Depression

the reservoir right after sunset

the reservoir right after sunset

Please note, as you read this post, I don’t have medical training of any kind and depression is a very individual thing. What I’m writing below is just my own personal thoughts and experiences. If you think you are suffering from depression or anxiety, please see a doctor.

If I’ve never said this before, I’ll say it now. If you’ve never suffered from depression, I hope and pray that you never will. It’s not always obvious if someone is suffering from it. They don’t want around with a big huge D on their foreheads like in that book, The Scarlet Letter. You might think the person is being lazy, and the reality is that they can’t motivate themselves to get out of bed in the morning, or if they do, they feel like they are in a fog and just going through the motions.  You might think that they are just a negative person, when the reality is that their brain just won’t allow them to see any light in any circumstance. They might be using all of their energy just to get through the day. Or just through the next half hour. 

Some of you know that for about the past month and a half, I have been weaning myself off of Wellbutrin, which is a pretty well-known and widely used anti-depressant. I started taking it a few years ago when I felt like I was just feeling “eh, meh, whatever” about pretty much everything. Nothing could make me feel really happy or really sad. It was like I just didn’t care much about stuff. I was taking about 80 mg of prozac at the time and we realized that was too high of a dose, so along with reducing that to 60 mg, my doctor and I decided to add wellbutrin to the mix and see if that helped. Wellbutrin reaches a different part of your brain from prozac.  It helps more with the “pleasure center” of the brain, or at least that’s how I understand it. Prozac helps to calm the mind from the racing of your thoughts from one to the next, irrational or not. Prozac helps to organize your thoughts and not just jump from one emotion to the other. It also helps to calm anxiety symptoms if you suffer from them.  In fact, I know some people who take prozac for anxiety issues, not depression.

Wellbutrin is a drug that comes in a few different forms. One is extended release, so you can take it once a day and forget it. Then there is sustained release, and there is also an immediate release formula. The differences, as you can imagine, is how fast it enters your system and how long it stays there. I was originally put on the extended release formula. As I was trying to wean myself off of it, I switched to the sustained release, or SR formula. I went from my 100 mg dose of Wellbutrin ER to the 75 mg SR dosage. Then after a month, I met with my doc and we thought I could start cutting those pills in half, so 37.5 mg was all I was taking.

The differences that antidepressants can cause in your chemical imbalances may seem obvious to some, and to others, not so much. For me, it is very subtle. At first, switching to the 75 mg pills, I thought I was doing about the same as before, and told my doc as much when I saw her in early November. But as the days have grown shorter, and the cold weather grows more intense, I have realized that is not the case. I was finding it harder to motivate myself to do a lot of things. I was finding myself needing more sleep and not getting it, or if I did, it was the kind of sleep where you wake up often. I was finding it harder to concentrate at work. But I think what was most telling that something was not right was my self-confidence. I am not a cocky person by any means, but over the past few years, through the use of my medication and therapy appointments with the most awesome licensed social worker in the whole world, not to mention some very good friends who treat me like family, and some very supportive siblings, I have gone from a person who was pretty self-loathing to one who was like “Hey, I’m an ok person after all, and I’m doing good. I don’t need to beg people to like me. I’ve got a plan, and I’m working toward it.”

Over the past month or so, I have realized I’ve been using more negative self-talk toward myself. I was starting to obsess more about my looks, and in particular, my stomach. And I’ve noticed that it has been much harder for me to get going in the morning. I’ve been a morning person for quite a while now, and in the past, have not had a problem getting up in the dark to get things done before I started the rest of my day at the gym and work. For the past month or so, I’ve been finding it hard to get up some mornings, I wasn’t as motivated to get stuff done and get my workout in. And this past week, as I thought about my ex-boyfriend, I started thinking of why he broke up with me. And without going into details, I will just say that the thoughts that came into my head do not make rational sense, and I know it.

So, I’ve decided to go back to the 100 mg extended release medication. I started up again with that two days ago, and I can feel the difference. The difference is subtle, but it’s there. I should mention here that Wellbutrin is a medication that doesn’t have a long half-life, meaning it doesn’t stay in your system for very long, unlike Prozac which has a half life of about 5 weeks (that’s why you have to really wean yourself off of it slowly.) So I don’t think this is a placebo effect I’m feeling right now. Yesterday and today, I have woken up feeling more like “ok, let’s do this!” type of thing.

You might be wondering why I thought I should wean myself off of the medication. Well, stupidly or not, I was trying to save money, to prepare myself for next year when I know my salary will be much less, and I will be switching to health insurance that is probably not going to be as good as what I have now. (My employer may be a lot of things, but I can say that the health insurance and other benefits we are offered, are very good.)  I also thought it was just time to make the change. But I realize I was wrong.

So, here’s what I have decided.  I know I may have talked about this in the past, but this time, I really mean it. My antidepressants are going to be taken like maintenance medication. With it, I feel like things are stable. I feel like things in the world are positive. I feel like this is the “real me” I’m feeling right now. Do I wish it could be without medication? Sure. Do some people wish that they didn’t have to take medication for something like blood pressure or whatever every day? Sure they do. But some things you just need to accept as a part of life and move on. This is me.

I admit, part of me is afraid of publishing this post, even now. But sometimes I feel the need to write out my thoughts and share them with others. If even just one person out there reads this, and it helps them, then I feel l like it’s been the right thing to do. If that’s you, just know you are not alone.

Life is so short. Do what makes you happy, today. Be around creatures and people you love, today. 

If you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or leave me a comment below. Thank you for reading.

11 thoughts on “Depression

    • You’re very welcome, Ginny. I was a bit nervous before i hit the submit button – what if, down the road, a potential employer reads it? Will they think I’m a basket case? That’s what was going through my mind. But i know I’m not the only one out there that feels like this, either sometimes or all the time. And I’ve heard from a few people since I posted it, so I know I’m not alone. I am glad it helped.

  1. Depression is a loaded topic all the way around. