I have a mental illness.

https://www.morningsiderecovery.com/addiction-blog/identification-treatment-of-agoraphobia/

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:

  1. Major Depression / Major Depressive Disorder / Chronic Major Depression / Unipolar Depression
  2. 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.

3 thoughts on “I have a mental illness.

  1. *Huge hug* Welcome to the club no one ever asked to join! We have millions upon millions of members worldwide, so please know that you are never truly alone. ❤ Mental Illnesses like depression, anxiety, etc, are more common than most people would care to imagine or accept, and there is absolutely no shame in having them or any other mental illness. Take care of yourself, sweetheart. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t understand what this was for a decade. Mental health was not even part of my vocabulary then. It was difficult not knowing what was happening to me. Thanks again Emily! I’ve been rereading your comments, it’s nice to meet people who understand. It’s not every day I find club members haha

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      1. Before I was first diagnosed with depression, many many years ago, I didn’t know what was going on with me, either. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was, I just thought I was doomed to live my life feeling horrible all the time and that life wasn’t worth living.

        It took a lot of time and many years, but I’m finally at a place in my life now where I’m “okay” for the most part, I don’t hate myself anymore, I’m more at peace with myself. When I go through a really bad “spell” of depression, or my PTSD gets really bad, I know it will pass with time and I just need to take care of myself and try to keep my head above water until then. My worst days now are better than my best days were when I was really struggling with a lot of my problems and dealing with them in self-destructive ways.

        Things won’t be horrible forever and our lives are precious and worth living and worth fighting for. When things get really bad, remember you can and should reach out to your doctor or therapist or a loved one – or even call a crisis line – for help, because you deserve to live, and you deserve to live well. ❤ There is no shame in needing help, and there is no shame in asking for it, we all need help sometimes.

        I'm glad you are now in therapy with someone who knows what they're doing and is able to help you. Talking and getting to the root of your depression and anxiety is incredibly important. Make sure to take care of yourself, and remember that you can get through this and that it does get better – or at least more manageable!

        Sorry for this long comment!

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