Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mindspin

Have you ever seen those jugglers and acrobats who spin plates on the end of sticks? Look at that picture. That woman can spin five plates on sticks in each hand and still able to balance another upside down acrobat spinning with her toes!

Now that’s what I call multitasking!

I am not a literal plate spinner, of course. I wouldn’t even attempt it. I don’t even have the coordination required to swing my belly dancing veils in a seductive manner and I don’t think my TMJ related neck pain would allow me to upside-down a toe spinner.

I am a plate spinner of another sort.

We’ve all familiar with the expression “I have a lot on my plate”. I not only have a lot on my plate, I have a lot of plates. In a way, I am like those acrobats, carefully balancing all of those plates on little sticks in my mind and I run like a nut in order to keep them all spinning.

Usually, I am in a groove. A few weeks ago, though, my own head started spinning and I got dizzy and just couldn’t keep up with all of the plates. Seemingly one by one, they all came crashing to the ground leaving me with a bunch of broken pieces.

I have anxiety issues. Since I’ve been very young (like 3) I have been plagued with panic attacks and phobias, along with an impulse control disorder known as trichotillomania. That’s just a big word for compulsive hair pulling. You’ve all heard stressed out people say “I’m pulling my hair out”, right?

Most people just say that. I really do it.

No big surprise considering my genetic lineage. Some people come from a long line of doctors, athletes or military veterans. Not me. Oh no, I come from a looooong line of people with anxiety disorders on both sides of the family.

In spite of all of these things, I consider myself to be very responsible and I can handle a lot more than most of my non-anxiety disordered friends and acquaintances. I’m not normally comfortable about talking about extremely personal issues and very few people on this planet actually know the things I am dealing with all at once.

I can normally handle my own issues and pretty much those of everyone else, except one of my worst fears have come true. One of my daughters appears to have dipped in the anxiety gene pool and she is really struggling. Watching her wrangle with this ordeal has been complete torture to me and there’s a big part of me that feels terribly guilty. I know I didn’t contribute to this per se, but I also don’t know how I could have missed it until it got as bad as it is.

I did feel my own anxiety building. I even renewed my prescription for the anti-anxiety medication that I’m supposed to take when I feel that way. I guess I just didn’t take it as often as I needed it because my mind said “enough” and just like when you miss a beat spinning all those plates on sticks, I came crashing down. My usually optimistic self turned into a weepy, pessimistic soul. Not good for me and certainly not good for darling daughter right now.

I’ve only experienced depression somewhat like this at two other times in my life. The first was a postpartum depression after the birth of my third child and the second time was after having about a dozen surgeries in a year’s time. Neither time did I take an anti-depressant.

Please don't tell Tom Cruise, but this time I followed my doctor’s advice and began taking one. It’s been two and a half weeks and while I do feel a lot better than that one day, I still find that I’m dragging myself through things I used to do almost effortlessly.

My doctor says to be patient because it can take weeks for these types of medications to work and so far, this seems to be working with not all that bad side effects. The medicine is increasing the frequency of trichotillomania episodes (but so does anxiety) and I’m having panic attacks while I am sleeping which only happened very rarely before. My creative senses have also seemed to run off somewhere, too. It’s hard to write in my normal snarky manner.

I don’t know why exactly I am writing this post and I’ve struggled with the wording for the last four days. I guess I’m looking for stories from people who have struggled with similar depression and anxiety issues and have had success with an anti-depressant treating both issues. If you have anything you’d like to share, please e-mail me at jessicatherockchick@yahoo.com.

15 comments:

Damien Riley said...

Thanks for sharing that. There are a lot of people walking around the landscape with mental illness. They are cops, doctors, lawyers, food service workers, even sahm's!

You shouldn't feel bad (and it doesn't seem like you do) admitting you have a sort if imbalance. medicine is a miracle and can help with a variety of pesky mental ailments.

I hope this medicine you've started gets you the stasis you need to be well and happy :)

The Rock Chick said...

Well, you're welcome Damien :) Actually, I decided to share it because some of the things you've written lately in your "possibility Thinking" articles got me thinking back on the right track. That post is coming soon!

I don't feel bad having to deal with issues like this. Of course, I've had them for so long I really don't know anything about not having them. I had them long before they were the "in" thing to have...LOL...I am such a trendsetter :)

Thank you for the kind words.

Jessica

MissMeliss said...

I've noticed that bipolar disorder and depression both run rampant among creative types. Technically, I have neither, but the artistic personality is very close to the former...so I empathize.

I'm glad you're doing something pro-active, and hope you'll find yourself on a more even keel very shortly.

Qtpies7 said...

I can't remember how long it took my husband to get to "normal" on his prozac, but I know it was not quick. Little things changed at first, but it still was a few weeks before things were pretty good.
I have gone through anxiety, too, where I could almost not leave the house, I sought help before I couldn't leave because I did not want to go there! God directed me to the perfect counsellor who actually gave me scriptural advice as counsellors are allowed to treat Christian patients with Christianity, its in their best recovery interest!
But anyway, I don't know how well antidepressants will work for anxiety. I would think that treating what is more destructive would be the way to go. And if you are hurting yourself, then the anxiety should be the first course of action.
I am really glad you are sharing, because this is a big, lonely world, and to be able to connect to others and find encouragement and help is priceless.
I am watching a very good friend slowly lose her mind and I have NO idea how to help her.

Crystal said...

Oh Jessica, I'm sorry to hear you're having such a rough time lately. You know I deal with big anxiety issues on a daily basis, and it sucks big time.

