Another Clarification–Sorry It’s Lengthy

Thank you all for your comments on my post Where The Path Leads. I think I have worded my post in a way I hadn’t intended, and I’m responding in one fell swoop.

First of all, I have been a life-long sufferer of mental illness. I have been diagnosed by four professionals as Clinically Depressed, and suffer from Severe Anxiety. You see, I’m not the kind to take the opinion of one single doctor. I seek out second, third and maybe more. I pushed for a referral to a Neuropsychologist to test me so that I could receive targeted treatment, because I was frustrated with the failures of the wrong medications.

The 5 hour test validated what all the other psychiatrists had diagnosed me with. Severe Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety—with some obsessive thoughts and a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder. The psychiatrist this doctor sent me to after the test, suggested I may have Bipolar II.

The need to make sure I obtain more and more opinions, is why I am also a cancer survivor.

Before blogging in 2011, I was at one of my bottoms of the bottom. With a lot of work on MY part along with medication, I felt as if I were making some sort of progress, but could not move beyond the crippling fear of cancer returning. At the end of 2011, I sought out professional therapy. I made a bit more progress with the help of my therapist.

Since March of 2013, I reached that bottom of the bottom once again. In between there was nothing. No feelings except anxiety. The kind which hindered any desire to leave my house, get dressed, shower, I isolated myself, and I didn’t want to live. I had reduced some of my fear of cancer, but that took more sessions, and more work on my part.

What an oxymoron–I didn’t want to live, but I was extremely afraid of a cancer relapse that could kill me. Go figure.

I have been on and off so many SSRIs, SNRIs, and medication for anxiety most of my adult life. Life without them is non-existent.

I started to blog to pull out anything I could find inspirational to encourage myself to live and not give up.

About 3 months ago, I saw a new psychologist who took the time to listen, and has been working with me. I am now on a mood stabilizer – Lamictal. Along with Lamictal, I am taking Wellbutrin, Fluoxetine, and Xanax for the anxiety and for sleep.

This saved my life. A life I had no desire to live anymore. An extremely painful mental existence.

I began to read blogs which centered around depression, and found they only made me more sad, so I stopped reading them. Recognizing that a depressed person writing about the pain they are experiencing was of no help for the depressed to read–it only creates more depression. I also tried to discontinue writing about it.

The only thing I might have slightly accomplished, is to help those who don’t understand mental illness, see what it’s like from our perspective.

I was starting to feel better, I started looking forward, I discovered a reason to live, a reason to get out of bed. That reason is ME. I was extremely compliant with my doctors advice–every last one of them. I needed to pull deep from within myself, and write about more positive things to encourage others, as well as myself.

However, I kept writing about how hard it was to move from a home I was familiar with for 47 years.

How hard it was to lose my grandpa a year after moving.

How hard it was to lose one of my old, well loved 4-legged family members.

How hard it was to have my first born leave the nest and my second born leave 6 months later—across the country–back to home.

How hard it was to not be able to assist my mom who was a caretaker for my dad who suffered from Parkinson’s with Dementia.

How, while on a visit to Washington State for a vacation two years after we moved, my mom and I discovered my brother’s body.

How the day after my brother’s death, my mom’s mom passed away.

Three months after that, my dad died.

I entered the world of menopause (a real treat for y’all who haven’t reached it yet).

I had my gallbladder removed the first part of February 2011, a week and a half later I ended up in the emergency room with excruciating pain. They discovered I had two gallbladder stones stuck in my common bile duct. Another surgery.

They also discovered I had a nodule on my left long. After a bunch of “interviews” with a bunch of doctors who poo-pooed my anxiety, I found one who agreed to biopsy the thing. Yeah, it turned out to be cancer. The end of May 2011, I had part of my left lung removed. It was called a lung segmentectomy.

This is the point where I sought professional therapy and was beginning to feel a bit more optimistic.

In March 2012, my sister told me she was in end-stage heart failure, and end-stage kidney failure. She lived until early March 2013. With a positive attitude, and a strong will to live. She just so happened to be a part of my foundation, a part that was propping me up.

We lost another old, well loved 4-legged family member.

March 2o13, after the death of my sister. I reached bottom of the bottom–again. Nothing left in me. Nothing left for anyone else.

But I kept writing about my struggles and losses, because I believed that if I got it out, I would feel better. However I found that by continuing to write about it, I was staying stuck in the cycle of depression.

I continued to work very hard with my therapist, quit reading other blogs where people are stuck in their depression, and tried to reach a point of happiness.

I am now at a stable level. I am not cured. I still have bouts of depression, insecurity, and anxiety. When I reached this stable level, I found a bit of my humor. Aha! Something more positive to write about to keep my mind from being drawn back into the bottom of the bottom.

Do I sound like a depressed person? Do I sound like an anxious person? Do I act like I have a mental illness? In my mind I feel greatly improved, but I’m sure there are people who don’t see the struggle I have been through, and continue to fight with. Nobody reads the dark stuff I have written because I don’t publish it. It’s the negative that keeps me in the negative, and I have been striving to not give those thoughts an audience. Including the audience of one—me.

My point yesterday, was more of a pondering. I am at a state that actually feels like a life. A state that took me two years of therapy, medications, AND hard work with participation by ME to get here.

I can make plans for the future and look forward to doing them. I can set goals and am learning how to reach them. However, in the back of my mind, I worry about the day this will all come to a halt. What I have read, nobody can be cured, only managed. The fear of returning to where I was, scares the crap out of me.

