Depression. A scary word, even scarier is the loss of control that comes with it.
I have suspected for a while now that I was suffering from depression. Was I going to do anything about it? Nope. Absolutely not. Admitting was enough. Admitting meant that I could work on the problem privately. The power of positive thinking is not to be undermined. I thought I could literally will myself happy, after all, I was the one allowing myself to be so affected by things I couldn’t control. My doctor thought otherwise.
Almost six years ago, I developed an extremely rare condition in which my white blood cells began to attack the covering of my muscles. I was quite literally being eaten from the inside. I was put on radiation treatment in hopes that my blood cells could be “tricked” into thinking normally again. I was on the medication for several years and recovering well when I developed another rare condition. This time the white blood cells are attacking my skin. There is no treatment for this condition. I simply have to wait it out and it will take 4-6 years before disappearing. Since there is literally nothing to be done about it, I grew tired of travelling 3 hours to see a specialist only to have him hum and haw and marvel over the impossibility of someone having not one but two rare conditions and parading me past his medical students as a learning specimen. I opted out of our twice yearly visits. I didn’t want to shun all medical care however so I made an appointment to discuss my case with my local family doctor. I had a multitude of questions besides just wanting him to keep track of the growing spots on my limbs. Top of my list was the effects of the drugs I was required to take. I have inconsistent memory and frequently can’t remember little things like why I’m in the grocery store or forget school events. Another symptom that continues to plague me is comprehension. Some days it feels like there is a block in my brain that refuses to allow the messages to pass no matter how hard I try. I also have difficulty with concentration. If more than one person is speaking at a time, I become overwhelmed and cannot focus on anything. All of these I attributed to the drugs I had taken. Basically, I felt they had destroyed a part of my life.
My doctor had other ideas. He immediately refuted the drug idea. They pass out of the body within months after you stop using them. One concern was the description of a blockage in my brain though. I have scar tissue built up on my arms and around my ankles restricting movement and he was concerned that some scaring had occurred on the brain as well. He suggested an MRI. I wasn’t thrilled, especially since he couldn’t guarantee any fix, simply an answer as to why. He kept the conversation casual and listened closely to what I had to say and finally told me I tested positive for depression. There is an 8 question test and I tested positive for 7 of them. I was devastated. My dad is bipolar and his condition makes life difficult for my mother. I did not want my husband or kids to have to deal with me like that. Up and down. Unstable. Out of control. The doctor insisted he was giving me back the control. That the pills would help me focus instead of anxiously chasing one frantic thought after another. I have developed a pill phobia. Having to take any medication is a major issue for me. I was in tears. I didn’t need them. I was handling things my own way. He gently coaxed me to give it a try. He produced a trial box and told me to come back in two weeks. If I decided I really didn’t want them, I could simply stop. It was up to me.
It was the hardest decision I have made. It took almost the full two weeks to accept that I really do need the pills. They are making a difference and I am happier and calmer than I have been. Admitting that I had lost control actually gave me back control. I am glad I took the time to speak with my doctor.