When I came home from college in 2005 I was a complete mess, actually a disaster. I stayed in bed for days at a time without showering, not talking to anyone, eating everything I could get my hands on and crying none stop. None stop. I was angry, confused, sad, desperate and had many other feelings.
Growing up, my parents didn’t believe in therapy. They saw it as a sign of weakness and that people would look down on them. It wasn’t about me getting “better” but they made it about themselves. My dad would say, “oh you don’t need therapy. Just knock it off and stop being lazy.” My mom never stuck up for me. She always went along with what my dad said. I felt like and still feel like she is a follower and has never had her own opinion. However, I was over the age of 21 at this time. They couldn’t stop me from seeking help. I called my PCP and asked who she recommended. As soon as I got off the phone with her, I made the phone call that changed my life. I made an appointment with a social worker. I met with her a week later and it was the best decision of my life.
After several sessions with her she recommended that I see a psychiatrist. I had many underlying conditions that concerned her. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and started medication. At the time, I felt like a different person. I seemed happy but I still had so much to talk to my therapist about. I had a lot of highs and lows like most people do. I felt like mine were out of the norm…whatever the “norm” is.
My wonderful psychiatrist left the practice to do research for a hospital that was not part of my insurance network. I was referred to another psychiatrist that I hated. It was a miserable cycle trying to find a psychiatrist that I felt comfortable with. In the meantime, I was still going to therapy. My therapist, Jessica, was and still is (after all this time!!) my lifesaver. Without her, Im not completely sure I would still be here. Suicide and depression run on my moms side of the family. My grandfather committed suicide my moms freshman year of college. The majority of my mothers side of the family suffers from depression. I see what suicide did to my mom and aunt. I promised myself I would never, ever put my family through that no matter how horrible things got. I think about that all of the time when times get bad.
Finally, I found a psychiatrist that came highly recommended. I saw him for YEARS. He diagnosed me with depression, generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. He changed my medication so many times. He ended up putting me on FMLA/short term disability from work because I was not doing well and he wanted me to concentrate on my mental health. We changed my medication over and over and over again but nothing seemed to help. I felt helpless and like things were never going to change. I ended up having to quit my job. I couldn’t handle the stress on top of everything else. My psychiatrist put me on a thyroid medication (that is rarely used as a booster to depression medication but we were running out of options for my depression) and I almost died. Not joke. I almost died. I didn’t question him because I trusted his judgement. I ended up in the ED with my face so swollen my parents didn’t recognize me, my resting heart beat between 180-190 and severe panic attacks. I couldn’t breathe let alone comprehend what was going on. The physician on call admitted me to the hospital. I saw so many specialists, including a cardiologist because they could not get my resting heart beat to a normal level. I was in the hospital for almost a week before they sent me home on bed rest for three weeks. Im going to put this nicely — this psychiatrist that put me on this thyroid medication when my thyroid levels were and still are completely normal, is one of the biggest pieces of shit I’ve ever known. Excuse my language. I still have flashbacks to how miserable I was and felt. I changed psychiatrists right away after this.
The therapist that I changed to is one of the kindest, nicest and most empathetic people I have ever met. She is so kind and listened to everything that I had to say. At our first appointment she diagnosed me with Bipolar 2 disorder. For people who are not familiar with the difference between Bipolar 1 and 2 are this: Bipolar 1 has extreme highs and lows, extremely manic to a scary level. Bipolar 2 is more of a manic depression. My highs are high but not to the level of Bipolar 1. I just get really happy, I want to go, go, go and I talk a lot. Then I crash and I’m so depressed I can’t function.
Between Jessica my therapist and my psychiatrist we have come to these diagnosis: bipolar 2, manic depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia and PTSD. The medication I am currently on is the best “cocktail” of medication that Ive ever been on. I still have good and bad days but they are not as severe. I’ll get more into that as time goes on.
To my new followers, welcome to Smiling Through Tears. This blog is a daily account of my struggle with mental health disorders. To all of my returning followers, thank you for supporting me and following my journey.