“Don’t you know the side affects of this stuff!? Aren’t you aware there are natural ways to combat this? I would be careful what you put in your body.”- Anonymous.
This is the response I get from many of my well meaning followers and friends via social media when I finally came out and said “I have Clinical Depression and I am taking medication for it”. Although they are well meaning, I must offer some education and stand up for people who truly do need Anti Depressants to function. There is a dangerous and strong stigma around this illness and these medications. First of all I am not talking about a bad mood here. I am talking about severe clinical depression. The feeling you get when you are scared to get out of bed because the pain it feels to exist. I am talking about the mental agony of feeling in constant terror over nothing. This is usually brought on by stress and can turn into something very ugly if not treated. It is dangerous to assume that this disorder can be treated naturally all the time. This stigma around depression and anti depressants can keep a desperate soul from seeking the help they need before it is to late. Depression and Anxiety is a true chemical imbalance that can last anywhere from 6 moths to 2 years. It is one of the leading causes of suicide due to the lack of support and knowledge about this disease. There are people who do not realize that what they have is a treatable disease rather than a sad situation they find themselves stuck in forever. I feel that it is necessary that I share my story and why I decided that it was the best option for me to take medication. It was a hard decision and it took a lot of bravery on my part. I was in sheer panic and fear over not going the all natural route. In fact… dangerously, I felt like a giant failure for not being able to yoga, oil, pray, and workout the depression away. This is not a good situation to be in. If you have a friend or loved one who is trying to battle clinical depression on their own without medical attention I encourage you to read this blog post and be a support, rather than pass judgement.
I am so fortunate that I have a voice here on social media. Before I hop onto my soap box and say things that will empower some and upset a few I would like to show my appreciation to all of you who follow my page. It is an outlet for me! Writing is therapeutic for me and I appreciate the opportunity to do what I do. 3 years ago I started a health and fitness business with Beachbody. I love being a part of this company. I shared how I was able to get off of those “nasty” anti depressants, beat depression with health and fitness and be the warrior all natural that I so desired to be! But what happens to you when you can no longer say that. What happens when you have a nervous break down from extreme stress and exhaustion? I was the first to knock antidepressants. I had read so many things about them from uneducated sources. I read that they were awful for you. I read that they could destroy many aspects of your life. I felt like I was seriously amazing for getting off of them. I would preach on my Social Media “You can get off of Antidepressants the natural way!” Just because I did it once, doesn’t mean I could necessarily do it again, and stay that way forever. I eat my words. Of course some people may be negatively affected by the side affects of Anti depressants, but there are people who see the benefits out weigh the side affects 10 fold and need the medication to function.
I remember the day I started having Anxiety attacks and Panic attacks. I remember the first heart palpitation and feeling of impending doom like it was yesterday. In fact is was July 27th, 2015. I had just wrapped up several trips (5 in a matter of 5 months), I had just hit some major goals in my business, I had just moved to a new city across the country, I felt tired, isolated, and I was coming down with a severe cold. That evening someone said something to me that I was ultra sensitive to… “Did you know that you can get Schizophrenia at the age of 30. That is when most people get it.” Now if you have been following me for a while you will know that my Father is Depressive Delusional/ has Schizophrenia. When I heard this I felt sheer panic and fright over take my body. Could this Woman be right? Could this be true? So of course I went home and got on Dr. Google and there it was… the information I avoided for 20 years… “Woman can become Schizophrenic between the ages of 16- and 30.” That evening I had my first panic attack. I cried, I shook, I ran around my house cleaning in order to feel better. I could not sleep that night. That led to 4 nights of 4 hours of sleep. That lead to waking up every morning in panic. That lead to being afraid of each and every night before bed. “Will I get some relief tonight or will I lay in bed in sheer terror?” I could not figure out what on earth was going on with me! Why on earth did I have so much adrenalin? Why was I terrified over… NOTHING! There was no proof that I would become mentally ill. There was no possible way I could prove whether or not I would or wouldn’t and that drove my anxiety hard. I wanted answers and I could not get them. I began to obsess over Schizophrenia. I studied it and I shuttered as I did so. I laid in bed in tears that this could ever become me. I could no longer focus on my business, and my family.
