A new Depressing experience, without Anxiety

*This post may contain some self-harm triggers*

It’s been a crazy semester trying to balance my physical health, mental health, work, and school.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about how it seemed that the Welbutrin I had been taking was spiking my heart rate. Last time I wrote about that experience, I was weening myself off of it, and onto Lexapro.

Well, let me give you an update.

I weened completely off of the Welbutrin, and it seemed to be fine. My heart rate steadily decreased to a little bit lower when it was at a resting rate, but still not great. However, high heart rates run in my family, so it is not a huge concern that meds are still causing it. Going off of the Welbutrin did make an impact; for that, I am thankful.

Letting my body get used to the Lexapro was quite the adventure. It gave me extreme mood swings where I would either be so extremely energized that I couldn’t sit still or stop talking, or I’d crash and completely fall asleep for the night (at like 6pm). It made it very difficult to focus on school work at either time.

I had a follow up with my doctor and I told her what was happening with the mood swings, but otherwise it was alright. We decided to continue and see if my body normalized it into my system.

About two weeks ago was when I finally realized its effects. My biggest victory with the successful anxiety medication was that I was able to finally speak up in class and contribute to the conversation, without feeling my heart pounding in the chest, sweat beading on my body, or words travelling in a million different directions as I tried to organize my thoughts. It was a huge small accomplishment, and it felt so good!

However, there was something that changed recently.
Maybe it was switch that had just turned off; maybe the power went out.
Maybe it was a cliff that I fell off and hit the bottom of the canyon, leaving me gasping for air because the wind was knocked out of me.
Maybe it was a stranger watching me as I went throughout my days. Myself unaware, only to find out it was someone I knew all along.

Depression came knocking, and it has been relentless.

There was no warning, no known triggers, no idea where it originated. It hit me like I ran straight into a brick wall. It’s like that family member that never tells you when they are visiting, but just shows up and expects you to drop everything and cater to their needs.

One new development from the last time I hit a valley like this has been the anxiety portion. Last time, I had Anxiety to occupy some of Depression’s demands, but this time I’m medicated so that Anxiety doesn’t visit. Last time, I had Anxiety to keep me stressed just enough to overcome the lack of motivation to be able to get something turned in for homework. This time, Anxiety isn’t staying while Depression is staying. No, it hasn’t reared its little head at all. This time, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. I don’t feel like taking a shower. I don’t feel capable of changing my clothes. I cannot even look and read on my computer screen because that is too much work in itself.

And beyond all of that, persistent graphic images keep invading my mind. Images of myself slicing down my arms and legs, watching the blood continuously flow from my body reoccurs in my mind, relentlessly.
I’m getting impulses just to hide places so no one can find me so I can just hide from everything around me.
I had an instance yesterday when I was in the campus’s library with my group for a class, and I went downstairs to use the bathroom. There was no one when I was in there, and the images came back, but in that setting. I was getting impulses and images to self-harm before I went back upstairs to work on a project, crafting up ways that it would be concealed.

I’m terrified of being alone.

If you’re religious, please pray for me, and for the many others that experience this everyday, or other variations of it. Please pray for the many that suffer from such debilitating mental illnesses. When it is persistent, uncontrollable, and there is literally nothing that motivates you, it’s hard to be and feel like you’re a functioning member of society…and you don’t even care that you’re not.

With all the negativity aside, I have finally begun exposing some of what is happening to me to those close to me, and it has been exactly what I need. Those around me know I need some decisions made for me in times like this, and they know just the ways to make me feel better, even if it is for a little bit. It’s great having a psychology major as a roommate and one of my best friends because she knows what’s helpful in the psychology aspect, but also is able to cater it to what I personally need because she knows me. Another one of my best friends sent me lots of pictures of dogs throughout the day because he knew it would brighten my mood just a little bit more every time. I had people tell me they were ready to drop everything to come “rescue” me and do something to keep me distracted, because they know that it is helpful for me to keep my thoughts on something else.

I encourage all of you who may be going through something similar to find those coping skills for yourself, and find what works to keep you going every day. I encourage you to find those people in your life that know you and know what works for you and can help when they see those signs.

Keep fighting against the darkness with me, and I’ll keep fighting with you.

The Heart Knows Best

Last week was the beginning of my last semester of my undergraduate education at George Fox University. Obviously I am excited and terrified at the same time. With all of the stress that comes with it, Life decides that I need more things to worry about: one of those includes my heart.

