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As an aspiring writer, I blog about whatever happens to move me at the moment -- though some posts contain serious content, my big-picture goal is to bring a little humor into an often humorless world! Welcome, y'all, and make yourself at home! Please make sure you update your bookmarks!

When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Depression Revisited

I have to talk about depression every once in a while because if, in some small way, it helps someone who is in the throes of it themselves or someone who is dealing with a family member or friend who is trying to cope, then it needs to be said. Although depression is talked about more these days than it used to be, there are still a lot of people out there who just don't get it. The reasons for this are myriad -- plain stupidity, refusal to deal with the facts, an underlying belief that if a person's outward life is good, then they have no reason to be depressed. Or, the worst one of all -- and the one which will get me riled up quicker than a swatted hornet -- is that their faith isn't strong enough to overcome it. Who would ever say that to someone who has cancer? Or who has had a heart attack or stroke? Nobody who has any compassion, that's for sure. The problem with depression is simply that there's not a physical test to prove it. And, for some folks, if there isn't, then it must be "all in the head".

I have been dealing with depression, on and off, for nearly seventeen years. Actually, probably more than that but I didn't recognize it as such until my last child was born and I was thrown into the pit of postpartum depression. I tell you the truth, if you really want to make somebody's life miserable, find a good Voodoo priestess and have them curse someone with depression. Not only will the person in question be cursed but so will everyone who loves them. It's that bad. For the record, no, I don't believe in Voodoo -- I'm just trying to make a point.

After I got over the bout of depression after my daughter was born, I came off the antidepressants and had a good run of it until the last couple of years. Whether it was life stresses or what, I found myself sinking down into that black hole again but, until last spring, I was able to claw my way out of it and, so, I refused to get back on medication. Finally, though, I reached a point where I needed help. I fully expected, once I started the medication, that I'd be on it the rest of my life.

I started with the lowest dose of Cymbalta (please, if anyone needs to take an antidepressant, DO NOT reject this drug because of what I'm writing here -- each person will have their own experience and it may be totally different than mine!). Within a couple of weeks, I felt better but I was still dealing with issues of anxiety which, up until this bout of depression, I'd never had before. Because of this, I began taking a larger dose. Unfortunately, this had two side effects which I had worried about: sexual problems and, even worse, the cessation of the voices in my head.

As far as sexual problems, this particular drug has a low incidence of them and, yet, there I was experiencing them (as I had with Paxil, years ago). I don't know -- maybe I'm just susceptible to that particular side effect-- as I said above, each person will have their own reaction, which may or may not mirror mine. I figured, at this point, I might need to switch to a different medication -- however, I was in the last month leading up to my daughter's wedding and I felt it wasn't the time to be dickering with medication. If the Cymbalta was keeping me on a somewhat even keel, then I needed to wait until after the wedding to try something new (especially since the first couple of weeks on Cymbalta, I stayed nauseated -- that did get better.

The voices problem was more urgent. Because, quite frankly, without the voices in my head, I'm just not, well, me. I've come to realize that I've been hearing voices all of my life -- though until the last few years, I didn't recognize or acknowledge just what they were -- and that not hearing them is almost equal to the black hole of depression. So, I stopped the medication entirely. Cold turkey. Not a smart move -- especially since I didn't even tell my physician hubby -- but, quite frankly, if I have to choose between no depression/no voices or some depression/voices -- guess which one I'm going to pick? Now, don't worry, if the depression was so bad I couldn't function in my day-to-day life or if I started having suicidal thoughts, taking medication would be a no-brainer (I hope).

As it is, I've made the choice to muddle along with the specter of depression hanging over my head. As for me, I can deal with it -- the person who really ends up getting the brunt of it is Mark. But he understands (as best he can) what I need -- or don't need -- in order to be creative.

I'm feeling pretty good right now, although we have some major issues coming up in our lives which might, at some point, cause me to backslide (just the nature of my personality). But the voices are coming back pretty strongly now -- it took a long time, even after stopping the antidepressant, for me to hear them clearly again. Almost as if they were afraid to disturb me. Silly creatures.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear -- I'm not trying to set myself up as an example for not taking medication. I'm all for it, if necessary. But, for me, this was the right course of action.

For now.

Tomorrow, though, might be a whole different story. And, trust me, I will tell it to you, in full detail.


  1. Excellent post! As someone who has suffered from depression most of my adult life, I know the trials of having to live day to day with feelings of anxiety and apprehension. Thank goodness I have a supportive hubby and family - I'm not sure I could make it if it weren't for them!

  2. Having the people who love you understand what's going on is extremely helpful -- but even they don't always get it. It's a struggle for everybody, that's for sure.