I’ve been having trouble lately labeling my current state of mind. Do I still have depression? Is this PTSD? Do I actually have a disorder at all? How will I know when I am healed, and my issues are no longer a disorder, but just life?
I keep thinking and writing as if I had depression. I had PTSD. Past tense. But is this true?
I am not going into DSM-IV criteria here, that’s not my point. (Yes, I do occasionally have a point) I’m trying to reconcile how I feel now, compared to how I used to feel when a psychiatrist so easily put many many labels on me. I was eager to accept any label attached to me at one point, because a label meant someone knew what was wrong with me, and therefore would know how to help me.
When the first psych told me I was “homesick” my first year of college, and that Prozac would help, that he sees it all the time with freshman so far from home. Of course he did not know I had just left an abusive home, and my suffering came from the fact that even though I escaped it, and physically left, I was still me, and still miserable no matter where I was. I thought leaving home was all I needed.
The Prozac did not help, so they prescribed talk therapy and advil too. The campus therapist was an egotistical A-hole that told me I was not suffering as much as I said. He told me I was struggling with my new responsibilities as a young adult. I was looking for attention and constant thoughts of throwing myself off the bridge, my long lonely walks along the river while it called out to me, the times I climbed the fence and just stood there wondering what the cold water would feel like as it hit my face and filled my lungs – those were nothing, inconsequential fleeting thoughts of a girl afraid to work hard for the first time in her life. Even through my pain, I wanted to punch that man. But I did not want to give up and go home, so soon after escaping, and so I went to this A-hole twice a week as a condition to remain in school.
My family doctor listened to me, and told me I was severely stressed and depressed. This doctor had treated my stomach ulcer at age 16, my bout of Mono when I was 15, my exploding ovarian cyst when I was 17, my chronic bronchitis since I was 10. He knew me. He also knew my brother had schizophrenia. This doctor switched me to Zoloft (which did not make me so sleepy as Prozac) and recommended a therapist. Problem was, I was still on my dad’s insurance, and he did not believe in psychobabble, or that I needed to waste any more of his money. The therapist was $125 an hour without insurance. I could not go, and so I returned to the free therapy on campus, but requested a new A-hole. They gave me a very sweet, but very dumb middle-aged woman. But I can handle dumb, I was used to tolerating dumb, as dumb was all around me. (I will have to describe my very first therapist in another post, as she was not dumb or an A-hole, but entirely useless in so many other ways – mainly because I was not ready for her at age 16. She wanted me to deal with things that I can only now begin to understand)
Are you getting that I was angry? Frustrated? Worn out? It seemed the entire adult world, the world I had been so anxious to join, was full of people I could not respect, and could not help me.
Fast forward a few years, after the stress and depression caused a complete breakdown and I lost my first job. More doctors, more labels, more meds, more experiments, more therapy. One psych doc actually tried me on so many meds that it caused hallucinations. Depakote, lithium, klonipin, ativan, indural, and I don’t what else. Every time I tried to explain my thoughts to him, he would prescribe something else. One day I was kept waiting for an hour for my scheduled appt, in a waiting room full of “crazies” (so sorry, I hated the other patients then and KNEW I did not belong there with them. I had to believe that to keep going) and my anxiety was so high I was dizzy and sweating, and in walks Dr with his golf clubs, and super tan, and I hated him. I wanted to leave right then, but hubby got me through the last meeting without punching him, thankfully, or I probably would have gotten a straight jacket with some new meds. I had a pile of unfilled scripts in my purse, as I knew it just wasn’t right. I did not go to Med school, but I knew my body was not being helped by so many meds and changes and side effects and withdrawals. I weaned myself off of everything (not recommended – do not do this on your own, it was stupid and dangerous and painful), and never went back to that psych doc.
But sadly, I went to a deep dark place, and my couch. I stayed there for quite some time – dreaming of and planning my death. The only thing that made me feel better about myself and my world was the thought of leaving it.
So 5 years into my freedom from home, 5 years of “treatment” for homesickness, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, OCD, bipolar, and probably a few more, and still no answers. I lost hope, as little as what I had left, and nearly lost my life at my own hands. It was years later, my therapist finally saw me as PTSD, and began treatment for that. I was no longer “crazy”, just hurting, and recovering.
- Do People With Depression Make Things Up? (makeupandmirtazapine.com)
- Am I Depressed? (stevenaitchison.co.uk)
- Sabotaging my own Therapy (roots2blossom.wordpress.com)
- Brain Imaging in PTSD: Part I (brainposts.blogspot.com)