Monday, October 29, 2012

My Story- Discrimination Hurts.

A guest post by @discrimination6

I first began having panic attacks in high school. My mom took me to the doctor, who's determination was that I had Asthma. So, he gave me an inhaler, yes, a stimulant. That catapulted my anxiety to a whole new level. I stopped the inhaler and continued to self medicate through high school and college which ultimately made my anxiety and my decision making worse.

By my senior year of college, I could no longer function in a social setting. This was difficult since I lived with four heavy partiers. I often had to lock myself in my room and literally hide from everyone I knew. I couldn't breathe and I felt paralyzed. No one understood. I even went to a hotel near campus for a weekend to be alone and in a quiet room, no one even noticed I was gone.

It wasn't until I was sitting in a psych class in college that I diagnosed myself as I listened to a lecture on anxiety disorders. I remember being elated. Aha! I know what it is! So, I made an appointment at the school clinic to find out how to "cure" this awful thing and surely I could get on with my life.

The doctor prescribed me an enormous amount of Xanax as a four time per day regiment. I was numb. My anxiety was gone but now I was a zombie. Eventually, I saw a different doctor who put me on Paxil, an anti-depressant that also made me numb but in a different way, I just had no emotion.

Years past and I decided I'd rather feel something rather than nothing and got off of Paxil. Have you seen Trainspotting? I'm pretty sure the withdrawal is equivalent to heroin. I ended up on a more mild anti-depressant for a few years then decided I was ready to try to go off the meds.

Apparently, reality had set in because as it turned out I'd married an asshole in my anti-depressant fog and had a baby on the way. But, I handled a crazy, no, beyond crazy, divorce with an infant without anxiety and I came out stronger! I was a single mom and began a career that resulted in numerous promotions. Wow, who would have thought I could do this?!

Ahem...then comes the depression. Oh, anxiety too, and insomnia. The numbness faded and I began crying, uncontrollably, in front of anyone in my path. I'm guessing you can imagine how work was going. I am unable to go into details but I was discriminated against because of my illness and no longer have my job and career that was going so well. The disability insurance company denied me after a few weeks despite mounds of medical evidence. When I appealed, they sent surveillance to my home and, get this, they saw me take out the trash! I must not be ill if I can do chores and go grocery shopping.

What they don't see, or choose not to, is the constant pain I feel daily due to depression and anxiety. My anxiety gets so bad that I cannot bear to hear sounds or deal with little things like putting the dishes away. I often want to crawl out of my skin. Oh, and remember that infant? Well, he's now six years old and wants to know why mommy's crying and why mommy can't come out to play this time. I force myself as much as humanly possible to stay strong enough to be a good mom and wait for moments when I can get to a bathroom or my bedroom to cry but there are days when I have to crawl into bed and cannot move. Luckily, I have an amazing support system who can help when I can't function.

The mental anguish is so amazingly terrible that it wreaks havoc on my body. I often have a heating pad on or just have to lay still in a quiet room to make all of the pain subside. There are also cognitive effects, I would switch words around and slur my words.

I've been cleared to go back to work but I cannot find a job and my savings is dwindling. I've begun relapsing into depression and having anxiety attacks again. My doctors have literally run out of medications to try and I'm faced with an indefinite mental illness sentence. At least, that's how it feels. I refer to it as the cancer of my soul.

I have always been one of the strongest people around. I'd gone through hell and back and not only survived but came out on top. Then I started pushing my body physically to become as strong as I was mentally. I had turned my life into something to enjoy and had an awesome kid to share it with. Imagine if I weren't as strong deep down?

I have a long road of recovery ahead but one of the main lessons I've learned throughout my battle is that mental illness is such an unknown or even taboo in this world. I'm determined to find a way to fight this stigma and hopefully help others through their battle so that no one gives up. Having hope and support goes a long way.

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