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Author's Note: As usual, I apologize for the sloppiness of this diary. I sincerely hope you are able to read and comprehend it. My mind has 3,000 things running through it, and I'm doing the best I can. :)

No, I don't mean that coming out, silly! I've already done that a few years ago. I'm coming out as one of the millions of Americans who suffer from some type of mental illness. For the past four years, I've thought my type was depression, but recently, I've started to think differently.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, and I was prescribed Lexapro. I took that for two years until I abruptly stopped taking it in June 2008. In December 2008, I started to have some symptoms similar to memory loss. I didn't lose my memory completely, but I had trouble remembering names. I think some people call it "brain fog." My neurologist then prescribed me Zoloft, but I had to discontinue that due to the horrific side effects. Rather than be prescribed another antidepressant, I decided to deal with the issues. Needless to say, that was a big mistake.

To make a long story short, from late 2009 to early 2011, I was prescribed four other anti-depressants, with the most successful being Pristiq. I continued to take Pristiq through May 2012, but it lost its effectiveness, so I was advised to discontinue the medication. My family doctor prescribed me Cymbalta, and needless to say, I felt like I was living in hell. The side effects were some of the worst, and I discontinued that medication. I was put back on Lexapro, which I'm currently taking, but it's not helping.

During this time, I started to feel more anxious, especially with the approaching fall semester. I am taking a writing intensive course, so I am scared to death that I will not do well and ruin my 4.0 GPA. Last fall, I was told my writing was excellent, but this mental illness has me thinking otherwise. I'm to the point that I don't even want to write on Daily Kos because I'm not sure if I'm making any sense or using the correct words in the correct format. It is driving me absolutely crazy. It is so bad that I don't want to take certain courses because I'm scared I will have to write!

Just a few weeks ago, I contacted a local psychologist about these issues, and I asked her if it could possibly be ADHD mixed with anxiety because I do show signs of ADHD, and she told me I would have to schedule a consultation to see her ($160). The follow-up appointments are $150. I have the money, but is it worth it? That's what I keep asking myself. I don't want to keep living like this, but what if therapy doesn't work? Then what?

I'm not a medical professional, but in my heart, I feel like it is ADHD + anxiety. Regardless, I just want to be normal again. This illness has put a dark cloud over my life for way too long, and it's time I start fighting back. I just don't know how.

Originally posted to Chance on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your diary reads fine to my eye . (9+ / 0-)

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:35:40 PM PDT

  •  Anxiety is a difficult thing to deal with. It runs (7+ / 0-)

    in my family.

    I wish you much luck in your search.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:39:04 PM PDT

  •  Do you need a 4.0 for something in particular? (6+ / 0-)

    I've never been asked about my grades by any employer or potential employer, and most (although presumably not all) scholarships don't actually require a 4 point.  Heck, the last class I took, I found out midway through the final that I had one of the top couple of grades in the class, and just stopped and handed in my final without finishing it.  Still got an A minus for the class, but I would have been just as fine with a C, since that's all that's required to pass classes in the nursing program...  Seems like that might be something you don't need to stress as much about.

    •  Nursing classes are generally important. (0+ / 0-)

      What the hell was the class?

      Are you planning having such a poor attitude during clinicals?

      This is, of course, the difference between republicans and human beings. - Captain Frogbert

      by glorificus on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:54:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pathophysiology (0+ / 0-)

        And taking the test wasn't teaching me anything new.  I had already learned the material.  If you know what you're doing, tests aren't for you.  They're for other people to assign their own opinions to you.

        I focus on actually learning.  I don't really give a damn about fiddly faddly nonsense that has more to do with whether or not you properly interpreted a professor's cryptic phrasing in a question or two, when in the real world you can ask people to expand upon their thoughts.

        To you that might be a 'poor attitude'.  To me it's cutting through the red tape to what actually matters.

    •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, anafreeka

      The way I feel is, the government is paying $5500 of my tuition, so I can at least show it was a good investment. Many college students just do enough to get by, but I'm not one of them. I want to be the stand out student that I wasn't in high school.

