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Afraid of the next step

Lately I had to face the fact that my depression and anxiety are worse than I thought. I’m hitting a point when I’m running out of spoons and everything is exhausting. It’s not the first time, but I should stop pulling on the rope and pretend that it’s a valid strategy. While I know what I’m supposed to do to take care of myself, I don’t have the physical or mental energy to do anything anymore. I admit that I need more help in order to move from theory to practice.

I’m currently on therapy. It’s been really helpful to deal with past traumas, but it’s not helpful for struggles related to depression and anxiety specifically. I need to combine it with something else, something more focused on day-to-day care and practical actions. I’ve been thinking about seeing a psychiatrist (who also provides therapy) and I’m considering medications. It’s the first time in my life that I think about it seriously. But the problem is… I’m freaking scared. I’m scared of this step. In the past I’ve seen a psychiatrist who gave me this diagnosis of depression and I just stopped going there. I ran away.

I have a lot of concerns, fears, doubts about this and it’s making me stuck in a position that I need to get out of. I’ve been thinking about it over and over, and I identified some inner barriers that I need to get off my chest once and for all:

  1. I can be extremely distressed one day and decide “this is it, I HAVE to ask for more help”. Then after a day or two I feel rested enough to say: “yea… no, I don’t need it actually”, while I’m still functioning at a bare minimum. It’s a vicious circle, and in both situations what I’m telling to myself is REALLY convincing.

  2. I don’t have anything against medications at all, but it scares me. I don’t have good health. My immune system has been on vacation for the past few years and I’m really scared of secondary effects. For physical reasons, I’ve been under medications since I was 2 years old - I’m now 27. 27 years of having to see a doctor every three months and only one dream in my head: the day when I’d be free of these. A day that will never happen, but I still carry this desire somehow. The idea of adding another treatment on the top of everything else feels like a defeat.

  3. I’m scared of the time it could take to find the right medications and dosage. I’m not sure I’d have the energy to handle it. Today I still have two chronic/physical illnesses that are diagnosed but not righly treated. It’s already a draining fight to find something that could help.

  4. Whenever I try to ask for help from someone who’s physically in front of me, I have this reaction of appearing to be overly confident. I know it was a survival strategy when I was young, and I still don’t know how to get rid of it. It creates a barrier of misunderstanding with the person in front of me, and they don’t realize how much energy and stress it costs me just to be there. Another problem that has been added lately is using my voice. In some situations, my anxiety prevents me to speak. I freeze and become muted. I’ll think about what I want to say, but I won’t say anything. I struggled with that as a kid. Still do sometimes as an adult and I’m currently struggling with it these days, even with people I feel safe with. I am SO ashamed of being like this. I feel dumb during those moments and can’t help to beat myself up, which doesn’t help.

  5. I’m afraid of coming to someone’s office and have to justify that I’m struggling with depression and anxiety. Yes, I had a diagnosis before, but I can’t recall by who and I didn’t keep anything from that day (it’s been a long time ago). I’m afraid of being this person who arrives in front of a doctor and to appear like I’m doing their job. I don’t want it to seem offensive or rude, if that makes sense.

  6. I’m ashamed of all the time that I lost because I didn’t do anything to help myself the first time I was told I have a depression (more precisely, a chronic type). It breaks my heart to admit that I probably sabotaged myself for so long. That I lost too much time and too many opportunities to basically… live? It breaks my heart to write those lines and a part of me feels like I’m just an impostor.

  7. I’m afraid of not being the same person under medications. I don’t know if this will resonate with anyone’s experience, but a lot of time I find comfort in my sorrow. Unfortunately, it’s been a huge part of who I am for… as long as I can remember. It makes me feel deeper, it even gives me some creative vibes sometimes - whether it’s through writing, music or drawing. A part of me is afraid to lose that. I’m afraid of being less empathic, of feeling less, of being more numb or disconnected to the rest of the world. A lot of this is because my first experience was through my mom’s and how antidepressants affected her.

I feel like I already made my decision of giving a try to a meeting with a psychiatrist, but at the same time it feels like I gave up on trying already. I’m still giving in the fears that are holding me back. It feels very lonely to struggle with those and I guess at this point I’m just looking after others experiences. Just some validation regarding my decision and knowing that it will be okay.

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@Micro dear friend, I’m sending hugs your way. Next steps are scary, even for those of us that are able to tell people that they’re scary. We’re “okay,” right? Why should we need next steps? Will it upset the fragile balance we’ve created for our lives?

