Timeline (A Brief History Of)

April 14, 1983: Kat is born 10 weeks early, weighing 2 & 1/2 pounds, by emergency c-section. I spent 24 hours on oxygen, and 6 weeks in the NICU, and endured one bout of jaundice. I rejected the re-insertion of my own feeding tube and was put on bottle feeding a bit early. By all accounts, I was a truly stubborn baby.

Early childhood: I don't have many memories of my early childhood. I know that I displayed unusual levels of social anxiety and shyness, and a paranoid sense of being watched or spied upon.

1991: At 8 years old, I attempted suicide for the first time.

1994: I entered high school, and began a seasonal pattern of performance change where I would begin the year bright-eyed, eager, and overachieving, spend the late Fall through late Spring unmotivated and low in energy, and the early Summer recuperating and getting back into a groove. I performed well enough in school to complete advanced science stream coursework and be accepted into the college program of my choice. I also performed well in my sport, Irish dance, and was able to move into Preliminary Championship level competition. I periodically fantasized about running away from home or killing myself. To hide what I was feeling,

2000: I graduated high school and began CEGEP. Because college was divided into two semesters rather than one continuous year, I began to struggle more with the yearly pattern I had largely adapted to. In Winter semesters I had consistent problems with turning work in on time, and took a lot of grade-penalties due to late submissions. I became very unhappy and spent most of my time by myself. I had increasing levels of social anxiety, as well as about my performance. At the end of my first semester, I cut my long hair off because I wasn't washing it, and I figured if it was short it wouldn't matter so much.

2002: I began confiding my increasing difficulties in a trusted professor, who helped me decide that I would go on to university anyway. Just before I graduated from college, this professor raped me at his home.

2002: I began studying for a bachelor's degree at McGill University in Montreal. I had had a terrible summer, and was unable to do my coursework. I was doing poorly in all my classes, was unable to concentrate, and was increasingly consumed by intrusive thoughts and dreams about what had happened. I became unable to eat, and spent hours each day travelling on public transit between classes to help me keep moving and fill up my time. I was deeply unhappy. I had given a presentation about Borderline Personality Disorder in college and become fascinated by the idea that people would cut themselves. I cut myself for the first time, twice on my hand, and once on my face.

Early Winter, 2002: I found myself on the roof of McGill Arts building, trying to decide whether or not to throw myself off. I decided to go to my local hospital, where I was sent to the Psychiatric unit in St Jerome and committed to hospital. I was originally diagnosed with Dysthymia and Major Depressive episode (sometimes called 'double depression').

Winter 2002-January 2003: I remained in the psychiatric ward. I continued to lose weight and developed intense nightmares. I began remembering fragments of my childhood and would wake up in the middle of the night terrified and convinced of my need to escape the hospital. I don't remember some parts of the time I spent there. While in hospital, I tried to kill myself by crushing my windpipe with a side rail, and by strangling myself with the 4-point restraints. I was transferred to the Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit. I was eventually diagnosed with Brief Reactive Psychosis to go with my mood disorders.

January 2003: I was released from hospital into the care of a university-affiliated psychiatrist, and my medication levels were stabilized. While taking Celexa, I was incredibly unstable and constantly anxious and suicidal. Large portions of that year and my therapy sessions seem to be missing from my memory. I took a mixed-drug overdose in March of 2003 and had my stomach pumped at the Royal Victoria hospital. I was released the same day. I remained in therapy, receiving up to 2 sessions a week, with my psychiatrist until 2014. I once tried to climb out his window during a session, but he ended up successfully restraining me.

2003-2006: I was taken on and off medication, and continued to struggle with intense anxiety, academic difficulties, suicidal ideation, and crippling depression. I was periodically self-harming.

2005: I got down to 88 pounds, and was finally starting to feel thin enough. Then I got fat again.

March 2006: I took an overdose of just over a month's supply of Zopiclone, a prescription sleeping medication, and was taken to the St. Eustache hospital, where I was administered supportive measures. I was released less than 24 hours later, despite trying to remove and stab myself with my own IV. For the first time, my ambulance claim was denied by an insurance company because, even with an established diagnosis of depressive illness, my need for emergency transport was considered self-inflicted.

Summer 2006: with my Wellbutrin SR dose increased to maximum, I stabilized and experienced my first break in depressive symptoms since the onset of a full major depressive episode in 2002. I was in a good place in my life, graduated from university, and enrolled in an honors theology program. Wellbutrin was discontinued by winter of 2007 as I was in full remission.

