anecdotes and reflections on life with depression and anxiety
By July after my college graduation, I had a job and an apartment about an hour and a half away from my parents in one direction and my now-husband in the other. I met good people and enjoyed my work in a residential facility for teenage survivors of complex trauma. Most of all, I liked having the freedom of my own space. I found a psychopharmacologist who could continue to manage my medication, but I did not feel I needed a therapist. I was managing my fatigue and wasn’t, to the best of my memory, really experiencing other symptoms of depression at that time.
During my first meeting with the psychopharmacologist, she asked what my biggest depression symptom was and I answered promptly, “fatigue and exhaustion.” She looked at her notes and shook her head. I looked at her curiously, and she asked, “You were fatigued and they put you on Celexa?” I nodded. “Well, that’s interesting, because Celexa makes you tired.”
I remember raising my eyebrows and saying simply, “oh.” It hadn’t occurred to me to do any research on all the different medications available to me and their side effects, benefits or disadvantages. I took what I was given and went on my way. Looking back, I realized I had continued to feel tired, but my frame of mind had improved to the extent that I was able to manage the fatigue better. Lauren-on-Celexa was better than Lauren-on-nothing, but not as good as I could be on something else.
I don’t think I realized at the time how daunting it would be to spend months, and ultimately years, trying new medications on varying dosages (this continues to be part of my story, and I imagine it always will be -- more on that to come in a future post). However, I think this conversation did help me begin to realize that something better could be out there. If the wrong medication helped me feel a little better, how much could the right medication improve my condition? My condition -- there it was. After meeting with the psychopharm once every couple of months for awhile I began to see my situation for what it really was: an illness that required me to manage and attend to it in order to keep myself healthy.
I remained optimistic; this was a good time in my life. I really did love my job, and met one or two lifelong friends there, as well as several people who would shape my understanding of the social work field and of mental health in general. I was learning and growing, planning to become engaged soon, and aside from frequent bouts of fatigue, I felt well. But at the same time, I made frequent trips back to see my parents and visit the psychopharmacologist near their home; I took my new pills and contemplated the implications of living as a person with depression. I began to use my newfound understanding of the disease as a way to relate to the world around me. I no longer counted my depression as a passing phase of life; I planned to treat it with medication and self-care for the foreseeable future. This is not to say I had any clue what would come in later years (hint: it’s not pretty) but I at least was becoming aware of the need to adjust my expectations, however slightly, to include depression in my plans.
oh, hey --
My name is Lauren. I'm thirty-something, and I like to take naps and read good books and watch bad television. I love my husband and I love my cat, and I live with depression and anxiety, which is mostly what you'll read about here.