I’m in a good mental state at the moment, not excellent, but I DO want to live–an improvement. I have learned how to accept myself, to quit criticizing myself (which may not seem apparent in my writings), I actually like myself–someone I have NEVER liked.

I was choosing to believe that one can’t be cured from depression by expecting that WE don’t have to put in some of our own sweat and tears. We can’t go to the doctor and walk away with a prescription and expect it to cure us. We can’t go to therapy and talk, but not act, or think about what WE can do for ourselves. We can’t be helped if we don’t acknowledge we have an illness to start with. The effort we put forth for recovery is an important part of the equation.

I was wondering if this was a trick my stable mind was playing on me. That I won’t continue to remain stable. Were my doctors wrong? Am I not really feeling the effects of the therapy, my efforts, and the medication? Am I delusional?

I’m good.

But—what if it comes back?

Any interested, here is a link to famous people, intelligent people, writers, etc. who suffer or have suffered from severe depression.


About April

I'll come back to this when I find out who I really am. I've been through some extremely rough patches but they have made me a better person. I blog if my brain is functioning first thing in the morning.
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12 Responses to Another Clarification–Sorry It’s Lengthy

  1. mewhoami says:

    Thank you for sharing your history April. You have been through a lot and in a very short period of time. I can’t imagine. I completely understand why you choose not to write on the negative impacts of depression in your life. Just yesterday, I was thinking that. If we write miserable words, we will feed the misery. If we write happy words, we will feed that instead. You may not always show it in your writing, but that’s a good thing. That’s what’s helping you to move forward. No one should ever doubt that a person is going through something, just because it’s not visible. We all have a story within.

    • April says:

      I hope to not have to share it again. My authenticity and sincerity was doubted, and I had to clarify. I’m still not of the belief that if we think we can be happy, we can be happy. 🙂

  2. Cathy says:

    If it comes back you will deal with it…… will……you have more “tools” to use now!!! I think a trip to WA may help you??? hehehehehehehe………I know you know that you shouldn’t worry about it but I know you will but you have been able to find some comfortable level of “normaliness” for lack of a better word and you can come back here again if you stray. Not sure this makes much sense but I think you understand my point!!! Good luck dearie……

  3. suzjones says:

    Your authenticity wasn’t doubted by me. Not in the slightest and if you think that it was then I am so terribly, terribly sorry.
    I strongly believe that what we put out into the world will reflect back on us. (I don’t mean the bad things that happen. I mean the way in which we react to those bad things). If we put out love, acceptance, hope and positivity those things will come back to us. And it’s the good things that affect our mental state in the best way, no?
    ((hugs)) my friends. It sounds as if you both need them right now.
    If I was over there I’d do it in person so just make me a cup of tea and feel the love 😉

    • April says:

      You didn’t say anything that made me feel anything but encouraged. I write some things, not thinking about what I’m saying, and don’t realize that I may be sounding as if I’m putting myself down. Even though I find laughing at my shenanigans and the obvious skewed beliefs I have had, helps me, I’m not beating myself up. My mistake was trying to help people (particularly the non-sufferers) understand what depression is like. Because I have healed enough to make sense while blogging, I feel as if some may think I’m talking through my arse. I am also concerned to express some of my observations because there may be others who can’t put forth their part of the equation to a healthy mind. We have to learn to help ourselves. I’m pretty sure that there are sufferers who can’t reach this level of awareness to know that they are just as responsible for getting healthy. Pills and therapy are only part, the third part is our participation. I didn’t want to further frustrate others who may read this and feel like a failure because this is not true for them.

      • suzjones says:

        You know April, I am also feeling a little funny writing about things because as of Christmas time I am drug free. So far so good. But I question whether because I am drug free, that makes me less believable. Do you know what I mean?
        btw – Got your email. Thanks hun 🙂

        • April says:

          Yes, I know what you mean. However, I always know that within about 6-8 months after stopping medication, I will have dug myself another hole. Before that, I feel pretty witty, and like to have fun. Perhaps that’s mania? I don’t know. All I know is I’m trying to enjoy each day I am blessed with, but I’m just about through trying to help others understand the disease. It’s easier to talk about lung cancer. 🙂

  4. April, thank you for your honesty, your life story, and your experience. Depression, like cancer, is an invisible illness and it is very real. Everyone has advice and Everyone Lies. So, your truth does help!
    You have been through so much that would cause situational depression if only one or two had happened to someone else. You, because of your effort, and trying to keep standing despite those that would push us down and make us wipe our eyes and cry in private, have no doubt helped others as well as yourself.
    Thank you for being human and vulnearble, honest, and so full of heart!

    • April says:

      What a nice thing to say. Sometimes I feel like my posts seem a bit too self-centered, but I’m not trying to make people reading my blog impressed with my perfect life. For me, that would be fiction. As far as the honesty, I don’t now how to be any other way. I have had a couple of good things beginning to happen, one of them is my oldest finally graduating from Georgia Tech. My daughter is returning to school to receive a degree in nursing. She wants to work with dementia patients. And our youngest is actually making plans and forming steps to go about making his plans come thorough. I am also looking forward to weddings and grand babies. I know that life is full of bad things, and I have had more than my share for a while, but it is making me look forward to all the wonderful things that are about to happen as well.

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