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Hi all I'm a first time user of this site. Apologies in advance for the extremely long post but I feel that providing as much information as possible in anecdotal form is better than bullet points as of now. Please let me know if I have to post elsewhere.
The last 5 months have seen my life do a complete 180, to the point where as of this post I am barely able to function; the only thing keeping me going is my intellect.
I have slept poorly in the last few years through no fault other than my own, leading me to gradually feel depersonalized over the years- though it was still manageable and not detrimental to my day. I was always a person with an incredibly sharp memory and had the ability to multitask effortlessly. I was always a high achiever in school/college and had an interest in many, many topics. Sometime near the end of last year I was low on self-esteem/appearance so I decided to lose weight in order to feel better about myself. However, I did so (rapidly) in a rather unhealthy manner, and while I felt the best I had ever felt during those times-I was really athletic but would overexcercise and undersleep- I took it too far with a poor diet and the taking of supplements- some of which were high in caffeine and eventually led to my first hospital visit for heart palpitations-where I was told that I needed to up my caloric intake. However, this led to my self-control that I possessed completely collapsing and I started to binge snack.
From then on it was a downward spiral, with the continuation of overexertion and poor sleep leading to me one day waking up on a college day completely exhausted and unable to go to college. From then on I started to experience "brain fog" and an inability to concentrate. My inquisitions at this point were focused on organic causes for these symptoms and led me to find many explanations as to why I felt this way including: Vitaming B12 deficiency, Mold in my room(!), Dehydration etc
At this point I was rather stressed, especially regarding my University applications and missed exams etc. I had also developed an incredible headache that was really excruciating and provided great discomfort.
None of my solutions worked so I went to the doctor, who diagnosed me as depressed and prescribed with 50mg Sertraline. Unfortunately, I was curious at that time as to what the possible side effects would be-BIG MISTAKE. The nitwit of a doctor told me that the only side effect that I'd experience was indigestion; however my stupid self knew that wasn't the case. Going home, I was put off the medication for a week when I saw things like "shortness of breath" and "racing heartbeat" listed as side effects. However my headache only worsened and I was left with no choice but to take the Sertraline. At this point I was not anxious but a little annoyed. The next day I had some mild SE such as jaw locking etc; nothing of much concern. The 2nd night however left me UNABLE to sleep, so I stayed up until the morning. The pressure in my head felt unbearable, and I found myself slurring with my speech and collapsing momentarily.
A hospital stay and a CT scan later found no abnormalities, and I was told to "stop making your parents worry" (thanks NHS!)
My adverse reaction made me discontinue the Sertraline after 3 days(safe)
However the next day saw me unable to sleep again, but this time I was shaking involuntarily with my teeth chattering. Calling the ambulance (2nd time) brought me to my G.P who prescribed me with 2mg Diazepam 2x daily to help with the seemingly vicious cycle of anxiety that was emerging-great! now the burden of a possible addictive drug in addition to my problems was present-
I'm not going to lie, I felt EUPHORIC as hell upon taking Diazepam; my stupidly sensitive body was dumbed down by only 2mg (lol) and I could see why people become addicted. The anxiety manifested itself into constant surges of adrenaline (especially through my right arm) and rapid heart rates until I would take the medication and it would dissapear. Unfortunately, a week into this and I started to experience bad side effects. For one, I became a bit paranoid that my bedsheets were going to be ripped off through the night (by whom, my cat?), felt like a sluggish zombie, but worst of all I experienced short term memory loss/inabillity to form them. My sleep was also worsening as a result of the anxiety, yet I was still emotionally stable. I tapered off of the Diazepam succesfully but my headaches and fog grew worse. At this time I started to become sleep deprived. The doctor upon hearing my cries prescribed me with Mirtazipine 15mg (ANOTHER antidepressant) and Zopicolone 2mg (to help me sleep). I asked the buffoon whether I could take Neurozan multivitamins with the medication as I wasn't really consuming much due to poor sleep cycle and appetite. He.said.yes.
The Zopiclone left me feeling more depersonalized than I ever have been; a complete zombie devoid of any personality. I woke up questioning the purpose of existence (what are humans? Why do we shop? Purpose of a hierarchial structure?)
