Many of you know that I have battled with depression and anxiety for the majority of my time on this planet. And many of you know that I have always been open about my struggles in hopes that my story might help someone. So here I go again.
Like it or not, it’s back. That rabbit hole that is the dynamic duo, anxiety and depression. If it rained every time I had a dark cloud looming over me, I’d have drowned years ago. But I haven’t, and that’s largely, if not solely, because of medication.
I know that some people pursue a more natural path, and I’m all for that, believe me. I don’t enjoy taking medication. But I also don’t enjoy entertaining thoughts of taking my own life. Which, don’t worry, I haven’t thought of in decades. However, I can’t honestly say that sans medication I wouldn’t go down that desperate path. And, understatement of the century, it’s an awful place to be.
Not many people know that when I was 19, I tried to let go. My father had recently died (on my 19th birthday), and I had just gone through a break-up with my first “real” boyfriend. Yes, I was a late bloomer. On top of that I had just been diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (essentially I had an extra part on my heart – makes sense considering my feelings have always been too big for me).
My diagnosis, at the time, required me to be put on some sort of heart medication. Oh, I forgot to mention that my dad died from heart problems. Talk about added stress. So one day, when I was home alone in the depressing, run-down home (no central air, just a window units in my bedroom with cardboard taped around it) that my mom and I had to move to after my dad died, I decided that I couldn’t stand the pain any longer.
I poured a generous handful of the heart medicine into my palm and washed them down with water. I sat down to wait for the peace to come. As I sat there my brain kicked into survival mode. What are you doing? Are you going to leave your mom alone? You have so much left to do. Think about all the pain you will cause.
And I started crying. Ugly crying. I grabbed the phone book (yes, I’m that old!) and ran my finger down the emergency numbers located in the front. Poison Control. And the call played out exactly as you might imagine.
Poison Control, how can I help you?
What would happen if someone took too much XX?
You need to get to the ER immediately.
Oh, it’s not for me. Just for a friend. Click
I immediately called my brother to tell him what I did. In no time at all he was at the house. Fortunately, he and his wife shared a home with another young couple, one of whom was a nurse. We got there and Mike the Nurse gave me syrup of Ipecac, and it quickly emptied my stomach.
They watched me closely, but I was fine because I had acted so quickly. Because I was young and resilient I bounced back.
The older I got, the harder it was to “bounce back”. That’s when I finally had to give in and take the advice of the doctor who prescribed my first anti-depressant, Wellbutrin. It finally came to pass that my perfect “cocktail” was Wellbutrin with a side of Effexor. And with those the color returned to my world, at least temporarily.
Stay tuned for Part Two of Here I Go Again where I discuss my worst depressive episode to date and how I survived.