Bridgett’s anxiety attacks and sleepless nights began when she was in third grade. After spending her childhood and teenage years struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety, fear of being judged still prevented her from seeking treatment. Another five years passed before she decided to seek treatment. This is Bridgett’s depression and anxiety treatment experience using Brightside.
Graduate Student • Registered Dietician • Boise, ID • Brightside member
My earliest memories of anxiety attacks and sleepless nights began in elementary school. Back then, I had anxiety over assignments and relationships. In early high school, my anxiety and depression became a lot more intense, with symptoms appearing more heavily and frequently, including self-harm behaviors. Even with all of these symptoms and behaviors, I didn’t begin therapy for another five years and didn’t get my first SSRI prescription for another three.
“My earliest memories of anxiety attacks and sleepless nights began in elementary school.”
COVID-19 helped me find Brightside
At the beginning of 2020, I began having persistent and devastating depressive episodes that put myself and my partner at risk of my harmful behaviors. My therapist began pushing me to seek reevaluation on the clinical side of things to see if, perhaps, a transition was in order. Just as I was ready to reach out, however, the pandemic set in, and I could no longer access local treatment in this way.
“At the beginning of 2020, I began having persistent and devastating depressive episodes that put myself and my partner at risk of my harmful behaviors.”
During this time, I felt extremely low, and my depression symptoms were at an all-time high. I felt unmotivated, fatigued, weak, slow, anorexic, and had suicidal ideation—the whole gamut. My anxiety was through the roof in ways I couldn’t even comprehend. Most significantly, I had issues of control, agitation, and irritation. All of these feelings were affecting my productivity, career success, relationships, and health.
My experiences with therapy have been up and down. I’ve been receiving therapy treatment through various mediums since about 2013, to varying degrees of success. Between 2016 and 2019, I was using Talkspace remote therapy, and it was very hit-or-miss (with emphasis on the miss) with therapists that I didn’t click with.
One day, I saw a Brightside ad on Instagram and saved the post. After a couple of days of mulling it over, and conceding that in-person treatment wasn’t feasible, I signed up.
I love that I can be completely honest
From 2016 until starting with Brightside, I took a daily low dosage of an SSRI prescribed by a general practitioner. After beginning with Brightside, my symptoms began to improve about a week after each change in medication (I’ve had about three changes in medication so far).
What I like most is having a doctor who works with me on an individual level and respects who I am as a person, with whatever needs and feelings I bring to the table. When I had a harmful panic attack during treatment, my doctor responded early the next day and made sure I was taken care of and gave helpful suggestions. When I was hesitant to agree to another anxiety medication because of common weight gain side effects, she was completely understanding and suggested an alternate medication.
“What I like most is having a doctor who works with me on an individual level and respects who I am as a person, with whatever needs and feelings I bring to the table.”
In the past, I’ve felt afraid to be completely honest with doctors about the extent of my depression and anxiety and how dangerous I am to myself. I was worried they would question me and place me in a hold for saying the wrong thing. With my current doctor, I feel safe, understood, and not at risk of being judged or at-risk of something happening to me involuntarily.
Treatment is challenging but worth it
My recovery has also had some challenges. I have had times when I would worry about being affected by my medication’s side effects, such as dizziness, low blood pressure, sleeplessness, fatigue, and confusion. My doctor has always been happy to talk about my concerns and closely monitored my condition each day until I felt back to baseline.
My treatment really helped me when the pandemic-induced self-isolation really started to hit hard. Even before quarantine, I was hitting lower lows very frequently (relative to the year before) and was really losing steam. The treatment has helped me feel more in control and “lighter” than I’d previously been feeling. Since beginning treatment, it has become more natural to self-motivate to work on projects, be proactive in my social life, and accept self-care.
“My treatment really helped me when the pandemic-induced self-isolation really started to hit hard.”
Currently, I feel a lot more “normal.” I’m able to think through problems clearly without overwhelm, get out of the house to exercise with my dog, and more. I also feel less burdensome to myself and others, and in a far better place mentally.
I decided to share my story because I figure it doesn’t hurt to share. I try to stay open and honest about my struggles in my personal life, especially struggles with my mental health. I want those looking for a familiar story to see that they aren’t alone. I want others to know there are ways to improve life, and that the effort is worth it.
Personal essay by Bridgett V.
Thank you, Bridgett, for sharing your story with us. For more member stories, check out Kyle’s story, Jacquelyn’s story, and Kaitlynn’s story. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, you are not alone. Talking about these illnesses is the first step towards destigmatizing the topic of mental health. Get connected with one of our doctors today to figure out if Brightside is right for you.