I’ve had Persistent Depressive Disorder, formerly called Chronic Depression, for all of my adult life. It never really gets better there are only times that life suck less than other times. Throw in anxiety and agoraphobic avoidance and just getting out of bed is like trying to get fifty clowns to fit in a Mini Cooper.
Yet, late last year I seemed to have found a promising cocktail of meds, therapy, and selfcare that led to me going back to school with some hope and energy that I hadn’t seen for years. I delved into the Spring semester full steam with a load of classes and commitment that I hadn’t attempted since I was new to college thirty years ago.
Things were going well! I was participating, looking forward to making and achieving future goals all the while excelling at the current classes. Then in March weird things started happening to my body. Some of them were things that you’d assign to side effects to medication, but those that would usually only occur in the early days of starting a new medication. I’d been on my latest meds for about six months though, so that didn’t make sense. Plus, there were more and more scary things happening, like tremors, fevers, extreme fatigue, both mental and physical, and weird involuntary muscle failures. I’d take a jar of salsa out of the fridge and instead of turning and placing the jar on the counter, I’d fling it, smashing it into the cabinets, for example.
My shrink was interested in the details yet didn’t seem to be worried. I was asked to keep a food log and also track the times that these events were happening. It continued to get worse, all of these weird unexpected things, like the object dropping, tripping over nothing, loss of balance, and more. Finally by late April I was getting terrified of what would come next yet all of the medical practitioners in my sphere seemed unphased by it. One day, as I sat on the floor in tears after falling again for no reason, I’d had enough so when I called the Doc, I was forceful and they suggested that I lower the dosage of one particular medication. Finally, someone was listening and giving me an action to do rather than saying, “Oh, that’s weird, write it down.”
It didn’t get better, the weird things got worse. After about a week and a few more calls to doctors, they came to a consensus, do not pass go, do not make an appointment for some day in the future, immediately go to the ER. To make a longish story short, they ended up admitting me because I had serotonin syndrome. That sounds pretty blase, but was and is terrifying. I feel physically better now but without the medications for my mental health, I’ve spent the days since once again in a very dark place that I know so well.
I still haven’t gotten the all clear to start with a new medication so you will find me white knuckling it to try and finish the rest of the semester with just a tiny part of the ability that I had when I started.
So that is where I am right now, gazing at that massive dark wall of depression that stands in between me and the vast possibilities that I was seeing at the beginning of the semester.