Not All Objects Are As They May Appear

Manhattan Bridge

The other day, I read this beautiful post by Jordan at Ramshackle Glam, and it inspired me to share my own story. I’ve been thinking for a while about if I wanted to share this, but if what I write helps just one person feel like they’re not alone, then it’s worth it.

A few years ago, I started experiencing intense anxiety. I think I’ve always been a baseline kind of anxious person, but I was navigating some difficult situations at the time, and I didn’t have solid coping mechanisms in place, and the anxiety became more than I could handle. The weight of my negative thoughts was crushing. I started seeing a therapist then, and she helped me get through that difficult time.

I started my current job nearly two years ago (!), and stopped going to therapy. I had the perfect job for me, and I was working with amazing people that I had the utmost respect for and really cared about. I had great friends. On the outside, everything looked great. Yet that familiar anxiety came creeping back in and I started going to therapy again last May.

The fact that everything was so good in my life, but I still felt this crippling anxiety was frustrating. I knew how lucky I was, yet I couldn’t reconcile that with all of my fears that I wasn’t good enough. When I began therapy last year, most of our sessions focused on things that had happened that week and my reaction to them, and why, generally how I was thinking about these situations was maladaptive. Several months into therapy, my therapist suggested I see a psychiatrist to consider medication. Last summer, the psychiatrist tried to prescribe me an antidepressant, but I wasn’t open to it at the time and instead got a prescription for a low dosage of Klonopin, an anti-anxiety medication.

I was afraid of a medicine I had to take every day. I was afraid of what that meant, and I was afraid of the side effects. I didn’t think things were that bad that I needed an antidepressant. I took the Klonopin nearly every day, but I didn’t really like it. I felt either too sedated, or I felt nothing.

Around the holidays last year, I got into a funk that I was never able to shake. As I continued working through stuff in therapy, that anxiety was replaced by depression. Both my therapist and psychiatrist have explained that that’s actually really common — the anxiety is often masking the underlying depression. I wrote a few months ago about what was going on behind the Instagram photos, and the truth is I continued like that for a few more months, feeling numb inside. I was having a hard time focusing, and I just wanted to withdraw. 

Again, my therapist suggested I look into medication, and this time, I listened. Even if they took a while to start working, I felt that I’d be on the path to feeling better. I started taking Wellbutrin in late July, and I only wish I’d started it earlier. It’s worked like a charm for me — that numb feeling is gone, and my mood just feels more stable. Those negative thoughts that used to take hold and ruin my day or week as I obsessed over them now barely faze me. All those things we’d discussed in therapy that I grasped intellectually but couldn’t grasp emotionally are much clearer now.

I had such reservations about taking medicine, and what I thought that meant. That I was crazy. That I couldn’t cope with things the way other people could. But all it really means is there’s something going on up there, and I’m just using another tool in my arsenal to fix it.

If you’re feeling this way, too, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. 

48 comments on “Not All Objects Are As They May Appear

  1. Chrissy

    Theodora although we’ve never met, I’m one of your biggest fans and I’m loving your openness. I believe removing the stigma is a starting point for mental wellness. The more people share, those suffering will benefit in knowing they are not alone. If you were diabetic, you’d take insulin. We need more people to hear they are not crazy for taking medication. Today’s post took a lot of guts and I’m proud of you for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Julee

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve also struggled with depression, and asking for help was the hardest and most important thing I’ve done for myself.

    Reply
  3. Audrey T.

    This is an interesting post, thanks for sharing. For those who don’t experience it, chronic anxiety is super hard to understand. I have a few friends and a new SIL who also deal with it on a regular basis, and I always struggle to know what to say when they are going through bad times. What I’m seeing now is that they all share a lot of the same characteristics that you describe. From the outside, it seems they have great lives…but they seem so unhappy.

    And it’s frustrating for me because my situation is the total opposite…I have a mediocre and unfulfilling career and can’t for the life of me figure out how to find a job that I feel good about, I have tons of friendly acquaintances but few close friends who really know me, nothing really happening on the romantic front, and I’m realizing that some of the things that I wanted in my life just aren’t going to happen for me. But I’m not anxious, depressed, or overwhelmingly unhappy. I wish I could change just about everything in my life, sure, but overall I’m pretty well adjusted for someone who is not inspiring social media envy of any kind.

