Published on February 27, 2014 by Terri Cheney in The Bipolar Lens

You don’t handle stress well?

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Young woman working in office. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.

Fifteen years ago I was hospitalized for severe depression at UCLA.  I wasn’t very happy about it at the time—I didn’t like the people, didn’t like the program, and especially didn’t like the doctor who’d been assigned to me.  “You don’t handle stress well,” she told me, as if that could somehow sum up everything that was wrong with me, and shock me into new behavior.  It didn’t.  I felt aggrieved and insulted, and went into hiding in the open air.  I withdrew from any help she might have given me.  Her statement still rankles, after all these years.

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Two days ago I sat in my internist’s office, clutching a blue plastic bowl the nurse had given me because I was afraid I was going to throw up.  I’d been throwing up for four months straight, ever since I decided to go off an antidepressant, launching me into a prolonged withdrawal.  “SSRI discontinuation syndrome,” my doctor called it.  I called it hell, and wanted to know why it wouldn’t stop, and what was going on with me.

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