Too Happy, Too Strong, and Too Darn Cute for Depression: My Rude Awakening
Healthline's new depression blogger shares her frustrations with her diagnosis and how she came to terms with her condition.
Years later, I still get emotional reading excerpts from the journal I kept when I was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance causing depression. I remember feeling sick in a way that I had trouble explaining because it seemed to be so many different things all happening at once, none of which I would ever in a million years have thought could be related to depression. I felt tired and run down along with having constant headaches, upset stomach, heart palpitations, problems breathing, fainting spells, muscle aches, and insomnia. While experiencing all of that for weeks on end was horrible, the worst of all had to be this strange feeling of disassociation that I can only describe as feeling empty and hollow and like I wasn’t really here or awake. It was like floating through a bad dream every minute of the day and it terrified me.
Being diagnosed was no walk in the park either, mostly because I fought the diagnosis, believing that there was no way that I, of all people, could possibly be suffering from depression, a.k.a. a mental illness. As far as I was concerned, I was too happy and strong, not to mention too fun, smart, even too chic to possibly be mentally ill. I just didn’t fit the bill of what one thought a mentally ill person should look like. So much for stereotypes!
To start off my column here and give you all some real insight into what I was feeling at the time, I’m going to share with you some of my journal entries from back then. Forever the writer, I have kept a diary/journal since I was 4. It’s always been my way of expressing myself, documenting every precious moment of a life I cherish more than ever since my diagnosis, and even though I avoided looking at the pages from that time in my life for years, it’s a reminder of what I’ve been through and something that has become as huge part of who I am today.
Here goes nothin’...
It’s 2 a.m. and I’m having another night of not being able to sleep. I’m writing again hoping it keeps me from freaking out. I know my doctor has done a sh#t pile of tests (sorry, I have potty mouth when I get upset!) and keeps saying that everything is fine as far as my physical health goes and that she really thinks it’s depression, but I think she’s wrong. She has to be wrong because I know how I feel and I didn’t start to feel depressed and anxious until after I started feeling crappy. How can depression cause headaches and stomach aches? How can it be making it so hard to breathe that I have to yawn to feel like I’m getting a full breath? Why do I feel so weird? It’s like I’m not really here and I’m in a daze or dreaming. It doesn’t make sense! I didn’t start having the uncontrollable crying fits till after I had already been feeling sick and been to the walk-in clinic three times because of how physically sick I felt and to the hospital because of my having trouble breathing. Of course I’m “depressed” now—who the ‘eff wouldn’t be if they were so weak and tired and sick all the time and no one could figure out why????
This feeling in my head and my chest, like its numb or empty, is what’s got me the most scared. It’s like I don’t feel anything going on in there almost like my heart and my brain aren’t working right. What the hell is that? I’m trying to stay calm and think positively about the fact that all of my blood work and other tests were fine but it’s hard to be happy about that when you still feel so sick that you don’t even want to do the stuff you love. I used to love being at work but tonight all I wanted to do was leave. Maybe it’s because I’m alone in the office and have too much time to think and worry about what’s happening to me. I actually got so scared and just pissed off at how my head and my chest feel so empty that I started pounding on them to see if I could feel something! Imagine if my boss had popped in and seen that!
I’ve always trusted Dr. D and loved going to her because she really seemed in tune with me and my health, but now I’m not so sure. I really think she’s wrong about this just being depression. I don’t get depressed. I don’t even believe in “depression”! My mind is way too strong and my spirit is just too happy and excitable for me to be depressed. That’s what I hate even more—not being able to be my usual fun and happy self because feeling sick has me so consumed. Depression my ass! Depression is a MENTAL illness and I feel PHYSICALLY sick. Depression wouldn’t hurt!!! I’m going to another doctor tomorrow morning and if someone else says it’s depression I don’t even know what I’m going to do. She’s wrong. My mom is wrong. No wonder I can’t sleep again. :-(
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