I hope the meds even out soon and help you start to feel better. I haven't been comfortable enough with the idea to try any myself yet, but my husband is on a few natural supplements for his depression and after about a month or so on them, he's feeling better.

I'm sorry to also hear about your daughter. That must be hard to see. I hope you're able to figure out together the best way for her to deal with it.

(((HUGS)))

Kendra said...

hang in there woman! you're amazing and strong and this is just a little bump in the road! you've got a whole community of blogging friends to rant RANTASTICALLY to when you feel overwhelmed so take advantage of that too!

The Rock Chick said...

missmeliss: yes, I've noticed that too about creative people. Maybe it's just my mind taking a rest for my next creative burst! ;)

qtpies: I was there once with not being able to leave the house after anxiety from a phobia. It's scary! Right now the doctor says there is evidence of depression so that's why I'm taking the meds, but they are supposed to work well on anxiety as well. We'll see. Hard to tell quite yet because one of the initial side effects is anxiety. Won't your friend see a doctor?

crystal: Thank you. I am much more worried about my daughter than myself because I know I eventually will feel better and knowing that in does really help. I'm just feeling very impatient.....Hugs to you, too!

kendra: thank you!! I've always avoided writing posts like this because normally I just don't like to think about these things. Distraction works really well for me, so when I write, I try to concentrate on other things. That hasn't been working this time...you might just see a RANTastic rant..or two...or three..... :)

Misty Dawn said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are having these struggles. I'm also sorry to hear that your daughter is experiencing some problems - is she being treated?

I suffer from severe inherited chemical depression. Nope, I didn't know you could inherit depression, but it absolutely makes sense. I don't take anything for it on a regular basis, because it usually isn't that bad. Although, recently, after the move away from family and friends, trying to make an income, etc, it has gotten the best of me a few times. It's been a rough few months.

Vixen said...

Hey Jessica,
Give the medication time. My husband has suffered severe disabling anxiety for almost 9 years and had some depression mixed in off and on. Laster year the depresson got very, very bad. He couldn't work anymore at all and become deathly physically ill (but they could not figure out why). It took 52 weeks (yes an entire year) before we found the medication combination that worked and that didn't make him physically sick (allergic to Prozac-very rare, but he did it).

But all the medications take a few weeks to get through your system and show if they are gonna work on not. So hang in there.

mom huebert said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I have struggled on and off with depression-- and more recently, anxiety-- although not as much as my husband, and it is very distressing to watch my children begin to struggle with it too.

So, here's my sympathy, and my thanks. I hope you feel better, and now I know I'm not weird.

The Rock Chick said...

misty: thank you. Yes my daughter is in an extensive outpatient treatment right now. She spent most of the summer in an inpatient program, though. I'm sorry to hear the last few months have been tough for you, too. Maybe it's something in the air because I've been hearing from a lot of people saying the same thing. Hope you are feeling better soon, too!!

Vixen: thank you, too!! I was actually just at the doctor and he said to give it at least four more weeks. The good thing is that he said the side effects I'm experiencing are pretty minimal so I am hanging in there!!! Hope your hubby is doing well now!

mom huebert: I agree. Watching your children struggle with these issues is just terrible. I always say thatI can pretty much take anything, but when it's one of my kids, I go off the deep end. No, you are not weird. I always think I am weird, too, but I really believe these kinds of problems are much more common than people think. I'm really glad I wrote this post! Thank you for commenting--now I know I'm not alone in this either!!

JAM said...

Looking back, I realize I've had depression most of my life. I can think of things during my childhood that are within the bounds of clinical depression. It didn't really affect me too badly until I graduated from engineering school and started working as an engineer. The stress was massive compared to lifting heavy things for a living like I did as a young man.

I dealt with it for two years and went to my family doctor and told Doc that I thought I was going crazy. She (the family doc is a woman) sat and actually talked with me a while and after a couple of tests put me on Paxil.

Paxil saved my sanity for several years. Literally. It made it possible for me to get through all the stress, come to terms with it, and learn to live with certain things and to learn stress reducing techniques.

A couple of years ago, I took a nose dive, the Paxil stopped working for me. I tried several different medicines for a year and a half, to no avail. Finally, about six months ago, she starte me on Lexapro.

Lexapro has been the same boost to my life that Paxil was for a long time.

Like my doctor told me, there are a LOT of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medicines out there. The hard part is matching the right one with you, because we all react differently to the same medicines.

For now Lexapro has restored me to a good life, but the past two years were quite difficult.

All I can say is, stick with it. Give each medicine two or three months if you can to see how it's going to work for you. Some, like Effexor for me, I had to quit within two weeks. It made me feel like a sleep-walking zombie and I had to change off of that one quickly.

My doctor has been wonderful, willing to work with me over a long period of time because of concerns of mine in going to a psychiatrist, which would probably be the best thing. I have certain clearances for work that it wouldn't look good for me to start seeing a psychiatrist.

Hopefully you have a great doctor too, and is willing to try the many new medicines until you can find one that helps and allows you to live your life as you would like to.

God bless you, I hope it goes well.

Jessica Morris said...

(((hugs))) I haven't dealt with it so nothing profound or really of any value at all to say.
But I wanted to comment... just so you know I am reading and thinking about you!!

The Rock Chick said...

JAM: The doctor told me it might take a few tries with different meds, but so far he's pleased with how I'm tolerating this one. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed right now! I am fortunate to have a WONDERFUL doctor who will sit and answer any questions and is pretty good about checking in with you, too.

Jessica: Thank you so much! Hugs to you, too!

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