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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Got The Blues, Part One

 I am pretty sure I am going through some sort of low grade depression right now.
 I have lived with pretty bad depression on and off for most of my life, and I'm on meds for it. Actually right now I am on double meds for it, because I am on Celexa for depression, but I'm also on Wellbutrin for ADHD, and Wellbutrin is meant to help treat depression as well.
A lot of people think that when you take depression meds you're just escaping from your own emotions, and that being sad once in a while is natural. But the thing is when you're on meds you will still feel sad when it is natural, but the sadness won't knock you down and make it impossible to pick yourself back up.
Here's a good example of this: When I was 21 I moved across the country to spend a year in AmeriCorps. I've always had trouble with saying goodbye, and when I first moved out there I felt really homesick at first. The first day, I cried, but then I went out and explored my new town a little, went back home and called my mom, spent some time wit my new roommate, and felt better. By the end of the week I was really in the swing of things. I still missed home, but I was able to enjoy my experiences in my new town. At that time, I was on medication for depression. I felt sad at a time that was natural to feel sad, but then I was able to pick myself back up and move on with my life in a healthy way.
AmeriCorps is for one year, so after completing my year there I moved back to my hometown, found a job as a teacher's aide, and life went on.
A few years later, I was off my medication. I had stopped taking it because, without having health insurance, being able to get my meds each month was a hassle, and when I couldn't afford my meds I went through painful withdrawal symptoms. So at some point that spring, when I ran out of my meds once again, I decided to just go off my beds completely. I was doing well in life... I had decided to become a special ed teacher, and had just finished two years of community college. I was planning to go to a larger university in the fall to finish my teaching degree. I had broken off my friendship with one of the more  negative people in my life, and I was feeling pretty good about my future. I figured my meds had helped me through some tough times but I didn't need them anymore.
That fall, my family helped me move to my new apartment, six or seven hours away, at the university where I was supposed to finish my teaching degree. I felt sad, but I remembered how I had gotten over my homesickness when I was in AmeriCorps, and I figured this would be the same thing.
Instead, only an hour after my family left me behind at my new apartment, I started bawling and couldn't stop. None of my usual coping mechanisms were working. I cried for a week. I would go through a few hours where I would feel okay... still sad but sort of numb... but then the sadness would sneak up on me again. I couldn't eat. Just the effort of trying to make a sandwich was too much for me. I had to constantly keep moving, as a way to soothe myself. I would pace around my apartment until I felt a little better, then get out the bread, and then have to start pacing some more, and then get out the mayonnaise, and so on.
By the fourth day, I was actually lying on my apartment floor wailing like a maniac!
I thought if I went home for a weekend, it would help me feel better and get a fresh start. I could see my family, regroup, and get back to the university in time for classes to start.
But when I got home, my sadness continued. I still cried all day long. When the weekend was nearly over, I was still so upset, I convinced my parents to let me stay and miss a few days of school. After all, a lot of people missed the first week!
I also was starting to realize that maybe this was more than homesickness, and that I needed to be back on meds. So I made an appointment for that Monday with a physician that I had occasionally gone to. (Not having health insurance, I had barely ever gone to the doctor!) I figured I would start my meds on Monday, and by the following week I would have bounced back and been ready to go back to school.
I sat in my physician's office, sobbing that I didn't really want to kill myself but I was starting to consider it, just to end the pain. My doctor actually got tears in her eyes as she listened to me. She said that she'd give me a prescription for the medication I'd been on before, but that it would probably take several weeks, at least, to be fully effective. In the mean time, she gave me some sedatives I could take when I was feeling really bad. (These would help me with the pain, but the problem was I couldn't depend on them to help me out if I started going to my university classes, because they actually made me so calm that I fell asleep!) The doctor suggested that maybe a family member could go and stay with me at my apartment, at least for a few weeks, to help monitor me and make sure I was okay. (I knew that would never happen! My mom had already taken a day or two off of work to spend with me, and she was already maxed out on helping me with this.)
I really, really, really didn't want to give up. I had been waiting for so long to go to my university. I had an awesome apartment, in a really cool student apartment complex that was surrounded by woods. In the morning, I would look out my window and see deer in the yard. My mom had helped me pick out furniture I loved, and I'd been so excited about being back on my own, after living with my parents for several years. (I'd been working part time while taking community college classes, and hadn't made enough to afford my own apartment.)
But in the end, I had to. I was in no state to be on my own. It was like a vicious cycle; I had to give up my apartment and university because of my depression, and the act of having to give up my hopes and dreams caused me to be even more depressed.
I slowly got better, but it took a long time for me to bounce back to my normal self. For months, I would get homesick at the drop of a hat. When my parents went on a vacation to Mexico for five days, I cried the whole time and had to call them every few hours. It was embarrassing, and I knew my parents were irritated with me. But I couldn't help it. That was depression. Only after months of being on meds was I able to start becoming independent again.
So what I'm trying to explain is, the medication allows you to feel sadness and disappointment and things, but  not in a way that causes you to have to give up your whole life.

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