Saturday, January 8, 2011

Trains and Chains

I have had minor bouts with depression off and on for many years. I would slip into counseling and then slip right back out again. I was very afraid of medication. Many members of my family are strictly against antidepressants and I have a family member who has been on medication for as long as I remember.

My solution - Don't start taking it and you won’t have to keep taking it right?

Photo by Rick
Not exactly!

I was blessed to have a wonderful intuitive doctor who explained antidepressants to me in a way that made me willing to give it a shot. I went on a prescription and successfully went off of it about a year later. So, my fear of those medications was lessened although I'm always careful about any medication.

Fast forward 15 years.

Life is going along splendidly! I've snagged a super position in sales with a great company! I've secured delightful medical insurance, a quickly growing 401k and looking at $60,000 per year at least! I'm #1 in sales for my store right out of the gate, I'm #4 in my region and I'm attending every training class within driving distance of my home!

Photo by dok1
Then one day it hits me. Out of the blue like a train crash. I see it much more clearly now than I did back then but it literally seemed to happen overnight. I was driving to work one morning. I remember not feeling so great when I was putting my face on. I was doing everything "right" I had lost weight, had new clothes and really thought I was the cats meow! I was driving up a road that I always drive and probably listening to music like always but this day was different.

I started up the hill of a familiar road and started feeling tingly. It was that numb kind of tingle like when your foot goes to sleep. Then my chest started to feel heavy. It was like someone was crushing me. My vision went fuzzy and I totally freaked out! I prayed all the way to a gas station about 1/2 mile up the road and sat there trying to figure out what in the world was happening to me. I thought of stroke and called my husband. He immediately came and drove me to the ER.

Upon arrival my blood pressure was high but the EKG was normal. The ER doctor said that my symptoms were too vague and I should follow up with my family doctor. I went home and went straight to bed. The symptoms did not subside. After 12 hours of this, my husband called the doctor. We went in first thing in the morning. I was put on blood pressure medicine and put off work for a week to get it in my system.

The symptoms subsided some. I would have random "episodes" after that. Sometimes I would be driving, sometimes at work. I never knew when it would happen next. Shortly after this I was diagnosed with complex migraines and prescribed migraine medication.

The episodes were increasing. I was getting them more often and they were lasting longer. Sometimes I would be on the way to work and would call and have my husband "talk me to work." Sometimes it would happen at work and I would try different things. I would eat some sugar or I would try caffeine or I would lie down. Nothing worked! Many times I just felt like a zombie. I felt zoned out and had trouble even concentrating on a conversation. I would walk into the back room at work and try to remember the conversation I was having with my customers. I felt like a complete idiot!

Finally I got a referral to a Neurologist. We did CAT scans, MRI's, EEGs, EKG's and on and on. MS was mentioned, brain tumors were referred to. It was very scary! I took short term disability from work to travel to Richmond for testing (2 hours.) As each test came back normal I would cry. I didn't understand what was happening to me and finally called a neuro-phsychologist because I was convinced at this point that I must be going crazy.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder. I was not happy. If this was in my head... I wanted it to be "something" in my head! Not anxiety. Not panic. This was unacceptable! At this point I would've rather had a tumor because I could focus my blame on that, I could research that, we could operate on that!

My short term leave was coming to an end and my counselor wanted me to return to work. I was still suffering from episodes and couldn't drive to most of my appointments. I tendered my resignation.

At this point, my husband was only working sporadically and the loss of income was felt sharp and quickly.

Depression set in at this point.

Fast forward 1 year and though I still do not completely have a handle on all of my symptoms, I have found peace. I am happy staying home and being here for my family. I am OK with experimenting with the medicines the doctors recommend to find the right one. It has not been easy and I'm not on top of the mountain yet but the journey has not been completely shadowed.

I now enjoy picking the kids up from practices, I can help with homework, I can play games in the evenings and I can blog to my hearts content! At least most days I can. Other days I don't leave my bedroom. I play on the computer, I eat dark chocolate and I tell everyone that I'll be OK in a few days.

I still have episodes during especially hormonal times of each month and am starting a new medication soon.

Are you looking for the silver lining?

I am finding myself again!
I am learning more about my children.
This experience brought me back to Church
I am closer to God
I am closer to my husband
I am closer to my extended family
I was able to take custody of a child in need
I can find something positive most days
I have the ability to "hide out" when I need to
I have the opportunity to meet each of you right here which is right where I am suppose to be right now!

The journey is not over yet. There are shadows along the path. Through the grace of God I know that I will come out of the other side a much better person!

If you are suffering or know someone who is suffering, please don't doubt the power of these illnesses. It's not "all in your head!" It is nothing to be ashamed of and for Heavens sake if you are on the outside looking in, please take the time to learn about these conditions.

Julia Dixon is a self proclaimed small town girl, wife and mother of 4. She is passionate about her family. She loves children and cannot stand to see them mistreated, lonely or hurt.
She loves breezy fall days where the sun is bright but the air is crisp. Her favorite colors are the leaves in Autumn.

Julia is a little quirky, too big for her britches and strong willed. She can find a radiator leak, wire a three way switch and sharpen a lawnmower blade. She can also curl up with a good book, cry at a chick flick and cook better than your Momma!
Julia blogs at
You can also find her on twitter and facebook.

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