Mental illnesses can be complicated, so much so that many are frequently misdiagnosed.
In March of 2018, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. To read about my first ever experience with getting professional help with my mental health, check out the post I wrote about the time I spoke up about my mental health.
To give you a summary, I admitted myself to the hospital after having frequent suicidal ideations over a period of two to three weeks. My assigned psychiatrist said that I had a severe episode associated with Major Depressive Disorder, and she also diagnosed me with anxiety.
I was okay with the diagnosis while I was in the hospital, as I was going through a depressive episode. It wasn’t until after I was discharged and started doing research on my diagnosis that I realized depression and anxiety very likely aren’t the only mental illness I’m dealing with. That’s what my gut tells me, at least.
I’m currently in the process of receiving a complete diagnosis. I hope that it happens this year so that I can get on the right medication(s). Until then, I’m just trying to do the best I can while managing my mental health.
All of the symptoms I frequently experience are below. Do we have any in common?
I was officially diagnosed with anxiety in March of 2018 but I’ve been dealing with it since I was young. I just never new that what I was experiencing was anxiety.
I didn’t even know what anxiety was, honestly. I just assumed that I was shy and awkward and just generally unlikable. I had very few friends because I’ve always had difficulty when it comes to social situations, as well as situations that involve someone of authority (school principal, teacher, boss, etc…).
I also seem to get slight anxiety while driving. This year, I noticed that I always clench my jaw every time I’m driving. I also get really uncomfortable when I feel like someone is following too close behind me, especially if they are coming up behind me rather quickly.
I’ve been dealing with depression since I was 18 or 19 years old. I was officially diagnosed with a “mild case” of depression by a psychiatrist in either 2008 or 2009, and I had postpartum depression in 2010. It went downhill from there, but up until 2018, I was always able to cope by playing World of Warcraft. I wasn’t medicated for depression until March of 2018.
My depression is almost exclusively situational. There’s always a distinct cause. It never just comes out of nowhere or comes on without reason, as it does with some people.
Fear of abandonment
I’ve had a very significant fear of abandonment as it pertains to romantic relationships since I was a teenager.
My father would be away due to his work for months at a time so I didn’t get to see him a lot until I was 12 years old, which is when he changed positions so that he could be home more often. I’m not blaming him, because I know that he was doing the best he could while I was growing up, but professionals have suggested that it could be a potential reason as to why I have clinged to men rather quickly in the past. I always thought I was really needy. I wasn’t aware that what I was experiencing was fear of abandonment.
A good current example is that I’m terrified that my husband will wake up one day, realize that he no longer loves me, and leave. I can’t even bare to think about it.
I also go through times where I worry about getting fired from my job, too, and not necessarily for any particular reason.
Fear of failure/rejection
I don’t cope well with rejection. Growing up, I never felt as though I was good enough for my parents. It felt like there was always something that I was doing wrong, or something that I could do better. I constantly felt like I wasn’t living up to the expectations that they had of me. And I didn’t, but that is besides this particular point.
That feeling of being unable to cope with rejection seems to have translated to adulthood. I hate doing something wrong or failing. It gives me a sort of anxiety that feels very difficult to process.
I didn’t realize it until after I was discharged from the hospital in March of 2018, but I have a pretty significant history of impulsive behavior. For some reason, I never pieced it together until after I read that impulsivity is a symptom of a couple of other mental illnesses. I just assumed that I was a very irresponsible person.
From the ages of 18 to 23, I packed a bag and snuck out of my parents’ house to move in with someone, I enrolled but then later dropped out of college, I racked up credit card debt by spending money I knew I didn’t have, and I put a small down payment on a car without much thought.
Up until 2014, I had never held a job for over a year because I would quit, and I would always do so without having another job lined up. I quit another job in 2017, and again in 2018. The reasons for my quitting my previous jobs varies. There were some I didn’t like, there were some that required me to be around too many people for periods of time that I wasn’t comfortable with, and there was one that I felt was too stressful mentally. I didn’t really have a reason for quitting the job I had in 2017.
We have five cats and, while they were adopted without much forethought, they are happy, healthy, and well taken care of.
Unfortunately, I have a significant history with financial irresponsibility. Not only have a couple of debts gone legal, but I have had a car repossessed and we were extremely close to foreclosure at one time.
I’m not claiming that every impulsive decision I’ve ever made is because of a mental illness, but I just hope that my doctor(s) at least take my history into consideration when considering a possible diagnosis. One of my previous doctors just claimed it was “teenage rebellion,” which may be true with certain things, but I still experience signs of impulsivity and I’m almost 30 years old.
Referring to my emotions as “unstable” is the best way I know how to describe it. I feel like I don’t process certain things like everyone else seems to.
I have very drastic mood swings. I can be in a good mood one minute and be pissed off the next. My mood normally shifts when something happens, or if someone does or says something that I don’t care for or like. Most of the time, the thing that causes my mood swings are fairly insignificant to most people, but it’s just an instantaneous reaction that I can’t control. My periods of anger can last anywhere from a few hours to a day or two.
