The Hard Truth about Severe Depression and Migraines

Noone saw it coming and not even myself could see the downword spiral because it happened over many many months before I hit rock bottom.  Depression is sneaky like that because most of us who suffer have a mask that we can put on whenever we need too.  My mask was “I’m fine, I can handle this, its my migraines that took everything from me”  I would go on to learn that I cannot blame everything on migraines and I really need to learn to live again.

Here is my story:

Today marks the first day since Aug 9th that I have been home alone.  On August 8th my depression and anxiety became so overwhelming that I could no longer function.  I no longer wanted to function.  I stopped walking, stopped paying bills, stopped taking care of my kids, and rarely left my house.  I started watching TV when I was awake just so I could have an outlet and the hours I was awake I was most likely high.  I have my medical marijuana license but I didn’t have any boundries for myself.  Pot was my first go to when ever I felt pain (which was whenever I was awake).

Another trigger into depression was the injury to my right shoulder back in November of last year.  I had torn the labrum half way off the bone and it had buckled back on itself and formed a cyst.  After a silly Urgent Care visit that put me in a sling and an even more useless trip to the ER where they put me in a nicer sling I was frustrated.  I was also in the middle of trying to establish a new Dr. after my Primary Care physician treated me so poorly in November that I had to find a new Dr.  By the time I got in to see her in January, she put me right into PT and shortly later ordered an MRI.  Surgery was in Feb and it was one of the hardest recoveries I have ever had to make.  I was so immobile that my days of not doing anything were now completely justified.  Then when I was finally making progress with my shoulder recovery, I was the passenger in a car accident where the driver pulled out into oncoming traffic and the other driver hit the passenger side of the vehicle.  I was hurting bad but only felt the need to make sure my friend was ok.  The EMT asked me once if I was ok and that was it.  And then I was left on the side of the road waiting for Dan to come and pick me up.  I was in complete shock and had no idea if anything was wrong with me…but the EMT’s didn’t seem too concerned, so I guess I figured I was fine too.  But my shoulder felt horrible, just when it was finally starting to recover from surgery.  So I finally had my Surgeon order an MRI and sure enough I had a new injury in the spot the seat belt was…a mild tear in the rotator cuff.  And I felt so defeated and alone.  I stopped driving both because of the accident and a series of new migraines that act like a seizure or a severe panic attack.  But most of all I was afraid to drive which isolated myself even more.  I felt hopeless, useless, and helpless.  Over the course of many months, maybe even my entire migraine Journey, I had convinced myself I could do nothing (Laundry, cooking, cleaning, basic hygiene (I no longer brushed my teeth, showered or even got dressed for the day) and began staying in bed all day…rarely even coming out to have dinner with my family.  In fact I had started to starve myself, only eating if someone brought me food.

I no longer had any desire to live and I became suicidal, making plans on how I might get rid of the pain of migraine and to take away the burden I had become to everyone around me.  These are the thoughts I was having and had no idea what to do about them.  On Aug. 8th I had my first complete mental break down and decided I would continue down the starvation plan…I wasn’t hungry anyway.  Plus this would give me more time to say good bye to my family and friends.  I no longer wanted to be alive.  On Aug 9th I had a second mental breakdown and I could no longer stop thinking about ways I could kill myself.  I hated me, I hated who I had become and I wanted to be done.  When the plan of using meds to overdose became a thought I could no longer stop, I hit rock bottom.  I posted something on FB that was an indicator to my cousin Kate to call me…she knew I was in trouble.  By the end of the phone call, I had promised to call my dr.  and I owe her my life for that call.  I did just that and my dr got me in that day at 4:00pm.  From there I was sent to St. Lawrence ER for an evaluation (terrible, most awful ER visit I had ever had..which didn’t help the situation). And then suddenly a tech came in and said they had a bed for me upstairs.  I had to give everything to Dan and say good bye very quickly.  I was soooooo terrified and they took my phone.  I couldn’t believe how mad, terrified, scared, sad, alone, in an environment I only knew from TV (and they generally only show the bad stuff by the way).  We were all people just reaching out for help in a time of need,

So I was wheeled down many corridors, sobbing uncontrollably because I had no idea what to expect.  I had only seen Adult Psych wards on TV and couldn’t possibly imagine that I would need that kind of help.  But I was checked in with just the clothes on my back at 1:00 in the morning.  I didn’t have my night meds, my ear plugs, my pillow…nothing to comfort me, so I curled up on the bed and cried myself to sleep.  I had 3 roommates which i was really concerned about because of my migraines.  I didn’t know if I would be able to make contact with anyone on the outside through phone or computer and now I was truly isolated from the world.  At least that’s what I thought when I arrived.  I was just plain terrified and still having all of these terrible thoughts that I had no idea what to do with.  I cried a lot the first few days.

