Thursday, April 20, 2006

Antidepressants


The dreaded word was mentioned last night in my therapy session. Not only mentioned but suggested. Not only suggested but a card with a psychiatrists named and number (the only psychiatrist in town on my insurance plan) was placed in my shaky and vulnerable hand. When she leaned towards me, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "There's an elephant in this room that we aren't talking about. What are we going to do about your depression," I immediately burst into tears not because I was surprised or offended but because my bluff had been called. I had been fighting against the depression for months now. I thought I was doing it successfully. I thought I was the only one who knew, who could see it. And I thought I could do enough to will it away. I thought I could fight it. I thought if I worked on my issues, took care of my body, incorporated the yoga and meditation, that I could head it off. Now I've been found out and confronted...and I have a choice to make.

I'm not against the use of medication for depression. I've been there before. This isn't the first time. But, because this isn't new to me, I also know about the opinions and judgments that come with it. I've sat in a physicians office and answered the questions while he looked at me, not certain whether to believe me or not. I understand the hesitancy. This country is over medicated and many therapists and physicians go straight for the meds, prescribing left and right without ever really monitoring the patient. And so I usually resist the idea of taking medication for my depression. I do everything I can to avoid it. But there comes a time...

I thought this time would be different. I thought I was doing 'okay', whatever that means. My signs have been different this time. It didn't show up as lethargy and an incredible desire to stay in bed all day for days on end. It didn't show up as withdrawal and uncontrollable tears. Okay, there have been tears but not like previous bouts with this black monster. This time I have been terribly volatile, my emotions bouncing all over the place. Little insignificant things set me off and it's so sudden and so uncontrollable. One moment I'm fine; the next moment I'm a raging monster or a puddle on the floor. I've been 'functioning' which a lot of times when the depression hits I'm not able to do. There have been times when small everyday tasks have become completely impossible to perform. But I haven't had that problem this time. And so I thought I could beat it before anyone called me on it. This past summer when I was seeing another therapist, a therapist I didn't really click with and therefore discontinued seeing, choosing to return to a therapist I've used in the past and really liked, he suggested the meds too. I disregarded his advice and just kept doing my thing. Now the blackness is creeping in at an ever steadier pace and I'm loosing ground. And the one thing that every dance with depression has shared in common is starting to plague me: thoughts of hurting myself--not death, but physical punishment--a physical pain to cover the emotional pain.

I've had a little over 24 hours to think about it and I'm still not sure how I feel. It's hard to admit that you're at a place where you need the additional assistance in order to continue thriving, and maybe even just surviving. It's hard to surrender. It's hard to look others in the face and admit you're depressed, AGAIN. And that's the hardest part about it--it never goes away. It always manages to return. It's difficult to accept that this is an issue that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life and there's nothing I can do about it except face it when it comes along, take care of myself the best I can, continue to do my work, and consider the meds if it gets to that point.

42 Comments:

Anonymous Nicole said...

This post hurt so much to read because I have been there, in that same room, crying, not wanting to believe it had come to this. It's funny to me how I can be understanding and empathetic to others and encourage them to seek help, but sometimes cannot allow myself the same.

The other things you are doing are making a difference, but it may not be the scale of difference you need right now to pull yourself back into a better space.

Keep taking care of yourself. Go deep and figure out what will most help you right now, and then do it. The hurt does not have to win.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Deb R said...

Awww, Michelle. I know it's hard, truly I do, especially knowing that it's something you need to fight on and off for life.

But you know, if you were diabetic, you'd take insulin. If you had asthma, you'd use an inhaler. If you had an infection too massive for your white cells to fight off, you'd take antibiotics.

So if your brain chemistry is not where it should be and it isn't getting better on its own, then I thank the universe that you have some options to help you get back to feeling good. It wasn't all that many years ago in the grand scheme of things that you wouldn't have had those options.

Sending lots of good thoughts your way.

8:32 PM  
Blogger lela said...

i get this... completely...
i'll be thinking about you.
sending big hugs



ps. sorry i've been absent here... i've been thinking about you. just had to focus on my "real life" for a while to keep up with it all.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I like Debr's remark about seeing depression as a condition to be taken seriously. Clinical depression runs in my family so I can tell you firsthand that this is not something that you will simply "get over". I agree that the country may be overmedicated and yet it does not change the circumstances if you indeed need the assistance of medication. It's scary I know, and yet further down the line this may just be the very thing that makes a significant difference in your life.

9:07 PM  
Blogger tara dawn said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your depression, and yet so proud of you for speaking to us all about it. So many of us have walked this path, and continue to periodically walk this path as well. I cannot tell you how much I can relate to this post...well I could, but that would take an enormous amount of time:) Just know that you are not alone in facing what I have termed "the black hole". I am sending lots of love and support your way!
-TD

9:11 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I agree with Debr to a certain extent. If it is really a physiological issue, just an unfortunate chemical imbalance, then the medications may help. But if your depression is a result of some emotional issues then dealing with the symptoms only is a band-aid measure at best.

