Friday, May 18, 2007

A part of my depression story

This afternoon during Esther's nap, I was resting on my bed, looking through an old journal. I was re-reading entries from the semester right after my mission, the semester I was first diagnosed with depression. I found this entry, written the day I saw a counselor and later a doctor for the first time, the day I took my first dose of Prozac. I was 22 years old:

14 November 1997

"Today when I woke up I could feel the dark empty feeling starting. It scared me and I cried a bit, and went to school. Dr. W. said, 'so, did you get two hours of sleep, or three?' I said '8 1/2' and he was surprised because I looked 'withered.' I thought I should go to the counseling center, but headed for the computer lab instead. It was closed. I went to the counseling center. Back track--this morning I prayed for help to get fixed from this crying-overwhelmed feeling. I went and asked the girl where I could go to get personal counseling. It was really hard to say that. She was so kind to me when I asked, showing me how to get there. I started crying and had to go hide in a bathroom stall for several minutes until I stopped. I cried because she was gentle and careful with me, maybe because she could tell I was having a hard time.

"I finally went into the center and asked the receptionist how I could talk to someone. I guess when people show up randomly like me they call it an 'emergency'--she got on the phone and pulled some strings and in a few minutes I was talking to B. I just told her that mom and grandma are on anti-depressants, and my dad is a psychiatrist and how I cried and felt overwhelmed a lot on my mission but it's worse now. I told her I got a 66% and a 49% on my 2 midterms and I just have these days where I can't do anything at all. It seems like the days I feel like myself are pleasant surprises--she said it sounds like I should start taking whatever my mom takes ASAP--but she was curious why my dad hadn't put me on it before. I told her he always tells me to exercise. She called the Health Center and made an appointment with a psychiatrist, Dr. C., for me. But his first opening is on December 1, so she recommended I talk to my dad and have him prescribe some medicine for me. I also asked her what I could do to get help for my hands, which I can't stop ripping to shreds. She said that one of the other counselors is a behavior specialist, and also does a lot with anxiety, and promised to get me in to see her. I was laughing by the time I left, but cried again soon enough.

"On my way to my 2:00 class I thought, 'I wonder if Tiffany will be waiting for me outside of my class?' and sure enough, there she was. I feel that Heavenly Father is sending me very concrete reminders during this time of difficulty so that I won't forget that he loves me. Tiffany is very receptive to promptings and able to act as His hands a lot. I went home right after class and called Mom. She was going to pick up Dad at the airport at 4:30 and said they'd call back. Dan called at 4:00, very worried after getting my disturbing email. He told me he loves me and he'll still love me if I take medication or not. He asked what he can do for me, and if he could call back tonight. Dad called a few minutes later and told me that from what Mom said I need to try some medicine right away. He had Tiffany take me to the Health Center.

"When I got in to the doctor, I told him what was wrong and that Dad wanted to talk to him on the phone. He went and called my family, and came back after several minutes and wrote me a prescription for 20 mg of Prozac once a day. He commended me for taking this difficult step of coming for help. He confirmed what Dad said--that my thoughts about suicide and wishing I could die (even though I wouldn't really ever try to kill myself) are not a normal part of going to school for everyone. That still surprises me--I can't believe it's not normal to wish you could die or think about killing yourself. I've been thinking those thoughts since high school. This nice doctor wanted to find me some Prozac samples so I could wait until Monday to buy it. But even though he dug through each doctor's desk in the whole health center, he couldn't find any. So he wrote me a prescription for 3 (Shop-Ko) and a different one for 30 (BYU). Even the pharmacist at Shop-Ko was nice to me.

"Dad is flying in tomorrow morning to hang with me all weekend. I took my first pill at 7:30 tonight. Dad says they start working for mom in about 3 days. I'm most worried about what all of this will do to Dan and kids of ours and what his family will think if they find out. Will I be addicted to it? After getting me some medicine, our next goal is to figure out how to salvage the semester."


LL said...

I love you Andrea. I wish I was as brave as you are.

Dad said...

I remember that time in our lives. I remember the conversation on the phone when I discovered that you thought it was normal to think about suicide. I remember that I wanted to come right through the phone to be with you and I remember being so glad Tiffany was there to act for me. Love, Dad

k said...

Can I say that I love you, even though we've only hung out maybe twice? Okay then.

I think it's not only brave that you went through that back then, but that you're willing and able to talk about it now. That you think it's important enough to share with other people.