A quick shoutout to my new SistaBitches Jana & Leah! That’s right, girls, I adopted myself into your sistabitchin club. (For background, check out this post of Jana’s from a couple of months ago. I commented. Now we’re all Twitter buds :grin:)
But today, Internet, I want to make a confession. I haven’t taken any antidepressants in almost a month.
This is a big deal.
I’ve had depression since I was a pre-teen: maybe even earlier but I don’t remember clearly enough to know for sure. I was first given meds in college. I went off and on them for years and years. Finally, around the time ex-hubs#1 and I were splitting up, I went on Cymbalta. I changed doses a couple of times and switched things up a couple of times. Then I landed in the local hospital psych ward after a particularly bad panic attack. Meds got pushed to the extreme. When I got out, I had scrips for Effexxor, Abilify, Klonopin, & Ambien. And these weren’t baby scrips. This were big girl scrips all above the minimum doses and most of them at the maximums.
6 weeks after I got out, I was fired from my job & lost my health insurance.
I ran out of meds once or twice and almost wound up back in the hospital. Eventually I got into the Patient Assistance Programs from the drug companies.
That was 18 months or so ago.
About 4 months or so ago, my doctor’s office totally screwed up my Abilify refill. So I stopped taking it. And I did surprisingly well. So well that I haven’t taken it since. But I held on to that Effexor.
I had my epiphany in November. (I can’t pinpoint it anymore. Sometimes I can find it in a timeline, sometimes not). I felt myself coming back into myself. I came out of my hidey hole. It wasn’t chemical. I know what chemical feels like: when the meds kick in, or kick out or whatever. The closest I can get to describing it is calling it a spiritual change.
But back to the meds. About a month after that (like mid-December) my sleep schedule got all kinds of wacky. I was going to bed between 3 and 5 am and sleeping until 1pm. It was ridiculous. And all of that messed up all of my routines. And I missed a few days of Effexor.
The thing is, I wasn’t reeling. I wasn’t in hell trying to figure out why physically and emotionally I felt like absolute shit. I would have expected that. When I used to miss days here and there – believe me, I noticed. But I didn’t this time.
In fact, I hadn’t noticed at all.
When I finally *did* realize it, I was….ummm….. perplexed.
So I decided to do a little experiment on myself. I wanted to see how long I could go before I noticed a perceptible difference in my daily functioning.
Well, it’s been interesting. I wonder sometimes if the drama with *her* would have been quite as dramatic as it was, at least on my part, if I had been taking meds on the day of the planned party. I notice myself being much snippier with Jack than I want to be. He and I have had more conflict this month than in the entirety of our relationship. We’re handling it well and I think it’s a great sign that we are able to handle it well – especially so with me as moody as I can be without meds.
But here’s the thing: I’m functioning. I’m getting back to normal. I’m growing and changing and being happy sometimes. I’m able to stop my brain from the spiraling behavior it used to enjoy when not medicated. Not always, but probably 80% of the time. I’m finding friends and I’m putting myself out there.
These are all healthy things! And the fact that I’m capable of all of that without chemicals simply astounds me! And I haven’t even really begun my *Project* (I’m going to do my own version of a Happiness Project ala Gretchen Rubin – but I’m still in the research phase). Okay, I have been working on some of the suggestions about watching what you think and say but I haven’t made any actual “resolutions” as she calls them, and I haven’t introduced any new behaviors yet. I haven’t even *thought* about trying to exercise (okay, I have thought about it… a couple of times… I swear I’m going to… I will I promise… shuddup, Conscience) even though it’s clinically proven to boost mood and lighten depression symptoms and will make me live longer and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. No? Too far? Okay, I’ll go for walk a block without getting winded and wanting to stop to rest my legs/feet/knees/shins/low back or any combination thereof.
Four years ago, I spent weeks – maybe even months – trying to come to terms with the fact that I have a chronic illness (depression) and I need to learn to manage it. As a part of that, I had to come to terms with the fact that I would probably need some amount of daily medication. Forever. Like insulin for a diabetic. Just a fact of life.
The possibility that I might be capable of a future without medication is – um – exciting? I’m not 100% sure what the word for it is. Thrilling? Scary? Hopeful?
But I was talking to EarthBabe today – I swear she is one of my favorite people. Ever. And we were talking about the pros and cons of antidepressants. I said something to her that hadn’t really struck me before, but it’s true:
If I were working a full-time job right now, I’d definitely be on the medication.
Right now, even though money is tight and we’re living on charity basically, I’m happier and feel more in control than I have in years – since high school maybe? Before then? I’m not sure. I have very little stress – almost no deadlines except self-imposed ones. I only really do things I want to do or have chosen to do. I have a lot of time to devote to things I enjoy, rather than things I *have* to do.
This confuses me. And makes me scared. I want to work – in some capacity. I want to be financially independent again and have an income. But I want this freedom and this enjoyment and this level of happiness and healthy activities in my life. I want to stay off the meds.
But I’m not sure it’s possible to have it all.