Diagnosis: Depression.

I had been looking for the wrong warning signs.

Cautionary Therapist told me about a year ago that if I ever get to the point where I’m not able to get out of bed, shower, dress myself, and go to work, I’m in trouble.  And so every day I was able to do these things, I thought I was okay.

Nevermind that I was actually spending an inordinate amount of time getting ready because of how shitty I feel.  And the fact that once I’m finished and presentable, I feel ridiculous, as if the way I feel inside still manages to eek through to the surface.  Like a fraud.

Nevermind that I haven’t been e-mailing anyone at all lately, and writing e-mails used to be my favorite thing.  In fact, I haven’t wanted to write anything at all, including entries on my blog.

Nevermind that I haven’t wanted to listen to music.

Nevermind that most of the foods I eat lately don’t taste like anything, or, if they do, they taste like metal.  Especially Cap’n Crunch cereal and Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.

Nevermind that the second I sit down at my desk in the morning I feel exhausted, as if all of my energy is streaming out of me with every exhale.

Nevermind that I haven’t been able to concentrate long enough to proofread a goddamn coupon.

Nevermind that I can burst into tears at any given moment.

Nevermind that I feel as though every day I’m crawling in agony toward that 6:30 p.m. finish line when I get to go home and drink some wine and zone out until it’s time to go to sleep.  Glorious sleep.

What did it was the trails.

I thought I was going blind, you see.  And not blind as in “I can’t see well,” but blind as is “I can’t see AT ALL.”  I noticed what is commonly referred to as a “floater” in my eye a couple months back.  I self-diagnosed with the help of teh internets, who told me that the goo in my eyeball is becoming less goo-like or is liquefying or basically doing something that it really shouldn’t be doing, and what I see is the shadow of that goo doing what it shouldn’t be doing.  A tiny black fuzz floats into my line of vision and then shoots off in another direction.  I’ve named him buddy.  Buddy’s skittish.  And kind of an asshole.

Then I started noticing these flashes of light, and this thing that happens sometimes when I’m driving that looks like a tiny, transparent target in my direct line of vision, and the endless twitching of my left lower eyelid.  And the honest-to-God TRAILS streaming after slowly moving objects, usually my hands, as if I’m on LSD all the time.  That’s when I really started to get freaked out.

I went to the ophthalmologist, who said my eyes are fine.  My retinas are intact.  So I figured the problem wasn’t my eyes but rather my brain.  I did a little more research on teh internets and found that all of these things, including the tinnitus I’ve been experiencing the last couple of months that showed up at the exact same time as the eye problems?  It all could be caused by extremely low serotonin levels.

That’s when I knew.  I am depressed.  I have been for a while.

And alllllll the other less concrete, more subjective symptoms began to fall into place.  Lack of interest.  Fatigue.  Crying spells.  Feeling disconnected and lonely.  And, oh God, when was the last time I felt joy?  THAT LONG AGO?

So I called the doctor on Friday.  I waited too long to begin therapy.  I did not want to see how much worse this will get.  When the receptionist asked for the reason for my visit, I said, “I’m having these vision problems, and the ophthalmologist said my eyes are fine, so either I have a brain tumor or I’m depressed.”

At my appointment yesterday, the nurse was gruff with me.  Skeptical.  “So how did you get depression from vision problems?” she asked me.  I struggled to keep the tears in my eyes from overflowing as I tried to answer her questions without saying the word “internet” if at all possible.  She took my blood pressure and left, and I shivered in the cold room, afraid the doctor would come in, take one look at me, at my straightened hair, my makeup, my dress, and pronounce me okay.

But when she came in and asked me gently what’s going on, all I could do was smile as the tears brimmed over.

After a few moments, I said, “I’ve been trying to hold it together.”

She said, “You don’t have to.”

I described my symptoms, how I’ve been experiencing them for a while, but the physical, concrete problems with my eyes made it okay for me to acknowledge the other symptoms, and all of it led me to conclude that I’M NOT OKAY.  She listened, asked me about my personal life, asked me about therapy, talked with me about treatment.  She wrote some things down and gave me a sheet to check out with.  It said “Diagnosis: Depression.”