    Totally agree that there should be NO stigma regarding medication. If there were pills that would help with some of my problems, I’d swallow them by the fistful.

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  4. Jen

    Sharing things like this can be so tough but also can help so many people. I’ve struggled with anxiety on and off for years too. I’ve been in denial lately about how bad it’s been and reading this post reminds me that there is no shame in asking for help. Thank you <3

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  5. Kate

    Theresa, thank you for this brave post. I have always appreciated that you don’t over share on the blog but you are real enough that I really feel like I get who you are. I too have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. I am back in therapy to help manage this issues along with some other life challenges. I was on medication a few years ago. While it really helped with the anxiety it left me feeling very ‘muted’ with all of my other feelings. I had no motivation to exercise and put on a bunch of weight which I am just now finally taking off. We have been talking lately about trying it again but I am pushing hard not to- I’m scared of feeling like I am losing all of my emotions again. I think the universe seny me your post so I can try to be open to this option- I know I need it. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Thanks! This comment means a lot — after I posted, I asked two friends if they thought I’d overshared and both said no. What I was trying to get across was how I was feeling without exposing too much of myself personally. I hope you can find some peace, too <3

      Reply
  6. Meghan

    I love how open and honest you are. I go from general constant worry to debilitating, shaking on the floor panic, and it can definitely rob you of the life you are meant to live. A good chunk of my panic was solved by cutting out caffeine and hard alcohol and making sure my blood sugar didn’t crash; that always sent me into a terrible anxiety attack. Now I am working on the general stuff where I worry constantly. Not easy, but good to know we are not alone.

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  7. Laurie

    brave of you to post! Be proud of yourself! I had to take medication after I had my son. I completely understand how you felt about the situation and how you feel now. There are people in my own family who I couldn’t tell! I’m so glad people are beginning to open up about anxiety and depression and the fact that sometimes medication is the best answer. You are helping so many people with your post!

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  8. Mary

    SO glad you posted about this! We’ve “talked” (emailed and commented) back and forth about it, and I’m really glad you were able to write about it. It’s hard, there is definitely still a stigma there, but the more it’s discussed the more it helps! I hope the Wellbutrin keeps working for you!

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  9. EJ

    Your “rawness” is admirable. Thank you for sharing and making some of us feel “normal” for dealing with mental illness.

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  10. Sarah Jane @ The Fit Cookie

    I went through a lot of the same stuff about a year ago. I was under so much stress from family stuff and started slipping into depression. Depression runs in my family so I knew I was more susceptible to it, then when bad stress hit me it came at me hard. My doctor put me on Wellbutrin as well, and it helped a ton! I was on it for a year and we went off of it since she told me she didn’t want me on it long term unless I really couldn’t cope without it. I have been off of it for about 6 months now and I can tell a difference! I can feel that anxiety and depression coming back again and I am more fatigued lately as well.

    I was really reluctant to take anything at first. I didn’t want to become dependent on medication, but I really needed it and it helped a lot. It took me a few months to decide to take it, I talked to friends who were taking it and had positive benefits, so I felt more at ease with it. I have always avoided taking medication but I have come to accept that when I need help, I need to accept it and there’s no shame in that! I also started taking medication to help with some other health issues and I think managing those chronic problems helped with my mental wellbeing too.

    Now that I’m off of Wellbutrin the big question is how I will be doing long term: if my anxiety and depression keep coming back regularly I may need to go back on it. But time will tell! I know my doc said that some women will take Wellbutrin 1-2 weeks out of the month to help manage PMS symptoms, and that may be what I need to do. I have been thinking about writing a post about my experience, and you gave me the reminder and boost I needed to do that! Thanks you 😉

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  11. Toni

    Thanks for sharing Theodora! No one ever really knows what a person is feeling by looking at someone from the outside. Anxiety and depression can be crippling and by sharing your story I know that you can help so many people that feel the same way!

