I don’t remember much symptom-wise before the day I broke down crying uncontrollably in class. 11th grade algebra. That’s when it started. I sat in the counselor’s office for the rest of the day hunched over shredding tissues. An amplified emotion was blasting through my brain, deafening my thoughts. This was the Big Bang.
The next stop was a therapist. I sat in front of her saying very little. In response to how depressed are you I gave it a 6 out of 10, but really, I had no idea. My thoughts were scattered, and they drifted chaotically around this emotional tumor unable to penetrate it. I knew something was wrong, but to put it into words was like trying to translate a written language upon seeing it for the first time. She was a bit psychic though because somehow, without much help from me, she could tell this was more serious than I communicated. I was to be upgraded to a psychiatrist.
My first psychiatrist. Who knows what he thought- a teenager acknowledging depression but otherwise saying very little, probably looking a bit apathetic on the surface when in reality I was entirely confused into silence. He prescribed an antidepressant and told me to go back to school. Between the counselor’s office at school and the psychiatrist visit I had been unable to function. Unable to go to school. Unable to anything. Telling me to function didn’t help. The antidepressants didn’t either.
What of the other symptoms? They were there. Some form of mania popping up here and there. A persistent paranoia. I thought government agents were tracking me. They were following me in my car, they were bugging my phone, they would randomly show up at the store down an aisle. But none of this would I tell my doctor. The mania, well, my problem was depression not happiness right? And why go to a psychiatrist because the fed was harassing me? I’m sure he asked if I was having delusions and I would have said no, because this was reality for me. Of course, this information I was unknowingly concealing would’ve been incredibly helpful to my doctor and would’ve changed the course of my treatment much sooner. I have no idea how doctors can solve puzzles when so often they’re only presented with a few superficial pieces.
This was the start of 8 years of therapy, antidepressants, occasional hospitalizations for suicidality, unsteady school and then work, and even a stint on disability. These were the Dark Ages. I had so very far to go.