It has been a while since I wrote and a lot has happened.
In late October last year, I moved to KY from OH. Hundreds of miles away from my family and I only knew one person in this area. Financially, this became a good move for me. I’m near a huge city with plenty of opportunities to make money in a way I find tolerable.
Then COVID-19 hit. Governor Beshear was quick to encourage everyone to stay health-at-home and shutting down almost all businesses unless they were deemed essential. As I’m mainly a 1099 worker, a lot of things I did slowed quite a bit and staying home makes more sense than potentially passing the virus around, so that’s what I’ve mostly done. This is a difficult time for many and for me, it’s mainly increased my anxiety and feelings of abandonment as well as feeling “useless” because I’m not making money.
I’ll admit, it’s been rough, because other than my son, I’m alone without another adult for company. And I think it would’ve been much harder on me if I hadn’t already been seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist, which I started doing in January.
Like a lot of people I’m close to — and perhaps even you, reader! — I’ve been in and out of the mental health care system many times. Sometimes it was because of how much I moved around; mainly it was because I didn’t have any health insurance because I live in the USA and eventually didn’t qualify for medicaid.
Beyond that, twice in my past, there became points (before my autism diagnosis) that I was on medication and ended up trying to commit suicide with it. I decided to avoid taking anything. I did see a clinical counselor (he’s the one who diagnosed me eventually) but I avoided taking any meds. I didn’t trust myself in those really down moments to not do something about my feelings.
Then, I experienced those feelings without the medications shortly after my father died, when I discovered something new about my past that distressed me to the point I wanted to do anything to end the pain. I could’ve done it… except I didn’t. I couldn’t make myself do it, especially because of my child. Those first two times, I didn’t have him stopping me, but now everything is different.
And although it took me almost a year and a half after my father died to get help, I finally have. Because of finally admitting how much I’m struggling with panic attacks and obsessive thoughts as well as how hard it became to get out of bed while feeling hopeless, while also sleeping quite poorly as well as too much, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression by my regular doctor. She referred me to a psych who further diagnosed me with Chronic PTSD based on my past. She said she was really surprised I’d never been diagnosed with that before.
Now I’m on medication again. The first one my doctor tried with me made me more tired and didn’t help even after an increase. Medication has always been difficult for me because they stop working rather quickly, too. So, for the time being, I have two meds I take every day and another is for panic attacks only. One was recently upped, which means this continues to remain fluid because it may change. She told me she’ll have to consider adding another regular med if the dosage increase for the one doesn’t help as expected.
Finally, I found myself a therapist who specializes in EMDR for trauma patients… and am slowly working toward that. I’ve read a lot about that and have tried plenty of avenues including intensive talk therapy, etc. I am hopeful that will work but time will tell.
Currently, we’re all doing telehealth because of the pandemic. Nobody knows when things will return to the point I’ll be able to be in the office with my therapist, as the EMDR will be done in person. For now, though, it’s good to have someone to talk to, and she’s been especially helpful in discussions where I’m trying to learn to adjust the thoughts that lead to behaviors that aren’t healthy for me or others.
Let’s just say… I have plenty of behaviors and thoughts that stem from my child and young adulthood. I’m anxious, fearful, see myself in a negative light, and believe everyone will leave me. In addition, I have a tendency to try to “save” others because that makes it easier to avoid focusing on myself.
And that’s just the beginning.
I didn’t realize how low I was… how depressed I had become… until I started medication. And part of me hates the way it’s clear I need medication to help for the time being; a fear of that turning into “forever” I suppose.
But, even if that does happen… there isn’t any shame to that. I know society has a lot to say about people who are on meds, or have certain diagnosis where they like to say all sorts of unkind things. I just always thought about that negatively toward myself because I wanted to be “okay” and that’s what I told myself I was. If nobody else was saying I needed to get help, that meant I didn’t need any… right?
Of course not. I wanted to believe I was all right. Yes, in some ways, things improved over the years. I changed, I grew, but there were also plenty of things I hadn’t dealt with. That I still haven’t dealt with even now. I was — and mainly continue to be to this day — stuck in ‘survival’ mode. I don’t even know what all my triggers are — I’m still trying to figure those out, especially as they’ve become worse in the last couple years. They are interfering with my life, my decisions, my relationships, and the necessity of building a new version of myself that isn’t bad on all these feelings & beliefs I carried forward from childhood.
If you need help from a professional, don’t be afraid or let what others think prevent you from seeking assistance in your need to improve your mental health. If you don’t have the ability to get help due to lack of insurance, I understand that and am honestly saddened by the lack of appropriate care in this country and others. Know that you aren’t alone, despite feeling that way. Honestly, even with my current medical support, I have a hard time not feeling alone. Like I’m doing everything on my own and have no one I can lean on. I might not have that in person, but I do have a good community online of people I can talk to, of those who do care for me and who will listen, which sometimes is all I really need.
So until you can reach the help you need, don’t be afraid to let those closest to you know how you’re struggling and hopefully they will be there for you, too. In addition, please stay safe and healthy-at-home from COVID-19.
Until next time,
<3 An Autustic Gal