Monday, February 10, 2014

A Mental Health Journey

I debated making a post about this as it’s still a “bit early to tell,” but I figured it could be useful for posterity.

I have been seeing a counselor at my university for about two years now. The last time I saw her before summer break, she discussed me the results of a psychological screening, which I took because I don’t think my four year old diagnosis of clinical depression is correct. According to the screening, she said it seemed I had an anxiety disorder. This was not among the things I had considered. I thought perhaps adult ADHD, maybe some mild ASD… I thought it could be any combination of things, but never considered anxiety.

I mulled over this idea for a long time. When I last visited home, I showed the three page results to my dad, who to my surprise was in complete agreement with them. He said reading them was “like watching me grow up.”

Most of my problems are with memory, concentration, and motivation. I didn’t purse further help for awhile because I didn’t need it, but in January I returned to school, and suddenly these were very relevant problems again. So I upped and visited a psychiatrist, who came to the same conclusion as my counselor: I have an anxiety disorder. Because I didn’t respond well to the SSRI I tried four years back (citalopram), he prescribed me a low dosage of a NDRI (bupropion). He also lauded me for doing as well as I have without medicinal help. Apparently some of the things I do (sitting at the front of the class because it’s easier to speak if I can’t see my classmates, little calming rituals like lacing up my corset and boots, etc) are coping behaviors. I had always chalked up my social problems to being an awkward ass introvert.

So I have been taking bupropion for ten days now, and I think I am beginning to see a difference. Things that took me so much effort before, like speaking up in a group, are a little bit easier now. Yesterday I got up the energy to exercise for the first time in months. Seldom in my life have I felt so functional. I feel less stressed out and overwhelmed. And concentration seems to be a bit easier too, though I am definitely still scatterbrained. And still having sleeping troubles, I end up dozing off in class even after nine hours sleep and a latte with two shots of espresso.

These marginal differences are amazing to me, and I almost want to cry thinking about how long I’ve gone without this. What if I had started taking it when I was eighteen? Or fourteen? Or ten? What would my life have been like?

When I told my dad he must have thought the same thing, and he said he regretted not approaching my mental health differently when I was younger. But you know what? I don’t hold a thing against him. He instilled in me a very can-do, no excuses outlook on life, and look how far it’s gotten me. (Just imagine how much more I’ll be capable of with this medication!) And anyway, every person I’ve ever met who started a long-term medication before or during puberty seems to regret it, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t fuck up my brain chemistry while shit was still sorting itself out. (I still wonder how I was affected by taking birth control pills ages fifteen through nineteen.)

So begins a possible new chapter in my life. If I stay on track, I should graduate with my B.S. in Spring 2015 with at least a 3.0
And maybe I’ll finally be able to get in shape, too!

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