After 5 days of no sleep I became clinically depressed. I would get out of bed and everything single thing around me felt dark, gloomy. I felt sad about everything. I felt negative about the things that usually made me fulfilled and happy. I worried unnecessarily about my daughter, and my family. My fears started to go down an irrational road. I started to obsess over Robin Williams and I would cry imagining his suicide. It felt as if the blinds on my life had closed out of my control. I could not figure out why on earth I was in so much pain. My life on the outside was really spot on. It was everything I ever wanted! We were living the life of our dreams however I was in daily agony. I stress AGONY. If you have never felt clinical depression I applaud you. You are absolutely lucky and I pray you never experience that type of pain. For those of you who know the pain of depression you know what I am talking about. Its as if nothing anyone says to you makes any difference. “Let me just pray for you”, “Here is this scripture I found! It should take care of it.” “Oh your life is so blessed. You will be just fine.” No matter what I told myself… I could not stop feeling like the joy was sucked out of my brain. Every waking hour felt like agony. I would count the hours until evening when I would feel some relief. It seemed like at night is when I started to feel normal again. But around came the morning, and I felt the same way again.
Everyone told me to keep praying, to find the natural remedy. I was told by many Christian books, well meaning Christians, and well meaning health nuts, and all natural nuts (my granola friends I love you!) that the best way to conquer this was the natural way. I felt guilt for even wanting to consider medication I told myself “nope I will never use that stuff because I should be able to pray this away. I should be able to surround myself with my church friends, workout, eat right and I will feel like me again. The more I worked out the more I felt worse. The more I ate… the worse I felt. The more I prayed and read the bible… the worse I felt. Why? I felt like I was failing. I felt like I was letting myself down. I felt like I was not doing what I was supposed to do as a Christian. I felt like I was sinning because I wanted to seek medical help. But … I was trying to be that strong fit Christian girl and battle this naturally. So I pressed on! I pulled myself out of bed every day and I suffered. I did the best that I could with my business and would find relief in the hours that I did finally fall asleep.
Then came the suicidal thoughts. Yep… shudder… I said it. Suicidal ideology. That is a real thing and it happens when Major Depressive disorder gets so bad you cannot think clearly. I had visions and thoughts that brought relief. The idea that maybe it would be better if I drove my car somewhere and disappeared. I never let my mind take me much further than that, but I knew I wanted to do it somewhere where my family would never find me and see me like that. I told Eric “I think you would be better off without me”. I was in total shock. I had no idea who I was anymore, and those thoughts were not me. I had the wisdom to know that those thoughts were completely dangerous and I had them before when I experienced depression in College.
I did not want to die, I just did not want to live like this anymore. It has been 45 days straight of this pain and I wanted out. I told my husband that this was the bottom line. I couldn’t go on anymore. I either go get medical help from a Doctor or I wont be getting out of bed anymore. Wow, can you believe that those things came from me?! Happy cheery fit girl on Social Media wanted a way out of life? I couldn’t believe it either, and I finally made a call to see a Doctor. It took me 15 tries to find someone as everyone was booked out for 4 – 5 months in Austin Texas. I finally made an appointment and had to wait a week and a half to see someone. I told her I don’t know if I will make it a week and a half, and she told me I needed to call an emergency hospital and go there asap if I felt that way. Fortunately my husband said… No, I will watch you, and we will go see this Doctor when the time comes. So he decided it was time to keep me as busy as possible. This helped! He made us plans to see friends, to shop and we decided that it was time to move home to Michigan. I went all natural, prayer only, and herbs only now for 2 months. Just when I thought things could get worse I had another 4 nights in a row of no sleep and a recent weight loss of 15 LBS!!
