Today was my annual check up with my neurologist. My strokes were more than seven years ago, and this annual checkup was “routine.”
“Routine” is a subjective term to me. My routine has changed. My routine has to change to survive.
I feel unsettled. I feel depressed. I haven’t done a blog post for months because I’m not sure what to write.
My wife recently told me that I “need to get my shit together.” My adolescent son wonders why dad is always angry.
I told my neurologist about my depression. We had a blunt conversation about my medications. I really took any medications before my strokes. Today, to prevent strokes and seizures, I take many medications such as blood thinners and anti-seizure medications. In addition I was prescribed an antidepressant.
“Why” you might ask? When you have a massive stroke and your life becomes a quagmire of grief, stress, and worry, I believe I have the right to be depressed.
However, the medications I take are a delicate balance. The anti-seizure medications can cause depression and I take depression medication to counter the other meds. But the medications that I have to take to keep me alive make me depressed. A vicious circle.
In addition, I’m actually trying to reach out for help. I cofounded a stroke and Aphasia support group several years ago. I chair the group, and every week, I ask my fellow survivors “How are you doing really?” Yesterday, I told the group that I need support. They “get it.” Nobody else does. I need them.
It’s hard for me to admit that I’m sad. I’ve always been the one to offer support and offer solutions. I’ve always just tried to persevere. I am the case study of being stoic: “A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.”
That trait is probably genetic but also learned. I was raised to “do something and not be bored.” Less activity means you were useless. My mom drilled that behavior into my psyche.
My strokes became my next mountain to conquer. Every kind of therapy, even more strenuous activities such as boards to help other people, and ignoring the mental and physical exhaustion.
But after seven years striving and surviving, it’s time for me to step back and concentrate on my mental health so I can be there for my family. I am not sure what the really means yet.
So my neurologist upped my depression medication. I’ll take another pill. Really....