In my last post, I talked a bit about my hospital stay and how I found myself open to starting medication.
I’m super duper sensitive to medications (which isn’t frustrating one bit, she said with her voice dripping sarcasm), so I had reluctantly accepted my doctor’s suggestion to try an antidepressant. I should say re-try because I had tried two different antidepressants way back when I first started having health issues. I wasn’t looking forward to going through the side effects again, even though I was on the lowest dose possible, but my doctor nearly insisted that I have to push through the first few weeks of side effects and that they WILL get better.
He was right of course, and I started to have interest in doing things again in mid-May. That’s about around the time I decided to do my Do 100 Fun Things This Summer Project. I was moving slowly in the beginning, but I was getting out of bed, off the couch, and reaching out to people again. And enjoying myself in the process.
Next, I thought about adding therapy so that I could get my mind in order and then hopefully not have to depend on medication to make me feel better. So I was assigned to a general therapist at my health care provider.
Here’s a funny story – in that very first appointment I was telling her a few of my major struggles, and I could tell she was trying to diagnose me on the spot, which kind of annoyed me. After a while, she pulled out a booklet and started going through it with me – it was about a condition called “Borderline Personality Disorder” . I was super scared of the sound of that, and as we went through the information together I could see why she identified that with me, but I also thought she might be wrong about the diagnosis and I’d have to give her more information. But I listened patiently and promised to read through the literature and return for a follow up appointment.
As I was leaving her office, I was almost to the stairs when I heard someone call my name. When I turned around it was a lovely older gentleman I used to be associated with through a nonprofit I had commitments with. I hadn’t seen him in quite some time so of course when he caught up to me we embraced. As we did, I realized I was holding a big ‘ole booklet with a cartoon person on the front and the word BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER splashed largely across the top. While we chatted, I was trying to do everything I could to cover it up so he wouldn’t see it. I did that thing where you try to lock their eye contact so intently (and uncomfortably( that they won’t look away and then tried to fold the booklet up in the meantime, praying he wouldn’t see it – it really was so funny.
I came back to see her again, and this time I started out with the fact that my biggest concern was that I had been gaining weight rather quickly since starting the medication (which is a pretty common side effect). The therapist wasn’t qualified to discuss medications, so she suggested I see a psychiatrist for advice on the medication. She also introduced me to some of the support group therapy they had on campus for depression and anxiety, and I signed up to attend one the same day.
Group therapy was pretty amazing. I suppose it was shocking to me (although it probably shouldn’t have been) to see so many people – average, normal people like me, even though as I type that I don’t even know what that means – coming in and sitting down to get help for depression and anxiety. That other people were being just as brave as I was to get help for something that was troubling them as much as it was troubling me. That I wasn’t alone.
The therapy sessions were six weeks long – once a week – and there was a different topic or coping mechanism covered every week. I found it fascinating to hear some of the ways other people related to or dealt with depression and anxiety. Some people had some SERIOUS problems that were greatly attributing to their diseases and I felt like I shouldn’t even be in the room with them because my problems weren’t as big or my life wasn’t as rough. But the more I learned, I realized it doesn’t matter. No one is “typical” when it comes to depression and anxiety and it can hit anyone. ANYONE.
Some days I learned a lot, or I was touched by the people in the group, and other days it took every ounce of my being to walk into the room and not burst into tears the moment I sat down (during the summer I was doing A LOT at looking what in my past was bringing depression and anxiety to the surface and it was incredibly painful at times. Regardless, I’m glad I went through the program.
I also did get into the psychiatrist to talk about my challenges with the medication, my sensitivity and the weight gain. While we were becoming acquainted she asked if I’d be willing to test for ADD. I was blown away. Isn’t ADD a “kids” disease? Isn’t that for hyperactive people or people who are all “fly by the seat of their pants all the time? That’s certainly what I thought. But she seemed REALLY hot on me taking the test.
I don’t remember the exact numbers on the score, but I do remember I scored SUPER HIGH for ADD. Like WAY high. As I read the questions and determined how I live my life, my habits, my daily struggles, etc I just about cried because I identified with almost every single thing that ADD sufferers struggle with. I couldn’t believe it. She said confidently, “Oh yes. It’s definitely ADD that’s contributing to your depression and anxiety. Mind: blown.
More on ADD next time.
Need to catch up?
Part 1: The Beginning
Part 2: Shameful Secret
Part 3: The Holidays & New Year
Part 4: Hospital Fun