    Reply
  12. Sabrina

    Two other bloggers that I follow (Prior Fat Girl and Athlete at Heart) started something called Mental Health Monday’s after FitBloggin this year. 1st and 3rd Monday of the month they host a link up for everyone to write about mental health (whatever may be relevant to you at the time) and hopefully break the stigma that goes along with mental health. It is not talked about enough and I really thank you for sharing your story. The link ups started with a bang! Lots of sharing a supporting, but they have dwindled down in the last few weeks. Hopefully people continue to share their stories becuase people always need to know they are not alone. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Melissa Burton

    Thank you so much for sharing this brave post. I’ve mentioned to you before that your blog was one of the first blogs that I read on a regular basis. I’ve had such admiration for your strength, honesty and ability to share your life without glossing over the potholes of your path.

    You have always had a wonderful ability to share your humanity and yet, I was surprised (pleasantly, doesn’t seem the right word but I can’t find a better one as I write) to see you share something about yourself that so many others (including myself) haven’t been able to share.

    Thank you for writing this post with heart. I do believe that your post will make it easier for some to ask for help, share their struggle or even take a first step to getting some help without feeling shameful, fearful or a sense of failure.

    Thank you so very much for taking the stigma out of this kind of self care. I hope you know just how wise and strong you are. You are truly one special person and the blogging universe is lucky to have you in it!

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  14. Nikki @ will run for pizza

    Nothing to be ashamed about. While I don’t personally experience depression and anxiety – at least to a degree where I think I would need meds – my hubby does. He has bipolar and so I’ve learned a LOT about mental illness through him. Before him, I knew nothing and I really thought that if you just did certain things, you could control it and make it go away – total denial on my part. I went to a 12 week class for people who have loved ones with a mental illness, and it COMPLETELY changed my views! We have become a MUCH better, stronger team because I have been able to accept the mental illness (probably more than HE has accepted his own illness lol), and talking about it together is really the key. He is so open about how he’s feeling, and sure, sometimes it’s a lot to hear, but it really helps me to remember that we’re BOTH fighting the disease – not each other. He takes wellbutrin as well – along with lamictol and lithium. Breaking the stigma is something that definitely needs done and talking about it is the way to do it.

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  15. Lauren

    So brave of you to share!

    My mom struggles with mental health issues and being on medication has made a world of a difference. Life is too short to be ashamed of mental health and to avoid taking medicine. If it improves the quality of your life, then go for it!

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  16. Lily

    GOOD FOR YOU! As you stated, medication can simply be another tool in your arsenal–along with therapy, exercise, etc. As a mental health professional, thank you for sharing your story and helping to destigmatize treating mental health issues. The brain is an important part of your body that also needs care and attention. Wishing you all the best on this journey of life.

    Reply
  17. Taylor @ LiftingRevolution.com

    Hey lady. You are right, you are not alone. I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was 15 years old. I remember crying at the doctors office because hearing her say it, made me feel like I was crazy. I didn’t want to take medicine for that same reason but my mom convinced me that it wasn’t going to make me less of me, but more of me. She was right. I was on and off it throughout college. I’ve managed to keep myself in check over the past 10 years without meds, but man are there times I still wish I did. It’s hard, life is hard and no one is perfect. Day by day, that’s all we can do! xoxo

    Reply
  18. Anne @fANNEtasticfood

    I’m so proud of you for writing this post. Much love – I know it will help others. There is no shame in asking for help, whether it’s from friends, family, a therapist, or medication. No point in suffering through something if you don’t need to — I’m so happy that it’s helped!

    Reply
  19. Sokphal @ Life as a Classroom

    Thanks for sharing Theodora. I think in society we focus so much on our the outside (eating better, exercising, etc.) – that we neglect to think about our mental health. Which is just as important, if not more. You know that running quote – the mind is stronger than the body. So true and I’m glad you’re feeling better. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    I wrote about having an anxiety attack earlier this summer. It was the first time in a long time that I really had a bonafide attack (I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety just after my Crohn’s Disease diagnosis in 2001). To so many, my life is lovely and shiny, and truly, it is. So why did I find myself having an anxiety attack while sitting at the lunch table surrounded by my parents and my husband and my brother (we were visiting for my mom’s birthday). Why couldn’t I just think about “how good I have it”? Why do I have intense night sweats and anxiety dreams? Anxiety. In the middle of a “perfect” world. No, things aren’t always as they appear! But with the right help, support, and love for yourself, you can help yourself so much!