It doesn’t feel like what I thought it would feel like.  Scarier, in a way.  I’m not SLEEPY, I’m exhausted.  I don’t WANT to do things, but that doesn’t mean I’m not actually doing things, dragging my feet the whole time, of course, but still doing things.  And I’ve never been super excited about buying/preparing/eating food.  Now I’m just slightly less so.

I’m not thrilled (Haha, get it?  I’m not thrilled about ANYTHING!) at the prospect of going on an antidepressant.  I’m the kind of girl who wants more than anything to put on a light dress and go live in a field in southern California.  I’m a hippie at heart.  A naturalist.  It took me years to come to terms with taking birth control.  But.  The doctor assures me this will not be long-term.

That’s been my mantra these last few days.  A mantra that you, my commenters, helped establish.  This will not be long-term.  This will not be long-term.  This will not be long-term.

We’re starting with Lexapro and going from there.



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19 responses to “Diagnosis: Depression.

  1. jen

    If you move to that field could you send me an invite!? I know how you feel, I really do, although I don’t actually think I’m depressed (I just have a lot of the signs – no eye issues though). A brave face is something I put on well.

    I hope things start getting better for you now you’ve seen a doctor! x

  2. humanbeingblog

    Ah, CG.

    I too suffer from depression. Crushing, life-threatening, yucky, exhausting, fucked up depression.

    I’ve been taking Wellbutrin now for 5 months and it has saved my life. SAVED IT.

    I too eschewed antidepressants because I’d been on almost everything except lithium earlier in my life. And they all made me feel worse, flat, put a lot of weight on me (including Lexapro, sorry), killed my sex drive, crushed my creativity (and I’m a professional writer).

    Wellbutrin is a miracle drug. I have lots of energy. I have a sex drive. I have lost 5 lbs on it. The only downfalls have been headaches and insomnia.

    A friend of mine who also takes antidepressants calls them insulin for her brain, “You wouldn’t judge yourself for being a Type I Diabetic would you?” she asked me when I was lamenting the decision to take the drug. No, I wouldn’t. So my brain chemistry needs help just like my thyroid needs help. No biggie.

    Hopefully this drug will make you feel better in a couple of weeks.


  3. I have battled with depression for years. I’ve been on and off antidepressants because I have similar feelings about them as you do. But let me say this (and I am currently on them): they help. A lot.

    I most recently went back on them after I lost my job. Two months later (and still without job), I’m learning so much about myself. My live-in boyfriend even said to me, “I never want you to stop taking that pill.” I’m happy.

    The antidepressants will balance you and make you see the bright side of things.

    Plus, like you said, you don’t have to be on them forever. But whatever you do, don’t just quit taking them one day when you feel great. It’ll mess you up.

    Also, like Lynn said, every antidepressant does not work for every person, so talk to you doctor honestly, which it seems like you are. I’ve been switched around a few times. I’m currently on Zoloft, which works great for me.

    Good luck.

  4. Be strong – the fact that you could acknowledge all of this (in your own laborious, strange way) and get to the doctor is a good thing. Sometimes medication is absolutely needed to get you through the dark phases. Hang in there, be strong.

  5. kindred spirit

    Good comments above. Make notes of how you are doing while on the meds. It will help your doc adjust the dosage and get the right med for you. Meds vary with the individual. What works for one may not work well for another person. I’ve seen them work great for weeks then make things worse, so pay attention. I suggest writing down notes daily on how you feel and how you feel you are coping. A third party may notice better than you can if you have that in CH or another friend you see frequently. Meds can make a huge difference when you get the right one and right dosage. Best of luck.

  6. Lauren

    No real advice from me. I’m just very happy you saw a doctor rather than letting it get worse. Medicine or no medicine, talking it out, dealing with issues straight on rather than indirectly or not at all can only help you. I have faith that you will get through this. : ) Hopefully the rain will stop and the sun will come out eventually- I mean this both literally and figuratively.

  7. i’m so proud of you. so, so proud.

  8. Charmed

    Is that what this is? Oh crap. I’m going through the motions. Not good enough for me or anyone around me. I’m just not sure how to change it.