Because I took 15-18 credits every semester prior to this one, I was able to have an easier class load my final one. My roommate and I decided to take two workout classes, which are back-to-back twice a week. The first is yoga, the second step aerobics.

Last Wednesday (the first day of our work outs), something happened. Yoga went well, but when we started step aerobics, I realized something wasn’t right. I wasn’t just out of breath; it was different than that. Worse. I had to excuse myself after a short few minutes of workouts because I felt like I was either going to pass out or vomit. I decided I should go see someone.

Later that same day, I went to see the University’s nurse practitioner to discuss what had happened. Previously–the times I had gone in the past year+–my heart rate had been high pretty much every time, but I would brush it off like I had rushed over there, even though I hadn’t. I didn’t want to deal with it. However, this recent time was something different.

We decided to monitor it the next few days to see where my heart rate goes in different situations: in class, at home, with friends, etc.

Let me tell you (if you don’t know) what the average heart rate should be: 50-70bpm for an adult resting heart rate is ideal, with some leeway.

That night, I checked my heart rate after I had showered and felt relaxed = 98bpm.
I walked to class the next morning, and when I got there: 158bpm. For walking.
I walk most places and it is roughly 125bpm. Again, for walking.
I rarely saw it dip below 90, and that was only when I was laying down (or sleeping. Shout out to my roommate for letting me borrow her Fitbit during this process so I can track and see the data).

So this became and even greater concern. When I went for my follow up on Friday, she decided to take a look at the history of my heart rate from my time at George Fox. She noticed that before I started any antidepressants, it sat at 75bpm. When I started trying my first antidepressant, it was at 88bpm. It grew from there.

She predicted that it was the medication that I had been taking for the last year and a half.

Just what I needed. My last semester, and I would have to suffer withdrawls from weening off the meds, then potentially horrible side-effects from trying another one to replace the current one. Finding one that worked the first time was hell, and I definitely did not want to be a psychotic, moody, angry, tremor-ing person during my final semester of college. If I didn’t switch meds, however, I would potentially keep putting myself at risk. I would have to “take it easy” during my classes. Either way, I lose.

However, I was told that the specific meds I was on were not typically as bad as other ones for withdrawl. I decided it is worth trying.

I went to see my primary care provider yesterday. They did and EKG and everything looked good, which was a concern of mine: that it was actually my heart. My family has a history of heart problems, so it was relieving to hear that things looked okay.

So now I am in the process of reducing the Welbutrin, and starting Lexapro (because Depression holds hands with its best friend, Anxiety). The goal is to reduce the Welbutrin to a low dose, with the Lexapro the same (except adding the dosage instead of reducing…). If I go back in two weeks and my heart rate hasn’t improved, I will have to go completely off the Welbutrin.

The stressors of this semester had already begun, but I guess the universe thought it wasn’t enough. It’s just one more bump in the road, though. Although it was beyond stressful to deal with this the first week back at school, I feel at peace now. I had remembered my last post about being thankful.
It prompted me to think of why I am thankful to have this heart of mine, even though it’s been acting up.
I am thankful for the two working legs I have, even if walking raises my heart rate a ridiculous amount.
I am thankful for the lungs I have, even though they feel constricted, dry, and make me cough when I exude myself too much.
I am thankful for body I have because it is the only one I get, and it’s functioning despite the few problems.

It’s important to not let yourself get wrapped up in the negatives, because you will drown. However, it’s an incredibly difficult task, but impossible. Just try to remember to not get wrapped up in it, even if you fee like you are; it helps to keep you afloat a little longer.

 

A normal day

I felt very motivated today. It was both amazing and strange.

I did 4 loads of laundry (darks, colors, delicates, and whites [I don’t do laundry as often as most people because of my obsessive sorting]), put away the 2-3 weeks of accumulated shirts I haven’t hung in my closet, then also hung up the incoming clean shirts from the laundry, made myself dinner, did some homework (which included a couple hours of reading), and caught up on one of my shows that I missed last week. Which I very surprising because I usually get distracted and keep watching more Netflix, etc….

But today was different.

I don’t know what exactly made it different than other days. I actually got way less sleep than usual, had a late breakfast, forgot to take my pill this morning (my app hasn’t reminded me the past two days for some reason…), and had to return to my college town house. The only unique thing about today was that I saw a play with my professor/advisor/mentor/whatever she is to me. But, honestly, I don’t think that could have been solely it.

What I’ve decided is that it was just a normal day. Something I don’t have very often. And normal is good.