It gets back to how well you know yourself and how well you trust the professionals around you.

Thinking of you, whichever way you go.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dear,
Yes, you may feel that the doctor is doubting you; you may feel like you're taking an easy way out; you may feel like taking medications is unnatural. And so many other feelings that produce doubt, shame, uncertainty. But, speaking as a person who works with this stuff every day (I work directly in group homes for people with severe mental illness), medications do help. Medications alone won't do the trick. But, it sounds like you're doing so many other healthy things for yourself--you are really working at it--and so you really deserve to have this fog of depression lifted.

Of course, I can't say whether you should take them or not. But, I truly hope that you are able to make a decision without worrying about the stigma that comes along with it.

So many things come to mind to say, but you don't need some stranger to give you cheesy advice. All I know is that it is so liberating to be free from these feelings of pain, and I know that you can get to that point.

11:13 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

oh i love what everyone has said here. there are wise words for you to read and take in.
you will know. sit in the quiet my dear sweet friend. you will know.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Michelle, the red flag waved, in your last post...
I agree with what Lee is saying here compleletly.
You are on the right path, you are seeking answers...you are your own best friend and your friends here care about you too!
Hugging you as best I can.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Cee said...

I find it hard to think of a comment to leave on this entry, and yet I want to - to say, "You are heard, I am listening." A close friend of mine struggles with the same illness, and when she is in those depths I sometimes find it hard to know what to say. Her medication helps her, but doesn't completely remove the ups and downs. However, I find that sometimes just being there is enough - sitting in the sun, my arm around her, just letting her be. I hope and wish the same for you, and lighter days ahead of you.

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

I'll be praying for you ...

3:29 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

i agree with debr...

don't worry about what
anyone else will think...
you can never control it anyway
and what other people think
is obviously not always right
or even in your best interest...

i will be thinking of you
and
try not to be too hard on yourself
:)

3:37 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I'm sitting here wishing I had just the right words, that I could somehow reach out and say something that would make you feel warm in your heart and make today just a little bit better.

You are such an insightful, tender, creative, generous and complex woman. Every day people come here to share in all that you are, the richness of your spirit. You are a rare and precious jewel. Do whatever you need to do to take care of your magnificent self and know that there is a world out here supporting you and believing in you.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Visual-Voice said...

I understand where you are. Been there too.

Have you tried meditating? I'm not talking about zen hocus pocus. There is scientific evidence that strongly backs me up, as well as my own personal experience of having overcome a very deep depression a year and a half ago which antidepressants didn't touch. The doctor tried 3 different medications, which all made me sick.

My interest and desire to meditate was inpsired by a TIME magazine special edition called "The Science of Happiness". I excitedly urge you to read the article online before jumping into the chemical cocktails.

http://www.time.com/time/2005/happiness/

all warm wishes to you.

4:13 AM  
Blogger ArtsyMama said...

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for sharing yourself so deeply with us. Depression is hard. I've delt with it myself since I was 16 years old and have also been on antidepressants. I also have noticed it rearing its ugly head in the last year. I guess I don't have any advice, since I'm trying to work through it day by day as well. I just wanted to let you know I'm right here next to you, walking side by side...listening, crying, hugging you, right here. Take care girlfriend:)

4:53 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

miz michelle...my heart is breaking for you. if i were there
i would just hug you. you know what you need to do, and you will
do it. that's what you do.

debr is right. when i read her
post, i thought - that is so true.

take care this weekend. take sometime for yourself, pamper yourself. you deserve that.
i am sending good thoughts and
prayers your way.
blessings...k

5:46 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

i've dealt with that some, too. and i haven't enjoyed being on those meds at the times i've resorted to them, so when it seemed last year like i might need something again, my (german) physician recommended the herb st. johns wort. at the standardized dosage of 900mg/day, it has apparently been proven in clinical studies in europe and japan to treat mild or moderate depression just as effectively as antidepressant medications. i don't know what's best for you, but this stuff works GREAT for me, and i notice zero side-effects though i am generally quite sensitive to those things. i urge you to research this option if you are at all intrigued.

sending you best wishes for the speedy return of balance, peace and joy. oh, and don't hurt yourself if you can possibly help it. you might think of it as punishment, but self-harm functions more like a drug, and it is just as dangerous and just as addictive.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Michelle, i have battled with the Black Dog for many years, and after my partner died last yr i was prescribed anti depressants, which i am still taking. for me they have helped to lift the burden off my back a little so i could look at what was happening in my life, and with the help of my counsellor i have been rebuilding. even though it was my grief that triggered this bout of depression, it also uncovered years of issues that i had never faced up to. yes, meds are prescribed too often, i agree, but the two-pronged attack of meds and counselling is working for me. i got help when i needed it, and i'm glad i did. it wasn't an easy decision.

whatever you decide will be right for you - i just wanted to say that if the meds can allieviate the burden for a while, and give you breathing space to look at things, then that is a *good* thing. nothing to be ashamed of. it is so difficult to accept this is a part of us that probably will never be 'cured' but the strength comes from acknowledgin that it IS a part of us, and so we can aid our own healing/coping/forward movement.

take good gentle care of yourself. trust your intuition and reach out when you need to...
Sx

7:51 AM  
Blogger ♥ joleen ♥ said...