Over the course of the next couple of days I made friends and was finally able to socialize and talk about what was going on.  I was able to use the computer once in a while so I could reach out to a few people.  And I am sooooo grateful for those who took the call and came to support me while I was in patient.  Of course Dan was there every time I needed him.  But a few other friends came when I needed their support.  Stephanie and Jared thank you so much for being there and looking at all my artwork and for all the hugs and listening ears.  I began to feel validated again, like I had friends that would really miss me if I were to take my life.  My new Pastor Heather came to visit me twice and I can’t even begin to tell you the comfort that brought me.  She brought her Bible and helped me to find scripture to hold on to.  And then my dear friend Mindy came on the perfect day.  We shared and cried and made sure that we knew we were there for each other through thick and thin.   And 100% Thanks to  my mom and dad who came so willingly and without a thought to come and get the kids.  They took care of them the entire time I was in the hospital.  My mom was there when I needed a lending ear to tell of the things I learned and how the program was really helping me see past the migraines and to work on me.  Selfish, maybe, but if I can’t take care of myself I can’t help take care of my family.  So thank you to everyone that was there for me.  And I can’t forget to thank all of you who offerred and gave me rides before I conquered my fear of driving.  Thank you to Liz from church and I look forward to going swimming with you on Wednesdays.  Thank you to Kris for being there for me in the midst of a crazy week for you to pick me up in the morning and bring me home on another day.  I really enjoyed our chats in the car and for the smiles on your kids faces 🙂  And to Marci for the rides and the company and understanding…and especially for the coffee and treats…that meant a lot to me.  It turns out that I have a lot of supportive people in my life…I just need to reach out and hopefully have them reach out to me when I can’t.

After my 10 day in patient stay I was able to transfer to a Partial Patient program which allowed me to go home at night and keep working on my new routine for the morning and night.  One of the biggest take away messages I got from both in patient and Partial patient programs is that I need to take care of me, so I can be there for others.  I started getting up, brushing my teeth, showering, mouthwash, doing my hair and making my bed (there is something strange about making your bed…it is an easily attainable goal that starts my day off right).  Making my bed also helps me really evaluate if I need a nap or just want to take one.  And then I would have to make myself eat breakfast.  Eating was very difficult while in the hospital because my stomach was not used to breakfast/lunch/dinner at a set time and the GF menu was something that you had to be creative with (like cottage cheese and oil/vinegar dressing…don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).  haha  But it worked 🙂  I also have a night time routine now.  I take my meds, brush teeth/floss/mouthwash, and while the meds are starting to kick in I am reading my Bible and a devotional at night.  I turn my phone off before I start getting ready and then try not to look at it again.

After 3 weeks in the St. Lawrence adult psychiatric unit both in patient and partial patient, I can finally say that I feel alive again.  I am utilizing more methods of treating my migraine besides just MMJ which feels good.  It is always there when things get bad, but I don’t want to be high all the time.  In fact I have had it sitting in front of me since 11:00 this morning trying to determine whether or not I really needed the relief.  Instead I went in and took a nice long hot bath with gentle piano music playing and got ready for my day.  Even though I was a little late getting going this morning, the routine was a comfort.  It also helped that Mindy happened to be online and she was able to get me through the overwhelming feeling of “I’m alone and I don’t know what to do”  I went outside right away when I was feeling that way and it really helped.  I kept chatting with Mindy while I walked our yard and picked mulberries and an apple from our neighbors tree that was offered to us at any time.  Then we talked about easy go to breakfast meals that I always have on hand so that breakfast doesn’t have to be such a hard meal to eat.

I have learned so much through the program and made some wonderful friends that I feel will help and support me stay the course of getting me better so I can be there for others.  I learned how to laugh again…uncontrollably, get in trouble type of laughing.  And I was able to bring that to the people I was with.  I forgot how much I like making people laugh and laughing myself.  I found a new way to go swimming (i’m going to try a snorkle).  I learned that I can live and manage my migraines at the same time.  It won’t be easy, and will take continual work, but I feel like I am finally on the right path after a long path down into a severe depressive state.  I can hope that I will never be at that low again, but if I ever am, I know where to go, and who to contact.

Please if anyone is struggling with severe depressive disorder and are having suicidal thoughts, I am here to lend a listening ear like so many have done for me.

I will continue to blog about my experience and new things I am incorporating into my life as I go.  I am really hoping that I can get back to blogging…it was such a comfort when I blogged before.

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