(BPT) - When you’re in your 20s, you feel the best is yet to come. I was focused on graduating from college and landing my first full-time job, and I didn’t think I’d be sidelined with an injury and a diagnosis of depression.
It all began when I was 18 and entered one of the most difficult relationships of my life. It’s not what you think though. That’s when I started my relationship with softball. I played seven days a week, competed at the highest level, and traveled to different states to play in tournaments. But, at 22 years old, I suffered a hip injury that required surgery.
Throughout the process leading up to my surgery, I kept avoiding how I felt emotionally, and disregarded my mental state. I figured I would feel better — physically and emotionally — after my surgery, but I didn’t. I knew I had to talk to my doctor about how I was feeling and that’s when I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), also known as depression.
I was unhappy and all I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep. But my depression was complicated and not only sadness. My new daily routine became working eight to five, going home, crawling in bed, watching TV and sleeping. I lost interest in activities I used to enjoy, didn’t want to go out with friends, and often felt fatigued. I isolated myself — not answering texts or calls and shutting myself off from those around me.
Functioning at work was probably the most difficult, knowing how empty and depressed I felt. I had trouble concentrating, and no one knew because I always put a smile on my face. When in reality, all I really wanted to do was break down and cry or curl up in a ball.
Since my diagnosis eight years ago, I learned that there are many different treatment plans, including talk therapy and/or medications such as antidepressants. I also learned that antidepressants work differently for each patient and they may have side effects.
My doctor made me aware of the serious side effects of antidepressants as well as some of the most common side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, insomnia and headache. Some medications may also cause weight gain. Because each patient experiences side effects differently, I can only speak to what happened to me. While I was on an antidepressant, I learned from my doctor that treatment-emergent sexual dysfunction, or TESD, is particularly common with certain antidepressants, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and some other commonly prescribed antidepressants.
While it can be embarrassing to experience low libido, I want to encourage anyone experiencing side effects from their treatment plan, including TESD or another side effect, to talk to their doctor. Talking to a doctor is an important step to finding an appropriate treatment plan. A treatment plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important to have an open and honest conversation with a doctor about any concerns you may have, including symptoms and side effects associated with your treatment plan.
My journey continues every day. I still meet with my psychologist weekly and my psychiatrist monthly to have ongoing discussions about how I’m feeling. Depression is something that I’ll need to be mindful of and manage every day for the rest of my life, but I know the power of speaking up and sharing what you’re feeling with your doctor. The best advice I can give to someone experiencing depression is to never give up. Keep fighting. Don’t be afraid to be honest about what you’re experiencing because help is available.
Consider visiting LighterBlue.com to learn more about how depression is not only sadness, as well as to get tips on how to have a productive conversation with your doctor.