2/20/2013

Overcoming Mental Illness, Step One: Admission.


Depression...







...That's what it looks like.

What? Not what you pictured? 

Are you surprised?

That's me. 
This is me. 
I have suffered from depression for over a decade and I have worked my little butt off to cover it up every single day of my life! 

Today, has been a very emotional day for me. Today I have admitted to one of my toughest life battles yet and I did it on accident. I went to the clinic today for chest pain I was having this morning. It has happened about 10 times in the last 6 months and though I've discussed it with my docs before, nothing has ever come of it. Today it was worse than ever before, really.. I thought I was dying - think heart attack dying- , and I went straight to see the nurse. Calm as can be, she told me she was pretty certain I was having anxiety attacks. I immediately started crying because I knew. 

I knew. 

I was in denial and the jig was up!

We did an EKG (just to be sure I really wasn't having a heart attack) and then the doc and I discussed anxiety, depression, and various other mental illnesses. Though this was not the first time a doctor has told me I suffer from depression, it was the first time I've ever admitted such things to anyone other than my husband. It was scary and yet so liberating. I cried the entire time.

See, I've always known that I've suffered from some form of depression, anxiety, and probably a few other things but I've been in denial. Because I don't want to be crazy! And I've spent a ridiculous amount of time hiding from all of my thoughts and fears, exhausting myself to cover them up. I've been lying to everyone and most importantly myself. 

Not only have I been denying a serious illness, I've been depriving myself of help that I seriously need.
All because I don't want to be crazy.  

See what labels do. 

I debated on whether or not to write this post, because.. well, I was ashamed. 
Ashamed for being depressed in the first place. Ashamed that I've been lying about it. 
Ashamed that I am not the person I want be. Ashamed that I am not the person others want me to be.

But, I've realized that this IS me. And all I can do is make improvements. So, here I am.. Improving.

The road to peace starts today. 

We discussed many possible treatments and for now I've opted out of medications. 
Soon I will see a psych and for now I've got these pretty little things.


Leave in acupuncture. 
I know.. I feel like a total badass with these babies.

For those of you who have never suffered from a mental illness, I don't expect you to understand. The concept that one would have to battle their own mind is a hard one to grasp. I do however, want you to know that mental illnesses of all forms are very real. And sometimes, such as with my anxiety, they can cause physical pain. Depression is more than just sadness.  It's not something that can be changed with the snap of your fingers. Though I want to be truly happy and work hard to be there, it isn't as simple as mind over matter. There are many walls that I need to tear down before I can get there. 

I plan to continue posting on this topic as I journey on the road to peace and self acceptance. 

I would like to delve into all the things that my mental illness has lead me to such as bouts of anorexia and binge eating, drug use and times of alcohol abuse. Yes.. I know you're surprised. You should be, I've worked so hard to hide all of these shameful things in my life. 

I also want to tackle the traumatic events that have helped fuel the fire of depression and anxiety. 

And someday, I will be able to really breathe again. 

I'm not proud, but the journey starts here. 
Today is a new beginning.


9 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! I wonder about myself sometimes. This past year with my husband deployed was tough and even though he's back now, I can't seem to shake the funk I'm in. I get the chest pains occasionally as well. I guess it's time to talk to a doctor. I just don't want to be stuck on meds. I wouldn't mind the acupuncture though. Definitely bad ass looking!

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  2. Boy have I ever been there. Anxiety attacks, the black dog and all. I'm now medicated. When I first tried meds they weren't very good so I went without. There was a hole so deep in me I got lost in it. 3+ years with a terrific therapist and I can cope and even be happy, with meds. We all walk our roads our way. I wish the best for you.

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  3. I didn't even know there was leave in acupuncture ... that is cool! I do believe that depression is a real illness, I have seen several that I love go through it and it is tough.
    You are a strong person for putting this out there! Lots of hugs and support from here! :)

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    www.raising-reagan.com

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  4. I'm glad you're seeking help Ashlee! Big props to you for seeking help, even if accidentally :) I bet it is liberating. Hope all works out well!

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  5. ASHLEE ANN, you were with me with I got my diagnosis, you were with me when I went to my first psych appointment. Oh how I wish I could be with you now to be there for you, and travel on the journey with you. This blog is so very true, you described "us" people with mental illness in a great perspective... not as "crazy." My shrink (the same one you went to with me 5 years ago) told me "you do not have the right to put a crazy stamp on your head... i do! And your not crazy. You have mental illness, so what your going to let it rule you?" Thanks Ash for sharing this, I realize how much we are alike as we get older... either together or far apart I still feel super connected. Love you!

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  6. what a nice surprise to find your blog...

    funny, i was just doing a little research, trying to find people who will help change the "face of mental illness" along side me. then, i stumbled across your face!

    i have GREAT hope for those who will ask for help. and i have GREAT plans to make asking for help ~ an option within reach... for everyone!

    i will be following along (and rooting for you) on your journey. i'd love it if you might follow mine as well!

    Thanks for your courage!
    Leslie
    @faveoxymoron

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  7. I want to commend you for being open and honest about this, because (as you know) it's very difficult to do. I myself battled depression for most of my life, and I know how hard this must have been for you. I applaud your courage, and want to tell you that you have NOTHING to be ashamed of. You are taking what steps you can to make yourself whole again, and that's something to be proud of. You can do it! We're all here to support you :)

    I really hope the acupuncture helps (it supposedly can help cure a lot of things!), but if it doesn't and you do need medicine, maybe see if there is something natural you could take? My husband was recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and he told his psychiatrist he'd prefer and herbal supplement over medicine, and they told him what he could try (with the condition that if it didn't work, he be open to trying actual medicine). Thankfully, it started working almost right away. I don't know if that's an avenue you'd want to explore, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

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  8. As someone who spent middle school through high school trying to convince everyone including herself that she was just tired when she was really depressed, I'm really happy that you stopped being in denial. I was kind of forced to admit that I was not just tired when I started crying all the time and having no idea why. I have never heard of leave-in acupuncture before. It's completely badass! I think the worst part of depression is feeling like you're the only one going through it because so many people feel like it's something embarrassing. I just want you to know that there are so many people going through the same thing you are and it will get better, even if sometimes it feels like it never will. Hugs.

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