First timer with multiple diagnoses
I’m feeling quite alone. I don’t know where to begin. I’ve suffered a major depressive disorder since I was a teen. Tried different medications over the years. Some worked better than others. Anxiety was there in the background through my childhood, teens, early adulthood. But it has spiked in the last 5 or so years. I’m now 43. I’m finding it harder to believe things will get any better at this stage. I’ve also had many physical health issues which flared up like never before after I had my second child 10 years ago. Some symptoms have improved, but the majority are getting worse. I was diagnosed with POTS a few years ago but I’ve always had this feeling there’s something else going on. But maybe all my symptoms can be attributed to that diagnosis, and there just isn’t enough clear information out there to confirm or deny this.
I cannot keep living in this nightmare.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m struggling today and so I’m not even sure if I’m getting my msg across coherently.
Hello Millie Tiger,
& Welcome! I am glad you found your way here.
I am not familiar with POTS, but a very quick google, tells me it is 'Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome', and rare. Can you explain more?
I do understand you have a lot on your plate. Things are difficult for you, and have been for a long time. Lately you are struggling with the thought 'things are not going to get better', and this causes you to despair. You are not sure where to go now, who can help, yes, and if the POTS diagnosis is even correct.
Have I got that right? If so, you post did make sense. I'm not surprised you are feeling low. Are there things you are doing to lift your mood, to mitigate the psychological symptoms, and the physical symptoms you are experiencing? What helps you? Do you have any people supporting you?
That's enough to go on with. I do not want to overwhelm you with all my questions.
Hi Millie Tiger,
Thanks for posting on this forum. I'm glad you're sharing your thoughts and feelings. It's understandable that the lack of clear information on how physical illnesses affect our mental health is distressing. When I struggle with this kind of frustration, it helps me to remember that the science of mental health is actually very new. While some things are understood very well, many other things aren't. When you add in the interactions of physical health and mental health it gets even more complex and confusing. It's tough, but searching for simple, exact answers can sometimes be counterproductive in my view.
That said there are lots of general things that people can find helpful and for which there is robust evidence, e.g. exercise, diet, talk therapy, etc, but exactly what this looks like for each individual is very subjective and for many people probably just needs to be found by trial and error. One strategy (that I've followed) is just to constantly experiment with things to find out what works for you.
For me, good exercise and diet are absolutely essential, along with medication and regularly talking to people I trust, both professionally and socially. Routine, along with mindfulness and meditative type practices also help me. I find it much harder to do these things alone, so I joined a spiritual group which practices these things. Most of the traditional spiritualities also encourage compassion, awe, and gratitude, attitudes which evidence has also linked to good mental health. Other community interest groups, like walking or planting groups can also provide these things.
I too have had serious depression and anxiety on and off for decades. I found schema therapy useful for thinking about ingrained instincts of thought and behaviour which, although they have some positive effects, overall lead to a decline in mental health if not moderated. My understanding is that schema therapy is thought to be useful for such "chronic" cases. There are lots of schema therapy resources online that I just worked through myself - similarly for other therapy schools of thought like ACT.
Thanks again for posting Millie Tiger, and I hope some of the above was helpful. There are lots of books and other resources I can recommend if you think it would be useful. I found "The Antidote: Happyness for People who Can't Stand Positive Thinking" by Oliver Burkeman a good summary of many of the approaches that have worked for me over the years.
Thanks for being open with us. I understand that you're giving up hope on feeling better. I want you to know that you're only human, and mental illness isn't something that someone should ever be expected to deal with alone.. Especially as you've suffered since your teens. It's great that you've taken the step to reach out to Beyond Blue and share with us.
You've mentioned that you've tried different medications over the years, have you ever received any form of therapy with a counsellor/psychologist/psychiatrist? If not, how do you feel about taking the step to contact one?
Your health is a very important priority. Physical health issues feed into mental health issues, and vice versa, and sadly affect of physical health burdens on mental health isn't often a focus in treatment.
You're deserving of feeling better and support to help you understand more on your health issues.
I hope you're taking care.
Hi Millie Tiger
I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling so much. The feeling of things not getting any better or even imagining things getting worse must be torturous.
It definitely pays to trust your instincts. In doing so, this could be the start of your journey as a detective. To be a detective definitely requires a certain level of healthy intolerance. What I mean by this is...the challenge of not tolerating medical experts saying 'You just gotta accept it' or 'There's simply no cure' or 'You don't know what you're talking about' really does become a challenge, leading to self doubt if you're not careful. Don't go down the path of self doubt, as it's a dead end.
If you search outside the square, you'd find people who've been cured from POTS as soon as their sleep apnea has been addressed. You'll find people whose symptoms have disappeared once their B12 deficiency has been addressed and treated. I imagine the list goes on. An interesting area of research might involve 'Can B12 deficiency in teenage years lead to POTS?'
It sounds like the natural detective in you is coming to life. Definitely a liberating sense of self absolutely packed with an incredible sense of wonder.
Can recall a couple of times in my life where doctors had insisted certain symptoms I was experiencing were related to causes that just didn't feel right. On one occasion I had a number of doctors tell me 'Feeling this tired is just a part of life sometimes'. This dismissiveness led to a growing B12 deficiency which reached the point of overwhelming dysfunction. Finally, it was treated and the symptoms disappeared. On another occasion, I was pushed and pushed by a GP who insisted I take anti anxiety meds for what appeared to be panic attacks. I wouldn't settle for taking the meds as I just knew there was more to it than panic attacks. Turned out I was actually experiencing silent migranes which were triggering my nervous system. Was treated accordingly and stopped experiencing the symptoms.
So, to you, I say 'Don't settle, if you feel there's more to it than what the doctors say'. Trust your feelings and become a detective 🙂