However, that wasn't the worst bit. Shortly after taking Neurozan (which contains 5-HTP; a precursor to the production of SEROTONIN) I experienced Serotonin Syndrome, which could have been dangerous had there been more 5-HTP. Jerking, anger, agitation, temperature etc. Calling the ambulance AGAIN led them to again mention mental health (though at this time it was a physical issue)
So, of course I stopped the medication. All the while, I was still struggling to set up appointments with a Psychiatrist from Forward thinking. Once we did, I gave him my life story up to that point and he stupidly asked
"What would you like to get out of this service?"
Bloody hell. We concluded that I had severe health anxiety and I was not to Google symptoms, as WebMD and even Patient.info is a hyperchondriac's worst nightmare.
However, my overwhelming urge to find out what was wrong ruined me, and there were times when I thought I fit the bill for Creutzdfelt-Jakob disease (both sporadic and beef version) and that I was going to die soon and degenerate brain-wise.
This anxiety died down as I got annoyed about the plethora of conditions that matched my symptoms; some "red flag" and some common- from MS to cJD etc.
One that stuck, in a rational way, was Lyme's/tick-borne disease. Not because of my health paranoia but because I had been in the country (Peak District) etc many times and had been bitten by ticks many times-especially in high grass wearing shorts.
Still, I suffered as my general anxiety became worse and I felt a near-constant feeling of adrenaline that would leave me exhausted after it subsided. My sleep was becoming more and more disrupted to the point where I went my first 24-hours without sleeping. How on earth did that guy who broke the world record sleep for 11-days straight?!
Nevertheless, from now my sleep/wake cycle and my body clock had started to get bashed (to put it bluntly) and I was now sleeping during the day, and being awake at night. Weirdly, I was fine with this-maybe because I didn't care and maybe because it was peaceful in the night
However, the coming days saw persistent anxiety attacks as well as sleep drunkenness, until ONE DAY. A day which, following another sleep deprived 28-hours, I felt LOW. Subhuman. Hard to describe but I was in an Abyss. I knew that something was wrong. This is probably what it felt like to have depleted chemicals or whatever severe depression was like. Little did I know, it was only going to get worse.
I slumped into severe depression, and was feeling the brunt force of it. I felt slow, dumbed down, and my cognitive impairement was evident through my own introspection. I could not focus on ANYTHING/process information/remember things/multitask/perceive reality/co-ordinate myself at all. This was SCARY. In addition, there was Psychomotor Retardation; funny term but it turned me into a blob; slowing-down my thought processes and reducing my physical movements- my legs felt like bricks, any action that I thought of was completed not instantly but with delay. "This is hell" I thought to myself. "Pure, utter hell". This physcial inabillity, let me rephrase that, LITERAL INABILITY to move acted in direct contrast to the innocent/well-meaning but moronic advice I was given by doctors and my family members. "YOU should excercise and walk outside more, trust me you'll get better".
Had I not been so understanding of my condition and avoided hypochondriac reasoning I would have suffered even more. This is more like a 'wear the t-shirt experience' and I strongly urge to anyone reading this: mild-moderate depression and its solutions cannot be applied to those with severe depression. Severe depression is a literal disability that destroys you, and those with uneducated families will suffer. Heck my biggest suffering came from the cognitive/physical effects of the depression rather than emotional.
Moving on, I was at a crossroads. I felt the worst I had ever felt in my life. I woke up one night with passive suicidal thoughts- something I had never experienced in my life. If I would put it simply, it was as if I was being controlled by a faulty machine; lured by the prospect of death with a seemingly bad taste in my mouth.
My perceptual awareness, informational understanding, and memory had turned to shreds. However, I seemingly found hope. Not willing to suffer more through medication(even though in reality, I had never given them a chance to really take effect) led me to accidentally stumble across a new treatment: rTMS. Standing for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (it scared me at first because I thought it was like ECT) it promoted a jump-start effect of the brain rather than the plaster effect that antidepressants have because unlike SSRIs this treatment promoted the growth of new neuronal connections and therefore the growth of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine on the left prefrontal cortex of the brain (area that is low in activity in people with depression)
It seemed like I found hope; it had a higher efficacy than antidepressant, little-to-no perceived side effects and was longer lasting and non-invasive. Perfect!
However, the online responses were mixed; many saying that it was a waste of time while a news article claimed it had saved a suicidal man from severe depression. Extensive research proved that I had the benefit of the doubt because of my age and my developing brain (I'm 18) and because I had such a caring family, the price tag (which I'll admit is far too expensive and should be more readily affordable) of £1250 a week was not an issue, so there I went.