  9. Wow AC, you just described exactly what I went through a year ago. I finally went to the doctor after a year of feeling the way you have described and then tried to convince the doctor that I should’ve gone to visit her and that I was fine. Luckily she saw through my act and also prescribed Lexapro. It was a real turning point for me and has made such a difference in my life. I have just stopped taking it now (because I am having a baby) and so far, so good.
    You are a brave person for going to see your doctor and for being so honest about how you feel. Keep on being strong xxoo

  10. Sandy

    I am so proud of you. I don’t understand the stigma but know that I will take this pill every day of my life if it will keep me from feeling that profound sadness and hopelessness ever again. I only wish it didn’t take quite as long. Three weeks seems like forever when you are feeling so ill. Hang in there. You will begin to notice a change in a couple weeks and then it will feel so much better. You showed a lot of courage. Take care. It will be better soon.

  11. mrs. darling

    I’ve been there, one year ago this month. It was so hard for me to ask for help, to sit in the doctor’s office, my hands trembling, tears on my face. She prescribed zoloft and I hated taking that pill. Until I realized that pill helped me be me again. I could function and breathe again and I was finally able to address the real issues at hand. But first I had to get some help getting a grip on everything.

    You will survive this and come out stronger. Hang in there these first few weeks. And soon enough you’ll realize the sun is actually shining down on you. And you will breathe again and sleep again. And laugh again.

  12. This is the first step to getting back to you. You will get through it and we’re all here to cheer you on.


  13. Katie

    I kind of can’t believe you weren’t already on an antidepressant!

    I started taking Lexapro in college and I wanted to let you know that you really truly CAN only be on medication for a period of time (it’s different for everyone and some people need it forever but some people don’t).
    I was on the medication for about 2 1/2 years. I was so glad to be off it, but I knew I couldn’t have gotten there intact without it.
    After taking it for about a week, I remember talking to my roommate and just laughing. She didn’t know me very well at the time and she wondered what had gotten in to me. She said I was acting like a completely different person. I told her that this was actually who I was. That I was usually chatty and laughing and enjoying myself. She had not seen that side of me yet. But thanks to the medicine, she did.

  14. Christiana

    I (like Katie) took antidepressants for about 2 1/2 years, while I eventually became happy to be off them, I also know that I wouldn’t have been able to get there without them.

  15. Like some of your other readers, I too suffer from depression. I have been on meds for the last 6 years, and life is definitely better.

    I want to remind you that it’s diagnosis: depression, not definition: depression. This is not what defines you. This is not who you are. This just part of you, just like favorite television shows and hobbies and your wardrobe. They all reflect a part of you, but it’s the sum total that counts.

    And the sum total, imho, is a wonderfully complex woman who’s in transition, just like the rest of us. None of us have arrived. (It’d be boring if we had, don’tcha think?)

  16. DB

    Good for you! The best thing I ever did was go see a therapist. This was after I’d taken and gotten off of two different antidepressants, and I didn’t want to go back on, so I thought I’d try a different method.

    My experience was so like yours that I laughed when I read that part of your post. I walked into Laureate dressed nicely for work, in a skirt and heels, and thought they were going to kick me out and tell me to quit crying. But, they didn’t.

    In addition to teaching me methods for coping with my anxiety, the doctor told me that symptoms like sudden weeping and irrational outbursts were symptoms of depression and that I really needed to be taking something. I was disappointed at first because I thought the cognitive behavioral therapy alone could fix me, but I took my doctor’s advice and I’m so glad.

    I agree with humanbeingblog that Wellbutrin is a miracle drug. I used to take both Wellbutrin and Effexor, but now I’m just on the Wellbutrin. My super straight-laced doctor actually called it “the happy-horny pill.”

    Be patient with the meds and give them the opportunity to work. You’re finally going to feel like yourself again.

  17. M

    My thoughts are with you.
    I’ve had so so many friends go through this struggle, and sometimes what really helps the most is that initial moment acknowledging that yes, they are depressed, and yes, this is a serious medical problem.
    And they deserve to get help for it. And get better.


  18. anonymous

    depression is the scariest when you don’t feel like doing those things you are supposed to do, and then you just stop. i stopped. it’s kinda liberating, for like 0.5 seconds. and then the shit hits the fan, and get all over you.

  19. A

    I too was diagnosed with depression and put on Lexapro. It changed my life. I was not at all happy about having to take a drug to cope with life. Now, I can’t imagine why I was so reluctant. It didn’t change me into a new person, it just made me a better version of myself. I could see beyond the sadness. My emotions didn’t rule me. I was only on the medication for a year and then successfully transitioned off of it. It’s not for forever.

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