So, I have clinical depression. Based on sessions with my psychologist, we worked back and concluded I have it since I was 13. I was diagnosed at the age of 25. I was in my first (hopefully only) severe major depressive episode when I discovered it was what it is called. This shit I’ve been feeling and ignoring for more than a decade has a name.
Initially, my psychologist thought I have Bipolar II Disorder and Cyclothymic Disorder/Cyclothymia. We assumed talk therapy was enough but in my third weekly session, she recommended I need to take medications immediately. Thru the years, I learned that going to a weekly session meant code red/high alert/emergency in the world of psychotherapy. I was in “ICU”. The sessions were helping me breathe but it is barely keeping me alive.
Hence, more help had to come in the form of my psychiatrist and her concoction of mental health medications. Then we discovered my brain is scarcely producing some of the neurotransmitters a normal person would have. I am taking a medicine that manages brain chemicals a.k.a. antidepressants, a mood stabilizer, and another medicine to counter their side effects. For some time, I even had a medicine that counters a side effect from the other anti-side effect medicine I was taking. (Maybe I should do a “What’s in my pillbox?” vlog.)
What type of depression do I exactly have? I fall into a couple of categories:
- Major Depression / Major Depressive Disorder / Chronic Major Depression / Unipolar Depression
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
The common feature of both these disorders (in my case, varies from person to person, I’m only talking about mine) is the presence of feeling sad, empty, numb, being unable to concentrate, change in appetite, decreased to no motivation, fatigue, forgetfulness, no sleep pattern, and having irritable mood. These significantly affect my capacity to function on a daily basis. The differences among them are issues of duration, intensity or level of severity, symptoms, and timing.
But when you ask me what kind of mental illness I have, you will only hear me say two words: clinical depression.
The icing on this cake is me developing and having mild to moderate Agoraphobia on the side. It’s the major cause why I’m now living under a rock. Fun fact, I tried to hide this anxiety to my psychiatrist but she’s great at what she does, she still diagnosed me with it hahaha She even gave me meds for it, just something to take when needed. (Now I can’t remember if that medication is for my anxiety or panic attack hahaha) Maybe I didn’t need to tell her anything because it was obvious, it has had a bad impact on important areas of my life. I guess losing my ability to leave the house on my own, essentially, to commute alone flashed a big check mark on its symptoms list. I had to stop working.
The cherry-on-top is my panic attacks. People panic, I shut down. Google search its symptoms, I experience those all at the same time on every panic attack; all of it at once, every damn time. And, oh, mix it with the fear I feel being agoraphobic; such a nice complication to have.
I didn’t know these are symptoms of mental illness but for years I have met with :
- neurologists – did a full CT scan and MRI looking for anything that might cause my consistent headaches, neckaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue
- cardiologist – did all the heart exams from 24-hour holter monitor to stress test and even something I forgot what’s it’s called but it’s an ultrasound of sorts but we found nothing that might cause my invariably sudden The Flash-like palpitations, cold sweats, difficulty in breathing, weakness so severe I can’t even hold myself – I mostly lie on our bathroom floor or put my entire weight on someone
- gastroenterologist – because I habitually shit like a madman and vomit at the same time, at the same freaking time
What was heartbreaking is these specialists told me I’m only being overly dramatic (nag-iinarte) and spoiled. Those words hurt. We were frustrated because we have met many doctors but we can’t find anything wrong with me physically.
I remember one time, in a train station it happened to me on my way to school. Lucky for me one of my high school friends was on his way to university too and we ride the same train. He arrived at the train station with candies and a vomit bag.
Too many times I can count, I blacked out or almost blacked out while inside a train to school. Good Samaritans had helped me regularly. Worst was when I was brought to a train station’s clinic.
The last time I had to ride a train on my own, my father was driving me to the station and I was very scared of being alone knowing something might happen to me, I fell asleep at the back of the car before we got there. I never left the car. I never rode the train alone again after that. It happens and I think it’s another escape mechanism I have developed, having no control over my tendency to sleep in stressful instances.
Yep, I have clinical depression.