A Trip to the Dentist
It took me some time to figure out how to approach this topic because it is so deeply personal to me. I won’t go into detail here into where my depression and anxiety stem from but I can tell you I have been suffering for years. I started therapy about 4 years ago but was prescribed anti depressants before I ever sat down on a therapist couch. I remember it as clear as day. My dentist, yes dentist, told me that he could not perform any more work on my teeth until I sought medical attention for the grinding of my teeth. During the time this occurred I had been to the dentist 4 times in the last month to have my fillings replaced because I had grinded them down. I didn’t even realize I was doing it I had been experiencing horrible headaches but I never put two and two together, until then.
I took the advice of my dentist and made the first appoint I could with my regular doctor. Since the doctor was out I ended up seeing the nurse practioner instead. I explained to her the situation the teeth grinding, the sleepless nights, the panic attacks in the middle of the day and the stress. She looked at me and said I am going to give you something to make you feel better because we all need a little help every now and then. She wrote me the script and I was on my way convinced that this would make me feel better and that life could go on as planned. A few months later I had another panic attack I was paralyzed and couldn’t breathe sitting at my cubicle. My life felt as if it were slipping away from me. My co worker rushed to action get me calmed down. That was only the beginning during this time my attacks were happening every week sometimes multiple times in a week. I felt I had lost control that the pieces of my life were falling apart.
Each episode brought me down deeper and deeper into depression. At this point the meds had increased there were pills for depression, anxiety and for my constant state of nausea. I didn’t want to do anything but eat and sleep. I however had to do far more than that because I was not only in the military but was a mother, a single mother. The stress and demands of going it alone were taking their toll. The lack of sleep only heightened the anxiety. I vowed to not let what was happening to me affect my child. So I obsessed more on bringing him up right and giving him every ounce of what I had to give. I stopped caring about me because I felt like a lost cause, and the weight began to creep up on me. I was supermom. I was so consumed with his welfare that I would wake all throughout the night checking that the doors and windows were locked and he was still safely in his bed. The news only worsened my anxiety I didn’t want anything bad to happen to him, I didn’t want to look up and he be gone. I was tired but I couldn’t sleep. I was in a hyper alert state at all times because danger lurked around every corner.
All of the sadness worry and anxiety had killed my diet and a glimpse in the mirror was a rude reminder of how my world was crumbling. The depression only worsened when I looked in the mirror.
The Vicious Cycle
The depression had led me to anti depressants and those had led me to weight gain which led be back to a place of depression. The cycle continued on the only thing I could control was the well being of my child. This cycle made had me feeling as if I had lost all control of my own life and to not feel that way I found more things that I could take full control over. I decided to not only pour myself into my son but to add a double major on top of that while working full time. I could be the best student I could be in hopes that all of these little things I could control would make me feel better. They worked for a bit because they helped detract from my problems and allowed me no time to think about any of them. I went on like this for years.
It Only Gets Better From Here
My depression and anxiety often times left me feeling that I lacked control but after years of battling with it and being medicated it hit me that the only thing I can truly control is me, although for years I felt I couldn’t. I decided that the first thing I was going to do is learn how to cope and deal with my problems instead of internalizing them until they have poisoned my thoughts and my body. Anti depressants had become my crutch and it was time for me to walk on my own. I needed to figure out how to live without them so that I could take control of my own body. I have been off of my medications since the middle of last year. I have made a conscious effort everyday to face my problems some days I get down but my life overall has been better. I have lost 15lbs and I am proud to be taking this journey to reclaim what I had let go for so many years.
Have you ever struggled with depression or anxiety? How has it affected you?