Last night, I did something that I haven’t done in about 18 months — I took an anti-depressant.
I’ve been considering going back on a mild medication for a few months now, but have hesitated for no other reason than that I’m proud to be completely medication free for the last year and a half. Because I spent my entire 2014 in a Xanax/Cymbalta haze*, being “clear” has been the one thing that I wear as a badge of honor.
*I do not frown on those who are on heavy doses of anti anxiety, depression, or psychotics. I admittedly over-medicated to avoid dealing with feelings. If you have found the medication plan that works for you – and you feel genuinely better, then I am so freaking proud of you. I am hugging your pretty little face right now.
For the most part, I’m okay. I get out of bed every single day. I go to work every single day. I do my job to the best of my ability every single day. I get my “Katie face” on every single day. I socialize. I pretend to be okay even on days that I’m not. “Fake it til you make it” or whatever. My gauge has always been “If no one else knows I’m depressed, then I’m not depressed. If I can plaster a smile and a snarky, sassy personality on every day, then I’m fine.”
But you guys? Pretending all day is very exhausting.
It all came to a head about 3 months ago when I spent an entire weekend in bed. It was sunny out. I had plans to hang out with friends. I cancelled them all in lieu of laying in bed and sleeping for 25 hours. Yes, it’s possible. Yes, I did it. It was then that I realized that my bout with the blues was less of just having a rough day, and more like being in a rough patch. This is how this all started in 2009 – when I, well, you know. I recognized the signs, and I know one thing for certain… I don’t want to be there again.
Ordinarily, I would have made an appointment with my doctor – I would have walked in, said I was depressed, and left with a cocktail of drugs — some new anti-depressant I never tried, some kind of benzo, and a tranquilizer. The appointment would take about 15 minutes and $100 later, I’d have a way to bury my feelings for another year. I didn’t want that. I don’t want to bury my feelings or ignore my depression. I want to face it. Treat it.
So I set an appointment with a new Primary Care Physician. She spent 45 minutes talking to me – not like a patient, but like a person — and that’s something I haven’t experienced in a while from a doctor. We talked about my history, my symptoms, and my options. She then said something that I won’t forget. “I’m willing to try medication if you are…”
I felt my eyes get all teary like a real girl. I finally felt like I had someone on my team, as opposed to someone who was throwing pills at me to get me out of her office.
I left the appointment with a complete understanding of the medication I would be on, 4 referrals for unrelated “grown up stuff” like blood work and lady exams, and a verbal contract with my new doctor that if I get to the “bad place” again, that I would call her. Immediately.
I was feeling super good about everything.
Until I got home.
At 7:00PM, I decided to take my first dose – in an attempt to avoid any kind of drowsiness or zombie-ness. I popped the pill out of the bottle, and looked at it for a second – took a deep breath (I know this is a little dramatic…), and despite a lot of hesitation, I took it.
And immediately started to cry.
Maybe it was because I was tired, but I’m pretty sure my depression – a dirty ugly stupid liar – could tell that I was about to start fighting back, and went into defensive mode. Instead of feeling relieved, like I was treating it, I felt like I had failed myself. I felt defeated. I felt that my recovery had just been flushed down the toilet along with any pride that I had in myself for going off of medication all together.
It didn’t get better as the night went on. I had a terrible time sleeping. I feel kind of “meh” today. The first two weeks on a new medication are always the worst. Around day 5 is when I typically give up, decide it isn’t worth it, and retreat back into my silent struggle and feel “fine” most days.
But I want to do it different this time.
Fine isn’t enough for me anymore. I want to feel good. I want to stop pretending to be happy, and actually feel fulfilled.
Instead of listening to my depression, I’m trying to really tune into my inner Katie…. she’s in there. And she’s just tired of yelling and being ignored and chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool. If I really strain, I swear I can hear her saying to:
“Hang in there. Take the stupid pill. Deal with the side effects for a few weeks. Evict this stupid, lying, beastly depression. Who invited her anyway? You know, she doesn’t even like pancakes? We don’t need that negativity. #ByeFelicia.”
Basically, exactly what I’ve told countless of you, internet, when you’ve trusted ME with your depression stories.
So here I am. Fighting the good fight. Trying not to feel like a total failure. But it’s hard ya’ll.