I don't really know how to feel about this year and the way things started out. In an earlier journal I wrote about how I decided to go off anti-anxiety/depression pills and try to live as those normal, completely med-free functioning people do. I did good until January where things started to get out of hand.
It started out small--a night of sleep paralysis, a night of insomnia which I've never had until this year--but then it got worse. I started to get about 4 more instances of sleep paralysis, and when you have crippling anxiety, with NO meds...sleep paralysis mixed with a lucid dream, is one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me. And I deem nearly EVERYTHING terrifying. Then I became so terrified of sleep paralysis, I wouldn't go to sleep. I didn't want the movie to end. I didn't want my parents to go to bed. I didn't want my friends to log off and sleep, where I'd be completely and utterly...
In the dark...with only my sleep deprived, wired brain to tell me all 'bout them demons and monsters that were oh so TOTALLY real.
No amount of rational thinking could help because I wasn't rational. At 3 am, your brain doesn't care about what's rational or practical. It is stuck being wired with racing thoughts that I could barely keep up with. I would cry and pray and cry some more, angry at myself and asking why why why why wHY?! I KNEW there was nothing to be afraid of. It was just a shadow, it was just the house settling, it's just my heart beat... But it didn't help. I would tell myself over and over again that i was fine, but it still didn't stop the panic.
I hated complaining to my mom, because there wasn't really anything to do. I depend on my mom for a lot of things and when even she doesn't know what to do, that takes away a lot of hope and strength. It's hard to really explain how much panic and fear I had running through me at these instances because they were incredibly intense and words can't describe it.
I was exhausted, but my anxiety was still drinking that mega dose of caffeine or whatever it has that keeps it going. I was sick and tired of pretending that I was fine when every ounce of my being was screaming that there was some unseen horror that was going to swallow me whole EVERY
But once day broke, I was fine. Once it was morning I could sleep.
Wait, no I couldn't.
I HAVE SCHOOL. 5 WHOLE CLASSES OF TECHNICAL COLLEGE CRISIS 5 DAYS A WEEK.
Granted the whole reason this entire thing happened was because I was starting school. I knew that school wasn't going to kill me. I know that there's an end to school. It still doesn't change the anxiety. It still doesn't change the mood disorder. It still doesn't change the depression.
Even though it was terrifying and painful and awful, I'm still glad I had this experience (especially now that it's over) because now I realize where my disabilities lie. I had been on anti-depressants since I was 11 years old. I couldn't really tell where my entire issues would affect me because I didn't experience them during my teenage years(which were hard anyways). I'm nearly 21 now, and really didn't know how seriously my problems affected me. By weening completely off meds, I was able to see for myself the issues I have.
*I don't recommend anyone to do what I did without first talking to your doctor. It can be potentially dangerous to do so and detrimental to your health. I had to do so, carefully, by weening off the dose over a month or two. Part of the reason I did so was because meds are expensive and I don't have insurance.*
From approximately August to March I was med free completely.
October 31st(ironically) was when I had a huge panic attack/suicidal thoughts episode. I don't know why it came on, it just did. I sat in my kitchen for about and hour and a half, crying and doing everything in my will power to not grab a knife and start hurting myself. I kept telling myself: "You're better than this. You're better than this. You don't deserve this." over and over and over again. By the time I had even gotten a knife, my anger at myself had subsided into tears and I had no more strength to go through with it. I felt awful. By this time I think was when my breathing problems started up again. Yay me.
During this time was when my mood disorder was much easier to spot. I was up and down and all over the place. I would be happy and cheerful, then something would remind me of something sad and instantly I was crying or depressed and just a blubbering mess. I couldn't be reasoned with because I had circular thinking, which is just a fancy term for complaining, but not doing anything about it, and then I go right back to the same thing I complained about. It's a very ineffective way of problem solving 0/10 would not recommend. My brain was just stuck on everything negative or sad, and it was very hard to "just snap out of it" or to pretend that I was okay and smile even though I was dying and screaming on the inside. Even doing happy things or being with my family/friends was it so hard to keep my smile.
January was definitely when it got pretty bad, a random cycle of insomnia, nightmares/sleep paralysis, and just panic every night. February was the same. March was still bad, and I was finally brought to my knees. I couldn't keep doing it anymore. I couldn't keep going every SINGLE NIGHT with an irrational fear of going to sleep in case I got sleep paralysis or just couldn't sleep. I could literally psych myself out so badly I could get out of the effects of Benadryl or other sleep aids. I begged my mom to take me to the doctor, even though it would cost us money out of pocket. I just couldn't handle another insane night of terror like that again. Although I didn't really see a doctor(it was a physician's assistant) all that he could do was give me Ambien for 2 weeks.
For those of you who don't know, Ambien can either be a blessing or a curse. It's a sedative-hypnotic, and everyone reacts differently to it. Some people are just knocked out completely, while others actually sleep walk or have incredibly lucid dreams or may even see hallucinations because they're just so out of it.
For my first night, It was GLORIOUS! I was able to sleep!! I felt so much better!
The second night, I had a scary, lucid dream about a demon posing as my brother and throwing me around my bedroom like a rag doll. I couldn't do Ambien after that, I just can't deal with those possible side effects. I also didn't want to become addicted to it, to expect that taking it would solve all of my problems, because I would totally succumb to that.
So, apparently my mom and I had a "shoulda had a V8 moment" because since I'm now a full time student, my college actually has a student clinic that I could go to for free. DUH! why didn't we think of that before?! So we went there, and talked with the doctor lady there.
I'm back on anti-depressants, folks, and I feel so much better in a way. Maybe it's just a placebo effect because it will still be a month or so before the medicine is at peak performance, but I am able to function better.
In a way I feel like I've let myself down. I naively thought that I could somehow "beat" my problems through sheer will power alone, but I am not that kind of a person, at least not yet. I know a lot of people who can and though they do struggle, they are powering through and I admire their incredible strength.
However, I need to give myself some credit. Never before in my 3 years of going to college, have I EVER attempted taking 5, 3-credit on up classes in one semester, much less one of those classes being Anatomy and Physiology, which is a hard class!
NOR did I EVER think that I would EVER have been able to physically ATTEND 3 LABS because that was what had been holding me back from finishing my general education.
And finally, NEVER had I EVER thought, that I would have made it 3 months WITHOUT meds IN the classes for as long as I did. That's some superhuman stuff right there.
So I just have to say to those who struggle with anxiety, depression, mood disorders, autism or any other physical, emotional or mental issue: If you need help, don't feel ashamed for getting help. Don't wait until you are utterly miserable to get help that you need, whether it's therapy, support from a loved one, medications, tutoring(if in school), or just talking to someone who understands, please please please get help. It doesn't mean you are less of a person, or somehow "weaker" than anyone else. A mental disorder is a disease on the brain in layman's terms. The brain is an organ. It can malfunction just like any other organ in the body. A person with poorly functioning kidneys need dialysis to function. Sometimes, a person with a mental illness needs a "dialysis" of their own to function. It's nothing to be ashamed of! Don't let ANYONE tell you what you need or don't need, or should do, or shouldn't do because they are not you!
So yeah, that's sort of how my 2016 started out...but hopefully, I can finish it feeling much better and able to function a little bit better than I've had in the past.
This has been an Antebelle PSA.
Listening to: Florence + The Machine: What Kind of Man
Reading: Escape to Eden by Rachel McClellan (my AUNT!)
Playing: The Sims 4
Drinking: Root Beer