Join Date: Nov 2010
Growing up with genetic depression
My history: I was a happy and gifted child with a secure and loving family life. When I turned 12 I entered puberty and that's when I developed depression. Most kids hate school at that age, and I was no different, but all I can remember is feeling compeletly overwhelmed with negative emotion, anxiety, and shyness. I did have a few friends. My pediatrician gave me Buspar for anxiety. The summer before high school was the best time in my life- I was utterly ecstatic about "starting over". The first few weeks were fine, until some kids in my journalism class started making fun of me for my jeans being too short, etc. Typical kid stuff-- but I couldn't handle the stress of it, got physically ill and wouldn't go back to school for a couple of weeks. During that time I complained of my stomach hurting and they did an ultrasound on me, finding nothing but a small ovarian cyst (of course, the problem was just severe anxiety). I remember just feeling so ill and staying in bed those two weeks. When I went back to school I discovered I had made the yearbook staff (a special honor). But the fear of the kids in my journalism class led to social anxiety. I just sat apart from the others and became increasingly quiet until I basically did not speak to anyone. After about half a year serving on the staff, the teacher called the members of the group around me and they confronted me about my attitude. It was very traumatic for me. I don't remember all that happened, but I was let go of the responsibility and made to sit in a chair for the rest of the semester, earning an F in the class (my first and only F). My parents were called in, and they took the teacher's side, not defending me at all.
After this, my mother took me to the psychiatrist, and I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder, and put on a high dose of Prozac, which made me extremely sleepy. I took 3 hour naps every day, for which I was yelled at by my parents. My grades were not terribly good but not bad, either. I sat in the library during pep rallies because I was so afraid of the crowd. I felt like I was in a hell, though looking back I appeared like a normal angsty teenager. My parents and I were not getting along. They were, for the most part, caring and loving parents, but they had their shortcomings. My dad had been emotionally abused as a child and I got a bit of that handed down to me as well... nothing terrible. On the other side of the coin, they were often very supportive and complimentary of me, and I knew that they just did not know how to handle my "special needs". The nurse contacted my mother about my weight-- I was 86 lbs at age 17 (anorexia due to anxiety).
My positive experience during this phase was my activity in the church youth group, where I had friends and served as historian. I had private meetings with my very kind youth group leader, who had been a teacher, and had three older daughters. I knew she thought I was weird, but she cared about me and gave me responsibilities, which made me feel good about myself. She had some odd ideas about religion though, and discouraged my use of antidepressants. Religion was the focus of my life at this time, and I was certain that God spoke to me through the radio, through planes flying over my head, and by answering my prayer that a certain boy would show up at the movie theater (he did!) I continued seeing a very good children's psychiatrist for about a year. (Recently I tried to gain a copy of my records but they have been destroyed.)
I skipped my senior year of high school, and chose to do dual enrollment classes at comminuty college instead. I graduated with my HS class. I felt much better on the medications though they made me extremely sleepy. When I graduated HS, my uncle's gift to me was a plane trip to spend two weeks with him and his wife in the city and at a dude ranch. It was great fun and I felt very spoiled. My uncle and his wife were both very wealthy and successful, and encouraged me to do great things. When I told him about my meds, he was disapproving, and said "we need to get you off those." He called my mother about it, and then I got in trouble for telling him about it.
I stayed on the meds anyway.... in college I was on several different ones (cannot remember which ones). I had a boyfriend whom I met on the internet, from Turkey. He visited me one summer, then I visited him in Turkey the next (a great experience!), and then he came to my town to attend college with me. We were together for 4 years. College was great-- I was president of my sorority and had a great time. I did drink a lot, though. My original goal, which was to study biology and become a psychiatrist, did not work out and I graduated in communications....
I met my husband after breaking up with Turkish guy, and we got married after graduation. He's a wonderful man-- he understands and supports me, depression and all. Anyway, since then, I've been on and off different meds. Every time I go off them, I am OK for a while, but then either I'll slowly cycle into a depression, or otherwise, some small stressor will trigger an immediate and horrible depression.
I also had an issue a few years ago, with breathing trouble, we thought it was asthma but after some tests it was determined to be vocal cord dysfunction (or anxiety)....
I feel normal on the meds, not ecstatic or manic. I would like to go off them if possible because they make me sleepy and make my hair thin. I'm also afraid of what they may be doing to my organs, being on them long-term.
But I have excruciating symptoms when not on them. My body becomes extremely weak and I sit on the couch all day, crying constantly. I don't answer the phone and I yell at my kids. I threaten divorce to my husband, and I harbor hatred and resentment towards my parents and family. I don't eat and feel nauseated. I have had several epsiodes of cutting the skin on my wrists as a sort of desperate emotional release... I started doing this in college, long before I ever read about it on the internet. I feel empty, bored, and like life is not worth living.
Lately I tried once again to taper off the meds. For a few months I was fine, then something my uncle had said (jokingly?) to my sister.... " (...) disappointed us, now what are you going to do with your life?" started becoming an obsessive thought and I was in constant, excruciating emotional pain, until I went back on them.
One of my hobbies is genetics and I've discovered that in fact, I do have the genetic short form of the serotonin transporter (the sucky form). It may be that I have to continue taking the meds... at this point I have a hard time functioning without them. But I still wonder if it's "all in my head" and maybe I just need to get a grip....
If I can get off them, and learn to live without them comfortably, it would be wonderful. If not then I want to at least know that I've done all I can do, and that hopefully it's not harming my body.....