The most recent example involves my husband. One night, when I was sitting in the living room looking through Netflix, he gave me a kiss on my forehead because he was getting ready to go to bed. After the kiss, he looked over at the TV and watched as I scrolled through various TV shows and movies.
After about a minute, he gave me another kiss on the forehead and told me that he was heading to bed. He was getting ready to walk out of the room, but he glanced back at the TV and continued watching me scroll through Netflix.
After another minute, he gave me yet another kiss. This is when a flip was switched inside of me, and I went from being in an okay mood to being highly annoyed. So much so that, without really even thinking, I made the comment “I thought you were going to bed.”
Often times, my anger starts arguments between me and my husband. I always feel so horrible when I snap, because often times I am very rude and critical. And then my fear of abandonment comes into play, with the depression not too far behind.
Difficulty with relationships
All in all, I’d say that I have a fairly hard time maintaining relationships with people, whether it be family, friends, or significant others. It’s hard for me to even start any type of relationship because of my social anxiety, but trying to maintain it always proves difficult for me.
I don’t currently have a relationship with my parents. We haven’t spoken since 2013 or 2014 because my mother and I can’t seem to maintain a healthy relationship. I’ve also gone through phases with friends. We’ll go from talking frequently and being close to hardly or not talking at all.
Sometimes I feel like I can’t trust people, so that may contribute to that “rollercoaster” feeling of maintaining a relationship with family and friends. Sometimes I feel like I would be a lot better off alone, but I can’t ponder that for too long because my fear of abandonment will start to set in.
I turned to alcohol a lot from 2008 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2015. It was a good coping mechanism because it allowed me to “chill out” and relax while forgetting what was going on in my life. The break from my life that alcohol gave me was rather intoxicating.
I still drink occasionally, but I don’t abuse it like I used to. I would probably drink more if we had extra money and if I didn’t get so uncomfortably hot when I drink. I’m already hot-natured, and drinking raises my body temperature enough to where I sweat more than I care to deal with.
In 2018, I hurt myself two different times as a direct result of intense emotional pain that I experienced after going through something personal. There have been plenty of other times where I thought about it, but I was able to abstain.
I had the occasional suicidal thought when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but I was always able to move past it. Luckily, I pretty much got a break from suicidal thoughts until 2017, though they were a lot more frequent and continue even today.
Varied sexual activity
I have a history of risky sexual behavior. This includes anything from unprotected sex to cheating. It’s not something that I like to admit, but I have cheated on most of my previous partners.
I have a high sex drive about 90% of the time.
I can sometimes be very easily distracted. It usually happens at work, since that is the primary place that I’m required to maintain focus. I will either get distracted by another task, or my mind just starts to wander so much that I get sidetracked almost instantaneously.
It doesn’t happen all the time, but I have days where I stay up late and get three or four hours of sleep and feel like it is the best sleep I’ve ever gotten. There are even nights, usually over the weekend, where I don’t even go to bed. I make it to 6:00-7:00AM and I figure I might as well stay awake, so I don’t go to sleep until the next night.
Potential identity issues
I have a serious problem with my identity, usually as it pertains to life goals and career choices. I can’t seem to settle on one thing and work towards it.
As far as life goals, I can never really answer the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Mostly because I literally have no idea. I can want something one day and want something else the next day. Sometimes I feel like I want kids, other times I want to completely avoid them. I can ponder a few states I’d like for my husband and I to move to within a certain time frame, and the locations can completely change after a while.
As far as career choices, these are the following careers that I have seriously considered in the past, in no particular order: website designer, graphic designer, programmer, aerospace engineer, teacher, certified nursing assistant, nurse, surgeon, veterinarian, software engineer, author, bank teller, insurance agent, realtor, retail store assistant manager, retail store department manager, loan officer, human resources manager, marketing associate, and accountant.
There were times where I switched back and forth between some of the careers that I listed above. I mention them as potential paths that I “seriously considered” because I either enrolled in a course in school (but later dropped because my mind changed), purchased educational books, and/or applied for related jobs in preparation for a potential career in the above fields.
Essentially, one day I wake up and want to be a registered nurse. The next day, I can wake up and want to be a math teacher.
Short term memory issues
There are times where I feel like I have issues with my short term memory.
I can walk into a room and forget why I’m there. I can start working on a small task at work and I realize that I’ve already completed the task. One morning before heading to work, I was looking for my pair of socks and, after a few minutes, I realized that they were already on my feet.
My memory issues don’t happen all the time, but I notice them every once in a while.
Occasional periods of low energy and fatigue
There are periods where I feel like I can hardly get out of bed or do household chores because I’m so tired or have so little energy.
The symptoms above are the main ones that I have noticed. They are not my only symptoms, but they are the ones that are most frequent or debilitating. I just hope to find out my correct diagnosis(es) soon.
Do you and I have any symptoms in common? Do you have an official diagnosis? If so, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to get to know you more, especially if we have some symptoms in common.