Grammatically the title is incorrect. However, in the vernacular, it’s dead on.

Since the meeting ended, and the classwork tapered off, I had expected to be able to channel my energy into getting my house and yard whipped into shape. Instead, the opposite happened.

The migraine that began the last day of the meeting was “legitimate” — a sudden unexpected complication on Mt. Rainier triggered it. The virus that hit two days later was pretty obviously related to having been around hundreds of people I didn’t know when I was under a lot of stress. Inconvenient, but understandable. Both lasted longer than normal, a factor mostly of the overworked brain and body.

However, the unease that gradually morphed into anxiety and rapidly into panic attacks was both unexpected and greatly inconvenient. Having battled back from severe post-partum depression (twice) and panic attacks (more recently, but nearly a decade ago), I recognized it for what it was the morning I woke from a peculiar dream unrefreshed after 11 hours of sleep. A few hours into the day, I realized that “realization” wasn’t going to help this one go away.

And so I called the consulting nurse (who spoke with the doc-on-call) to get a temporary prescription for an antidepressant that helped so many years ago when I was battling the panic attacks. And wrote to my doctor to get official approval. That was yesterday.

So last night, I slept pretty well and woke feeling as if the day had possibility – for the first time in a couple months. And a message was waiting in my inbox that my doc has approved the longer-term use of this medication.

Why post something this personal? Because too many people think depression is a personality flaw instead of the physical malfunction of chemicals in the brain. Too many people believe that “happy thoughts” are sufficient to change anxiety into enthusiasm. Too many people believe that “resorting” to medication demonstrates weakness of character.

The truth is that for some people, myself included, there is a point when depression moves from a “blue day” (or week) to a chronic condition, a moment when anxiety has no basis in reality, and panic rather than helping overcome an urgent situation instead sits like an anchor keeping one from moving ahead with tasks. The truth is, sometimes it is necessary to get help.

And so I did. And though I am not “instantly” better, I have more energy today than I did yesterday. Though I am not completely free of the feeling that things are falling apart, I am able to see a few ways to fix what I can. Though I am still a tad overweight with increasing gray hairs, I can look in the mirror and see the laugh lines today.

What do I do when I feel bad? If I can’t fix it myself, I ask for help.

That makes sense to me.


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