Deserving Happiness

“Do you fear death?”

That was the ONLY question on the two tests I had to take at my doctor yesterday that I gave myself a “zero” value. They were tests to rate my anxiety and depression and there were questions with number scales and they would add it all up and decide what range you were in. I experience everything on both tests at least a little bit, except that one. I don’t fear death. I did when I was religious, but not now. I fear pain, I fear fear, I fear illness, but I don’t fear death. I was really proud of myself because I thought: Since most people fear death, this means I’m going to score better than most people.

Nope. She was very concerned. “Um…the way you described what you’re going through I expected a ‘severe’ on the anxiety scale, but you tested ‘severe’ on the depression scale too. Have you ever been diagnosed with depression?”

“Wait. But I don’t fear death! Don’t I get bonus points for that one?”

Depression has never ranked more than as a “side effect” of my anxiety but truthfully – I knew I was showing signs of depression lately. The “things that used to bring joy no longer bring joy” symptom is like a “DEPRESSION” neon sign. So, I wasn’t really surprised we were discussing it, I was surprised that my score was so concerning.

“You are definitely a candidate to try medication. You are suffering with SEVERE symptoms. We need to fix this. Can I ask you to show me your hands?”

This was a weird question but we had just been talking about my busted toenails so I kinda assumed the two were related and as I held them up for her, she took them and turned them over so she was looking at the tops as I was holding them out and she said, “Do you always shake like that?”

I was immediately embarrassed.

“Um. Not always. I really get nervous at doctors. That’s why you haven’t seen me since 2012. I’m really nervous.”

She took notes.

Then we talked about “normal” and how I seem to have a distorted view of “normal” because I don’t feel like I’m that far from “normal” but my tests indicate I’m quite far from the normal level of anxiety or depression.

“If you’re mentally healthy – so to speak – very few, if any, of these symptoms are present always. You seem to indicate that several of these are just part of your constant state of being. This is most definitely very far from the baseline of mental health we like to achieve.”

We also talked a bit about my reservations with medication. I explained that if it were someone I loved, I would be all over it. “MEDICATE YOURSELF!” I would shout it from the rooftops and hold their hand every time they got a prescription filled.

“But, it’s weird. I have this feeling that someone with a life as good as mine MUST be able to cope without medication. I know that’s not true when you apply it to anyone else, but applied to me? It’s different.”

“The fact that you have a privileged life and are still this miserable is exactly the proof you need that it’s chemical. If there are life situations that cause isolated cases of anxiety or depression, that’s something that we might not need to medicate. But your life is great and you are miserable. Your brain chemistry needs adjusting.”

And somehow, that worked with the part of my brain that was hesitant. She’s right! My life is great! I should be happy! Just like how humans should be able to walk on two legs but when you no longer can because of a broken bone, you have to get the bone fixed. My wonderful life and my increasing anxiety and depression are the proof I need to justify chemical intervention.

So I’m officially on Lexapro for now. 10mg daily and I check back in with her in 3 weeks because she said it will take that long for me to really tell if it’s working. I didn’t sleep much last night, but she warned me that’s a side effect that will fade. I do feel better having a plan and she never once made me feel inadequate for needing all of this. I don’t know why I’m able to look at everyone else in my life and say, “You deserve to be happy, and if that requires medication, do it.”

But I look at myself and only see the flaws and errors and mistakes of my life and think, “Welp. Maybe this is as good as it should get for me. Maybe I don’t deserve happiness.”

It’s so dark written out like that, but also so true when you dig under the cobwebs of my twisted brain.

But I’m happy to have a pill and a plan. It seems a lot of people I know are on Lexapro so let’s hope it works as well for me as it does for them!

15 thoughts on “Deserving Happiness

  1. Vicki says:

    See, it’s like I said in my comment on yesterday’s blog, my brain doesn’t work right. The chemistry is off. Meds help. You’re the same way. I hope your meds work for you but don’t quit if Lexipro doesn’t. It just means you’ll need to try a different drug. Keep trying till you find what works for you. My first meds didn’t work but I kept at it till I found what did. Best wishes for you.

  2. Cheryl says:

    And when you find that right combination, you will KNOW it. You’ll have a moment where you think to yourself, “this is how most people feel all of the time? Amazing.”

  3. Jen S. says:

    Best of luck to you. Medication is and has been the best decision I’ve made. Just keep in mind that sometimes it takes a few tries of medication/dosage to find what works best for you.

  4. Meg says:

    Who am I to say I’m proud of you, but I’m proud of you! You’re honest & lovely and you deserve to live a peaceful life. Seems to me you’ve been parenting your whole life and that’s stressful. take care of you. You don’t have to have everything figured out, everything doesn’t need to be black or white before you go to bed- sleep in the gray..xo

  5. Lucy McConville says:

    What a perfect way to begin Mental Health Awareness Month! Kim, I’m so proud of you. Your candor and vulnerability is so inspiring to the rest of us…I hope you know that in your bones!

    Good luck! I hope it works because you DO deserve happiness!!

    Smiles,
    Lucy

  6. heidi says:

    Lexapro saved my life 13 years ago. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing on the medication train but for the last several years I’ve been on a med that works and helps keep me from spiraling. Just remember, it may take adjustments or med changes to find what works best but in the end, it’s worth the journey. You’ve got this! That first step of actually getting the meds is the hardest.

  7. Brenda says:

    Yay! Glad you were able to see you needed some help and took it. My husband tried a few meds before getting to Effexor. I call them his happy pills and can tell when he has accidental forgotten to take his meds. Also if you feel like something isn’t working any more or enough make sure to tell your doctor. They may need to up your dose or change something.
    I’m glad you are taking care of you!

  8. We’re so often harder on ourselves than we would ever be on someone else, and it can be a struggle to stop doing it, but we have to try! I hope all the best for you.

  9. I am on three different medications and am still working with my provider to play around with meds until we hit the right cocktail. Five years ago, I had no idea that I had *diagnosable* depression and anxiety. I just figured that was how things were. Going first to therapy and then being honest with my doctor led me to the point now where I see a psych PA monthly and a therapist weekly. And my life looks pretty darn good from the outside too.

    Just be aware, you may feel worse before you start to feel better. That is not unusual. Stay the course and trust in your team. You deserve to feel better than this.

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