This blog is not FDA approved
The latest chapter of my life began about 20 years ago. That is when everything started to really fall apart.
On the surface, it looked like I was starting over. I had just moved from my home of 40+ years in New York State to Texas to marry a co-worker whom I had known for 18 years. It should have been a joyous time. But the move was rather traumatic. It was culture shock to my system, to say the least. To give up a vibrant life in New York to move to Texas. I was also starting a new job in Texas, which was stressful and required quite a bit a traveling which my new husband did not like. As it turns out, my marriage was not a happy one. I did not know my husband as well I thought I did. He had a terrible temper and was condescending. He treated me like a child. There was a twelve year age difference between us and he never let me forget that.
In addition to that, I was leaving behind in New York State my 17-year-old daughter. I had been a single mother for 15 years and now she would be staying for her senior year of high school with her father. Unfortunately, her father, a teacher at her high school, picked this time to begin a very public affair with another teacher at the school and my daughter stopped going to school and acted out in other ways. I could do nothing from 2,000 miles away. My relationship with my precious daughter was in tatters.
To say I was under stress was an understatement.
I had suffered from migraine headaches from the time I was 12 years old. They were horrible. But I could live with them as long as they came only 3 or 4 times a year. But when I moved to Texas, because of the stress, the migraines increased in frequency and in intensity. Over a period of time, they increased to one a month. Finally, at one point, I was experiencing migraines 3 or 4 times a month for a period of 3 or 4 days each occurrence. They were threatening my job. They were debilitating. I was confined to bed, except when I would crawl to the bathroom to throw up. I would lie in my bed with ice packs on my head in a darkened room and cry. Nothing would help the pain. My primary care doctor had given me hydrocodone for the pain but it didn’t touch it. Eventually he sent me to a neurologist.
The neurologist put me on alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, and tried other medications to prevent the headaches. He also gave me prescription medications that were supposed to help relieve the pain of migraines. None of the medications prevented my migraines and none of the medications that were supposed to take away the pain did so. Steroids did lessen the duration of the migraines when one had gone on for five days or more. I was increasingly frustrated and becoming suicidal because of the pain and the way the migraines were taking over my life. My job was in jeopardy. I told my neurologist that I just wanted to take all the medicines in my cupboard. Maybe that would stop the migraines. He was upset and told me that he felt that I should see a psychiatrist.
I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist that day. I just didn’t know what else to do. I was fortunate. I found a wonderful psychiatrist who had her practice close to me. She took time with me and listened to me. She diagnosed me as having chronic depression, anxiety, and having a disorder known as borderline personality disorder. She prescribed medication for the depression and the anxiety and we began the long and slow journey of finding the right medications that would be appropriate for me and treat these conditions. My doctor is very conservative, and tried one medication at a time. These medications take time to work. When it began obvious that one was not working, she would try another. I was put on Prozac, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Remeron, and a host of other SSRIs. Finally, after more than a year of trial and error, we found a combination of drugs that seemed to work for a while. I also began therapy with a psychologist for my depression and my borderline personality disorder.
Borderlines are difficult to treat. They are often self-centered, lacking in empathy, lack judgment and decision-making skills, self-injury, have difficulties with authority. They have problems with relationships. They have usually suffered from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I had suffered these types of abuse. I had judgment problems and still do. I also have trouble maintaining decent relationships, particularly with my daughter. Therapy has helped a lot. My therapist has worked with me tirelessly for the past 15 years to help me get past self-injury and the events in my past to live in the present and have a somewhat normal life. He has helped me through my depression. He has helped me with the relationships in my life, especially my relationship with my daughter which has often been rocky since I married my second husband. This relationship, I’m happy to say, has been much better in the past year. I credit my psychologist with our good relationship because he has guided me in forming the decent relationship I now have with my daughter. He has helped me make better decisions in my life, as well. I have a long way to go, but I hope that he sticks around to help me for awhile.
The migraines finally met their match when the triptan medications were introduced. I was being seen by a headache specialist and the drug imitrex came onto the market. At first imitrex was an injectable. That was fine with me. It worked fast to kill the headache. It was like a miracle drug. I had to take multiple shots over the course of the days of the headache, but I could at least now function and I wasn’t scared to death of the headaches. Later, the anti-seizure drug topomax was being used to prevent migraines. I tried this drug and after some trial and error, we found a dosage that has seemed to work to prevent the migraines for me. I take the topomax every day now. It has the side effect of decreased appetite and I have to be careful to make sure I eat enough and not to lose too much weight. The imitrex comes now in tablet form. It takes longer to work but I now that it will work in an hour or two after the onset of the headache. I am not panicked over a migraine the way I once was and I can actually function when i have a headache, not at 100% but enough to get by.
As for my depression, my psychiatrist believes that I have probably always suffered from depression my whole life. I was first treated for depression in the 1980s. But I believe she is correct. I probably have always suffered from a low-level depression. My depression over the migraines was serious. I was suicidal. I also went through another suicidal period several years later when I was having a particularly bad time at work. My medications had to be adjusted. That took some time but we found a “cocktail” of an older medication,Remeron, a newer SSRI, Pristiq, and a “booster” medication, Saphris, that is working well for me now. For my anxiety, I was on klonopin for a long time, but have been off that for a while. I am on a newer, safer medication, Deplin, now and also take nutritional supplements for the anxiety. This combination is helping with my anxiety problem, which has been quite bad all my life.
My climb out of the depths of depression and anxiety and the disorder of borderline personality has been a long and arduous one. It has taken nearly 18 years of hard work and it is not over yet. It will never be over. This I know. But I am so thankful that I have a kind psychiatrist who was willing to treat me all these years, who listened to my fears and to my concerns about medications and worked with me to find solutions to my problems. I have a marvelous psychologist who is always there to help me pick up the pieces of my life when I’ve made a mess of things. I’ve had a great headache specialist who was willingly to figure out what would work to prevent my migraines and stop the destructive spiral. I am very fortunate to have these people in my life. I feel that although I still suffer from depression and anxiety, I am living a relatively normal life today. And that is a gift that I could have never anticipated.