Monday, December 31, 2007

I Survived 2007

This was another really difficult year for me. I spent much of 2007 battling severe depression and many months struggling with brutal anxiety attacks and unexplained panic attacks. I was extremely close to being hospitalized by mid-July as I was having obsessive, unrelenting suicidal thoughts and urges. For all the struggles I had in 2007 I somehow managed to get by without giving up.

I attribute my sticking around to a few things:

Firstly, I attribute my survival to myself. Despite how depressed I have been and how long I have been depressed I am one stubborn and resilient person. Some days I lay in bed, or on the couch, curl up in a ball and pray I will make it to the next day, but I make it. That's the important thing.

Secondly, my Pdoc, Dr. X. definitely played a big role in my making it through this year. He never gave up on me, always supported me and was tireless in his efforts to help me. Over the years we have been through literally hundreds of therapy sessions together, more than 30 different medication trials, plus combos of those trial and an 8 session trial of ECT. He helped me with my depression, my anxiety and the loss of my much loved Mom. This year I recognize he will not leave me unless I decide to leave. Even then he will see me anytime after that.

I learned this year that I can trust him; something I suspected before, but learned to believe this year. I was sometimes fearful or angry about what happened in our sessions, but he always made it so easy for me to talk openly about these. He showed me that dialogue about how I am feeling, no matter what those feelings are, is safe with him. I am thankful for that.

Thirdly, my friends and family stood by me. We have all had a difficult time with so recently loosing Mom, but despite my sister's own struggles they called me even if I could not return the call. They made sure I had the support I needed and I felt deeply loved by both of them. My husband and I had a hard time this year, but we made it through and I believe we are on the way to healing our relationship.

When I say my family helped me I include the support and love of my dog "Bert" here too. He is the family member that, due to his living with me, and his inability to criticize me, was the most help to me. Every time he saw me he came up to me and "hugged" me; tail wagging and pushing his head up against me. He got me out of the house everyday. He made me get outside and go for a walk at least 3 times a day and he never ever judged me, or stopped loving me. In return I loved him, and that helped me too.

My friends most of whom live far away, were there and are there to help me. For this I am eternally thankful.

Fourthly, medication has helped me. In September I began a new mood stabilizer: Carbamazepine (Tegretol). It was not immediately apparent that it was helping me, until about 2 months after I reached a dosage of 800mgs. At that point I began to notice my mood did not feel as labile. I was still severely depressed, but the negative energy was not as bad. I did not feel as angry all the time, I wasn't breaking into tears at really inopportune times. I felt like I had a bit more control over my mood cycling.

In Late November I began taking Prozac with the Carbamazepine and almost immediately I felt my mood lift. Even at a really low dose I feel my mood has lifted. I am still depressed, but I'd say many days moderately versus severely depressed.

Lastly, participating in therapeutic art classes, taking art classes at the local art college and the opportunity to co-teach printmaking and beginner's drawing with one of the occupational therapists at my city's Mental Health Art Clubhouse have all provided my life with more meaning and given me more self confidence. Through volunteering to help others with mental illnesses learn art I see how important it is to have a job that is meaningful. I always loved teaching and facilitating learning, I did this for a huge corporation before I became so ill, I was simply doing it for the wrong organization.

Today, this last day of 2007, I believe 2008 will be a much better year than than this one. Although it was only through the struggles and successes and the support and love others provided me this past year that I can make such a bold prediction.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2008 is better than this past year and I hope it is happier than you expect it to be.

1 comment:

jcat said...

Happy New Year to you - and yes, 2008 just has to be a better year for us all!