The Obsessive Intrusive thoughts came pouring in. Thoughts that I cannot share here on this page, but I would compare them to post partum depression thoughts. I was terrified and upset. How on earth could this happen to me!? I had let it get so bad! Or so I thought I had LET things get bad! It was not in my control. It was bad brain chemistry! I had the wisdom to know that much. The thoughts were agonizing and terrifying. I finally remembered a few things I studied in my PSCYH classes about OCD! Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I went onto Doctor Google (this time he served me well), and I found information and relief. These thoughts were not really me, they were OCD that stemmed from my Depression and Anxiety. They were sticky violent thoughts that stuck with me from exhaustion. My brain about had enough of what it was being put through. Lack of sleep, bad brain chemistry, no food, and constantly conscious let down of myself. I felt like I failed myself because I couldn’t out pray my depression. The brain had been so worn out it clung to these weird thoughts and they became obsessive.
It was finally time to see the Doctor.
Doctor: “Why didn’t you come sooner?”
Me: “Because I wanted to cure this on my own”
Doctor: “Would you tell someone with Cancer to only cure her Cancer all natural and with Prayer?”
Me: “Gosh no!”
Doctor: “You have major depressive disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am going to start you on a low dose of medication and we will work out way up.
Me: “No I want to do this all natural.”
Doctor: “How has the worked for you so far? Feeling any better?”
Me: “Nope only worse!”
Doctor: “No I want you to try it my way. I fear that this will only get worse and you will be hospitalized. Then it would be a matter of no choice on the medication.”
Me: “Okay Ill try it.”
I was in tears. I felt defeated and like an absolute failure once again. I gave up on my mission to beat this thing all natural. Everyone around me said “Anita do not beat yourself up. If the Doctor says this is what you need, than its time to do it.”
I took my first pill and I felt it go down my throat and I shuddered. I immediately felt panic and terror. I was shaking all day afraid of what this monstrous medication would do to me. I was laying in bed shaking and crying. “My life is ruined.” I thought! I will be stuck on these meds for the rest of my sad life. I then fell asleep! Do you know what type of relief that is to actually fall asleep without 4 hours of tossing and turning and crying. I slept for 6 hours and work up feeling panicked but relieved that I slept. I felt guilty over my nap! “Does this nap mean that I am going insane and need to sleep all day? Is this medication making me into a zombie!?” All irrational fears but they stuck with me. Three days later… I woke up from 8 hours of sleep finally and I felt like me again. I had finally gone up to the higher dose and I was starting to feel relief! I was sleeping, and not scared out of my mind! I still had the OCD as that takes longer to work through, but the depression and anxiety subsided. I wanted to eat again, I wanted to live life again. I wanted to be with my family and do all the things we had missed out on over the last 2.5 months together. I had a new zest for life. I felt like Anita. I am pleased to say that it is now November and I am still feeling good. The OCD has yet to subside fully but I am finding it is easier to focus on therapy and what I need to do to live a more relaxed happy life now. I have very few side affects. I do get a bit forgetful, and tired easily, but other than that, Im popping around like my regular self. Its as if I was given a second chance and hope. I feel hope and less hopeless. I am thankful for this medication and I wish I had taken it sooner. I look back now and question why I was so hard on myself. Why did I beat myself up so bad? I was fully bought into the stigma and did not seek help sooner. If I could do it sooner I would have sought medical treatment as soon as I had trouble with anxiety and panic. I waited to long and it went down hill fast.
There are people who do not realize that what they have is a treatable disease rather than a sad situation they find themselves stuck in forever. I feel that it is necessary that I share my story and why I decided that it was the best option for me to take medication. It was a hard decision and it took a lot of bravery on my part. I was in sheer panic and fear over not going the all natural route. In fact… dangerously, I felt like a giant failure for not being able to yoga, oil, pray, and workout the depression away. This is not a good situation to be in. If you have a friend or loved one who is trying to battle clinical depression on their own without medical attention I encourage you to read this blog post and be a support, rather than pass judgement.