I am writing this because I find the situation of my changing mental illness quite interesting and I am wondering how many other people have experienced this.
When I was younger, late teens to mid 20s, I never really had anxiety but I did have quite bad depression. Then in Jan 2009 when I found out the ‘love of my life’ was cheating on me I started experiencing anxiety with depression. When I couldn’t cope any longer I went to my GP who put me on Lexapro and referred me to a psychologist. I would have sought professional help sooner but I seriously thought it was normal to feel like shit all the time and I thought other people were dealing with life better than I was so I was just somehow inept or useless. Also, I was very anti-medication because I had been fed untruths from lay idiots who portrayed ALL medication as some evil, addictive thing that turned you into a zombie and once you were on it, you would never be able to come off it or it would be so hard to come off it would mess you up.
‘Crazy’ thinking in retrospect but mental illness was not that widely discussed so I didn’t realise that; A) what I was experiencing (depression) was not ‘normal’ (normal as in a normal, healthy way for your brain to function), B) what I was experiencing could be helped with assistance from medication and psychology and C) although depression is not ‘normal’ it was actually very common and had many different instigators.
I went on Lexapro for quite awhile in conjunction with therapy and although cognitive behavioural therapy didn’t really sink in to begin with over the years the Lexapro helped me to get out of my own head and start noticing the world and people around me which then did help in my therapy sessions. By watching others I soon began to realise everyone was insane to some degree, they just had subtle or not so subtle ways of trying to mask it.
After the stress of heartbreak, then getting stuck in an atrocious mining job for over 2 years, then coming back to my mother’s to recover from work burnout, I now realise I don’t have depression anymore unless I experience prolonged spikes of anxiety (If I experience anxiety daily for a week or more my brain goes into overdrive and then I burn out and plunge into depression).
It’s just so weird that my mental illness has changed so dramatically like that. Just when I was feeling good about not having depression anymore now anytime I have a peak period of stress where a lot of things are going on my anxiety goes from 0 to 1000 within seconds. It’s like my brain is saying “Well you used medication and the skills you learnt in therapy to overcome depression so now I have to find a new way to fuck you up.”
I went back on Lexapro recently but because it is mainly used for depression with a bit of anxiety it was waking me up at night which was leading me to sleep deprivation (if I don’t get enough sleep every night my brain will plummet into depression) and only controlled my anxiety for a little bit. I went to see a psychiatrist to find out what medication he could suggest. He suggested a couple and in the end, I chose a medication called Dothep (dothiepin hydrochloride). I take it at night and it has a drowsy effect and is supposed to help anxiety. I’m only on a very small dose, 25mg, so let’s see how I go. I have started a law degree and because my anxiety was getting so bad I quit my casual, retail job last week and dropped down to one subject this week. I really want to do well in my studies so now my new challenge is to get this anxiety under control with the help of medication and therapy.
It just pisses me off I worked so hard to overcome my depression in my 20s and I thought I was on the up and up and now I have to waste my 30s (hopefully only my early 30s) working on anxiety.
So, is this quite common to have a pattern of mental illness change so much over a decade and if so what the hell can I look forward to in my freaking 40s?