Story: "I can't count the number of doctors"


Today's Story comes from Brooke Benson.

In 2002 when I was 18, I became pregnant with my son. That was when the problems first started. I was very sick throughout the pregnancy, and I became housebound fairly early into it after needing to quit my job as a server at a restaurant because the smells of the food made me ill & left me feeling on the verge of vomiting. It was also during this time the normal energy I once had seemed to disappear. I'm not sure if the hormone changes during pregnancy triggered this problem to begin or what. All I know is that to this day, now 16 years later (& many years past even my most recent pregnancy with my daughter in 2011) I'm still struggling with this unexplained exhaustion. I'll admit it hasn't been a constant, unrelenting thing for the past 16 years. I experience some good days, sometimes even weeks, & occasionally full months if I'm really lucky where I actually feel like I have somewhere near "normal" energy levels that are on par with many other people. I've never had even a full year of being "normal" however, since 2002.

I can't count the number of doctors, counselors, & psychiatrists I've spoken with regarding this issue. My incompetent (female, btw!) doctor I had at the clinic where I live refused to test me for anything. Much like many of the doctors & counselors I've spoken with before her, she automatically dismissed my issue as "depression." Maybe it is? God knows I've heard it from all the doctors so many times the MINUTE after I explain my symptoms to them, that I start to think maybe it's true. But that doesn't explain the fact then that in 2009 I was officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having depression & ADHD and placed on medication for both which SHOULD have fixed the problem for sure if it were just a matter of "depression." I finally resorted to going to the ER one day after being fed up with my doctor's refusal to order any sort of tests, and I at least managed to get them to check me for anemia & my vitamin levels, both of which looked fine & apparently aren't the offenders. But my chronic exhaustion still persists, even when my life is going relatively well & I don't feel depressed whatsoever.

It was a mess finding antidepressants that finally worked by the way.  It's ridiculous the amounts of meds I've tried in my efforts to fix this exhaustion issue, with none truly solving it. Mind you I was ALSO on Adderall throughout this entire time, which is the ONLY thing that has helped even SLIGHTLY with my exhaustion. Still hasn't cured it though, & basically only brings me to the level of at least being able to stay awake, but still while often feeling completely "drained" & not even having the physical energy to do some of the most basic daily activities such as showering. My exhaustion is so debilitating at times that, gross & embarrassing as it is to admit, I've gone the longest of any person I know for "longest consecutive period not showered." I've avoided actually fully keeping track, but I can guarantee I've hit a full month unshowered at LEAST once. It's taken every ounce of my energy reserves just to shower at times.

So fast forward to today I'm STILL undiagnosed with whatever this is that I suffer from & that ruins my life & makes me feel terrible for my children who have to deal with a mom who lacks the energy to do all the normal things other parents can do. The other issue is that my daughter (who is now 6) is autistic. Particularly with her special needs much beyond those of a neurotypical child, I'm forced to push myself "through" exhaustion many times, which generally only leads me to further exhaustion. Trying to manage life as a single mom now who's supporting 2 children while dealing with these issues & recently somehow imagining I would manage a full time job on top of it all like I was a "normal" (no, make that SUPER) human, since even married parents of autistic children tend to struggle to maintain fulltime jobs while meeting all the demands of life with a special needs child, is well.... it's finally proving to be not doable with my current work schedule especially.

But I guess I'm proud of myself for making it even 6 months before my very recent decision that I'm going to have to throw in the towel. Back in September last year when I made the decision I was going to find full-time employment with my daughter having recently begun Kindergarten then, I was experiencing surprisingly high energy levels at that point & managing to accomplish quite a bit, since I always take advantage of the rare times that happens & try to do EVERYTHING at once then. Guess I got so excited about it that I somehow forgot I always eventually come back to this point of struggle to even get out of bed, which is how I came across this blog, in my online search of my symptoms for some answers myself of what the problem could possibly be.

I'm currently debating going into the doctor, but quite certain it will result in dismissal with the excuse that "it's just your depression" for the 20 millionth time, particularly since I've given up on even trying antidepressant meds now. I should mention that period of some months I was experiencing where I was feeling full of energy back around August-October of 2017, I wasn't on an antidepressant then either. I had stopped the antidepressants completely around March 2017, as I had a brief issue with insurance where I was unable to afford my meds, & noticed I was feeling no worse without antidepressants, & was beginning to feel quite well by April/May a year ago, especially once I got my insurance sorted & was able to get my Adderall again. Guess the good times can't last forever though.

I had a shockingly long run of it where my energy levels were more often good than bad, but that run has come to an end within the past 2 months. Struggling badly again, & can't manage my life once again. I fear I'll be doomed to this sort of "rollercoaster" of an existence forever. As I don't typically experience physical pain along with it (aside from my entire body just feeling that worn out, exhaustion feeling where it takes every last bit of focus & willpower to even walk up my steps), I assume maybe the problem truly could have some sort of mental origin, rather than a physical one. But that in no way negates the fact it's VERY MUCH affecting me physically, & antidepressants & amphetamines clearly haven't solved it, so I've resigned myself to the fact I'll likely suffer this forever unless some physical origin is discovered & able to be treated in such a way to resolve it. Little hope of that happening either though, particularly after reading stories of those on here who are diagnosed with something having physical origin but are still suffering with problems of exhaustion.