Disclaimer: this post is gonna get heavy.
Three years ago I was diagnosed with ‘Major Depression’. Two years ago I was diagnosed with ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder’. I haven’t officially been diagnosed with ‘Panic Disorder’, but I suspect that will be coming soon enough.
A lot of people think these aren’t real diseases. A lot of people think it is impossible for someone to have both at the same time. A lot of people are wrong about that.
I could write a novel about my experience over the last three years, but I have decided to start with a blog post. I’ll try not to ramble.
Very simply put, depression happens when there is a lack of Serotonin or Norepinephrine being produced in the brain. This can happen due to genetics, after a major life change or for seemingly no reason at all. Instead of getting a fever or hives like with another biological change, you get depressed. And it doesn’t just go away. Sometimes for years, decades even.
Anxiety is often thought of as being the opposite of depression. It is also often triggered by a major life change or genetics, among dozens of other potential causes. Symptoms vary case by case, and there are dozens of possible combinations. Trembling, nausea, heart palpitations, sweating and irritability are just a few.
So how can someone have both? Don’t they cancel each other out? How do you medicate for both? What does it feel like to struggle with intense highs and lows everyday?
Again, to keep this simple:
Depression is when you don’t really care about anything.
Anxiety is when you care too much about everything.
Having both is staying in bed because you don’t want to go to school and then panicking because you don’t want to fail. Having both is wanting to go see your friends so you don’t lose them all, then staying home in bed because you can’t make the effort. Having both sucks.
I have been to three different therapists. I have been on many medications. I have tried numerous breathing exercises. All of them helped, but none of them cured me. I have gotten frustrated beyond belief. I have found a damn near perfect cocktail of medication to subdue the symptoms and then quit them all cold turkey because it felt like cheating to medicate for emotions. I have felt ashamed, furious, scared and suicidal. I have cut. I have cried. I have felt worthless.
I am happy.
Yep you read that right. I am so happy.
If a year ago someone told me I’d be this happy, I would have rolled my eyes.
Last night I laughed with my mom at dinner. I sat on the couch in my apartment and watched my husband, sprawled out on the floor, play with our puppy. I went to a Taylor Swift concert last weekend with my two best friends, and had the time of my life.
I still have bad days. Really terrible days. I have days I don’t think I can physically get out of bed. I have days my throat is sore from breathing so hard during a panic attack. But they are becoming fewer. I am fighting them.
My hope is that someone reads this a sees that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are dark days, I know how dark they can get. But someday you will be able to look back on it. I can name specific moments in which giving up seemed to be the easiest option. Today, I am so glad I didn’t. I am so glad to be living the life I have been given.
Thank you for reading.
Peace and love,