So with all this new treatment stuff pending, I’ve been so anxious that I can’t think straight. I can’t eat, sleep or function at times. I went to a neuro psychiatrist who specializes in treating MS patients.
Dr. Feinstein is pretty brilliant and has worked extensively with MS patients for many years. Read about him here: http://sunnybrook.ca/research/team/member.asp?t=10&m=56&page=172
He was able to give me an answer I have been search for a long time in regards to my ongoing nausea. He said that it may very well be associated with my anxiety. It was relieving to have an answer and a reminder that I may not have had the firm handle on anxiety that I thought I did. In addition to referring me to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, (CBT helps individuals by looking at negative thoughts and behaviour patterns, and changing those into more helpful coping thoughts and behaviours) he also recommended changing one of my medications. I’ve been taking Paxil for a very long time and at this point it probably does little other than not make me sick if I don’t take it, but have been scared to change it because I have read the horrible withdrawal symptoms. I want to make the change but it will have to wait until this new treatment is over.
All of this got me thinking about the struggles I have had and dealt with over the years in relation to my mental health. I don’t know if I always had issues with anxiety but I know in my late teens I began to struggle with it. I saw one of my first psychiatrists later on and one of her first questions to me was ‘why a nice catholic girl’ like myself would want to work with homeless people. I never went back. Over the years I have seen a few psychiatrists, psychotherapists or social workers, all of which I sought on my own. I don’t know that any of them truly helped me. I did take part in a CBT group to deal with my panic attacks in my late twenties. My panic attacks had gotten so severe that I was fearful of going out in public. I joined the group and began to immerse myself in literature about anxiety, coping, panic attacks, causes, symptoms, you name it. I went to group and talked, cried and did all the exposures that I had to. I remember thinking that if I try hard enough this horrible feeling of anxiety will go away; I will win and never have to deal with it again. Instead, I learned that my anxiety may very well be a lifelong companion (read: affliction) but that I could learn to cope with it. I could accept it and so I did. I fucking embraced it. I owned it. I became very comfortable in my anxiety, I spoke out loud about it and I felt some of the fear and shame tumble down. But I still felt that anxiety would be the first thing I thought of in the morning and my bedtime lullaby. I was wrong. Over time and over the years, I didn’t think about it so much. Make no mistake, it was still there, but satiated. Like a hunger that has been filled.
When my anxiety morphed into depression, things were different. It didn’t feel comfortable the way my anxiety had been. Where anxiety was like a blanket I carried around with me, depression was a haunting empty feeling that didn’t protect me or keep me safe. It took me a very long time to come to terms with having depression. Everything about it just made me feel so weak, so pathetic. I have come to a place in my life where I can accept that depression…is a part of me. Like anxiety is. No, it does not define me…but it certainly fucking shapes me. It has changed me. It has made me stronger and more battle weary.
I don’t think depression ever goes away, it is insidious and lurks in the corner until it decides to rear its ugly head. At this point in my life and in conjunction with MS….it all seems to fit together very well. MS is unpredictable and uncertain much like the feelings anxiety provokes in me…and can seem so hopeless and daunting, like how depression feels. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be sans affliction. Maybe this is my cross to bear. Maybe to the vast majority of people, it means nothing…but to that one person that is struggling. I get it. And to them I say, maybe it doesn’t get better, or easier, but you’re not alone in your struggle. I’m there too. We can carry the burden together.
‘Don’t be sorry your darkness is gone. I’ll carry it for you. Always. I’ll keep it with mine.’