I went to speak with a doctor about a seemingly unrelated issue with my body. I thought I had Celiac, or, at the very least, a gluten intolerance. My stomach bloated nearly every time I ate something, which was either high in carbs or high in salt. I felt nauseous, very fatigued, dizzy, and stressed.
My doctor asked me several questions, and then she came to the question: “Have you been feeling depressed or down in the dumps?” I answered right away, “Yes.”
I had been toying with the idea of speaking with a health professional about my increasingly worrisome depression, but had wanted to get my supposed Celiac disease diagnosed and taken care of first, since many people with the disease also suffer from moderate to severe depression.
After a series of more questions, my doctor studied me with a soft smile. “I don’t think you have Celiac, dear.”
The next week, I went in for several blood tests that would either prove her diagnosis right or wrong. On my next appointment with the same doctor, she confirmed that all of my test results – from Celiac to Mono – were negative. We then focused on my depression symptoms and their severity. It amazed me that depression can actually make someone physically ill. After several months of mental and emotional trauma, my body had started to become messed up as well.
The doctor did want to put me on antidepressants during the first visit, but during my second visit, I was very depressed and nearly unreactive emotionally. It was then that she suggested an antidepressant and a mild sedative that would take the edge off and also help me sleep.
I don’t feel it would be right to tell you what I was/am prescribed, because different antidepressants work for different people. They put me on a fairly low dosage to begin with, which I am happy for. The side effects can be greater when you take a higher dosage to begin with. Do keep in mind, though, that if a physician is putting you on antidepressants in the first place, it is because s/he had weighed the benefits against the potential negatives and decided that medication is a good idea for you.
The first week of taking the antidepressants along with the sedatives, I felt very tired and, to my relief, my depression eased. I was also on a 6 day vacation to see my family in my hometown, so being away from work and from some of the stress involved in certain social situations helped me a lot.
Even once I returned back to my staff accommodation, my job, and my social life, I felt much better. The downside was that they made me feel so exhausted that I went to bed around 8:30 most evenings. I felt as though I was disappointing my room mates and coworkers for not going out with them, and I resented that only a couple of people actually understood that it was not my choice to sleep in my room for half of my life, but it was the medication. I just needed time to heal, and I wanted the space to do so in peace.
Shortly after my short supply of sedatives was finished, my anxiety levels spiked. Now, I am not sure if it was a side effect from the antidepressant’s full strength, or if it was from the stress of returning to work and not feeling content. It could have been both.
I do react much more to stimuli (Being an introverted, dreamer personality type) and I become very sensitive when my ideal living conditions are breached in any way. If I am unable to have the creative and personal space in my own home, while feeling the pressure to live up to peoples’ expectations, that can go very badly for me.
My depression had lifted a little, but my stress levels increased to the point of being very uncomfortable. That, in turn, made me become more depressed again. It’s so complicated to be depressed.
My suicidal thoughts came back. So, I went to the walk in mental health counselling service center. The day that I went there, I had not experienced any serious suicidal thoughts, but the idea crossed my mind casually. That may not make sense to many of you, but I have my serious “I should just die now” ideas, and then the more laid-back, “Hm. Maybe if I keep feeling like this, I could just kill myself.” Though I did not realize it at the time, the latter thought was just as dangerous.
The therapist asked me a series of questions once we sat down, and she almost did not let me leave the hospital when I told her that I had “causally” thought of killing myself earlier that day. She called my doctor from the clinic and the doctor came to see me right away. I was amazed at her dedication, but I felt guilty and horrible as well.
Hearing the therapist relate the information about me to my doctor really gave me a shake of reality. She said, “Sara has been having suicidal ideations, which include going to the kitchen to take a knife and either cut or kill herself.” It sounded like a line from a psychological thriller movie. I felt like a total weirdo.
When my doctor arrived, she said that it was her responsibility as a physician to not allow me to leave the hospital if I did not feel safe with myself. I sat there in awe that I might actually be admitted into the psych ward for a night. I assured her that I would continue to take the antidepressants and that I would not go home and kill myself. We set up a plan of action that I could take when I got home to keep my mind occupied. She wrote me up a second prescription of sedatives to help calm me down, and then I made an appointment for my first therapy session with the therapist I had spoken to earlier.
I walked home feeling relieved and troubled all at once. I was finally seeking good medical care from people I could trust, but I knew that I had a long way to go before I could feel better.
**Next time, I will write about the therapy sessions which have helped me. I just want to say that, in addition to medication for psychological conditions, therapy is essential because it will give you the tools needed to deal with less than pleasant life situations later on, and you can learn important stress/crisis management techniques.
Until next time, I wish you a safe and happy day. Peace and love. Xx