Personal Stories of Depression and Treatment - Michelle
"The thoughts of self injury returned, and I once again felt on the edge of panic. I longed for injury or death so I could rest." ~ Michelle, age 45
My Depression Story
Mental health issues were not new to me. My husband was suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. In a grueling five year effort to get him stabilized and find the right medications to control his ultra-rapid cycling BP, I found myself increasingly frustrated, lonely and despairing of the situation we were facing. Nothing seemed to help, and no one understood what we were going through. All the efforts in treatment were applied to my husband's needs, but my needs went unmet as I daily dealt with nearly homicidal rages, catatonia, and perfectionist compulsions that made our lives a nightmare.
My Own Depression
I became aware that my own mood and ability to function in this hostile environment was declining about three years ago. At that time, I saw an employer-sponsored psychologist, who told me I was suffering with mild depressive symptoms and recommended antidepressant medication for my depression. His counseling sessions were less than helpful and he seemed pre-occupied with other things during therapy. I opted at that time to continue to battle the challenges I was facing on my own, reasoning that "at least I cared about my own problems." I felt that I would somehow be able to climb back out of the depressive pit into which I was sliding when my situation improved. But I could not.
I was forced to ask my husband to get his own place for a time for my own sanity, but my depression had already driven me to impulses of self-injury and suicide. I resisted, but these thoughts frightened me so much that I finally concluded I needed help. I contacted my husband's therapist, who had always worked with me concerning my husband's issues. I saw her for several months, but without antidepressant medication, I was worsening as the time passed.
After six months, I began to experience panic attacks and was in such a state of hyper vigilance that I could not sleep or relax. I, at last, was humbled enough to accept the help of medication. I made an appointment with the psychiatrist and was prescribed an antidepressant for major depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). He also prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for the panic attacks. (read about the relationship between depression and anxiety)
Even though I saw tremendous improvement in my depression and anxiety on these medications, I continued to have a lot of high-stress situations and I pushed myself to exhaustion, working 12-hour shifts for weeks on end without any days off. My feet hurt at that time, but I felt it was the long shifts I spent at work. The thoughts of self injury returned, and I once again felt on the edge of panic, despite the medication. I longed for injury or death so I could rest.
A Depression Medication That Worked
About a year ago, I caught what I thought was a cold. I had no energy, I hurt every where. I was off work for about four months while the doctors tried to find out what was wrong with me. I was depressed, but this was something more. Test after test revealed no abnormalities except an elevated sedimentation rate in the blood; a sign of some sort of inflammatory process in my body. At last, I was sent to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that affects the soft body tissues. While it is not life-threatening, nor degenerative, there is presently no cure.
I plunged into deeper depression as I faced the demands of my employer to return to work. I could hardly walk due to the pain. I was put on a regimen of mild opiod pain killers, muscle relaxers and told to exercise! Nothing worked. Months passed. I missed a lot of work and got further behind on bills.
Finally my psychiatrist recommended another antidepressant. I had my doubts that anything would help. I had tried many different medications already. But I was put on a high dosage and finally the pain in my feet subsided and I could walk again.
I am learning to live within my energy limits, take care of myself, and I am free from depression for the first time in about 4 years.
While I still do not have the energy and stamina that I had before my illness and I will continue to face many challenges with my husband due to his bipolar disorder and other problems, I am better equipped to face those problems with the counsel I have received, the prayers of friends and the right medication for depression. It gave me back much of my life.
Thanks for letting me share my depression story. I hope it helps someone to get medication and treatment before things get worse.
Last Updated: 16 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD