That is not a word I normally associate with myself. Or, I should say, I don’t think about it much. Which is rather interesting considering that I am taking an anti-anxiety / anti-depressant medication.
But I initially sought out medication for anxiety. And I can remember my doctor making the flippant remark that Paroxetine helps with depression too, but I didn’t think more about it beyond the “hmmm… okay,” phase.
I was worried about the anxiety.
And I take Paroxetine, in my mind, to help control my anxiety.
Then, the gastrointestinal fireworks happened this past Sunday. And I have felt exhausted, run-down, slow, achy, and in every other sense, a blob, every day since. At first, I thought it was recovery from Sunday. Both physical and emotional. It is still – and will always be – sickening to think about the damage I caused to my friend’s brand new car… and my friend’s couch.
But the exhaustion. The sheer and total exhaustion. Every day this week has felt like a full-scale battle just to get through the day. I have fallen asleep every night at 8:00pm, slept like a coma patient, and woke up the next morning feeling like I pulled an all-nighter.
Last night was the worst.
I struggled, and I mean s—t—r—u—g—g—l—e—d……. to make it through the day. My lunch break rolled around, and I almost – *almost* – took a nap on my office couch. I decided to power through because I was afraid that if I fell asleep, I would still be sleeping on my office couch 24 hours later…
I made it home, somehow, and then plunked down on my homey couch as soon as I walked in the door. I didn’t even take Charlie for a walk, which I always do right when I get home. Within minutes I was asleep, and next thing I know, J is waking me up.
“Babe, you okay? Why were you sleeping on the couch?” he asks.
“I am sooo tired. I don’t know why, but I think I’m going to go to bed…” I respond, and glance at the clock. 7:05pm. A new low.
And then he asked me a question that set off a series of bells and gongs in my head: “Are you feeling depressed? Does this have anything to do with Sunday?”
Yes, I am sick with shame about Sunday.
But, is there something deeper going on here?
I thought back on all the times I have woken up some random morning, and I have felt … achy, exhausted, and queasy. I know I’m not getting sick. I recognize the symptoms because they happen with enough frequency for me to know they are not the precursor to some flu or cold. Thus, I have always called these mornings an onset of my “exhausted illness.” All I’ll need is a day or two of sleep, and I’ll be fine.
Yes, a day or two.
And last time I suffered an episode of my “exhausted illness,” I slept almost straight through for 48 hours – waking only to go to the bathroom, get some water, and eat a few bites of food.
I don’t know why it hasn’t really occurred to me that this “exhausted illness” is not normal. Probably because I don’t want to confront a potential health issue – be it physical or mental – and because, in so many ways, it’s embarrassing to me. I don’t want to admit that it happens.
I mean, come on. The only people who should be able to sleep for 48 straight hours are coma patients and teenagers.
I avoid the embarrassment by brushing it off as “oh, I’m not feeling well. I may have eaten something?” Or, “I bet I caught a little cold from one of the kids.”
But then J linked it with depression. And now, I wonder: is that it? In addition to anxiety, am I struggling with depression? I was diagnosed with “mild depression” many years ago, but the psychiatrist I met with didn’t think I needed medication. My primary care physician, with whom I have discussed this repetitive exhaustion, mentioned depression as well, but then he dismissed it. And I guess I did too.
But not anymore. First of all, I’m done with my primary care physician. This is the same doctor who yells at me about my weight every time I’m in his office – even when I have dropped a dress size or two – and he is so ridiculously flippant about everything else, I’m worried I’ll get all the way to a terminal phase of an illness before he even notices something is off. So I switched to a new doctor today. And I’m making an appointment to go in and see him when the change takes effect on October 1.
And I contacted a psychiatrist. Time to see if Paroxetine is the right medication for me, and if it is doing everything it needs to be doing. If these exhausted illnesses are actually a physical manifestation of depression, then I’m done. And if they aren’t, then I want to know what is causing them. And what can I do to combat them.
September 29. 9:00am.
Hopefully, that date – the date of my first appointment with the psychiatrist – will be the start of a new journey to well being.