      •  A 4.0 GPA isn't the best thing in the world, (6+ / 0-)

        and it isn't going to auto-magically get you the dream job to which you aspire.  I applaud you, though, for desiring that as a goal to which you have latched your aspirations.  However, the most prudent use of any funds directed towards higher education is to ensure that you are able to think critically, apply your recently gained knowledge in a future endeavor, and be able to demonstrate an ability to easily pick up new skills in the workplace.

        Entities hiring towards career-oriented positions don't care as much about GPA as they do about what you can do for them in the shortest possible time.  If you can demonstrate, both in the interview process as well as on the job, that you can virtually hit the ground running, then you will go far on the track of your choosing.

        I will also echo others here in stating that your writing here is nowhere close to the "scatterbrained" picture you were fearing.  I found the presentation concise, sound, and reasonably presented.  It sounds like you might be better off with a bit more of therapy than playing the pharmaceutical roulette wheel you have been on lately.  However, only you can best know what is best for yourself in the long run.  I wish you well in discovering the best path to the goal you seek.

        -8.88, -7.77 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

        by wordene on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:20:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are you really one of my professors? :) (6+ / 0-)

          Because your first two paragraphs are exactly what he said. It's really just a goal I set for myself. I want to keep the good GPA in case I decide to go to graduate school.

          Thank you for your comment!

          •  I am not one of your professors, but I play one (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            on TV.  Actually, I used to teach at a couple of Community Colleges many years ago, but needed to move on to other things to pay the bills at the time.  What little I have seen of you work here leads me to believe that you have a good head on your shoulders and have the requisite drive to get things done.  Keep up the good work and best of luck to you in the future.

            -8.88, -7.77 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

            by wordene on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 06:32:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  While it's great to have a good GPA, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it's what you learn that really matters.  Your GPA might help you get the foot in the door when looking for a job, but it's what you learned getting it, and how you apply that knowledge, that matters.

        I also doubt that an employer is going to care whether you have a couple B's on your transcript.

        I can definitively say, as someone who got a mere 3.8 GPA (Adjusted to a 4.0 scale), being less than perfect has never held me back.

  •  re this: (10+ / 0-)
    I have the money, but is it worth it? That's what I keep asking myself. I don't want to keep living like this, but what if therapy doesn't work? Then what?
    you have the money, so go!  and what if the therapy DOES work? - yay!

    and you would forego the chance to find out because it MIGHT not work?  why do anything then?

      if it doesn't work, well, cross that bridge when you come to it.  if i could afford therapy right now, i'd be there!

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:43:09 PM PDT

  •  Anxiety is a bear. (7+ / 0-)

    A very large bear.  A very large ANGRY bear.  And there are no convenient trees to scale.

    I'll also come out:  mild depression, some anxiety.  A little social anxiety.  Minor seasonal affective disorder.  My medications, at minimal dosages, work just fine with no side effects.

    I don't know how good your local mental health support is, but sometimes therapy is available on an ability to pay scale, which should be much cheaper.  There may be some assistance for medications as well.  Contact them and see if they can help--but realize they're overwhelmed and have no money.

    (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:43:24 PM PDT

  •  Research shows that a combination (14+ / 0-)

    of psychotherapy and medication works far better than either alone.  

    One key thing to therapy.  Research also shows that the most effective therapists have three key qualities: empathy, respect and genuineness.  Genuineness is another term for honesty.  If you feel the therapist is not understanding your feelings (empathy), is not genuine or is disrespecting your feelings, then flee.  The first time a therapist tells you that you should not feel the way you are feeling, it is not therapy, it is judgmental.  

    A note of caution, everyone has good days and bad days.  Some days the psychologist will be "on" and others not so much.  But the key elements of empathy, respect and genuineness must be present, always.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:51:58 PM PDT

  •  Best wishes for finding a good therapist and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cv lurking gf, WakeUpNeo, emidesu

    feeling better!!!

    This is, of course, the difference between republicans and human beings. - Captain Frogbert

    by glorificus on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:56:08 PM PDT

  •  Keep writing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wordene, blueoasis, WakeUpNeo, emidesu

    good therapy, and interesting too.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    by TX Dem 50 on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:00:07 PM PDT

  •  In Temple Grandin's "Thinking in Pictures" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chancew, blueoasis, WakeUpNeo

    (the Copyright 2006 version), she describes researching anxiety medications and learning what drugs and in what dosages controlled her anxiety without too many side effects.