Michelle,

I'm trying so hard not to cry because I have to start working any minute now, but I have to tell you that if I was more honest with myself and "my readers" this would be my own post. I want you to know that I KNOW what you're feeling. I am incredibly depressed right now and this time it's manifested in a seriously volatile way- especially rage. My problem is I haven't seen a dr. I am really, really scared.

I hope you make the right decisions for YOU and that you're feeling better soon. You're a beautiful person, Michelle. Thank you for inspiring me to be a more honest person.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous bella said...

For many of the same reasons, and then some, I just started on medication (my second attempt). I think that it's true: some people cannot find that happy place by themselves. I sometimes feel so selfish. I have a healthy daughter, a good husband, a home, financial security..yet, I'm in that black abyss again.

It's o.k. It happens. Can you find some comfort in the fact that you tried alternative methods first like yoga and meditation?

I wish you the best of luck with the choices you make and hope happy days lay ahead of you.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Michelle, i'm so sorry you going through this. I wish I had the right answer for you but all I know is what worked for me when I was feeling the same way. I went for the meds and they worked great. I was in the black hole. Taking razors and cutting up the insides of my arms to feel something other than dull darkness. The meds and counselling help so so much. I went off once I felt like I could handle life again and haven't been back on since. But if I had to I would do it again. Wish I live next door so I could come and hug you and be a friend.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous dee said...

Hi Michelle, We don't know each other but I'm the one from DebR's blog that gave you the advice on the eggplant. I suffer from depression and I had to begin this therapy many years ago. It took a number of attempts at different drugs in order to find the right one but it was worth it. I've been on the same drug now for a long time and I can tell you it's the difference between feeling human and feeling nothing but anger,hostility,immobilizing self-doubt, and uselessness. Don't feel like you have to accept this aspect of your current life. The difference for me was unbelievable and my ability to be creative was enhanced so much I can't even explain how much it changed my life. Finding the right med is the hardest part and requires the most patience. Initial symptoms mostly dissapear after the first 2 weeks or sooner. I don't even know you but I wish I could give you a big hug and hold your hand through this. Depression impacts your life and the lives of all around you in ways that most people can sympathize with but barely understand.The black hole analogy is so true. This is when you find out who your real friends are. Thinking of you and hoping the best, Dee

8:34 AM  
Blogger snowsparkle said...

my thoughts are with you. the best physician i ever had prescribed a 3 pronged remedy for my anxiety attacks: talk therapy, stress reduction meditation therapy and mild medication. to that, i added increaed spiritual and physical activity. it took some time, but eventually it worked. hope your physician prescribes some kind of multi-level remedy. take care... big hugs, snowsparkle

9:44 AM  
Blogger GreenishLady said...

medication or not medication, short-term or long-term, herbal, meditation... there are a range of choices and a combination of these things, and other self-care supports that will combine to bring you through these times. be as easy on yourself as you would be on any dear friend. Please. And I will be praying and sending good thoughts your way, along with all these dear people here who all care for you and want you to feel better. You are very brave and strong in admitting to yourself and to us that you are suffering. Know that.

9:52 AM  
Blogger M said...

I'm sending you big hugs!! I too have been where you are, in the Black hole, but now am on medication as well. I went on them because my anxiety was causing me so much pain and stress and depression and I felt instantly better. There is a history of chemical brain issues in my family and I see it like Debr said, as a necessary action for my well being. I am working on getting off them, slowly, thinking about having babies and all that, but I wouldn't change a thing- they have been a life saver for me. I was tired of feeling so overwhelmed and scared and confused and sad. I did therapy as well, which was the key.
I'm glad you have a therapist you work well with and trust- so important! Don't worry, those who love you and understand you and want you to feel better won't judge you. Never mind the rest.
Good luck.

10:04 AM  
Blogger ESB said...

