In January, I didn't know what the hell was going on with me. Surely I was having a stroke or had a brain tumor. I was positive I was going crazy. I was having constant panic attacks and extreme anxiety. My thoughts were so clouded I could no longer think straight, make decisions, comprehend or learn. Life had very suddenly become extremely difficult; almost unbearable. It was as if someone had switched a light switch. I very literally felt as if I was living in a nightmare. Maybe I had been drugged; I had experienced a similar detachment from reality in the few times I experimented with recreational drugs. But this was different. This didn't wear off. I had to work feeling like this; work on a relationship. A week passed. I could no longer sleep. My heart was pounding persistenly in my chest as if I had just run up and down a flight of stairs. Relaxation was completely impossible. I looked for understanding and asked for help from my boyfriend. I didn't find it. I turned to my family for help. I didn't receive any. I went to doctor after doctor who failed to recognize the severity of the torment going on in every second of my life. I somehow still managed to teach, and my students became increasingly more than I could handle. I became dead inside. Terror and darkness filled my chest and left no room for love, hope, or joy. My doctor prescribed some anti-anxiety medication to help me sleep. It was not enough. The person I had known as myself all these years faded more and more by the second; eventually I could no longer even remember what it felt like to be me. I wanted to end myself; living like this was unbearable. The magnitude of my despair and distress was immeasurable, insurmountable. I desperately kept telling everyone around me something was very, very wrong with me. My boyfriend said it was all in my head; I was making it up to get attention. I went to the emergency room; they told me to see a psychiatrist. I finally went. He diagnosed me with GAD and gave me Zoloft. It only helped a little. Weeks passed. My anxiety lessened a little, but I constantly felt groggy. I had no sense of humor and felt nothing like myself, but at least I could sleep. I read every self-help book I could get my hands on. I switched to Cymbalta and finally started to come back, bit by bit. Last week, I took a depression self-test on the Lexapro website. It rated my symptoms as "very severe." I took it in to my psychiatrist. His eyes widened. Stammering slightly, he apologized. How had everyone missed this? I'm left now, standing on the shores of my mind, watching these destructive black tides recede, and I'm left wondering: How the hell did this happen? Will it happen again? How do I stop it? Will I ever be able to bear existence without the aid of medication? Does anyone else understand? It would be nice to find some at last. even though I could have really used it four months ago; better late than never.
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