This is so common, with everything from seeking help to asking friends to happy hour. It’s a desire to not want to impose on other people and to not be a burden. It is, in that sense, a way of putting yourself beneath other people, even those people who would gladly help you.

These are both manifestations of performance anxiety, stage fright. I think a good solution to both would be to bring in written notes on what you want to say–everything you want to say. The paper will hold your truth even as you try to downplay it, and it will prompt you when you freeze. Preface the conversation with “I need help.” An observant psychiatrist may notice the paper and prompt you by asking if there’s anything else you want to talk about.

Part of what a doctor does to diagnose and treat a patient is to learn and understand their history. They will be most helpful if they know that you’ve been diagnosed before, how long you’ve struggled with symptoms, which treatments you’ve had and how effective they’ve been. Moreover, you get a say in your care. This is your body, not theirs. My doctors have told me to speak up if I’m concerned about a course of treatment. Tell them you’re concerned about side effects and mental haze, and that can help them with their treatment plan

The pain can never be erased
Remain and turn it into strength.
From our failures we are refined
Replacing frailty, allowing us to be redefined.

Your shame is something you carry with you and hold onto tightly for fear of other people seeing it, and it’s weighing you down. The longer and tighter you hang onto your shame, the heavier it becomes. When you release your shame for all to see, it no longer has power over you. Let the world judge if they want, but you’ll no longer be in hiding. As you well know there will be plenty of people to come to your aid, starting here and continuing into your psychiatrist’s office. You can’t get back the time past, but it’s not too late for redemption. It is not too late for the rest of your life.

Depression “creates” deep feelings and creative vibes the same way drugs do–it’s a cracked, distorted mirror of the attributes you already have. You are fundamentally a deep-feeling, creative person. Your depression manifests through your art and feelings, not the other way around. Antidepressants should not take that away from you, and if they do then they’re too strong and you need to talk to your doctor.

I absolutely understand finding comfort and identity in my sorrow. When it’s part of who you are, who will you be without it? When I lost my identity as a good student, I had nothing, and that space was filled with depression. When the depression recedes, though, what will take its place? YOU get to determine your identity. You get a fresh start.

In my experience, recovery from depression has made me more empathetic, less numb, and more connected to the rest of the world. I feel like I can breathe. The world is less gray. I am no longer drowning in my sorrow. Having come out the other side, I have not forgotten where I came from. I can still feel the bruises, so I can feel what others are going through. In that way, I’m still empathetic, but I’m also not consumed by my depression. I’ve gained perspective, energy, and the desire to pull my depressed brethren out by the hand instead of pushing them out on my shoulders.

It will be okay. It may not be easy or quick, but it will be okay. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose, or at least nothing that can’t be gained back. You have told dozens of people here that reaching out for help is the hardest step and takes great courage, and that applies to you too. I hear that you’re afraid, but there is no courage without fear.

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Thank you so much for your kindness and your time, friend. I really appreciate you. You are right on so many points. I needed those reminders today and this clarity that you shared through your words. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I definitely struggle with performance anxiety. And it hurts to be so anxious that asking for help feels like my body is going to collapse at any moment. It’s such a vicious cycle. It affects everything and I just see my freedom being reduced everyday. My main focus lately has been on finding a job… no need to say that the lack of energy doesn’t help and the perspective of job interviews is already making me sick. This is not a life. Something has to change more drastically.

I like the idea of writing notes before a potential meeting. I’m not sure if I’d take the notes with me because I’m afraid of being weird if I do that, but I can surely take some time to prepare some key points. And maybe preparing this will help to actually take an appointment.

I put a lot of expectations with this decision of psychiatrist+meds. As I was reading my post, I realized that I just made a list of excuses which all have an answer and a possible solution. All of those just come from one fear, the awful “what if’. What if it doesn’t work? What if in the end I just realize that I’m broken and nothing can be done? Though it’s just a fear. If we never try something, then we never know. As you said, there’s nothing to lose.

It’s hard to stop believing that I belong in this misery. Each step further is a step away from this belief, yet it feels like a heartbreak every single time. It’s hard to do what is right when we believe that we’re profoundly worthless. And it’s hard to push away the thought that disappearing could be an instant relief. I wish there wasn’t so much grief, you know.

Sorry for the ramblings - this decision is definitely like a can of worms and my mind is all over the place. It’s like a nightclub inside of my head with too many disco balls and music playing at the same time, lol. But I really, really appreciate your words.

Thank you again for having my back. It helps to be reminded that it’s okay to have a hard time with doing something like this. I’ll read again your reply in times to come to muster up some courage. I’m starting to believe that if I’d take one resolution for 2021, maybe it should be this one. Putting a bandaid on a broken leg was the only way to survive, a long time ago, but persevering in doing this can’t be an option anymore.

