About Time…

A year and a half ago, I addressed the fact that I felt that I more than likely had clinical depression and that I was possibly even bipolar. But because people in my situation often are also in denial, I never did anything about it.

I had all sorts of excuses. I took an anti-depressent a few years ago that made me a zombie. I am self-employed, so it doesn’t effect my work. It doesn’t effect my life.

Excuses suck.

Finally, back in February, I took a look around and realized it was effecting my life. We’ve lived in our house for close to a year, and yet there are still boxes. I wanted them gone, but any time I tried to tackle them I would lose interest. I would lose focus while working. I was putting off things that are important (billing work – I hate billing) for things that were more fun. I went through a stamp obsession, a photography obsession, and most recently a knitting obsession. Mike, thank God, is a saint and not only puts up with it but also tries really hard to help me through issues, although depression isn’t really something you can fix. That man has patience like no other.

So I made an appointment with a psychiatrist. Finally. After a year and a half. Although really, I’ve known I needed to do it for at least 10 years, maybe more. It was very, very interesting, to say the least.

I am not bipolar in the classic Type I and Type II sense. However, I have all of the symptoms of Cyclothymia, which is another form of bipolar disorder. (More links here.) My depression isn’t so deep that I can’t function, and my manic times are short, normally just a day or two. And they really are on a cycle, happening about every 3-4 weeks it seems.

Some things all make sense now. Several years ago I took Fasten for a month or two to help lose weight. I went back to the doctor that prescribed it and told him that I felt so much better mentally – able to cope with things, to focus, to get things done. He said it simply wasn’t possible. Little did he know … sure it was. Fasten was an SSRI, effecting the seritonin levels in your brain – which has a positive effect on people with depression in any form. I told the psychiatrist about this, and he said that years ago when he would try out standard anti-depressents with some patients, they would complain of the same “zombie” feeling that I had. Later, they would come back after taking Phen-Fen and report feeling better finally – they way the anti-depressents should have made them feel.

On top of discussing my past history, symptoms and so forth, we decided to have me take the TOVA test. I told the doctor that I especially have issues with the auditory side of things, much like Jason does. First I did the visual test, which came out close to normal – some concerns, but for the most part, normal. I can focus visually. Then we did the auditory test. It was like I was being tortured, it was that bad. Oh my goodness. High and low tones that I could not tell apart. It was frustrating. Not only did I do terrible on the test, the results are displayed in 4 bar graphs – and one of my graphs had NO bars. None. Then he had me take 10mg of Ritalin, and retest an hour and a half later.

I’ve always wondered what effect Ritalin and other ADD drugs have and if they have any effect at all. Now I can say that they definitely do.

I took the auditory test a second time, expecting it to not be that different. I was wrong. The results were completely different. I could hear the tones. I could focus on the sounds without my mind wondering, counting the tones, or whatever else I was thinking about. I wasn’t frustrated when I finished the test. And my results finally had bars on all 4 graphs.

Instead of being prescribed any form of anti-depressant, I left with samples of Strattera. We are ramping up my dose – today is day 4 of the 25mg; tomorrow I go up to 40mg. I go back in a few weeks to follow up.

So far, so good. So, so, so good. The first day I had a horrid headache – almost like a hangover from the Ritalin. The second day was much better. I’m able to focus while working. I was able to spend time rearranging all of the books in the study – but not in my frantic manic cleaning mode, but rather in an orderly fashion. The internal noise is quieter. I don’t feel so scattered. I feel … good.

I’m glad I finally went to the doctor. I wish I had gone years ago, but everything in life happens for a reason it seems, and it has brought me to a point that I am happy with my life. Maybe that is why I was finally able to face it and go in. As I told him, my life really is good, which makes depression even more frustrating. He called me the sad clown – sad on the inside, but putting on a front of happiness for the world. (I have definite “people pleaser” issues.) Life is good, but I hope that turning this corner will make it even better, for all of us.

If you have any reason to be concerned about your mental health, get help. Talk to a doctor, a counselor, a therapist – whatever. Do it for yourself.