I was an anxious mess before the first procedure, which felt uncomfortable and slightly painful at first. The first few days were awful. I seemed to have rapid-cycling mood changes after the first treatments, and I was still feeing low. BY the 7th, I felt much calmer and the feeling of constant adrenaline had subsided, my sleep and appetite had been improved and I finally managed to reset my body clock. In addition, I also began having flashbacks of random memories that I hadn't remembered in quite a while, while also remembering the faces of many people I hadn't seen for years. Weird.
Still, I was getting physically worse, my immune system had taken a big toll and my digestive system even more so. I felt more and more foggy as the days wore on and could not accurately remember faces. I also supposedly had a fungal infection of the mouth. My digestive issues worsened to the point that I had constant acid reflux and would constantly go to the toilet. This was managed initially by Gaviscon/Ranitidine but when worsened I was told that I had Gastroenteritis when going to the hospital. Well done doc, I have not been persistently vomiting nor have I had persistent diarrhoea (pardon my hypochondriasis . Nevertheless I went home and was told the basics (fluid intake etc)
Weirdly enough, my anxiety came back and my depression worsened by the 12th treatment (maybe it was a dip that is common in rTMS) though that seems to have improved again.
However, my digestive issues escalated to another level, intense pain under my rib that radiated to my back, while my throat was seemingly still leaving me unable to swallow properly-able to eat food but not able to swallow. A subsequent visit to the hospital (again) led them to suspect a potential gallstone (I have been eating a lot of fatty foods recently). In addition, my gait seemed to have changed, while the right side of my body in particular(arm) feels numb and not as sensitive as before. Weird movements in my bowels that made me feel like death were a constant. I could feel as though my spine was slightly arching over (bad posture?)
and it was causing me great pain and making my fog worse. This then led to decreased sensitivity throughout my entire body-scratching my body felt weird.
Adding to the hellfire, I started to experience blotches in my vision; the little worms that were an annoying ever-present but made me concerned. The back pain for an 18-year old who was previously highly active is unusual, but for this I have decided to see a chiropractor on Thursday (fingers crossed that it could be a resolvable problem there) but I am now at another crossroads. I can sense that my thought processes and perceptions are not those of the normal me, and are quite irrational but also abnormal in the way that I see negativity in everything; even extending so far as to think that there's no point of working hard to get a job etc when I'm better. I am undergoing CBT, though that was originally intended to help me deal with anxiety management techniques, I still feel hopeless. I am in my 4th week of treatment but have had to suspend it because I feel barely functional in almost all aspects except for my language and comprehension, and am suffering from an unknown problem regarding my digestive organs.
I am intrigued as to what will show up if I decide to have a PET scan of my brain (shows brain activity). I don't belive that it will fuel any anxiety, rather it may give me an insight as to why I feel like a blob. I have gained so much weight since, so I am a blob as of now.
I believe that the human psyche and human body has its limits, and if those are damaged then it can alter a person's view of the world. I thank whoever reads this post (literally the first time I have EVER written on the internet but I feel as though I have to seek help as my suffering has not only drastically impacted my quality of life but also my family's (who have had to endure me constantly re-educating them on the human psyche and biology). I have said to countless nurses etc that after all I've been through, it would be stupid for me not to contribute greatly to the mental health industry/research as I have learned too much! Being a Psychology student at A-Level, I really thought that depression was only "a psychological disorder characterized by persistent sadness (2marks)"
To cut it short
What do you suspect is wrong? (Overthinking shouldn't be a thing because I have always been like that)
Which specialist should I see?
What's your favourite flavour of ice cream?
Did my depression cause these digestive issues, or vice versa?
-Heavy cognitive impairment in most areas (perceptual awareness, coordination, problem-solving, concentration, memory/recall, environmental detection)
-Weakness and Numbness in the majority of my body
-Brick-like feeling in my head
-Difficulty walking and back pain
-Unknown digestive issues with intense abdominal pain, especially under rib
-Blotches in my vision all the time (worms)
-Extreme depersonalization (not so much like an anxiety attack, more like the world isn't real)
-Seemingly arched spine (I'm serious! it's uncomfortable and I can feel it when lying down)
-Weird perception of reality and human existence
-Heaviness to right side of the body
-Weakness in facial muscles (eyebrows)
-Frequent desire to use the toilets
-Blocked feeling in ears
-Dizziness upon standing up
For those that have stuck till the end, thank you, your support means so much to me. I just want my old life back. I want to be able to enjoy playing video games, football, solving complex puzzles etc.
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