Friday, October 9, 2009

learning to ask for help

DF and I recently went on vacation to Charleston SC for a week, which marked the official start of our wedding planning. We had a great trip. The first half we spent with my mom and sister; after they left, we had three days to ourselves to play tourist. I actually felt fairly good during vacation. I still had the daily head pain from my Migraines and IIH, but I paced myself and practiced good self-care, and was able to enjoy our vacation - even if a lot of it was spent in the condo we stayed at.

When we came home last week, the real world seemed to crash back into place around us. All the stress we had been ignoring about unemployment, finances and everything else hit hard. I realized - on the plane ride home, in fact - how much my Anxiety has gotten out of control over the summer.

Like many Migraineurs, I struggle with a number of comorbid conditions: Migraines, IBS and mood disorders (namely Anxiety and Depression). I've struggled with bouts of Depression in the past, particularly during my third year of college when I first got sick. Even after my Migraines and IIH were successfully treated, the Depression stuck around for a long time.

It's no secret to me that this has been a difficult summer. DF and I have not been able to land "real" jobs after being laid off last November. Between our paychecks and unemployment checks, we're making ends meet and aren't in any immediate danger, but everything feels very precarious. My health has only just started to improve from the very low point of last year. I've been dealing with a triple whammy, in a sense, of my unemployment, DF's unemployment and my crummy health.

This summer has marked a vicious cycle of Anxiety-pain-Depression-Anxiety that I just cannot get out of. The Anxiety about all the life stresses feeds my pain, and the pain in turn feeds my Anxiety. While I'm having less pain overall (thanks to the acetazolamide for my IIH), I still have not had any break in my pain in several years, and I still have a long way to go to find an effective treatment regimen.

I saw Dr E for a follow-up appointment on October 1, the day after DF and I got home from vacation. As I sat in the waiting room writing down last minute questions, I wrote a note about my Anxiety. It was serendipitous that my appointment with Dr E was right after vacation, when I realized how much I've been struggling, so I was willing to bring up my concerns. Anxiety and Depression are hard things to talk about, even with a doctor whom I trust.

In fact, I have spoken with Dr E about this same issue in the past, which made it easier to bring up this time. When I saw him in February, we discussed my Anxiety as related to unemployment; at that point neither DF nor I had any job prospects on the horizon. Dr E prescribed a low dose of citalopram (Celexa), though I never started taking it since I did find a job not long after my appointment.

But now I find myself stuck in the same position. And it's just tiring to feel all this emotional upheaval on top of my regular physical symptoms. I feel so frustrated by the constant pain, the daily dizziness and nausea, that I often just want to scream. The longer all of this stretches on, the harder it becomes to cope.

Dr E wrote me a new scrip for the citalopram, leaving it up to me to fill it any time after the appointment if I felt ready for it. (He understands and respects my reluctance to try new medications after a series of really bad reactions.) I decided earlier this week to get it filled, and will be starting it next week. And I'm nervous about it.

It's so difficult to ask for help because it can be so difficult to admit to myself that I need help. I can't think myself out of my mood disruptions any more than I can think myself out of my Migraines. While I can do relaxation exercises and other non-drug therapies to mitigate my symptoms, they will not change the underlying chemical and neurological problems. So Monday evening, I will take my first dose of citalopram and hope for the best.

I'm learning, once again, how to ask for help when I need it, and trying not to feel like a failure for needing it.

Be well,


Leslie said...


Glad to see you are back to blogging. It sounds like things have been busy for you. I'm in the process of writing a post about asking for help, because I too, have come to realize recently that I am definitely in need of it. I hope things settle down for you. And congrats on the impending wedding!


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

It takes a strong person to ask for help, especially about sensitive subjects. Hope the meds help, and the financial situation evens out.

MJ said...

Leslie, I've found that I really isolated myself this summer and took a break from the online support community. I'm not sure if that was a good or bad idea, but I'm ready to reach out again and talk. I know you've been having a rough time yourself, so I hope you're doing as well as possible. *hugs*

WinnyNinny, thanks for your comment. You're right that it takes strength to ask for help. I can only hope that by being open and honest about my struggles with Anxiety and Depression (along with Migraines) will encourage others to seek help if they need it.

Thanks for reading,

MigrainePosterChild said...

I can completely relate to this! I haven't been able to work for the past few months due to my migraines intensifying. My hubby and I are barely scraping by financially on his paycheck. I battle overwhelming anxiety and depression on a daily basis. I don't even talk about it with my doctor anymore because she always wants to give me medication or tells me that I should see a psychiatrist. I have been on Citalopram, but I didn't find it very helpful. I hope it worked for you =)