The Raven

The Raven

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Depression and Anxiety

"Anxiety disorders ARE NOT due to any character flaw or lack of moral fiber. They are not within the individual's ability or volition to control; these are not "your fault," nor are you able to treat these disorders simply by "trying harder." (p. 11 Anxiety Disorders: Everything You Need To Know; J. Paul Caldwell, MD, CCFP)
It really is all in our head! There are physical, chemical reasons for feeling depressed, anxious and not being able to function normally. Anxiety is necessary for survival. For survival, we need to be able to anticipate dangers that could be hazardous to our survival. We are then, through natural anxiety, able to plan what to do if the worst happens. Relatively, to living in the wild with man-eating predators, there should be no compromise with our survival and going to the grocery store....? But, there is always evolution. And trouble evolves with the living- trouble, survival is all relative.
I have been successfully medicated with Paxil 20 mg for the past 5 years. I never thought I would go on any meds, but the panic attacks became unbearable! I would get tormenting thoughts in my head:
what if when i die something rips all my teeth out and makes me eat glass?
I saw a tree once that looked like a person who had been taken, turned upside down, had their head plunged into the ground and I imagined it being a person, their head in Hell and the devil pulling all their teeth out and the blood pouring out of their mouth.
what if i accidently cut myself and i can't stop bleeding?

Being depressed, anxious, obsessively worrying made me feel like a ghost. I felt no one could see me, hear me, feel me or help me; I felt lost even from God.

I was always, since a baby, restless, sad, crying, didn't sleep at night. I remember many times after school, lying on my floor, curled up, after fighting with my mother, being made fun of at school, balling my eyes out. I wrote alot in my journals; I still do. What tormented me, at the same time, blessed me with the talent to create vivid imagery, I could describe through my writing things that people could see- I could evoke emotions people get when they listen to a song and could make them see a painting just by describing it.

There are environmental reasons for depression. There are also biochemical reasons for it. I tried natural remedies for a while. As a child, before bed, I could feel the thoughts waiting on my pillow ready to overcome my mind and become nightmares. I would sit up and read and do puzzles in the Highlights magazines. I would read, do art projects in my bed until I got so tired I would nod off. In school, many times I would feel nauseous, wouldn't eat. As I grew into my late teens, early twenties, new symptoms joined the nausea- dizziness, cold sweats, heart palpitations and near fainting, but I usually would kneel down or sit down as I felt that tingling darkness creeping around my eyes.

I began to read about what was happening to me. I was always told I was too sensitive, kinda dismissed. That is the WORST thing you can do with a depressed, anxious person. We are already scared we are going mad, if people do not listen to our fears and feelings, do not give them recognition as something out of our control.... I tried yoga, talking about it to my mom, who also suffers from anxiety and depression. Nothing she said could comfort me, which worried her more; it would frustrate her and often come out as irritation or anger, and made me feel like no one could help me.
The catalyst for me was one day at work, at my cash register, I nearly blacked out. A girl had been talking about her wisdom teeth, which conjured horrible thoughts of blood; my heart began to flutter and cold-sweats seeped from my palms and under my arms. I tried to busy myself, think of other things. I managed to wait on my customers. Then knelt down at my station, humiliated, pretending to get more bags from underneath. I couldn't stand, and people began to gather asking if I was ok.
I went home "sick" that day. I called out for a couple days, scared to go back, scared it would happen again.
you need to calm down. you need to grow up. you're so sensitive. you need to snap out of it. you need to get into reality. why can't you just try to look at the bright side. you have nothing to be depressed about. I KNOW THAT'S WHAT MAKES THIS WORSE! WHY AM I FEELING THIS WAY?
Eventually I went back to work. I remember one day, it was a very damp, dark day; I love those kind. I walked into work feeling okay; I wanted to try hard and be positive. Soon into my day, I felt the anxiety again. I ended up going home again. No one was home when I got there. I hurried into the kitchen; tears blurring my eyes, knelt down by the cupboard and desperately grabbed a bottle of gin and swigged it. It made me feel worse. I lied down on the couch. Later my parents came home, they seemed angry at me for leaving work again. Told me I need to stop doing this.
I went to the doctor's. My doctor ordered an EKG and of course, to my horror.... blood work to check my thyroid and such. There ended up being NO PHYSICAL REASON why I should be having these spells.
I was prescribed Nirivam. I was to pop one of these when I felt panic attack coming on. The bottle said to be sure my hands were clean before I took one. I obsessed over this. I worked at an old grocery store. It was mostly a butcher shop, it smelled of rancid meat when you first walked in, but then you got used to it. I was always handling wrapped meat products that often leaked, grubby money. So I had to shut off my register light, thankfully since it was a small local store, we could pretty much manage ourselves, and sneak off to the dank, dim and disgusting bathroom, which one customer so eloquently described it as "triflin" (try-flyn). It felt like you could get AIDS just by standing in there.
I went back to the doctor; thank God I had good medical coverage. She gave me a number to a good counselor. I did that and still took the pills. I called that day and was comforted by the therapist's kind voice; I was surprised she answered her own phone, which comforted me more. The office was a small building that was by the railroad track- it looked like a box car I thought. I made the therapist tear up as I talked about my past, which made me feel like I shouldn't talk too much about sad stuff inside me. I read more and more about my problem and one day was SOOOO relieved to read, ""Anxiety disorders ARE NOT due to any character flaw or lack of moral fiber. They are not within the individual's ability or volition to control; these are not "your fault," nor are you able to treat these disorders simply by "trying harder." I read about many other people with the SAME feelings as me! About 25% of the world's population suffers from what I do. The scientific understanding now is that in our brains,"anxiety disorders are associated with dysregulation of neurotransmitter systems" (Caldwell). This was a relief to me! I went back to my doctor and told her about what I had read. She prescribed PAXIL. Within a week, I felt happy and confident. No more panic attacks. I still had the images in my head, but they didn't make me ill anymore. People noticed the change in me.
I am in a way thankful to have depression and anxiety, it allows me to feel deeply and empathetically . It makes me creative. Yet, before, it would be too much for me and I couldn't function normally. I see my depression and anxiety as a tragic beauty and I am happy with it..

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