I completely agree that antidepressants are overly prescribed, but that doesn't mean they aren't helpful if both the prescriber and taker are conscious and responsible. There's still a real stigma attached to depression and medication, which is bizarre, since they're both so common. In any case, it sounds like your therapist is a really good one and is looking out for you...As someone's who's been there, I can wholeheartedly say that when you're IN the blackness, it is hard to have any perspective. If the meds help, you'll be able to see that. i know SO many people who, after starting on meds, thought, "I can't believe I didn't take these sooner!" Think how differently the lives of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton might have turned out, had they had access to Prozac....Finally, it is really helpful to think of depression as a physical illness--it's often not something you can control, though of course there are some things you can do in conjunction with meds to make it easier (exercise, diet, therapy, etc.)

10:07 AM  
Blogger Josephine said...

Sweet Michelle,

You MUST not ever consider what anyone other than you thinks about your heart and your needs.

Depression is a pervasive condition that many, many women are forced to endure for the entirity of their lives.

If you think about it in historical terms, it is clear to see it's legacy throughout historical record. Many great leaders and thinkers in the past have suffered from what we would now call depression.

Abe Lincoln is a great example.

Do not blame yourself. There is no blame to be placed. Depression is as natural as a tumor growing in the roof of your mouth. I know what it's like to have your body working against you.

Michelle, you must do what you have to do to take care of yourself and find your way to good health. Health in everyway.

Even though the mind seems ethereal, it is very, very physical.

It is chemical. And if people stigmatize it, then that is just ignorance on their part.

We are here to support you through this, we hear your voice.

10:16 AM  
Blogger mati rose said...

oh sweetie, i'm sending you hugs and beautiful colors to rear that black monster. i think you're being very honest with yourself and doing good work and if you decide to go on anti-depressants, i'm sure that decisison will come from the right place. have no further judgement on yourself for that! you're in my heart. xoxo

10:18 AM  
Blogger The Whole Self said...

sending hugs, lots and lots of cyberhugs.

1:04 PM  
Blogger European said...

{{{hugs}}}

1:11 PM  
Anonymous beansprout said...

Tears, tears, tears, run down my face because I know in my heart that there is an elephant in my living room too. I am with you, knowing how damaging the depression is to me and my life, but unable to take the step that would pit me on "medication". I have so much empathy for you. I know how hard this is. We have to find a way to care for ourselves. Know that I hold you in such a tender place in my heart. If there is anything I can do...just ask...much, much love to you.

1:30 PM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

A lot on your plate my friend and it's a tough decision, especially because you have all the knowledge of past experiences. Please try not to worry what anyone else thinks but Michelle. You will know what is right for you and I've seen a huge transformation in a patient at work that went on meds 3 weeks ago and she's a different person. The elephant in the room.....he's crowding me out somedays and it says a lot that you're getting help and know how to take care of yourself. The right answer will come.

2:44 PM  
Blogger melba said...

I have clicked on your blog more than once trying to think of something to say...
so many have said it well today.
I am sending you positive energy and stillness so you can hear your answers within.
XO-Melba

2:52 PM  
Blogger carmen said...

I am so greatful to have come across your blog, awhile ago. I started looking at it for mainly your beautiful pictures. I am glad you opened up to me (us). I am sorry you have to deal with this, but sometimes just talking aobut it is a good way to express you thoughts and everyone seems to be very supportive to you. I only wish you happy warm thoughts and I will keep you in my prayers. I have a terminal illness and know that my disease will most likely take my life and so I know how depression can effect your everyday life. Just know that you have many supporters here in this blog world.

Carmen

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

That's all you can do...just what you said at the end. We're all here for you.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Ky said...

i have seen the reverberation of your brave post about the blogosphere today, and i cannot even begin to explain how much your honesty is appreciated. wishing you all the support and love you need!

9:05 PM  
Anonymous sueeeus said...

Even though I've not seen otherwise, I still *believe* that it can go away. With all my heart. This is my wish, my hope, and my prayer for you, for me, and for everyone who is suffering from this.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Wenda said...

Just a note before I slip off into my own sleepiness, to let you know I care.

12:01 AM  
Blogger blackbird said...

I'm so sorry...
it seems to not be enough, just words, but I am.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Adrift At Sea said...

Depression is an illness, much like any other, except tainted with a stigma. If you would use a cast to help a broken leg heal, why wouldn't you use whatever medical technologies are avaiable to help you heal your spirit and mind. Also remember that if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of those you love and adore.

10:30 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I think you are wise to be cautious. I too went through a dark period and my doctor prescribed some. I took them one day and will never again. I had a horrible reaction to them. The worst part is that I felt like I had left my body, my thoughts. I then was able to manage it through diet and excersise. I know, I know I sound like Tom Cruise, but it worked for me. It won't for everyone.
Hugs to you as you try to manage this. It is scary and lonely. I hope you have a strong support in real life.
Love,
a.

10:00 AM  
Blogger jenny vorwaller said...

hang in there sweetheart, i'll be thinking of you! :)

6:53 PM  

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