Through my twenties I never understood depression or anxiety. I was that awful, “just think positive thoughts,” friend. I have since apologized to my friends that were struggling during that ignorant time of my life, and if you are reading this and I never reached out to you, this is my apology. I was a horrible friend for not being more empathetic. I am like a shitty politician that didn’t understand discrimination until it happened to someone that I know. Also, let’s be honest, I was pretty much drunk through those years and was lying to myself about so many things. And then everything changed.
My life flipped upside down in 2010 and 2011. I said goodbye to a ten-year relationship, stopped drinking every damn day, started nursing school, and then my mother unexpectedly died in her sleep. I pushed that grief down, finished school, and graduated top of the class. The grief wasn’t gone though, and it hit me like a ton of fucking bricks while I was an unemployed new grad and living on my friend’s living room floor. I was resourceful and stumbled upon a grief group specifically for daughters that had lost their mothers. I felt like I didn’t belong in the first session because their losses were all within the month or days, and mine was almost a year old. Then it was my turn to speak, introduce myself, and say one thing about my mother. I sobbed so hard I could not get a word out of my mouth. They were so kind and I was so terrified. I had never felt something so raw and intense – I was pretty much numb at her funeral, and then the whole, “gotta go back to school in a week or else repeat the entire semester even though you are literally halfway complete and just finished finals” thing, so yeah, I was a mess. The therapist that led the group felt that I should seek 1:1 counseling and when I explained I was jobless and had no insurance, she offered to meet with me weekly.
I think my anxiety started sometime during nursing school. It was a mix of the not feeling prepared, but trying to keep patients alive in a county hospital thing. Of course the call from my father, who was confused and crying, but informing me that my mom died while I was in my car on the way home from a day of clinicals, and supposed to immediately start studying for class the next day didn’t really help the whole mental health thing.
I have been dealing with depression, uncontrollable moodiness, and anxiety for several years now. Here is a list of other shit that has also happened over the last seven years:
- moved across the country twice
- changed jobs six times (in my defense, three were the same place, which I recognize that’s not a positive thing, either)
- started a new relationship
- saw a psychiatrist a few years ago that prescribed Wellbutrin (but I never got up to the full therapeutic dose because the side effects were awful)
I don’t want to list stuff anymore. Now I am routinely seeing an awesome therapist, but I still am unable to control my crying, sadness, frustration, and depression. My primary doctor had always suggested trying meds again, especially because almost every time I see him, I am sobbing. So being a nurse and having that rapport with him meant I could message him to call in a prescription for a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) of my choice. I researched which had the least sexual side effects (because my relationship matters to me), and went with escitalopram (Lexapro). He replied, “Prescription sent. Hang in there.” He prescribed 10mg a day, but starting dose of 5mg for a week and then go to 10. I took the first 5mg dose today.
I felt some effects almost an hour later. It was like a buzz in my head, almost like a bunch of caffeine was pumping through my veins. Then I started feeling like I wasn’t breathing. That nervousness feeling right before an anxiety attack, but like, without thinking, I just kept taking very long and deep breaths – in and out. At work. Audibly. A few colleagues asked if I was okay. I drove home and couldn’t listen to the news or a podcast like I usually do, and instead had to listen to music. Then I noticed all of my usual playlists were annoying me. I got home and felt overwhelming anxiety right when I walked in the door. I started taking those serious deep breaths again. I couldn’t make a decision about dinner and definitely couldn’t have a rational conversation. I am now laying in bed after not being able to finish dinner, taking an anxiety-filled shower, and shaking almost uncontrollably while taking deep breaths and crying really fucking hard.
Nervousness and restlessness are common and should subside in a week. Same with any stomach drama that I am about to endure. Cool thing is that I can’t take off any work and am either giving large presentations or training groups of staff every single day.
I do not know if this is going to be tolerable for a whole week. And then every deep breath I take, I see my doctor’s message sorta flash in my head, “Hang in there.” Before my first dose, I thought he meant to, “hang in there, meds are on the way.” Now I am assuming he meant, “Hang in there, this shit is gonna blow.”