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  21. Laura

    Thank you for being honest and sharing with us! Some of the podcasts Carrotsncake has posted talk about the gut-brain axis and the link between digestion and mental health – I’ve experienced some anxiety, lethargy, and brain fog with some of my IBS stuff (which came first the chicken or the egg?) and I’ve noticed a big difference in all of these since eliminating gluten and birth control and trying to heal my gut! Anything that makes you feel better is worth a try!!

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  22. Liz

    Thank you for sharing this. Honestly I think so many people in “our” position… great friends, great family, great job, great cities to call home, great pets (duh)… struggle with this. And you nailed it on the head- intellectually we get it, but it’s often hard to reconcile it emotionally. It’s like you KNOW you should be happy, after all, we are hashtag blessed, but… you feel not so happy. For me it’s like all my friends are married and it sort of feels like the amount people who can reeeeealllyyyy relate to being 33 and paying rent ALONE (uhg) and having no one to #netflixandchill with are dwindling by the SECOND. It’s so important for us boss single ladies to acknowledge how we feel and do what we need to do. It’s like the kids say, “you do you.” High five.

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  23. Jenny

    “If you’re feeling this way, too, I just want you to know that you’re not alone.”

    I’m so glad you decided to share this part of your journey that does not define you, but is so important to not feel ashamed about. I have been on Celexa since college, and after a couple failed “weaning off” attempts, have come to terms with the fact that I may be on medication for life. (Of course, when/if I get pregnant things will need to be re-evaluated.) It always made me feel better to think “well, this is just for a little while, until I feel better.” Well, sometimes genetics and environment aren’t always on our side, so that was another hurdle of stigma I had to get over — I might be a lifer.

    And I’ll admit I am very envious of those who were on SSRIs for a bit, felt better, and successfully got off of them. No one likes to have to take a pill everyday. But I’d much rather take a pill than be unable to eat, sleep, or lead an otherwise productive life. Anyway, to be able to talk to others openly about all of this shit is such a relief, so thanks for getting a conversation started. <3

    Reply
  24. Jenny

    Also, a quote I heard the other day on one of my favorite new podcasts, Mental Illness Happy Hour: “People who think they understand chronic depression because they’ve been situationally depressed is like saying you know Italy because you’ve been to the Olive Garden.”

    I feel like this quote should be a disclaimer for those who have never had chronic depression and give unsolicited advice about SSRI alternatives. “Did you try St. John’s Wort? Yoga? Lavender oil?” LAVENDER OIL? Throw a bucket of it on me to get me out of bed, sure! Chances are if you are on an SSRI you have TRIED the alternatives.

    * steps off soapbox *

    Reply
  25. She Rocks Fitness

    Thank you for being honest and sharing this with all of us! You aren’t alone and it seems that the more we open up about our issues the more people can relate. I have found that this blogging community is so supportive too. It is amazing the “tribe” that we have established and most of them we have never met. Again, thank you for being REAL!

    Reply
  26. Mary

    Hi Theodora – I want you know that I’ve gone back to this post a few times in my own struggle deciding whether or not to go on medication. Thank you for your open, honest post. It is reassuring. I understand that everyone reacts differently, but do you still drink alcohol while on Wellbutrin? Do you have any updates on how it has affected you now almost a year after you posted this? Exercise, weight, etc?

    Reply
    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      I hope it was helpful <3 I read this last night with a glass of wine in hand, so...yes, I do definitely still drink alcohol while on Wellbutrin. The label says not to (I think because of increased seizure risk), but my doctor said it was fine so long as I wasn't going out and getting wasted every night, but just to be careful. I've heard that it has less side effects since it's not an SSRI. No real weight gain to report. I honestly was also nervous how it would affect my running, etc., but I haven't trained super hard for anything since getting on it. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions or want to chat — theodora@preppyrunner.com

      Reply

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