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Monday, September 13, 2004

Feeling down...

A few days ago I was reflecting on depression, and lately I have been feeling it. I just can't help it... I just have been feeling really down the past few days. I can't put my finger on the cause, but my psychiatrist did warn me that depression will take hold every now and then like a pendulum swing. I have been feeling quite well... until this weekend. It must have been the stress, I just don't know. The job, the amount of work, the boss, the visas (I have just begun my application for the Green Card), my daughter, the memories and the lingering pain, it all adds up.

It is now almost a year ago when I first started the counseling session. At about that time, my oldest daughter, then a college freshman, had declared her independence from God in her life, and decided to move out of the house. This, after months of fighting with us about her staying late night outs with boy friends, working at a bar, and not paying attention to school. My second daughter then a high school freshman, were having problems with friends (her complaint: she doesn't have friends at school and church). After several tumultuous months of fighting and loud disagreements, where there were much screaming and yelling between the two of us, I finally give in and accepted that it is best to not force her to attend youth group. The yelling sessions did not stop immediately though. My wife was concerned about my mood swings. The problem was intensified that it appears that the downswings of my moods appears to coincide with the monthly hormonal swings of my daughter's. Fearing that my children will leave God one at a time and that the harder I try the worse I seemed to make it, I made the appointment to see the counselor. Fortunately, we were able to find a Christian counselor at the Center for Hope and Healing who was willing to accept reduced fees for the sessions. The sessions helped almost immediately. At about the same time, I started reading
Feeling Good-by David Burns.

My counselor had told me that it will get ugly for me before healing comes. In fact, when she first indicated that I should be evaluated for bipolar syndrome, I was in disbelief (or denial?), but dutifully agreed to make an appointment with the psychiatrist to be evaluated. However, I was quite sure I would come out in the clear. I was pretty sure that my "depression" was circumstantial or caused by life events, and not caused by a disease. I took a self-check depression test found in Feeling Good, and scored 37 (out of 100)- "moderate depression". Thinking that is within the normal range of most people, I made copies of the test and passed them along to my colleagues to also take the test. I was rather stunned when their scores were between '2' and '7' - in the range of 'not depressed'. More surprises awaited me.

At my appointment with the psychiatrist I was astounded that the evaluation consisted entirely of a question and answer session. I was under the impression that it would be involve some form of "scientific" measurement of serotonin levels using electrodes, or brain scans! Don't laugh, I was seriously thinking that would be the case! Anyway, the good doctor concluded after our little interview that I am "clinically depressed" and maybe "borderline" biplor. Further evaluations were needed he said. He immediately put me on Wellbutrin.

The first three weeks, I did not feel anything different. About the third week onwards, the Wellbutrin started to kick in, and I could feel a marked different. My mood swings getting lesser, and I thought I was really getting better.

Then the headaches started. My head was feeling really tight, pressurized. Often I felt like wanting to unscrew my head if I could to relieve the pressure. I called the psychiatrist. But he was having his annual vacation! I decided to stop taking Wellbutrin. My next appointment was not until a couple of weeks, and I did not want to call him anymore because I was afraid that he would ask me to start on the Wellbutrin again!

When I next saw the doctor, he prescribed Lexapro. This time it seems to be much better. For the past two months, I have been on Lexapro and it seems that I have improved. I haven't had any severe mood swings. In fact, my relationship with both my daughters have improved tremendously. The counseling sessions have also been able to help me to deal with my flashbacks, and helped me to deal with my anger and sadness. As I said, the past few weeks, I have been progressively improving in my moods, my ability to think better and more clearly and relationships with my daughters, wife and other children have truly improved. Even at work, I have been able to deflect my boss's unfair treatments as "not my issues" and been able to instead respond in praying for her!

Yet, this entire weekend, I have this uneasy, sinking feeling. A Psalm 42, 43 type of feeling. Wait! Didn't the Psalmist say "I will yet praise Him...?" I guess it is an act of the will. Not an emotional response, but a willing conscious decision to worship the God who uplifts.

| 1 pre-Haloscan comments:

not an easy journey, whether it's called depression or bipolar disorder.. Jane Pauley just came out about her diagnosis as bipolar, and I see today that Linda Hamilton (of Terminator fame) has also come out with her bipolar diagnosis. One thing (among many) is that these mood things aren't so objective or scientific, so it does take a lot of subjective evaluation and discernment to learn how to manage and to self-care, with help of medication sometimes and help of therapists and counselors, and others.

By Blogger djchuang, at 10:42:00 AM

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