This post is long overdue because the subject of this post began the day after my last post.
I made my last post stating how awesome I was doing, how this new treatment I was pursuing was working, and how hopeful I was.
Within 24 hours of posting that piece to my blog, I could feel the depression creeping back in. After talking with the receptionist of the clinic I had been going to, it was determined that I did not fit their 'standard' model of treatment and would, instead, follow their Plan B treatment. I was scheduled for another treatment that same week.
I immediately felt better for 2 reasons: 1. I felt like I was heard. My fears and concerns were not pushed aside and the symptoms I shared were valued. 2. We had a plan, and it had worked before. Even though I wasn't able to go the 'typical' length of time without a treatment, I was not being punished for my body's reactions. I was accepted back as a patient and I knew another treatment was coming. Since they had worked in the past, why wouldn't they work now? All was good.
I went through about three extra "Plan B" treatments but wasn't really improving. I actually dipped significantly in the middle of the last treatment. I called the office and asked to meet with the doctor overseeing my treatment. After some miscommunication, the receptionist and I got on the same page and squeezed me in to do a phone meeting with the doctor just before she took her holiday vacation.
I spoke to the doctor relaying my concerns that it felt like the treatment was no longer working and shared the negative toll during the most recent treatment. The provider I was seeing used a program that sent me daily texts asking me to rate my day, and they also used PHQ-9 surveys to follow patients' moods and how they relate to treatments. Almost as soon as I relayed my concerns about the treatment no longer being beneficial, the doctor agreed, based on the numbers/graphs the data had collected for her. She even said that it looked like the treatment may have become "detrimental" to me.
This was bittersweet news. More bitter than sweet. The sweet news was that I, once again, was being heard, and the actions I felt needed to be taken were made (i.e., stopping treatment). The far more bitter part is that I am kind of back at square one. We were all really hopeful that this treatment was going to work and provide a more stable life for me, and it did, for about three weeks, which I'm incredibly grateful for. Those were the best three or so weeks I can remember having in a very long time.
Now, I'm working with my regular psychiatrist to try to come up with a new medication cocktail. According to the doctor who oversaw the treatment I received, my neurons would be "bushier" as a result of the treatment so I would be more receptive than normal to antidepressant medication.
My psychiatrist and I are still working to come up with the 'right' medication cocktail. Basically, the problem is the medications that do work, I'm incredibly sensitive to and their side effects become overwhelming and even life-disrupting. My body is like Yes! We'll respond to this one, but we're also going to respond to every other possible thing it can effect.
This entire process is and has been, frustrating and so incredibly draining. I decided to only take one online class this Spring Semester to increase the chances of me being successful with it. After having to take a medical withdrawal last semester, I just want to get something under my belt so I can slowly rebuild my self-confidence when it comes to taking classes.
There are still good things. All is not terrible. It's just different and not what was hoped for or even expected. I think the biggest change I felt when I was doing well on the new treatment was a sense of peace. There were no constant nagging thoughts from my depression that truly require a battle to fight. No wonder I, and so many other people with depression, are so tired all the time. Constantly telling yourself "no, that's not right" or "no, it won't always be like this" or "no it's not that bad" is EXHAUSTING.
So, I'm not in a great place right now, but I'm also not hopeless. I'm looking into some other programs and treatments that are more holistic. I'm slowly entering a new community of supportive people. The flame of hope is still there, flickering, rather than burning brightly for the whole world to see.