A Broken Mind


Maybe you’re wondering what it’s like to routinely take medication for anxiety, adhd, and depression regularly and then forget your routine for two days.

Here’s a hint….don’t wonder, don’t be intrigued, because this hot mess is NOT pretty.  Let’s just take a little looksy at how this lack of important medication affects my different “issues.”

My diagnosis of Adult ADD – Inattentive Type makes most people assume that without medication, I must just struggle with paying attention to details and remaining focused for longer periods of time. They think “oh she just zones out” when she forgets her dose. And they’re right if they think that, but they forget the other parts of ADD that can show up. The impulsivity that sometimes manifests itself in vastly different ways: mouthing off or spending money. The inability to properly handle and express my emotions…or hell even coping with those emotions at all. The irritability that comes from dealing with the after-math of my impulsivity or harsh tongue or emotional meltdown or rageful blow up. Those people with their assumptions haven’t been there when I can’t sort my feelings and take it out on a wall (silver lining – I get to brush up on my dry wall skills.)

The fact that I’m diagnosed with major depressive disorder doesn’t mean I sit around and cry all the time. It means I might cry a lot more than normal, but I might also not know why. Lacking medication to stabilize the chemical imbalance in my brain means that I could feel nothing at all, I could feel everything at once, or I could feel angry. Angry that I’m sad. Angry that I’m attached to a stigmatized diagnosis. Angry that people think that I’m depressed because its hereditary. Sure, it can be, but my depression isn’t anyone’s fault, especially not mine, and especially not my parents. I am the product of an amazing up-bringing by caring, loving, involved parents. Sometimes depression just happens, because of a gene carried throughout time and may lay dormant through generations. I guess the cosmos just assumed I’d be able to handle the imbalance. Thanks, stars! And dammit, I do handle it well, especially since I not only do medication therapy but also CBT. I make it and when I can’t, my family holds me up.

Medication for a panic disorder probably makes people think I’m a Xanax junkie. I’m not. I have a fast acting medication, yes, but I opted for the longer acting, less addictive option. And I don’t need those all the time. Rarely, actually. I am lucky to say that the SNRI that keeps the above mentioned chemical imbalance balanced, also acts on receptors that enable me to handle myself in a surprise moment of perceived lack of control. In reality, I am in control of my life in every aspect. But, in those haunting little moments that hang in the balance (that sometimes sneak up behind me to scare me in a moment of assured comfort) I remember that sometimes the things I’ve endured have made their way through the walls to remind me that I can’t do it without support.

I guess it is a big deal. Such a big deal that my therapist made me set alarms today and show her. No more broken mind.


Why I Say Amazing/Awesome

This past Christmas at my dad’s, I heard my aunt slyly sneak in a mocking “Awesome, Awesome, Awesome” when next to me as we admired my Dad’s new tv set up in his room.  Here’s the thing, I had just said 10 seconds prior “That TV is awesome, Dad, just amazing.”  A moment of silence passed (as it normally does with my Dad as he is doing his hallmark “I heard you, I’m just thinking…gimme a min.” and I repeat “So Awesome.” only to hear my aunt echo me moments later. I pretended to not hear her. But I did.  And it bothered me a little, not because of what she said but because she doesn’t know why I say things like that repeatedly.  I’ve never told her, it’s not her fault, I just haven’t shared that part of my introverted attempting to be an extrovert self to her before.

I say awesome and amazing because they are comfortable go-to-words for me when I’m unsure of what to say.  WAIT – I don’t want that to sound like I say them without meaning them.  I mean what I say, MOST of the time. This is one of those times that I meant what I said.  Awesome and amazing are comfortable positive words for me.  When writing, I can use all kinds of exquisite tasteful reach out and touch the feeling kind of words – however, when I speak it all seems to me to sound a little off, a little unfeeling, a little rehearsed.  Maybe because I get nervous? I don’t know. Maybe its the introvert in me holding the reigns of the extrovert just so that it can speed forward but not break the human barrier.

Did that make any sense?  It did to me.

Just like I say “oh that sucks” for my negative go-to-comfort word.  I’m an awkward, very anxious kid, and I feel sometimes that people in my family don’t realize that about me…because with most of them I have shared my issues of anxiety with, in conversation from time to time so they at least know I’m a little tweaked to the left diagonal of normal (wherever that may be).

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions but maybe I should try harder to be open with those around me. Just a thought.


The Secrets We Keep.

A little over three years ago, at this time of the morning, I was rushing into work after receiving multiple vague messages from my two close friends/supervisors. They both kept asking when I’d be there… To come straight to the medical dept. This didn’t strike me as odd, other than the amount of times they asked when I’d be in. Hanging with them in the mornings was normalcy.

So, when I walked into the hall and both of them stared at me, I knew something was off. I went towards Malone for our morning hug, when she stopped me at arm’s length and looked at me and said, “its Adam.”