Winter 2008: I had begun to slide downhill as soon as Wellbutrin was tapered, but remained off medication until I really began to struggle. It was my last semester in the theology program, and I graduated on the Dean's list and won an award for the highest grade in my class. I decided to continue on to graduate school in the field of Religious Studies at McGill. My dose of Wellbutrin XL was increased to maximum as I continued to struggle with the workload associated with advanced studies, and I began taking deferrals in my classes. I was deeply unhappy and unable to cope with my deteriorating mood and mental capacities, and debated not returning for my second year in Fall 2009.

End of September 2009: At its maximum dose, Wellbutrin had failed, and my psychiatrist and I decided to augment it with Ritalin. I was increasingly desperate.

Early October 2009: During my first few days of Ritalin treatment, the man I had been seeing raped me. I used to blame the Ritalin crash, but I'm starting to see how, really, it was my own fault more than anything else. I spiraled quickly out of control into a Major Depression, and 3 new medications were added to my regimen.

January 2010: I applied for and received 8 months of medical leave from my graduate program. Since my medication had failed, I was slowly tapered off of all of it over the course of six months. I decided to try holistic medicine. By September, I had recovered mood stability at a moderately-depressed level, but had not regained full functionality. As my sick leave had ended, I returned to graduate school regardless of having lost a good deal of my mental capacities. I had effectively established a new 'baseline' upon which to judge fluctuations; basically I had 'minor depression.'

April 2012: I was forced to withdraw from graduate school due to failure to complete the program within the established timeline.

September 2012: I was hired as a receptionist at a photography studio specializing in graduation photos.

March 2013: I was let go from my job as they decided they no longer needed a receptionist.

April 2013: I began having passive intrusive thoughts about suicide.

June 2013: I was hired into my current job.

July 2014: I experienced a mini-depression bump somewhere in between my normal dysthymia and major depression. I was able to stabilize.

September 2013: I noticed I had begun to lose interest in my activities, and began complaining to my psychiatrist that something felt 'wrong.' I received a promotion at work, but instead of feeling happy I felt annoyed. Colors became less vibrant, and my memory and concentration dropped.

November 2013: I had stopped eating, and my psychiatrist prescribed Prozac and amitriptyline. My depression had already spun out of control, and I spent most of the day struggling with increasingly violent thoughts of suicide. I began to move, think, and speak more slowly, and experienced intense feelings of melancholy and despair. My voice became flat, and I no longer understood humor. I lost most of my sense of taste.

January 2014: I began practicing cutting my thighs in preparation to slit my own wrist. My friends became increasingly convinced I needed to be hospitalized, but my psychiatrist did not believe it was necessary.

January-March 2014: I spent 6 1/2 weeks in the Psychiatric ward of St. Mary's following an admission to Emergency, where I received 15 stitches in my wrist and a tetanus shot in my ass. My medication was changed to Effexor and Remeron, with a PRN of Lorazepam.

February 2014: I left the hospital without a jacket and swallowed a bottle of Advil, intending to fall asleep and die of exposure. The hospital called it in, and several hours later I was brought back by police. As the staff were filling out paperwork, I strangled myself with my own belt. I had psychiatric testing done, and Borderline Personality Disorder was formally ruled out as a diagnosis.

March 2014: I was released from hospital with a progressive return-to-work protocol, pending rTMS treatment at the Douglas.

May 2014: I began and completed rTMS treatment, and went back to work full-time.

May 2014: I started seeing my current psychotherapist, and I am so grateful to have her.

November 2014: I began participating in DBT-based group therapy, which is accommodated into my work schedule using shift-splitting and flex-time.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kat,

    How have things been these last few months?

    A timeline like this seems like a valuable reference to have. I do wonder how it felt putting it together.

    I don't know that my words can bring any comfort, but I wanted to let you know that I care. I'm so sorry for the times people have failed you by their lack of nurturance and care for your wellbeing, trust, and spirit. I'm truly sorry for the heavy cross you have had to bear.
    I wonder if perhaps our greatest challenge lies in surrendering not to our pain and hopelessness but to the only one whose strength can carry us through.

    Depression can feel so isolating. I pray that those times when the burden isn't quite as heavy can serve as a reminder that you are never alone in carrying it. And I am here if you ever just need a listening ear or shoulder to cry on.