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Rest assured, you will not be the weirdest patient your psychiatrist sees that day :stuck_out_tongue: On the contrary, they would probably appreciate your organized thoughts.

Why though? What did you do that condemns you to a lifetime of misery?

The one thing that got me through a decade of feeling worthless was the idea that something wasn’t right. The world wasn’t built and inhabited by worthless people with zero potential, so there had to be something wrong with my feelings. I called myself broken and defective, sure, but broken things can be fixed and defects can be corrected. There were times I lost hope that things would get better, but the fact that there were “things” that wouldn’t “get better” meant my mental health wasn’t a fundamental character flaw.

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Just sharing an update on things.

I finally managed to get an appointment with a psychiatrist at the end of the month. I guess it’s a first step?

I’m really grateful there’s not too long to wait. Lately it’s just been a rough patch of apathy and suicidal thoughts, and February is made of traumatic reminders to me, so the timing couldn’t be better. I’ll try to prepare a bit our meeting during the next couple of weeks, but part of me feels like I’m just going to be straightforward when I’ll get there because I’m now too exhausted to take any detour. I’m feeling more and more like “there’s nothing to lose by trying”, so hopefully it will just be for the best. :muscle:

Will also see my other therapist this month, and we’re slowly approaching the end of our progress together. Time for some transitions, it seems.

Finally, I took two other medical appointments to tackle more frontally some health issues that are definitely affecting my mental health as well. I’ve just been really afraid to address those issues and started to give up on trying again.

I don’t want to put too much hope in all of this, but it feels good to have something to look forward to.

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Update² - last one, quite long and messy.

I finally met her yesterday. The meeting was super uncomfortable, yet I couldn’t help but talking… a lot. Still weird for me to witness those changes in myself. She asked a bunch of practical questions and the inevitable “why are you here?”. Through our conversation, I didn’t need to mention my past diagnosis and medication - she diagnosed a severe depression, generalized anxiety and expressed the fact that medications are needed at this point. She also did her best to make me understand that working is a big no right now. It’s really hard for me to accept this, as it feels like I already wasted an entire year and I see my partner being tired of his own job at the same time. I still define my worth through my capacity to work or not - but at least I know it, I guess?

I understand a little more how psychiatrists and psychologists are different, why it didn’t match 8 years ago, and how what they provide can be complementary. If I’m honest, I recently decided to take a break with my first therapist but this break was an undiscolsed way to give up again and run away. Now, this meeting yesterday convinced me that I need to keep seeing this other therapist as well, because it’s a precious place to talk and she has a kind/non-medical attitude that I need right now.

I realized that my therapist is not pro-medications though, and I was anxious about the idea of saying to her that it was my intention to see a psychiatrist as well. It felt wrong, and the reason why I wanted to run away. Now I’m more okay with the fact that it’s my life and up to me, and she doesn’t have to comment it - which she probably won’t do anyway, just my anxious mind being all over the place sometimes. A fear of being judged, of being wrong, of being hurt.

I start antidepressants today. I’m super stressed and at the same time… hopeful. I didn’t feel that way in a long time. Can’t believe I’ve been anxious about this for 10+ freaking years. And as a result, I can’t help wondering: this is it? Trying my best not to beat myself up for the time lost. Just to embrace the effort and to be proud of this new step. It feels good to be more and more able to identify what I need in the present moment, and make decisions for myself. Can feel that a milestone has been reached, and now is the beginning of another long journey.

The psychiatrist also understood that I tend to be perfectionist/burn myself out easily. She encouraged me to do things at 50%, and to choose between the morning or the afternoon to do something. The rest of the time being to rest. Goodbye the endless todo lists and burst of energy that only results in being more exhausted? Yup… still need to learn and improve on this matter. It’s good to be called out, without any judgment.

Finally, I’ve made another step by telling my partner about the potential side-effects of medications regarding suicidal thoughts. It’s the first time I’ve mentioned it to him and explained that I had those thoughts lately. He understood without panicking or judging. I told him that I would let him know if I see myself spiraling with those thoughts in a dangerous way.

Feeling a little stronger. And still incredibly grateful for this community and how much it’s helped me last year while almost everything in my life has collapsed. Opening a new chapter today, which I don’t expect to be perfect. Just willing to see where it goes and, at least, to try.