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

29 replies on “About Time…”

Good for you! I know I really should go myself – I guess I feel a little weak in not being able to take care of things myself, but slowly, I am working up the courage. Thanks for talking about it, and good luck!!

Is that something that you will be on permanently, or just short term? Just curious – only starting to do a bit of research on these things. Like I said, slowly I am working up the courage …

That’s a good question, and one I forgot to ask the other day. (It’s already on my list for my next appointment.) I believe that it is an ongoing thing because it isn’t something that can be cured.

It is hard when you think you should be able to take care of it yourself, to just snap out of it or get over it or whatever – but sometimes, you just can’t. It’s ok to get help.

I have had problems with depression almost my entire life. It was so bad at one point that I couldn’t function at all. I, too, have the same problem about not finishing things. I’ve lived in my apartment for going on 4 years now and it looks like I just moved in. I have always been very adverse to taking drugs because I took a barbituate for Epilepsy for over 18 years and I have constant tremors to this date.

Good for you for doing something about it.

Good for you! And good for you for posting about it. I think sometimes people feel others will view them differently if they are “depressed” or taking meds. I say go for it.

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago and it was not a happy visit…he was a quack. I think my problem is adult ADD and wanted to talk to someone about it but he just wanted to push Prozac on me…no thanks. Since we are in the middle of relocating I am wondering if it is best to wait or find another doc. Hmm…maybe I should look into an actual Psychiatrist instead of medical doctor. Lots to ponder this weekend! Again, thanks for posting.

Great post. I found it while doing a Technorati search on Cyclothymia, which I was diagnosed with five years ago. I am an American livlng in Istanbul. I have a website about C, with a nice forum if you would ever like to check it out. 🙂 Good luck with everything!

welcome to the club, darlin’. I’ve been on Strattera since this past summer. the side effects totally sucked at first (nausea, dry mouth, pee problems [it makes you “pee shy”]), but I got over all of them rather quickly. just don’t let the doctor up your dose to 80mg. I was taking 80 for awhile and I was feel very lethargic. I went down to 40 and now it’s great. I take it a couple of hours before I go to work every night and it works like a charm. the one good thing I’ve noticed is that it takes away my cravings to snack in between meals. I don’t really have a reduced appetite or anything, I just don’t dwell upon snacking on crappy foods every few hours like I used to.

Hey, me too! I was diagnosed when I got really really depressed during my first year of college. The drugs helped get me out of the worst of it, but I never felt like the things that made me depressed (having trouble finishing homework, keeping my room clean, remembering things, etc.)

Six years later I got diagnosed with ADD. Easy to see why I kept getting depressed, when you realize I’d been labeled a lazy, underachiever who just couldn’t get it together for 26 years.

Of course the hardest part is really deeply understanding (and believing) in it as a disability, rather than a weakness. More like… “I’ve got no leg, and even with a peg leg, its just not the same.” rather than… “I’m naturally on the lazy side. The drugs help, but if I work harder, I won’t need them.”

In other words, even with drugs it’s hard to keep the dishes done all the time. : )

I am so glad you wrote this. As someone who has suffered some serious clinical depression and will probably be on anti-depressents for the rest of her life, I really feel strongly about people going to see a doctor and taking medication. Some feel like the medication is a crutch, however, if you had a headache, would you take something for it? If you were throwing up all of the time, would you take something for it?

I am so glad you are doing well!

I’m glad to hear you’ve found something that seems to be working so well for you! On an odd but slightly related note, I was cleaning up randomly unpacked stuff last night and found a small pill bottle labeled Prozac. We have NO idea who’s it is as neither Dale nor I have been prescribed any! (It’s not like a regular prescription bottle. Looks more like the bottle the manufacturer would ship it in, but it’s small, just a few ounces in size.

I’m glad you’ve figured everything out, as I recently had a similar epiphany (social anxiety disorder). Now I’m seeing a psychiatrist and everything is looking up, with the help of medication as well. Before I dropped out of school this past semester, I was taking Strattera for ADD, and it definitely helped my focusing issues. Unfortunately, I never went to class because of the whole social thing, but when I had no choice, I saw a big difference. It feels good to get help, and I’m glad you’re figuring things out for yourself!

