First of all, sorry for the lull in posting- I was the victim of a homework sabotage! I had way too much work to do any updating, but now that I’m on spring break I’ll try to write several posts.
Second, I’ve decided to start a series of posts about comorbid conditions that I have with my NLD. One of the facts that you read most frequently about NLD is that there are many related conditions that can result from the disorder. Generally these are conditions like depression and anxiety which stem from the difficulties caused by NLD (ie depression because of social issues and rejection by peers, etc). Unfortunately, I’ve developed my share of comorbid conditions! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m diagnosed with clinical depression, and that’s what I’ll talk about here.
I find it very hard to describe my depression, because I lived with it for so long before I did anything to fix it. It was part of my life for many years, and as a result I can’t really point to aspects of my behavior and say “oh, that’s a symptom of depression!” or “I did that because I was depressed.” Now, having said that, I personally think that I started to feel clinically depressed in 9th grade. I had a very tough time going from middle to high school, despite the fact that I didn’t change schools, because I had really loved my 8th grade classes and felt like 9th grade was paling in comparison. My school also doubles the number of students in the grade beginning in high school, so I had a lot of social upheaval.
Basically, I started to feel incredibly sad a lot, and wasn’t sure why. Sometimes I would get so upset that I would lie down and cry for upwards of an hour, and do it for no reason. If I ever had a “high point” when I was happy, it would be followed by a very “low point” when I felt profoundly upset. I spent a lot of time hiding out in my room, as well as arguing with and avoiding my parents. I got angry very easily, both at my parents and myself. I would have internal monologues in which I told myself that I was a bad person, a failure, and that something was wrong with me (which was something I did a lot when I was much younger, and had grown out of up until this point). Additionally, my executive functioning skills went a bit haywire when I started high school, and I ended up staying up extremely late doing my homework- as late as 3:30AM several nights a week. I couldn’t break the habit, and my fatigue just fed everything else. I would have many nights where I found myself slaving away on my homework at 2AM, and hated myself for it: I would yell at myself, cry for a while about how angry I was and how hopeless I felt, and then go back to my work. Because no matter how poorly I felt, I still did all of my schoolwork, all the time.
So, it sounds like I was pretty depressed, right? Well, the thing is, I didn’t think I was depressed. Most of the time, I felt happy- at least, I thought I did. So I wasn’t getting much sleep, and I was sad sometimes- who cares? I was perfectly fine! I didn’t really realize that anything was wrong… until the end of 9th grade. At the very end of 9th grade, right when school ended, I had a very high point, which was inevitably followed by a really, really low point. I usually get pretty upset when the school year ends, but this was more- within the span of 1 day, I went from being ecstatic to basically unable to get out of bed. And I started to think, “why do I always get so sad after I’m so happy?” In fact, I wrote that exact sentence in my journal at the time. However, I still didn’t really think that anything was wrong.
This continued throughout 10th grade. I had some incredibly bad social issues in the 2nd half of 10th grade which just served to exacerbate things, but still I insisted that nothing was really wrong with me. Starting in 11th grade, however, my parents started to insist that I do something. They kept telling me that I might be depressed, and my mom was pretty adamant that I think about trying antidepressants. However, this led to a lot of fights. Maybe I’m depressed, I’d tell them, but there was no way in hell that I was going to take antidepressants. I thought they’d “change my brain”, and I’d act differently and view the world differently. I simply refused to take medicine. I agreed to try therapy before medicine, and it completely failed. Meanwhile, I had another HUGE social issue in February of 11th grade, and my emotional health plummeted. I was just incredibly depressed. And at that point I knew I was depressed, but I was still refusing to take medicine.
In March, my parents had an “intervention”. They told me that I had no choice, I was going to see a psychiatrist to discuss antidepressants. The intervention ended with me locking myself in a bathroom in order to get away from them, which was probably my lowest point. But it was no use- the next week, I was in a psychiatrist’s office getting evaluated. She diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder and decided very quickly that I should start on anti-depressants, and I was started on 5 milligrams of Lexapro within a couple of weeks, almost exactly a year ago (I began them the week after spring break last year). We’ve since increased it to 10 milligrams.
I’m very grateful for my antidepressants now. I can’t imagine getting though the past year without them, and I’m a much happier person while I take them! I don’t think they “change my brain”, which is what I was so afraid of. I just don’t hit the low points that I had before I started taking them. My relationship with my parents is much better, my executive functioning has improved, and I’m just generally happy. It’s a much better feeling than what I was living with for so many years. I don’t think my depression has disappeared, I think I’ve simply been handed a tool to grapple with it more effectively. I don’t want to live with depression if I don’t have to, because it’s an awful way to live.
So, do any of you have depression? I’m especially curious about when other people started to “develop” their depression, since I don’t feel like mine began to pick up until high school (although my mom disagrees). What are other people’s experiences?