I can finally feel sunshine. I feel it on my face. I can feel it deep in my bones.
In October 2015, I broke down to my doctor and told her that I couldn’t do it anymore. 2015 was the worst year of my life in terms of anxiety, and I’d had enough. What was supposed to be a fairly routine check up turned into me sobbing hysterically and telling her that I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t just be happy because I knew I had everything. She asked me if I wanted to be referred to a psychiatrist and I nodded ‘yes’. She changed my medication from 300mg of Wellbutrin to 35mg of Effexor with a supplement of Buspar for when I go into situations that typically trigger my anxiety.
Fast forward to January when I had my first appointment with Dr. Oliver. We talked for about an hour and he asked me a series of questions, and I tried to answer them as honestly and openly as I knew how. I was so nervous that I poured the sweat and shook like a leaf. When I left, I had sweated through my clothes and had to go home without going back to work. He diagnosed me with Severe Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I suppose the two have a way of going hand in hand. I was shocked at the diagnosis of Severe MDD, because I was functioning, right? I mean, I held down a job, I maintained relationships for the most part, I was married — I was living, wasn’t I? How could it be severe? Well, struggling with suicidal thoughts make it severe. When having anxiety attacks, saying, “I wish I would just die.” make it severe. And I wasn’t living at all.
Dr. Oliver upped my dose of Effexor to 75mg, and I can tell you today that it is certainly the best medication for me. Since Christmas, I have only had to supplement with Buspar or Ativan maybe twice. In social situations, I feel peace. I no longer dread spending time with people that I actually enjoy and love, I no longer worry if they are talking about me or making fun of me. I don’t sit and obsess about people ‘ignoring’ me on social media. I no longer live my life feeling like every single thing or action from another person is an affront to me. I am now able to take people at face value. If they say they like me and enjoy my company, then I guess they do. I don’t read into comments to try and make a situation something it isn’t. There are still days where I struggle. There are still days where my chest feels tight and I don’t breathe very well. There are still days where the darkness floods the corners of my eyes and I struggle to look forward and not drown in everything I feel or don’t feel. Nothing is perfect, it never will be, but I can finally tell you all that I am getting better.
There is hope. Counseling, medication, faith. If you can do it without those first two, that’s great. I couldn’t. I couldn’t anymore. It’s been a little over two months since I got my dose corrected and started seeing Dr. Oliver. Well, I guess closer to three. In those three months I have focused on fitness, on eating better, and on taking care of myself both physically and mentally. On many days, I feel like I have stepped outside of myself and I can look back and clearly see how much help I needed. I go back and read my blogs about depression and about anxiety, and I feel like, for this season, I have taken off that heavy coat of depression. Though I still struggle, I feel warmth, happiness, and I feel light. Each and every day, I can actually feel sunshine. I smile and I laugh and it comes from deep inside, it’s not fake or forced. I look forward to the next day, even if I dread going to work, even if I complain. I am sincerely happy to be alive.
The person I am now is a work in progress and I imagine it will always be as such. I am still introverted and I hate being bothered in the mornings. Sometimes, I realize I don’t seem very pleasant. I still obsess over things that I cannot fix or change. There are days where it all falls apart, there are days where I can’t stand myself, but those days seem to be happening less and less. Those days are now replaced with a sense of purpose and happiness that I haven’t had in a very long time or maybe ever. Maybe it’s looking at 30, maybe it’s growing up, maybe it’s a mixture of getting my medicine right and starting to work on myself, I’m honestly not sure. But, I am working. I am trying. I have shoved through the darkness and I refuse to give up or give in.
I finally feel sunshine.