A bit on my background. I’ve been struggling with my mental health, having an actual grasp of something amiss, for about twenty years give or take. What originally seemed like just bouts of hyper-activity as a child became wild swings between depression and being awake for days on end and at all hours of the night. As the years went on, the intensity of these swings became longer and more intense. To boot, I tend to have severe side-effects to any medication that I take, no matter how seemingly benign they may be. Add to this being too poor to afford health insurance, and it made it difficult at best to seek any help.
Eventually I made my way into the employer of last resort, and proceeded to spend five years in the U.S. Navy. The isolation resulting from being around a bunch of folks that couldn’t give two shits about me, along with the geographic isolation of most naval bases, only compounded the depression and hyper episodes I was experiencing with general anxiety. I held up the best that I could, but eventually started drinking pretty heavily to help mask things. This drinking carried over to when I eventually separated from the Navy, and didn’t leave a great impression on the few friends I had from before I went into the service.
Once I was out of the service and had something resembling stable employment, I was able to consider looking for mental help again. The stigma attached to mental health issues kept me from actually doing so for some time, especially considering the constraints of my job. This really bit me in the ass due to getting laid off from this job shortly after I’d finally begun searching due to a reorganization of the business.
A few months later, I tried pursuing help for PTSD through the Department of Veterans Affairs, and had some surprising help when they put me on a medication to help with my insomnia, which helped my mental state to a small degree. Because I was only covered by the VA for a couple years after I separated from the military, my access to this medication only lasted for a limited time. Fortunately for me, I found a way to have it imported from a country that didn’t charge an arm and a leg for the privilege. I wouldn’t recommend outsourcing your medication needs to the folks at home though, as the quality can be wildly different depending on the source.
After a couple years, the medication started to become less and less effective than it had initially, so I stopped taking it. After a few months of not taking it, and seeing as I was gainfully employed again, I decided to take another stab at seeing a doctor to get my mental health sorted out. Through some work with a psychiatrist, I was diagnosed with ADHD and severe depression. While this was indeed some progress, attempts at treating either ultimately failed due to side-effects from various medications. After talking with the psychiatrist, I decided to go back on the initial medication that had kind of worked, if only to take the edge off the depression and insomnia. Even though I knew that the medication wouldn’t offer a permanent solution, it was still better than nothing at all.
Fast-forward a couple more years, and the depression had gotten out of control despite the medication I was taking. After about 9 months of trying to find a psych, I was recommended one by my GP at the time after prescribing me yet another couple of medications that didn’t work for my symptoms. Lo and behold though, this new psych, after assessing what medications had not worked for me in the past, was able to prescribe something that finally worked. About twenty years later, and I finally had something that worked for me.
I realize this may come across as a daunting experience for those facing mental health issues, but try not to give up. I understand that the task at hand may seem hopeless, but after surviving twenty-ish years without effective treatment despite my brain screaming against me, that it’s possible to come through to the other side.