Today, an essay I wrote over six months ago went up on babble.com. When I wrote it, the admission of my depression was still a new one to me, a recent discovery after a difficult year filled with several of the top stressors one can face. I was not a catatonic, softly weepy sylph like I imagined depressed people would be. I was, in short, a bitch.
Today I don't think about being depressed much, because I'm not. I mean, I DO still have depression, I guess, but having been on this medication for almost a year now, I don't experience the worst of those feelings any more. In fact, after blogging about depression a bunch last winter, I haven't written about it at all since then. Whether it's the magic of Pr0zac or time healing these wounds, depression just hasn't been on my mind. Can I get an AMEN?
Perhaps the biggest surprise to me is that I'm still myself while taking this little pill. I was so worried medication would change my personality in ways I could never recover and it just hasn't, I'm still me. Pr0zac took the edge off of some pretty awful feelings and set free the parts of myself so tramped down by negativity that I couldn't see the forest for all the m-f-ing trees. People told me it was possible to feel lighter, happier, but in the depths of my depression, I wouldn't let myself believe them.
Every time friends and loved ones tried to throw me a life preserver, I was sure they were trying to hit me on the head with a hard, white doughnut.
I have been unbelievably lucky with my medication so far. I'm on a low dose of the very first medication I've ever tried, with side effects that are minor and debatable. I know this is the not the case for many, many people. Reading about the trials of anti-depressant medication over at dooce or finslippy is not for the faint of heart.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do think there have been some effects besides the desired disappearance of my darkest moods. Though I was far from organized perfection, before I started taking Pr0zac, I was perpetually on time, remembered to mail things a week before they were due, kept on top of my kids' whereabouts at all times. Now, it's not unusual for me to be 10 minutes late, to forget to mail birthday cards till the day of the birthday, to let my kids wander just a little further from me. Sometimes this relaxation of vigilance feels foreign, unsafe. Mostly it feels like a long, slow exhale.
I'm also not sleeping as much as I used to, or maybe I'm just waking up more easily, more refreshed and ready to tackle my day. Since I'm no longer plagued by late night insomnia or early morning fantasies of running away, good sleep is easier to come by. At first I was so concerned about my new-found positive energy that I convinced myself that I must be bipolar. Yep, I almost didn't let myself enjoy feeling better.
There's been a lot in the news lately about anti-depressants being no more effective than a placebo. To that I say this: I don't really care. I know how I felt before I started taking this medication and I know how I feel now. I don't care if the pills are full of brain enhancing medication or simple sugar or bee spit. I'm forever grateful for the change they've given me.
One of my biggest fears in starting this medication was how I would eventually get off of it. (Way to put the cart before the horse, depressed lady!) I'm not worried about that at the moment. Maybe I will need to continue taking medication for the rest of my life. That thought, which used to terrify me, seems reasonable to me today, given how I currently feel. I want to feel this way, like a normal person with a balance of good days and bad days, for the rest of my life. And if medication is what I need for that to be true, then so be it.
Making the decision to take that first Pr0zac pill was a deeply scary leap for me. After years of talking and crying and talking some more, I swallowed and waited and hoped. I gave up control, admitted I needed help and let go of my deepest preconceived notions about myself.
Making the decision to become even more public with this decision, to publish the babble piece, is another scary leap. While my maiden name is the same as several actresses and at least one TV character, it is still the name that most people who've known me would Google.
Well, here I am, friend from sixth grade. Yes, I do now need to wear a bra every day, but not for the reasons I'd always hoped.
Now, would you go over to the babble piece and say hi?