PS - Thank you again @SheetMetalHead - I’m very thankful for you today. :hrtlegolove:

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I recently started taking an antidepressant for my social phobia. A little under 2 weeks ago. And its going pretty well. I don’t have any of the terrible side effects I had when I took a different one years ago. I hope your transition is as easy as mine has been.

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You’ve got this! I’m very proud of you for being able to recognize the things your mental health needs in order to repair itself. I can thoroughly understand the hesitance over the medication - before I started, my mind was blown that it was even a route I was going to have to take. And although it’s taken some medication changes, I don’t regret taking them. I think one day I’ll have an established routine down to where I can come off and manage in a different way, but for now, they’re very much welcomed help.

I see you here all the time, and you’re a great support for all. Let us support you now. <3

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I’m so glad you were able to make it to your first session! It sounds like it was really productive! I’m also glad to hear that she’s starting you on meds, and that you’re ready to give them an honest try. Meds won’t make everything go away, but they’ll stabilize you enough to work on healing.

The next little while will be different. It takes 4-6 weeks for antidepressants to really go into full effect, and in that time you may have changes in energy level, mood swings, confusion, and other stuff you might associate with chemical changes in your brain. Keep in close touch with your psychiatrist. If what you’re feeling is really intolerable, she needs to know. Not all antidepressants have the desired outcome on every person, but most of the starter meds are pretty gentle. If things get rough: stop, remind yourself that you’re not going crazy, take a rest or a nap if you need to, and give yourself grace.

The toughest part of this transition might be letting go of your identity of depression and anxiety. It’s counterintuitive, none of us want to be depressed, but when the feelings of depression and anxiety subside you may feel lost. If it’s all you’ve known most of your life, then what’s next? This is where your therapist and support network come in. Rely on the people around you to keep you grounded. Losing your depressed identity is a beautiful thing though. It frees up space on your canvas where you can start working out who you are with your depression managed :slight_smile:

I’m proud of you for seeing through seeking treatment, and look forward to hearing about the good to come. Congratulations friend!

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I just wanted to say how impressed I am with your acceptance of who you are, and what you’re dealing with, it sounds hopeful yet realistic. You’re confronting the truth of who you are and accepting that while you have challenges, you, with the help of others, are working towards a stronger you. I think in general we suppose that everyone else has ‘it’ better, but I’ve found that we’re all struggling to become who we were meant to be, and while some turn away, avoid, and repress, there are some, who, through darkness, will seek to meet the best of themselves in the light. Stay with it, while being gentle and compassionate with yourself in your process, just as you are with others.

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@Sapphire @tarainutah @SheetMetalHead @gnuone

Thank you so much, friends. It’s really encouraging to know that this transition can go very gently, but also that it will just be okay, with the right amount of patience, grace and support. I cherish your own experiences and your willingness to share it. It really means a lot to me. :heart:

It still blows my mind away to receive so much kindness and understanding. I’ve spent most of my life without any support system, and now that I’m learning to create it I’m often tempted to step back and just say f*ck to everything because it feels weird. I’m having tears of gratitude. It feels good to be validated with those decisions.

Losing this “depressed and anxious” identity is scary as hell and my biggest fear. I’ve been like this for such a long time that I have no idea of how I’m going to be in the future. There’s a flavor of grief with this - and grief is not something I process well. But on the other hand, the alternative would be a life of exhaustion. Just pulling on the rope until I can’t take it anymore and decide to end myself. It’s not a life - only survival. Even if there is comfort in sorrow, there’s also different levels of beauty to experience in life, and not only through darkness. I’ll try my best to be both careful and curious, to be safe and open-minded.

@gnuone I’ve read your message several times and don’t really have words to express how much it means to me. “We’re all struggling to become who we were meant to be” - this really resonates with my heart, as someone who feels like some people took my life away a long time ago, because of their own violence and pain. There’s something healing in reading those words. When we don’t turn away, avoid or repress, we also create new connections and opportunities to grow stronger… with others. :heart:

Thank you guys. You’re awesome - and that’s an understatement. It’s really a blessing to do life with you.
I’m not alone, and at this time of my life I’m finally able to appreciate that statement without being afraid of it.

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I love that you know that you’re “not alone” now, and hope that you carry that with you for the rest of your days. I believe in the force of love, and that if we employ the force of love, that energy, on connecting to ourselves, our true selves, then we, by virtue of our self knowledge, are able to move in the world with positive momentum. Without being the cause of pain to others, but by being a positive, loving, compassionate influence. We didn’t get that in our lives, we learned to survive, but we can learn to be, a positive, loving, compassionate influence to ourselves, just as we do with others. Its not an easy path from surviving to living, not easy at all, there is much to overcome.
Peace

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