I was all right, for a while

Last month was a difficult month for me. My sister was graduating from the University of MN, I was walking at my graduation for completing my AA degree last December, and there was a few special bills that always come in May that I wasn't looking forward to. Or maybe it was just me being me. I don't know. But it was very difficult. After many a shouting then crying spell with Jason I had to take a step back.

Depression has been with me as long as I can remember. I have never found a satisfactory way to cope with it though. About three years ago I took myself off my antidepressant due to sleep disturbances that I couldn't adjust to. I didn't think that it was a bad decision at the time, or for a long time until I started looking back at the last three years and how I've been feeling while off the antidepressant. And sadly, I came to realize I haven't been feeling good. Sure good things have happened in the last three years. And there were brief moments of happiness when those good things were taking place. But overall, I'd say they've been tough. Even when the good things came there was always a dark thought in my mind that I'd have to struggle to keep at bay to stay focused on the present. It was exhausting! It is exhausting.

At the start of May I felt wonderful, there were a lot of things to celebrate about, and many reasons to be happy. I was energized and motivated to start a new workout program. I was excited to have the summer months start, and things at my new job were beginning to get comfortable.

Slowly it hit me. I had to rearrange my work/sleep schedule in order to participate with my sisters graduation and my own. I had to swap a few shifts to get the time to help with and attend the open house my mom had arranged. I worked a double to help with the loss of a shift to get the one day off that I needed. When the day of the open house came one simple sentence thew me into a heap of despair and depression that I am still struggling with today. "Your mom worked really hard on this open house; I hope you show her you're thankful for her efforts."

There were many other things that were making me sad and a little out of sorts but it was this comment that threw me over the edge from mildly depressed into severely depressed. It felt like a slap in the face. It came out of the blue and I wasn't prepared for it; I didn't know why the comment was directed at me. I didn't know why it was delivered in such a cold tone less than a half an hour before guests were to arrive, it didn't make any sense to me. I finished putting out the cheese trays I was working on and quickly went upstairs to a private bathroom and cried. Cried my heart out for a good five minutes.

The door bell rang and I was pulled back to reality. I couldn't keep crying; there was an open house going on and guests to greet. I splashed my face with cold water, applied more powder to my face and a new coat of mascara and went down stairs to the open house.

That's sort of how its been with me and depression. It catches me and pulls me down so low that I can't do anything but cry, and then life comes at me kicking and screaming and I have to stop crying and deal with the fight going on before my eyes.

After the open house my crying spells got worse and more frequent. I began to think there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I started scheduling more counseling appointments and told my counselor in gasps between crying that something was wrong, that I was a weak person to feel the way I feel when others around me are dealing with the same issues and doing just fine. Through tears she tried to convince me that I wasn't weak, there wasn't anything wrong with me, that depression, a chronic disease, and managing a stressful life while working night shifts would be hard for anyone. Unconvinced I scheduled an appointment with my old psychiatrist to get their perspective on my moods and emotions.

I met with them a week ago and their perspective was exactly the same. Having heard my counselor tell me the same thing every week for three weeks before helped the message to sink in this time. Of course their solution was different than my counselors. While they were impressed with all my attempts to keep sane (counseling, exercise, changing my eating habits, yoga) they still thought an antidepressant would help. I don't like antidepressants. I don't like the side effects that come with them. I don't like that one has nevered worked for me before. So I generally just don't agree with them. But I can't keep on like I have been and all my attempts seem to get knocked out with one unexpected comment. So, hesitantly, I agreed to try another, evil in my mind, antidepressant.

Its been a week on the damn thing. It also messes with my sleep cycle, only making me drowsier unlike the last pill I was on which made it impossible to fall asleep. It gives me a dry mouth and seems to make me oblivious to my lows thanks to the constant thirst. But in the last week I haven't had a night of crying. Its a start I guess.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hang in there Amber.

Depression sucks, big time. I too thought for a long time that I shouldn't have to take a pill to keep my brain right, though I don't know why I had such a strong resistance to it.

I've been on some sort of anti-depressant for a long time now, and feel that I do need it in order to stay afloat.

It is very hard, because those brain meds are goofy, and it takes such a long time to find one that works well for you. Stick with it though (the fight, not necessarily that particular pill), because you and your team CAN find something that works, and works well for you. It just takes time and a bit of work because you have to ramp up/ramp down on the meds.

You can do this.

James said...

This is a really raw and honest post that I really respect. Everyone in my family has struggled with depression, and some others with bi-polar and OCD. Although I don't fully understand it, I can sure appreciate the struggle.

I find it ironic that people are so accepting of medication like insulin or chemo, but mood stabilizers are often vilified (if not but those who take them, then often by those who do not). Have you found that to be true as well?

Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggle. I know you're authenticity will encourage countless others, as diabetes and depression are closely related.

There will be better days, the best is yet to come!

Amber-Bams said...

Thanks Scott!
James I fully agree with you! Mood stabilizers, or ANYthing related to mental illness is so vilified. In my mind, its just hard to accept that I need something to help my moods. And if I find it hard to accept I can only guess what someone who doesn't struggle with it thinks too!