Something to keep in mind…I have had depression for as long as I can remember…it has nothing to do with the fact that I am in a wheelchair. I think people too often assume that about me when the reality is that the wheelchair only made me stronger.
This is what I want to share…just because. I believe that I am supposed to be the most honest and forthcoming person that I can be. I want to share both the highs and the lows. I want people to know that they are not alone and I want them to know that they are not crazy. I now know I am not crazy…and that is exactly why I am okay with sharing this.
There are times I am scared of disappointing those around me. I know that people have this idea of me where they see me as this strong, outgoing and unbreakable person…well, I am breakable and I break all the time…but I also put the pieces back together, every time, and I will never stop putting them back together. I get stronger every time, I grow as a person, I learn so many lessons about life and living and pain and suffering…and I wouldn’t take any of it back. This is the path I chose to live and I have to face it with everything I have in me.
This year has been one of the craziest years of my life. I cannot believe the INSANE lessons and experiences I have had. I will be sharing all of it…but right now, I just want to finally post this.
I will start at the month prior to these videos. In August I decided I wanted to get off one of the anti-depressants I have been on for the last year and a half. I am on 300mg of Wellbutrin and 150mg of Zoloft. I have been on Wellbutrin since 2011 starting my first year of college, two years after I broke my back and became paralyzed from the waste down and less than one year after I lost two of my close friends to suicide. The Wellbutrin did more than I expected it to do…it lifted the 100 pound cloud that was always pushing down on me, everywhere I went. It was gone for the first time in my life. It helped me with the heavy weight of the depression, but I still had constant negative thoughts spinning around in my head, constantly putting me down. But at the time I told myself that I just needed to work through them. I thought that time and counseling, along with everything else I was doing to make my life better, would help those negative thoughts stop. But Four years later, in the spring of 2016, they were still there. It was four months before the Paralympics and I was desperate to figure it out and get my *&@^ together. I wanted to be my very best. I wanted a fair chance at being the athlete that I knew I could be.
My plan from the very beginning of my accident was to make it to the top…to compete at the Paralympics in Wheelchair Basketball…and to get there I was going to do anything and everything to work through all of the insecurities, the pain and any hardship I faced, and I was going to be the strongest version of myself, a version I knew I could be and I wanted to be more than anything. I was going to overcome my depression. That was my plan.
During those four years after starting Wellbutrin…the negative thoughts had only gotten worse and I couldn’t control them no matter how hard I tried. There was never a moment they were not in the back of my mind telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I was weak, I was fake, that I would never reach the goals that I wanted in my life. So, as I said, I was desperate. I decided to try another antidepressant to take alongside the Wellbutrin. My doctor suggested that I take an SSRI which is a class of anti-depressants that are known to help anxiety and OCD along with depression. And what I was realizing was that these were obsessive thoughts, they were causing me to live in a constant anxiety that, at the time, I didn’t even realize was anxiety, and that these thoughts were completely out of my control.
I was always resistant to taking an SSRI because of the calming affect they can have on your brain…I was scared I would lose my athletic drive. But at that point, four months before the Paralympics, I was either going to go to the Paralympics and compete the best that I could while battling these negative thoughts and feelings…that is, if the negative thoughts would even allow me to handle the pressure of competing at the Paralympics…or I was going to go for it and try another Anti-depressant…and risk becoming so numb I wouldn’t even care to be competitive.
I did a lot of research and talked to a psychiatrist who decided to put me on Zoloft . And thankfully Zoloft helped A LOT.
But after taking it for the past year…I began to feel numb to a lot of things in life, things that I wasn’t willing to just accept being numb to for the rest of my life. So, despite the fact that Zoloft did help…I made the decision that I wanted to get off of it.
Another reason I wanted to get off of it had to do with the Grand Mal Seizure I had last spring. The seizure may or may not have been attributed to the Wellbutrin (And my inconsistency in taking it during the few weeks prior…I will also talk more about that later). But this made me want to work towards being free of all medications and to begin trying a more natural route, if possible (I felt like at this point in my life I would have a better chance of handling life without these medications…at least handling it long enough to figure out something else to try).
Some people thought it was crazy to want to get off the meds that had clearly been helping me. But I am not going to just settle for being “okay” when I know there are other options out there to try. I want to live my life fuller. And I know that I can be happier. There are so many options out there to try and I didn’t want to settle on the first one just because it was able to get me feeling “okay” …I might have been “okay” but I was still struggling.
I decided to wean off the Zoloft first (because I was still working at my 7 month, 32 hour a week internship and I didn’t want to risk having another seizure, and in front of someone who would call 911 causing my license to then be taken away again for six months-even if I knew that the cause of the seizure was from weaning off Wellbutrin)
Sooooooo in July, I started with Zoloft (under my doctor’s supervision) and I went down by 10 mg every week or every other week depending how I was feeling.
Coming off Zoloft was scary for me. I had shocks going through my body every minute for the first month, to then every hour or so and then maybe once or twice a day. On top of the shocks, I was constantly on the verge of crying, every single day and was struggling to keep it together.
I was told by people that I need medication because I have a mental illness and it is out of my control…but the truth is, they don’t know what I need, I don’t know what I need, and the doctors don’t know what I need… But the only thing that matters is that I do know I believe things can be better and I don’t ever have to settle for anything less.
I can understand where people were coming from….especially when things became very dark and heavy for me. But I knew I would make it through. I decided to take some videos during this process because I knew that one way or another I was going to be better someday and these experiences would be something I would want to share.
I don’t know if you remember when I posted on my Facebook asking people for suggestions for getting help for depression back in September…but these videos were all taken right around that time, right around the time I finally went and saw Dr. Ayla Hopkins, a friend from high school whom became a naturopath. I told you all that I would share how I felt after trying the vitamin B shots from her…the reason I never posted the final result is because I always wanted to share all of these videos and write all of my experiences out to give you the whole picture….but at the same time I didn’t know how to share these videos in a way that would come across as positive rather than so dark and depressing…
So here is the first video…
1. September 22nd, 2017
Friday 12:40 pm
2. September 23rd, 2017
Saturday 6:30 pm
My Angels ❤