    You write well.  Good luck in your journey!

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:27:22 PM PDT

  •  Medication management (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chancew, stevenaxelrod

    is usually done by a psychiatrist rather than a psychologist.  I would investigate the resources available through your school.  If you have some reservation about going to a psychiatrist, I would just suggest that after reading your diary I would work very hard to overcome that.  Good luck.  

  •  Republished to Mental Health Awareness Group. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

    by second gen on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:43:41 PM PDT

  •  Here's a tip: (7+ / 0-)

    Get checked for your Vitamin D level. If you live in the northern tier of states that have seasons, and you find yourself getting depressed usually around October or so, you may not be producing enough "D" to maintain adequate levels of serotonin.

    Up until 2009, I'd taken Prozac off and on for depression for about 15 years. Oddly enough, when undergoing a blood screening for a therapist I had begun seeing, the "D" level came up at effectively zero. He prescribed as much "D" as I could take without side effects, and it worked: I've not had a depressive episode since. I began reviewing my past history and lo and behold, the onsets generally began in the fall and ended by summer. It didn't help that I lived just below the Canadian border in a cloudy part of the world either, and moving much further south has helped too but the move was not a cure all.

    Despite living in AZ, I still need to take "D" in the winter, as I don't produce much on my own then. Spring, summer, and fall I'm okay, so I stop taking it. No side effects, just a positive outlook without the pharma. So, for me, D3 in over the counter amounts is what works. YMMV.

    Just my 2 centavos worth.

  •  I can only speak from my experience... (5+ / 0-)

    ... and everyone is different.

    I tried to get better with only drugs dispensed by a general doctor (not a psychiatrist), but I only got worse.

    I didn't start to improve until I started to see a therapist coupled with a pharmacologist.  They worked together to identify both the psychological and neurological issues (usually, it's a bit of both... they sort of feed each other) and worked on them.

    Yes, it was expensive, I'm still paying of my debts many years later, but there is no price you can place on your mental health.  And if you let it get bad (as I did), it can destroy your life and your future... if you look at it that way, then it will be worth it.

    Also, don't expect that the first therapist you see will be the right one.  If she/he isn't, it's okay to go to someone else.

    Also... don't expect an overnight cure.  It will take time.  Maybe years.  Just don't give up too quickly.

    •  Words of wisdom. (5+ / 0-)

      I've had my own long and expensive journey, but it's better than living in fear and darkness.

      We are all unique creatures, not textbook entries. Psychiatric diagnoses tend to change over time: what matters is how they help you manage whatever's giving you trouble.

      And your writing is fine.

      The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

      by emidesu on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:33:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How old are you? (0+ / 0-)

    Have you tried Paxil? I have a million things I want to write, because I've been there.

    I had really bad social anxiety, so bad that my heart raced all day long and my face burned bright red. The fog was there, the depression, etc.

    What you describe though as ADHD, I get that. After everything I've been through, I wonder if it's not really the symptom of a sleep disorder of some sort. I just drag all day long. My entire life revolves around me sleeping a lot, and taking half the day to wake up.

    Based on what you're describing as ADHD, I don't think it's that at all. A doctor is just going to prescribe you another round of new medicines to combat that, anyway.

    I think your best bet is to pick up where you left off: keep trying other meds until you find one that works. I was lucky that Paxil worked for me. It created an instant change in my body chemistry that prevented a rush of negative chemicals that cause the physical sensations of anxiety.

    "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

    by CFAmick on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:34:34 PM PDT

  •  "Damn it Jim, I'm a mechanic not a doctor..." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Star Trek moment.  Sorry.

    But I really am a mechanic and I used to supervise this young man who was diagnosed with ADHD while undergoing some disciplinary action related to behaviors that turned out to be symptoms of ADHD.  Those issues mostly had roots in failure to stay on-task.  He was a really bright, high energy young man and he did good work.  I just couldn't get him to do the other stuff like show up for appointments, take care of his personal finances, etc.

