Anxiety and depression are two sides of the same coin. I have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety disorder, and I thought getting my first degree in psychology would help, and it has to a point, but an academic understanding and living with generalized anxiety are two different things.
Depression manifests in my life through feelings of confusion, sadness, and feelings of isolation. They are serious, not to be messed about with, the depths of despair. I have had these issues since I was a teenager, and have managed them somewhat successfully. I’m “not good” at times, sometimes days or weeks, and I have to go with it and be confident that I will get better. I try not to mix up a depressive episode with what is going on in my life; rather, it is physical, hormonal, and it has nothing to do with what’s going on day to day, 97% of the time. It's like, I'm depressed, pick a reason if you want.
On the flip side, in extreme anxiety situations, I pee the bed and my digestive track fails me, and I can’t be more that one minute away from a toilet. I couldn’t take my son to his new school when we moved overseas. In fact, I couldn’t leave our house for weeks. I started eating chocolate and that helped enough that I could go for short outings to quiet places, and then I went on Prozac – no easy feat in the Middle East because of their stance on anti-depressants, which is Tom Cruise-esque . My German doctor could only prescribe it to me by saying I had heavy periods, which apparently Prozac helps with, as well – who knew menstruating would be beneficial to my mood? There was only one drugstore in the whole of Abu Dhabi that would dispense it. Once I walked into the busy drugstore and the pharmacist yelled from the back: “You, you the one on Prozac?” The pharmacists’ attitudes toward me were quite clear with their sneers and derisive, albeit, second language, tones. I dreaded going to get my refills.
Today, back in Canada, I went to my doctor for refills, one of which was for my anti-depressant. He asked me how long I want to be on my current anti-depressant, and I told him “FOREVER”. If my relatives had had the opportunity to be on the Cadillac of anti-depressants that I am on, numerous stays at the mental health hospital (my father wouldn’t drive by it; he joked we should have our own family wing there) and multiple suicides may not have happened.
I am so appreciative that I have great medication in my arsenal. Yes, I worry about being on anti-depressants for the rest of my life, but it is a risk I am happy to take when considering the alternative!