The first time it happened, I was sitting in the living room watching television. Suddenly, it was as if my brain was covered by a fog. I couldn’t think clearly, and I began shaking all over. I also felt scared, like I was going to jump out of my skin. I had never experienced anything like this before. I was terrified and didn’t have any idea what was happening to me. It felt like I was losing my mind.
The year was 2001. I was 50 years old, and six months earlier my husband had died from multiple sclerosis. I worked as a reporter for a local newspaper; it was a job that required a lot of brainpower. My parents had both passed away, and I had no siblings. Too embarrassed to tell anyone what was going on, I tried to continue at my job as if I was fine.
I was only sleeping about three to four hours a night and having terrible nightmares. Finally, after about a month of struggling, I knew I was horribly depressed and anxious. I checked myself into an outpatient program at a local psychiatric hospital, where I spent the next four weeks. I was diagnosed with major depression with anxiety.
I tried several antidepressants and antianxiety medications before I began to gradually feel better. I also attended several group therapy sessions, which I found very helpful. Knowing I wasn’t the only person experiencing these strange symptoms was very comforting, and I was finally able to return to work.
I remarried in 2003 to a wonderful, supportive man named Chuck. I live in Schenectady, New York. I have one son, Chris; two stepdaughters, Jaime and Rashell; two grandsons; and three stepgrandchildren. I retired five years ago and, although I miss reporting, I find the lack of pressure from having to make deadlines helps my symptoms.
Today I see a retired minister/social worker once a month. We talk about what’s going on in my life, and he gives me coping suggestions. I also see a psychiatric nurse practitioner as needed (usually monthly) who helps with my medication.
To help myself, I exercise three times a week at a nearby gym with people who are close to me in age. I have made several new friends and enjoy the socialization more than the exercise!
I try to have a healthy diet as much as possible, and I’ve regained the 20 pounds I lost when I was depressed. I volunteer at my church pantry twice a month and find that helping others helps me as much as it helps them. I love going to the church weekly and attending a women’s Bible study.
I still have bad days where I just want to stay in bed with the covers over my head. But, with few exceptions, I get up every day with God’s help and go about my day. I enjoy reading, going out to lunch with friends, and cross-stitching.
I would advise anyone with any type of mental illness to seek help as soon as possible and not be embarrassed. It’s an illness like any other illness. Living with depression and anxiety is not easy. It’s a daily struggle, but you are in control, not your illness.
Member Perspective articles discuss depression from a specific point of view. We understand that everyone with depression, or caring for someone with the condition, has a different experience. We aim to share as many of those viewpoints as we can. Member Perspective articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyHealthTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors.