A New Diagnosis

I haven’t been around much for the last month, largely because I have been fighting to keep my head above water.

Let me make this story short. I hit a major trigger regarding the sexual abuse that took place when I was a kid. I started having flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares, all of which just kept getting worse and worse. After I spent several hours, curled up in a ball on the couch and unable to move because my anxiety and distress were so severe, I called my therapist.

She confirmed what I had begun to suspect: I have PTSD. She couldn’t give me an official diagnosis, since therapists can’t diagnose. But we looked at the criteria for a diagnosis and I every last one of them, and exhibit all of the symptoms except one (outbursts of anger or irritability). At this point, my doctor has confirmed this and diagnosed me with PTSD. We’ve changed my antidepressant and I also have a med for my anxiety, now.

I have mixed feelings about my diagnosis. It’s a relief to know what is wrong. Being able to give a name to what I have been experiencing for the last year somehow makes it less scary. And now that we know what is wrong, we can start treating it. I can get better. I mean, I already lived through anorexia, which has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. If I can beat that, I can do this, too, right?

But I am also afraid. Terrified, really. My eating disorder swallowed up five years of my life. It came closer to claiming my life than I like to admit. I don’t know if I can go through that much of a struggle, again. What if this one actually does claim my life? I feel so very broken. And the worse the depression and the anxiety get, the harder it becomes to continue to eat. The eating disorder always starts whispering in my ear again when I’m already struggling. It’s so hard not to relapse, sometimes. If I do, I honestly don’t think I will have the strength to climb back out of that black pit a second time.

I’m afraid I’m going to lose my friends. I lost three with my eating disorder. Close friends. One of whom I had grown up with and who was like a sister. I don’t know if I can cope with losing any more to mental illness.

I’m afraid I’m going to hurt my family. I finally told my mother about the abuse and how bad my mental health is, right now. And I know it’s hurting her to see me hurting so much. She’s even helping me pay for therapy, which is good, since I can’t afford it. But that’s money out of her budget. And she already spent how many thousands of dollars on treatment for my eating disorder? It’s not right. It’s not fair to her. I wish I could just be a normal daughter.

I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. I’ve already earned a verbal warning for “attendance issues” due to have to leave work a few times. A verbal warning doesn’t bear any consequences, but continued absences will. My manager is being as understanding as he can be, and I’ve even been approved to have some extra 5 minute breaks throughout the day to help with my anxiety. But it’s still a business. They can’t let me miss work constantly, not without FMLA. And I’m not eligible for that until March.

I know everyone will tell me it will be okay, I can get through this. But, right now, I’m so exhausted and depressed and afraid that I can barely move. And switching antidepressants is making it all worse. The mood swings in particular are killing me. I know this is necessary, and I know that I will start to feel better in a few weeks, but the transition between meds feels like a living hell.

I feel frightened. I feel alone. And I feel so very, very broken.