This is going to be a long post. I appreciate you if you read the whole thing. Some of you already know what I’m about to say, because I haven’t exactly been a quiet person about my mental health, but I suffer from pretty severe depression and anxiety. At the end of August (it’s September 21, 2016 at the time of writing), I hit the lowest point I’ve ever been at. A period I’m referring to as my “rock bottom” because it’s the point in which I finally made a decision about seeking real, clinical help for my problems.
I kind of just looked up one day and realized how bad I was. I was literally barely functional as a human being. It was having a huge negative impact on my work, my interactions with my wife and son, as well as my friends. I was making a lot of brash and impulsive decisions. Getting angry really easily. And generally just being very unproductive with my time. I had developed some really detrimental habits that were exacerbating things, as well.
At the beginning of September, I finally sought out help from a specialist. I had my first psychiatrist appointment. It was a long conversation and I appreciate the detail in which she teased stuff out of my brain and really paid attention to what I was saying in order to dig deeper and ask followup questions. At the end of it, she told me that she believed what I was experiencing was not quite the clinical definition of Bipolar II, but that’s what I was close to. I’ve had lots of issues with anxiety and an inability to focus, so I was thinking ADD/Anxiety when I arrived, but her assessment was that trying to treat the ADD-like symptoms would only make me worse. She gave me a prescription.
It took close to a week to get the prescription filled because of issues with insurance, in-network vs out-of-network pharmacies, and approved drugs. I also came down with a really nasty cold right after that appointment which, combined with the rest of my depression, pretty much completely knocked me out for its duration. But, I finally got the meds and started them last Friday.
Saturday was … bad. The instructions on the meds were to take them before bed, so I tried to take them literally as I was going to sleep with no food … at 5:30 am, because one of my symptoms is actually an inability to make myself get up and go to bed until I’m literally passing out in my chair. The meds made me … groggy. And loopy. I had trouble walking. I couldn’t even take the dogs out. We kind of panicked and wanted to replace them because of how they were making me feel and actually got advice from a few people to do so, but I didn’t really tell anyone the context of how I took them, at first. I felt like the context mattered, so I wanted to try one more time at a decent time, with food, to see how they affected me. So, Saturday night, I took my second dose.
Sunday was … different. Noticeably different. The nagging thoughts of being a failure were gone. The constant fear that I was going to lose everything I had worked for was gone. For the first time, probably ever, I went to a social event that wasn’t about tech with mostly people I didn’t know and wasn’t panicking. I actually enjoyed myself. I came home and worked for a while and was actually able to get some work done. I took my meds at my new standard time.
Monday was … amazing. I had a real work day for the first time in months and actually had a really productive day. There’s a very noticeable improvement in my mood, by this point.
Yesterday was … somehow even better. I finally made my way back downtown to work out of Canvs and see some of my friends who I missed quite a lot. Several people told me I seemed different. I explained to a few what had happened. They were all incredibly supportive. You know who you are. I love you dearly. Seriously: Thank you. I felt so good yesterday that I went to OrlandoJS, my first Meetup in more than 2 months and even made the decision to do a lightning talk! Which I wrote on the spot, based on a bunch of material I commonly rant about in #career-advice on the ODevs Slack. Like my other rants, it was long and didn’t fit into the 5 minutes that was given to me. And it’s been a while since I’ve done a talk, so I got nervous. But it was a good nervous. I had fun. It felt good to get up and speak again.
I’m now on day 5 of the new medication and still feel really, really good, so I feel comfortable enough to say that it seems to be working. I’m really looking forward to what I can do with this newfound clarity. I went through a lot and was mentally not all here for … probably the last few years, to be honest.
A couple special shoutouts since this is too long, anyway. Obviously, my wife for putting up with all of this and being so amazing and supportive. Sergio for being such a great friend during all of this. Susanna and Brian from TIY for always making me feel apart of TIY family and being there whenever I needed to rant about something or get advice from more level-headed people. And a whole host of people that would probably make this take way too long to read or write. Seriously, I have some of the best friends anyone could ask for and I’m really lucky to know all of you.
One final thing: If any of what I said or have said about my problems sounds really familiar, seriously consider going and getting some kind of help. It’s life changing. Please don’t hesitate. I never got so low as to think about any permanent solutions to my problems, but I can completely understand how somebody could. Don’t get that low. Get help. Please.
I love all of you. Thank you for reading this.