To say this year has exciting would be an understatement. It has been the best year ever, but it nearly was the worse year as well. The struggles my wife had in pregnancy didn’t end with delivery. She had to be rushed to the ER three times during the baby’s first week of life, had her gallbladder removed in October, and now has more issues in the abdomen region (none are life-threatening but they are life changing).
Well, with the exception of a case of food poisoning (or a bad drug interaction), this year has been pretty good for me physically. My palindromic rheumatism has reared its head a few times, but while extremely painful, not debilitating. Except…
My mental health ran into a roadblock. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for a long time. I used to see a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with mild (later severe) depression and social anxiety disorder. Funny how the things I love require me to be social, yet they are so exhausting. The medicine I was prescribed, sertraline, agreed with me. I changed jobs (this was 2003) and the co-pay for the medicine didn’t fit into my budget. Since this is America, I quit taking it.
I really didn’t need it for a long time. I had read the anxiety and phobia workbook and learned how to cope with it. The mental exercises I learned from that book and my doctor served me well for about a decade (which included Katrina).
Yet, this year proved to be too much. I became overwhelmed. Not with the baby, but with everything. Luckily, the Mrs. understood because I have always been upfront with her about my condition. She has mentally and emotionally been my rock, as I have been there for her physically. And the baby is both of our grace.
I don’t want to put all my fear, complexes, and doubts onto my daughter. She is very social. She loves to be carried facing forward so she can see people. She loves looking at people at the park and will interact with anyone we introduce to her. She’s damn near perfect.
I’m not weak. I’m not crazy. I’m just not well. The important thing is I want to be well. That’s why I returned to seeing a psychiatrist. I’m sure I could have told my GP I had anxiety and depression (mine does ask every time). However, that’s not what he specializes in. I needed to make sure I wasn’t wrong in my self-assessment that I needed help. My new doctor immediately realized how overwhelmed I was.
Even at my worse, when it was impossible for me to smile, I made sure I didn’t lose the ability to make her smile. If that meant tickling her, pretending to eat her toes, or giving her raspberries, I worked to make sure she knew she was loved and that I was fighting for her.
I wrote a post similar to this on Facebook a few days ago. I’ve already received a few messages about brave I was for posting. I received lots of thoughts and prayers (don’t read sarcasm into that…I’m thankful). A couple of people privately messaged me saying that for the first time in a while, they didn’t feel alone. A few thanked me for fighting the stigma.
I’m beyond caring about the stigma. So people know that I suffer from depression and anxiety now.
Now, they also know I’m doing something about it.