Two weeks ago I did it. I went to see my doctor about antidepressant medication. I’ve read all the literature for or against medication, talked to friends who are taking antidepressants, watched other friends struggle through life with an anxiety disorder or severe depression, and listened to people who are sure medication isn’t necessary except in severe cases. I’ve always thought My depression isn’t that bad. It’s probably my fault that I’ve got it – I don’t know how to handle stress. I can’t cope. If I learn all the tools I need to deal with life, I’ll be better and the sadness and anger will go away. I’m a bad person for feeling this way when life is good. I’m sorry, God… I spent a year not long ago going through therapy with a wonderful counsellor. It was extremely helpful, but I still struggled daily with the spectre that lurks in my mind.
This summer was wonderful. I enjoyed gardening, time with my kids, reading, writing, and most of all, balance. I was on top of the world for what felt like the first time ever. I’ve got it licked, I thought. I’m fine. I’ve learned everything I need to cope with life. God has had mercy upon my soul. Then August hit with shorter daylight hours, the prospect of school start-up for my kids, having to juggle all the regular stuff of life, my job, and suddenly I was not fine. Suddenly I was teetering on the verge of explosion or break-down and I couldn’t stop it. Nothing I thought, prayed, or did helped me feel better. I was overcome with the burden of facing the next 9 months on my own with no one to help me feel better, and knowing that I didn’t need to feel that way because I have a life full of blessings.
The thought came out of the blue: I don’t need to feel like this. I need to see my doctor. And before I could change my mind or persuade myself that I didn’t need help, I picked up the phone, called my doctor’s office, and made an appointment. I was in to see her in less than a week, which is unusual in her office. She prescribed me Cipralex and I’ve been taking it ever since and beginning my fourth week. There have been rough spots and difficult days when I wonder if the medication is helping.
Mostly, though, I feel far more relaxed. I can sleep at night without the horrific nightmares or racing thoughts. Most of the time I am able to really be present to my children, to enjoy being with them. Most days I can deal with my to-do list without becoming overwhelmed. And most importantly, I can appreciate my husband properly. Poor man, he should be sainted for having to live with me through the daily ups and downs of depression. I spent a lot of time blaming him for how badly I was feeling, when most of the time he had nothing to do with the situations I was dealing with. Most of the time I’m optimistic that the medication I’m on will help me to get through the winter with its cold and darkness.
As my mother pointed out, God can work through medication. Natural medicines are very often useful and having an understanding of how one’s body works is vital to good health. But I believe that God is big enough to work through both natural and traditional forms of medicine. I have experienced more stability and deep-down happiness than I’ve had since I was a child. It’s been so wonderful that sometimes I wonder if it can last – if it will be snatched away again because I don’t deserve such consistent happiness. After all, suffering is something all people experience, and perhaps my depression is something I am supposed to live with. On the other hand, I don’t think my children and husband should suffer for my crazy brain.
I suppose what I’ve arrived at for the moment is a greyish sort of ambiguity. I am so thankful to experience life from a place of true and unmitigated happiness, but I haven’t yet figured out if it’s something I should count on lasting. Not much of a conclusion, but still a place on my “learn to live” journey.
- So I Went Back on Meds (afterpartychat.com) – I haven’t experienced the same sorts of extremes as the author of this article, but it describes quite well the “before” and “after” medication, in my opinion.