    Your drive toward writing perfection doesn't jibe with what I remember of this young man.  I'm just a mechanic, so take it for what it's worth.  Now if you ever have trouble with flight instruments or a navigation system, I'm your guy.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:16:55 PM PDT

  •  Yo Chancew: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ciganka, chancew, mamamorgaine, MRA NY

    When I saw the line in your diary about "3,000 things going through my mind..." in conjunction with the headline "coming out," the first thing that came to mind was bipolar disorder.

    But I don't think that's quite it.  Sounds to me more like "input overload syndrome" which is not a proper psychiatric category but rather a description of a feeling that's fairly common among people whose work is largely mental, including students, and including in the geek universe (coders, engineers, etc., of which I'm one).  

    One thing a lot of us geeks do, that really helps reduce the feeling of being overloaded, is take major doses of vitamin B-complex.  For example a "B-50" or
    "B-100" capsule (50 or 100 mg. respectively of most of the major B vitamins, and compatible amounts of others) four times a day: with breakfast, with lunch, with dinner, and at bedtime, works wonders.  

    One of the symptoms of subclinical vitamin B deficiency is a lack of dream recall.  If you rarely remember your dreams, you're not getting enough B-vitamins from your food to deal with the load that's being put on your bran from your studies and ambient stress.  The "feeling of stress" is another key symptom.  

    In my experience and many of my geek friends' experience, taking lots of B-complex makes the overloaded stressed-out state just go away.  As in, "hey, look how much I got done today and I didn't feel all stressed or freaked out from deadlines or any of that."

    The price of testing this hypothesis on yourself is about $30 for a bottle of 100
    B-100 capsules (capsules break down more readily in your digestive tract than tablets).  If they work for you, keep buying them.  If not, don't, and the loss is minimal.

    BTW, I'm hardcore for science-based medicine and have no tolerance for quackery & woo-woo.  Strangely enough, the medical mainstream believes that the use of vitamins for psych problems is quackery.  But empirically, for myself and my friends, in our experience this actually works, and it's unmistakable and not a placebo effect.  Best thing is, you can try it on yourself and if it doesn't work for you, you're only out $30.  So I'd suggest doing the experiment and seeing what results you get.  

    See also the other commenter's item above, about vitamin D deficiency.  It would not surprise me if there were more vitamins involved in maintaining subtle aspects of normal brain functioning, and given the crappy food supply these days, and lack of outdoor exercise, it may become more common to need supplements.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:37:37 PM PDT

  •  Head med Roulette (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chancew, MRA NY

    Husband: bipolar depressive.  He gets overloaded, falls into deep depressions.  tried one of everything, Lamotrigine finally gave me my male back, I'm not used to all this stability...2 years now.  

    Stay away from the klonopin etc....Go to crazymeds dot's how we found the right drug.  Now, try to stay on task.  Take up zen.  I'm not kidding either.  Makes yer brain work better.   Your going to have to suck it up and drop some cash on the right doctor.  Side note: head meds are a blunt instrument, and may not be the thing.  (!)

  •  Meditation... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chancew, MRA NY

    There are some interesting studies on meditation's benefits for depression.  Cant hurt, might help.  No risk of adverse drug interaction.

    But it does take time.  There is so much more to you than the person who is striving for a 4.0, and sometimes the drive for the 4.0 consumes everything - been there!   Take the time needed to care for yourself.   Mediatation, maybe.  Taking a walk.  Lunch with a friend.  Martial arts.  Reading for pleasure.  Painting.  Things that honor the whole of you.  

    And let us know how things go.  My best wishes for you.

  •  My kids' psychopharm was willing to think outside (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MRA NY

    the box. I researched anti-anxiety medication, and we started treatment with the medication with the fewest side effects:  Propranolol.  The psychoactive dose is lower than the usual blood pressure dose.  Event though they both have naturally low blood pressure, using it didn't cause any problems.  The good thing is that it acts within 30 minutes, and there is no withdrawal, so you can use it as needed.  Of course, you may have to take it several times a day because it only works for about 4 hours, but I actually saw that as a benefit.

    It's been used for years to control blood pressure, so the physiology is well understood (no unexpected symptoms) and it's cheap.

    Please, call me "Loris."

    by s l o w loris on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 08:36:40 AM PDT

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