Hello, to my harmonious readers. Continuing with my experience after my hysterectomy, which impacted my heart, it developed tachycardia. I had to endure another stint at the hospital to repair my heart’s rhythm (please read My Traumatic Hysterectomy). Finally, after a lot of probing from my cardiologist, my heart returned to its normal pace. I thought that I could move forward and leave this hellish experience in the past. But, unfortunately, the unsettling memories of my hysterectomy stayed with me and grew in power. The memories became a sinister entity that followed me wherever I went.
My panic attacks were reoccurring, and my anxiety was limitless. My fear suffocated and engulfed me in a blaze of despair. I became paralyzed with fear of my anxiety. My heart would pound so hard it became painful. I was petrified that my heart would thump so hard that it would stop beating. I felt like I was dying. The anxiety was like waves of doom washing over me, each wave hitting me harder than the last. The adrenaline felt like electricity racing through my body. My fear felt heavy on my shoulders. My body was doing its own thing, and I had no way to stop it. I felt trapped and out of control, like I was in a car racing towards a cliff with no brakes or steering wheel.
My anxiety hid behind an array of physical symptoms, which masked my underlying mental illness. It covered its tracts so it couldn’t be discovered. The worse my anxiety became, the sicker I got, which led me to believe that I had a physical illness. I spent many dollars and months attending appointments with specialists who assured me that they could diagnose and treat my condition. Unfortunately, I walked away no better. I tried explaining to doctors, and I begged for help, but no one seemed to understand my symptoms. I felt so alone and scared that I had a malignant disease that was being left untreated.
Doctors administered many blood tests, but alas, the tests returned with nothing wrong. Usually, that would be something that you would want to hear. However, I knew there was something wrong with me. Not knowing the cause made me feel insane. My doctors first thought that a lack of hormones was the cause of my ailments. Having my uterus and ovaries cut and removed from a major artery not only stripped me of my hormones but left me with significant mental and physical conditions. While having no hormones did massively affect my health, it was my PTSD that stole centre stage. Even though my doctors knew I had a hysterectomy, they gave me no treatment for my hormone shortage.
Every day was a struggle to get up. My anxiety was with me as soon as I opened my eyes. I feared having to survive the day. I felt that everyone and everything was out to get me. Leaving the house, answering phone calls, or having visitors gave me intense anxiety. It’s like, the police, the fire brigade, and the ambulance was being called for every minor thing. Every day was hell, I didn’t want to live, but I needed to for my family.
After I broke down at a doctor’s appointment, the doctor quickly realized that my symptoms were caused by anxiety, which was bursting at the seams. However, I was still convinced that there was something physically wrong with me. Nonetheless, I was put on Valium before trying three other types of antidepressants, which didn’t make a dent in my anxiety and caused a rapid heartbeat. Finally, I was taken off these medications and was put on Mirtazapine. Unfortunately, when starting this antidepressant, I encountered a few teething problems. I felt sicker than before. I experienced horrendous nausea, extreme tiredness, and my legs became painful and jittery. I spoke with my doctor about stopping this antidepressant but was encouraged to continue for another week. Although the Mirtazapine decreased my anxiety and I became a little less miserable, my legs were still painful, achy, and jittery. At this point, my doctor thought it best to hand the reins over to a psychiatrist.
I felt a sense of hope going to see a psychiatrist. Finally, I was going to receive the support I needed. I revealed my horror hysterectomy experience to my psychiatrist, in which he told me about his residency as a doctor, he witnessed a lot worse. People would be left to die in the corridor.
After reading my report, he diagnosed me with severe PTSD and anxiety. This diagnosis wasn’t a shock to me as I had accepted that my problem wasn’t physical. Due to my anxiety and PTSD being allowed to call the shots for many years, it had grown into a hideous monster that required huge amounts of medication to battle the beast. My psychiatrist was tough in his approach to rein my anxiety back down. He wanted to hit it hard and fast with a large amount of Lithium so that my anxiety couldn’t rise above the antidepressant.
I felt upset that this had become my life, that I needed to be on medication to cope with living. However, my psychiatrist eased my grief by telling me that “it’s a wonder we’re not all on antidepressants.”
After about a month, I came off Lithium as I started to feel sick. I then tried a multitude of antidepressants, including Celexa, Fluoxetine, Lexapro, and finally, Sertraline. At first, I felt no different while taking Sertraline until my dosage increased to the maximum amount. I also started taking Seroquel, which worked in conjunction with the Sertraline and helped me sleep. I was told that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that. Taking antidepressants has bought me back to life. I still have my bad days now and then, but they are few and far between.
Taking antidepressants has been a Godsend. It’s frustrating that antidepressants are viewed in a negative light. Perhaps more people would take them if the topic was discussed more openly and positively. Many people rely on antidepressants. It’s also unconstructive when people tell me to try exercising, journaling, or counselling rather than take antidepressants. I’ve been told that it’s all in my mind. I should work through my issues without relying on medication. While counselling and exercising are beneficial, it isn’t enough to curb my anxiety. I need it alongside my antidepressants.
You shouldn’t be made to feel bad because you need antidepressants. I mean, if you had diabetes, no one would tell you to stop taking your medication. So why should antidepressants be any different?
3 thoughts on “Finding Treatment for my PTSD”
Thanks for sharing. I’m glad the medication is helping you. I’ve tried medication and relate to some of the dilemmas and side-effects that you mention. I finally came off but I’m considering going back on as my anxiety is really difficult at times. I do find myself feeling worried about reliance but if it helps, I suppose, it’s a good thing.
I wonder if I can re-post this on my blog, with a link and credit to you?
Yeah absolutely go and re-post. Thank you for liking the blog. In relation to your medication, I had a lot of trouble settling on a medication. I found that the newer SSRI antidepressants Sertraline, Fluoxetine etc. had fewer side effects, but it takes a couple of weeks to settle in. However, at the end of the day, the best thing I did was to hand the reins over to a psychiatrist and psychologist rather than me trying to figure out the best course of treatment. My anxiety and depression was finally yanked into line and made to shut up. I tried overcoming my anxiety by myself and it only got worse. Some people are able to manage their anxiety without the use of medication but I am not one of them. It is hard trying to find something that works but when you do, life becomes so much better. You’re not alone. Hang in there.
Thanks. It sounds like a good idea to work closely with the medical experts. I suppose I didn’t. I just started taking them and didn’t really have the confidence to discuss how I was doing and then made decisions to go off by myself.