Since I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar illness (1991), I’ve lived in lots of “states” — I’ve been high; I’ve been low; I’ve existed in a horrible mixed state of high (mania) and low (depression), in which the key emotions were anger and irritability.
But recently, I experienced a new state–depression mixed with anxiety, and let me tell you, this might have been the most debilitating state of all.
Usually, when I get depressed, I’m just sad, or when I’m really low, I feel a complete lack of emotion.
But again, a few months ago, I experienced a new kind of depression–anxious depression. In this state, I lost all of my confidence. I was completely off my “game.” I was edgy, scared and, of course, sad.
Little things threw me for a proverbial loop. I feared I was ineffectual at work and that I was going to lose my teaching job. My mind leapt to every worst case scenario imaginable. For instance, I had to fail a student, and suddenly, I was afraid she was going to commit suicide because I’d given her a low grade. Of course, the student was not going to do anything like this, but my mind feared the worst.
I was consumed by anxiety.
And at the same time, I was terribly sad. I knew I couldn’t live like this.
What did I do to alleviate this condition?
I called The Duke (my nickname for my psychiatrist.) I told him what was going on. I said I needed an antidepressant, but this time, he was reluctant to give me one.
“Now, we think that antidepressants are bad for bipolar depression because they can make you manic,” The Duke said on the phone.
“They never made me manic before.”
“I need to see you in person before I’ll prescribe one,” The Duke said, cautiously.
I did see him, and he did give me an antidepressant–Cymbalta. I’ve been on it for three weeks, and I feel much better.
I can now add anxiety/depression to the list of mental health conditions I’ve experienced.
Strangely enough, this might have been the worst one.
Losing all your mojo, your competence, your confidence and living in constant fear and sadness is horrible.
Just when I thought I’d been through it all with this disease, something new pops up. God, what next?
I have to say that bipolar illness is constantly giving me “hurdles to jump through.”
And do you know what? I’m a stronger and better person for it.
My resiliency is intact, and I am able, for the moment, to recover from whatever my brain throws at me.
This is a true blessing.
P.S. No matter how much you may trust your doctor, don’t be afraid to let them know when you feel a medication adjustment is needed.