Mental Health Matters

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and in honor of this here is a peek into my continuous battle with depression.

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In the summer of 2015 I was officially diagnosed with depression. Prior to that I definitely suspected that I was depressed (as in a chemical imbalance in my brain, not just feeling sad) but I didn’t want to be one of those people who self diagnoses.

Something always felt off. I’d never feel 100%. Even on my happiest days I’d still feel as though something was wrong. I’d feel worthless, I’d feel unwanted, and I’d feel like my life was going nowhere. Normal people might feel like this every once in awhile. They might feel like this when something bad happens in their life or they’re going through a rough patch, but this was an every day thing for me.

Once I was diagnosed my doctor gave me a prescription for Fluoxetine, which is the generic version of Prozac. I was very skeptical of medications to treat mental illness. I’ve heard so many stories of these medications turning people into lifeless shells of who they are. Emotionless, dull versions of themselves. I didn’t want that to happen to me, but I didn’t want to keep feeling like shit either.

Going into it my doctor told me that different medicines affect people differently, and that if this one didn’t help that there were more I could try. This gave me a little reassurance… I mean I didn’t really have anything to lose by giving it a try.

The first month or so I experienced some dizziness and sweating, which are typical side effects of this medication. The side effects didn’t continue past that first month though, and the Fluoxetine seemed to be helping.

I started to feel less shitty. Everyday things started to feel like less effort than they previously did. I didn’t magically feel 100% happy all of the sudden, but I felt… less bad?

Medication doesn’t fix everything though. Rough times still make things awful.

Towards the middle of 2016 I fell into a very dark place when my relationship of four years came to an end. The guy I was previously engaged to started seeing someone else, and I ended our relationship.

It was a long distance relationship, and the girl he got with lived closer to him. It hurt so bad to feel like I wasn’t enough for him. We had so many plans for our future. Once I graduated from college we were going to get married, I was going to move to live with him, it was going to be like a fairy tale.

The thing is, fairy tales aren’t real. He didn’t want to wait for me for another two years, he wanted someone who could be with him physically, then. I guess visiting for a few weeks every two to three months wasn’t good enough.

On one hand I was devastated. A relationship that had lasted the distance for four years came to an end, and I felt it was because I wasn’t enough… like she was better than me in some way.

On the other hand, I understood. It’d be nice to have someone you could see all the time. Even though we couldn’t make it work, he had been such a huge part of my life and I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to continue to be part of my life. I wanted to remain friends.

We talked as friends in the weeks after our breakup, and it was painful. I figured it was something that’d stop hurting after awhile. Though, I never got the chance to see if the pain would dull.

One day I found that I had been blocked. He blocked me on everything, I had no way of contacting him. There are no words to describe how betrayed I felt by him cutting me off like this. Did I really mean that little to him that he could throw away a four year relationship and not even have the decency to tell me he didn’t want to be friends instead of just… blocking me?

As if the breakup wasn’t bad enough, now I was even more broken. I began having trouble sleeping.

When I did sleep, I’d dream of him. I’d dream of him with her.

They’d be laughing together, or doing something cute.

And when I’d have these dreams I would wake up in a panic. I’d wake up sobbing into a tear-soaked pillow. I never felt as worthless and unwanted before.

I continued to try and go about my daily life. Everyday tasks were becoming difficult again. I either ate way too much, or I didn’t eat at all. I showered less often. I laid in bed a lot, doing nothing but thinking about things that made me feel worse.

I stopped taking my Fluoxetine. Not intentionally, I just kept forgetting to take it.

So now, not only was I heartbroken and sad… I wasn’t taking anything to help dull my depression down. The nightmares got worse, they invaded my waking thoughts. I was barely functioning on the amount of sleep I was getting.

One day I started having a very painful, very heavy period. I had NEVER experienced anything like that. The cramping was the most horrible thing, and I was passing many more clots of blood than normal. Enough was enough after a few days of this, and I called my doctor’s office.

After listing off my symptoms I was told to come in for testing.

We found out that I wasn’t really having a heavy period, but a miscarriage.

I was having a miscarriage caused by stress.

I hadn’t even known that I was pregnant prior to this. It’s not uncommon for me to have irregular periods, so when I miss one or just have light spotting I don’t think much of it. But this time was different.

The news of this was devastating.

I was angry. Angry at my ex fiance for causing me so much stress, angry that I didn’t know I was pregnant, angry that there was nothing I could do to save the pregnancy.

I was also so, so, deeply heartbroken. One thing after another, nothing was looking up.

My depression only got worse. I still wasn’t taking my medication properly and my mental state was taking a plunge.

I stopped putting in effort at school. At work, I put on a fake smile to hide how much I was hurting. There were days I’d go into the bathroom so I could cry without people seeing me. One day I had to leave work early because I couldn’t calm down. Nobody knew what I was going through. I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. I just kept it to myself and pretended to be okay.

There were days I’d stand on my balcony, wondering if a jump from that height would be enough to kill me. I’d glance over toward the movie theater by my apartment complex and think of ways to get on the roof so I could jump onto the pavement instead of the grass. It was a taller building too.

The few times I’d think “yeah, I’m going to go do it”, I’d suddenly get a text from a friend. A text just interesting enough to distract me from my suicidal thoughts. A text that was just enough for me to lose ambition to jump.

I’m beyond grateful for these friends. Most of them don’t know they saved me.

Eventually I decided it was time to see a counselor. I needed to work through this shit I was dealing with, with a professional.

It was so helpful. My counselor helped me to see that what had happened wasn’t my fault, and that I needed to stop blaming myself for all of this.

I started to take my medicine again, and the depression dulled down. I started doing things that bring me happiness, instead of doing things because I wanted to please someone else.

Something I did (and still add to) that really helped was to create a Pinterest board with self care ideas and projects. Sometimes you just need a little push to do something for yourself. Self care is beyond important, and I wish I’d realized that a lot sooner.

One day it dawned on me that HE wasn’t constantly on my mind anymore. That realization felt wonderful. Yeah, it still somewhat stung when I DID think about him, but I wasn’t thinking about him all the time and it wasn’t nearly as painful when he happened to cross my mind.

Every day it hurts less.

Every day is a small step towards my future.

I got back on track with school. I got myself motivated at work. I started this blog.

I’m doing things for myself nowadays, and I don’t have anyone to please.

I’m sure there will be times when I feel down again, but I’m doing my best to love and care for myself.

Do things for yourself and don’t let anyone hold so much power over you that you’re left in a black hole when they’re no longer in your life.

If you think you’re struggling with depression, or any other mental illness, get in contact with your doctor and work towards a solution. There’s nothing wrong with needing help.

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