Every time I entered both of my shrinks’ offices’, I wanted to immediately turn around and run. No one I had known at the time had receive this type of treatment, they’d usually just take the prescription from their physician and carry on. I felt absurd. I kept my family in the dark, I honestly did not know how to start this conversation with them especially through the phone. I was three weeks into my treatment when I finally went home to tell my family, as strongly suggested by my therapist. It was the worst plane ride ever. My depression was still very present and anxiety attacks would still visit me daily and as I started boarding the plane for a six hour flight I tried so fucken hard to keep my shit together. As soon as I got to my seat I put my hood on, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. At the time my therapist was teaching me mindfulness coping strategies and my psychiatrist had started me on a really low dose of fluoxetine. I only moved to drink water and to exit the plane. My visit was nothing short of emotional. So many damn tears, not only from me but from all my siblings and mother.
I don’t remember the day I began to feel a bit more normal, in the sense that I wasn’t breathing erratically or almost crying all day or having major panic attacks. The medication began to work and I was beginning to become attune to my emotions. I was (still kind of am) someone who adheres more to logic than my emotions. Though a very sympathetic/empathetic person I struggle(d) to allow myself to feel what I am feeling most of the time. Therapy really helped with that, allowing me accept what I feel. I am quick to push my emotions to the side in order to get shit done; if it doesn’t help or will get in my way of doing or finishing something or make me feel weak, I don’t want to feel it. I have realized how detrimental it is to one’s emotional/mental health and still struggle to accept and embrace certain emotions. When I cry, I no longer feel ashamed or weak. When I feel sad or hollow I allow myself sit in those feelings. I don’t wallow in self-pity, instead I embrace my feelings and ask myself why I feel this way.
Slowly, I began to venture out into the world again. Going out again, hiking and feeling confident with both school and work. I felt emotionally and mentally better. But I did not feel like the same person from before the episode and it was frustrating. And I constantly compared myself to old me, pre-2012 clinical depression episode me. I couldn’t concentrate as well, I was far more emotional, too much exposure to sun would make me dizzy and I struggled with both vertigo and hypochondria. I was mad at myself for always automatically feeling/being cautious of everything I was doing. Constantly second guessing myself in things I never had before. It was learning my new limits and I hated it.
I continued weekly therapy for 5 months and then did biweekly sessions for about 4 months and decided to stop taking fluoxetine 6 months into treatment. I decided to use the medication as a crutch until I felt confident enough that I could handle both minor depression episodes and anxiety attacks with the mindfulness strategies my therapist had taught me. My psychiatrist didn’t necessarily agree with my decision, but it was something I wanted to at least try. I continued with practicing mindfulness, yoga and better communicating and accepting my emotions. For about two years I did not have a major depression episode, only those little bouts that lasted 2-3 days but nothing I felt I could not handle on my own. And then it felt like my world came crashing down slowly and I was drowning while burning at the same time. – Bella