flabbergasted. I couldn’t made the words come out of me even if I tried. By the time we parked the car at home (10 whole minute drive) I had a full blown panic attack that went on for almost an hour. I couldn’t leave the car.
The next day I finally admitted I needed help. Whatever was wrong with me wasn’t going to heal on its own and I was tired of the constant exhaustion and perpetually feeling on the verge of a panic attack every day. I was tired of not understanding myself and feeling stupid all the time. For me to not have control over myself is one of my worst nightmares and here I was not even able to form sentences. Naturally everyone around me could see it by then, but very little was said because everyone around me knows how fucked up my hormones are and how hard I struggle with them. It’s a sensitive subject to say the least. I had to decide it was time for a therapist. It took a few weeks to get in, but I did and ended up with a REALLY good match. She cuts right to the point and doesn’t bullshit around. She encourages me to cry and let things out, but also gives the most sound advice to me. I love it. She is exactly what I need in a therapist.
After the first real session (initial one is a consult and decision if we fit together) she sent me to the psychiatrist on staff for a medication discussion. It took a few weeks to get in (since I started therapy around the holidays) but I got on a cancellation list. Diagnoses were confirmed and medication was prescribed. Zoloft for my anxiety and depression, Trazadone for my insomnia and depression, and Xanax at a new higher dose for my panic attacks. I picked up the meds that evening after work and started them right away. I then proceeded to have my first 8 hour sleep night in almost 8 months. I cannot begin to explain the relief that comes from suddenly having a restful night’s sleep after so much deprivation of it. It was heavenly.
Since then I’ve had several sessions with my therapist, slept through the night almost every night, the daily anxiety has stopped, and I feel like there’s hope again. I’ve still got an uphill battle to get through and I know there are other things happening that are complicating it, but I have clarity in my brain again. I can process most of my thoughts and identify some of my emotions.
And for the ones I can’t figure out and for the ones yet to come, I have medication and therapy.