Good for you, Christine. It’s a really difficult lesson to learn, to accept help. I had the same kind of feelings as you, frustration because my life wasn’t at all bad, but I still had these crushing episodes, couldn’t get out of bed, etc. It’s amazing how some people (like me!) will be so reluctant to do something to help themselves. It was like my pride wouldn’t let me admit that there was something wrong with my brain that I couldn’t just push through. I finally went to a doctor a few years ago (after my mom came over to my place and forced me to) and they put me on Effexor. For the first week or so, it didn’t really do much, but then zooooom, I felt… normal. And normal was so great. The only problem was the withdrawal symptoms – dizzy spells, mostly, and odd nervous tics, but they went away. Effexor sort of “jump started” my brain, since I stopped taking it I haven’t had anywhere near the problems with depression I had before. But it took my family and friends to get me to do it, I’m so grateful to my folks.

I think there are so many forms of depression out there, and it amazes me that they can figure out which is which, as in your case.

It is good that you recognized that you have a problem and that you need help, sometimes this is half of the battle – and having a wonderfully supportive spouse helps.

I’m so glad you were able to bring yourself to see a doctor. Taking that first step is absolutely the hardest. (it was for me)

I see medication as one tool among several (gained from therapy!) to help me battle my depression.

I agreed. If I had’t seen a therapist I am sure that I wouldn’t have survived the past few years. I am so much happier with who I am today than I have ever been.

I’m glad you are finding your own path to a happier Christine.

okay chicky. as someone who was diagnosed with “dysthymia” when she was 19, put on prozac… then put on lithium because they thought she was bi-polar…. then went to an audiologist at age 20 – where they found out i had Central Auditory Pricessing Dysfunction (i like to describe it as dyslexia of the ears – and it effs up your concentration etc…. ) — right now, yeah i’m on wellbutrin xl… (the lithium was a mistake they found out back when i was 21)… but i’ve been wondering about the strattera and if it could help my CAPD… good luck with it.

wow. thanks for being so open. i’ve had depression/anxiety issues for years (been on various meds for like 7 or 8) but recently have started feeling low again. i always know i’m not the only one, but it’s nice to actually SEE i’m not the only one. good luck!

It’s so neat that you were able to tell something wasn’t quite right and do what was needed to help it!

I was in a relationship with someone that started having big ups and downs; I had NO idea at the time that it might have been BP or Cyclothymia, I just thought it was him. The relationship turned very bad, and I resented him deeply for his outbursts of rage. After the relationship finally ended, I wanted nothing to do with him ever.

It wasn’t until later when I studied bi-polar disease for a class that I figured maybe that’s why he acted the way he did. I didn’t try to contact him with my ‘medical guess’ because there were other issues not mentioned here. But I hope that others that think they might have BP or Cyclothymia might see how the other side might not understand, like I didn’t, and seek help before the relationship is too far gone to repair.

Kudos to all that seek help, and best wishes to those making the decision about it.

I’m so glad that this issue is falling into place with you. The thing is, your story sounds so much like mine. I saw a counselor last year who wanted me to go on anti-depressants, but I was afraid to. Afraid of side-effects, withdrawl effects, dependancies, I didn’t want to change -who- I was. But I finally went on them in early February. Only some things improved, then I went for my follow up 3 days ago and he said that was to be expected, and that it was time to up my dose. Already I feel changes since the dose-change. But just taking them at all has helped so much. I totally understand this. I wish you the best. p.s. I’m at a new blog now. Wanted to start over under a different nickname for ‘anonymity thru obscurity’ reasons.

Glad to hear your better, I have been battling depression for what seems like my entire life. I had HORRIBLE SIDES on SSRI’s and will never try those again. My doc and I took the ADD route and after a month I say its pretty good, but somedays i dont take my pills because I really dont need them on Saturday but I then feel down ie manic depressed for a couple of days until my body balances back out. I’ve learned to cope with it and figure it is all a “detox” type thing I can just work thru since the ADD Meds really affect my life in a HUGE POSITIVE way.

Again, hope this still helps you for years to come.


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