Adam wasn’t just my coworker… Adam was one of the most genuinely caring people I was fortunate to know. We shared music, stories, laughter… I was used to him frequenting my kitchen table to smoke hookah and rehash anything that came to our mind from our days working at the jail. Adam was my friend.

And in this moment, my friend was gone. I looked at their faces knowing that this was the last moment of oblivion I would enjoy.
“Is he okay? Did he have a wreck?”
All I heard was… “passed away.”

I was on the floor, back against the wall, crouched down waiting for the next blow.

I stared back at them waiting for a response.  Nothing came.  Crys leaned down next to me and I remember hearing “he struggled with depression. No one really knew how badly.”

Wait wait wait, my brain screamed. My blue eyed smiling friend?  My avid runner?  My friend who always asked genuinely “how are you?” after we did our ritual overview of how we yet again managed to dress alike in jeans, tennis shoes of like coloring, and polos. In the winter, we even wore a similar jacket.

Not him. Not this. No way. He always smiled. Couldn’t be. I found myself running through every encounter. All the perfect smiles. All the infectious laughter.

Adam had a secret. A secret only few knew. He battled depression until he couldn’t fight it anymore. Its so hard to believe that someone so devoted to others, someone who smoke with the mentally ill daily and gave them reasons to keep going is no longer here. He was always all smiles when I saw him. I never knew the demons he battled.

He knew my secrets. He knew I struggled with panic attacks, he knew I had taken medicine over the years off and on to combat seasonal depression.  He knew all these things. He never told me his… I could be mad at him all I want for leaving us too soon, but I’m not.  I’m sad for him that he didn’t feel he could burden anyone with his struggles. Most of all I’m sad because I miss him. I miss his smile. His bright blue eyes. His good taste in music. His stories of his gorgeous dog.  His dreams of going to medical school.

I only wish he had been here the day his acceptance letter to medical school came in the mail. I wish I could just tell him once that it can get better.

And so, that saying rings true on some evenings when I come home and I’m still full of energy coupled with a positive outlook. Those are the good days, where I smile just because I can…Where the leaves changing color in my serene back yard can bring tears to my eyes because its just that beautiful. Those days, I think of Adam and my other friends I’ve lost from mental illness and I look at the sky and remind the world around me that it gets better.

The other days, my secrets come out. I’m learning that these speaking my secrets doesn’t make me weak, being able to talk about what I struggle with actually helps because those around me can remind me that it gets better. I’m not writing this for attention, I’m writing this because I hope someone somewhere will read it and realize that they aren’t alone. I know I’m not.

I was first diagnosed with depression around 19. I remember having issues prior to this, I remember being a child and my granny and aunt would worry about me at age 11, because I would become overly emotional over small things. I have always been a worrier. I would worry and cry when the beautiful old house my parents renovated would have an plumbing problem. It would send me into hysterics.  It still does…ask L & T about the time the toilet exploded into the basement.

I digress… I remember from a young age having issues with feeling sad, with being anxious, with having night terrors that would trigger my parents waking me in the middle of the night. On nights when the nightmares woke me first, I would find myself so rattled that I would pull my blankets and pillow into my parents’ room and curl up on the floor at the end of my bed or next to my mom’s side. For some reason, I thought that sleeping there meant I was safe from anymore nightmares. Luckily, I usually was. I think I surprised my parents every day when they woke to find me asleep there. Nonetheless, they never judged me for it, they loved me without fault.

As I grew older, I faced changes within me that I despised. Around the age of 12, I knew for a fact that I wasn’t societally normal in my sexual orientation.  Living in a small town in Kentucky meant this would remain a secret. As I got older, I dealt with the occasional rumors people spread about my sexuality. I handled them in stride, even the time my younger cousin and I got in an argument and her last retort was “I stick up for you, everyone talks about how GAY you are, but I stick up for you.”  That was my senior year. Up until then I dealt with my identity crisis alone, I didn’t want to share much for fear of being ostracized in my community.  This lead to a battle inside of me… I constantly questioned my worth, my sanity, I mean I had only heard bad things about being gay.

At the age of 22, I came out to my parents.  They both surprised me immensely with their unwavering support and love. I was gay, and that was okay…with them. However, I stopped attending church with my father due to a new minister telling me that my assistance with the youth group was no longer needed due to my controversial lifestyle choices. Choices.

I didn’t decide to be gay (although I’d totally choose this lifestyle regardless… I’m totally proud of it now) I didn’t decide to be depressed. I didn’t decide to have panic attacks. I didn’t decide to constantly worry. I didn’t ask for this. But its me and I’m not keeping it a secret. I have come a long way since writing angry poetry in middle school. I see a therapist weekly to discuss coping mechanisms and to process feelings. I see a psychiatrist every couple of weeks or so to discuss medication adjustments and to “get my brain shrunk.” I try to spend time outside when I can.

Most of all, I try to remember that it gets better.