I sat at the doctor’s office today, surrounded by coughing sick people, for almost an hour until it was my turn. Everything went smoothly, quickly, and just how it was hoped. I’m about to be a free woman, in a big way, and I’m excited to see where the future takes me… perhaps under water?
You see, there’s something so essentially me that I often don’t tell people because I’m kind of ashamed and embarrassed. GASP! Whatever could it be? Well, let’s flash back to August 2010. Cairns. Sunlover Reef Cruise. On the boat, ready to go!
There probably wasn’t anything on the east coast Australia road trip I took that I was more excited about than the introductory scuba dive lesson on the Great Barrier Reef. NOTHING. Being one of those things many people only dream about, I was mentally prepared for the exciting exploration of a world that Nemo calls home… a place that’s almost magical and where time stands still.
Heather and I made our way to the bottom level of the boat to fill out the forms for the scuba instructors. This included medical history, emergency contacts, and plain old signing our lives away. I hesitated when it came to the medication section because I knew I had to put everything down, and subconsciously I had a feeling it would be an issue, even though it wasn’t listed on the website for this excursion as being so.
The trip itself had come together in a matter of weeks of heavy and quick planning, so beyond looking at their scuba dive information, I didn’t have much chance to really prepare… like consulting a doctor. I assumed everything would be okay, but you know what happens when you ass-ume things, right?
Telling myself it was going to be just fine (I mean, we were on the boat already), I gave the guy my forms while Heather stood next to me. He went through the information, asked me some questions, all without really looking up from the paper. Then, he had to do it; he had to ask me what my medication was for.
So, I told him.
He paused for a moment. Still looking at the paper — I think it happened in slow motion — he took his pen and made a gigantic “X” across the top.
“You will not be going with us today,” he bluntly stated.
Gasp, shock, #*%&%*!… I mean WTF man?!
I was screaming in my head, yet standing there in disbelief, fumbling through my words as I tried to come to terms with what he was telling me. I wanted to cry. I wanted to punch every other person going on a scuba dive in the face. I rented a bloody underwater camera for it and everything.
“I’m sorry, but this is something that just changed a few weeks ago. People taking any sort of anti-depressant medication of any kind cannot go on the dive without a doctor’s consent. There have been issues with blacking out from the pressure change.”
So, hi, my name is Brooke and I suffer from major depression, an evil beast that has a sneaky way of taking over your life until one day you can’t physically do anything except for lay in bed, even if it means you don’t eat or do your work. Oh, yeah, and there’s its evil friend, anxiety, to deal with, too.
Yep. Got ’em both.
While anxiety is something I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with for most of my life in little bits here and there, when ol’ D-man came to visit, their forces combined to leave me helpless. When? Oh, I say the big hit came around May of 2009, a few months after being in Australia, and over a year before the scuba dive incident. There was a lot I think I was dealing with that contributed to it all, but I just couldn’t put the pieces together at the time. I often tell people that I was walking in a cloud for a few months because when you’re depressed, you can’t see anything clearly. It’s like you’re possessed by some demon that makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. I felt as low as low can go… like an insignificant blip in the universe that could disappear with no one even caring.
And, it wasn’t just mental. I physically felt sick all the time. In fact, I gave myself ulcerations in my esophagus from all the stomach irritation it caused. I looked constantly tired, and I felt drained. I hated being around people; I hated going out. Even the idea of traveling sounded overwhelming… what?!
It took a few long months of crying and a steady decline of work quality before something clicked. I got help from a doctor that diagnosed me and got me started on some sweet, sweet drugs. Hey, I definitely would rather have gone with therapy, but its like over $100 an hour here! Say all you want about anti-depressants, but these little guys helped me get my life back in order.
And, so there we are… here we are. I like to think I’m a much stronger person now. It’s been about 16 months of taking meds, addressing my issues with life and putting myself in a position that is conducive to being without them. Which is now. Which is today!
I’m starting the process of weening from this very day.
Do you know what that means? It’s means, Nemo, I’m looking at you!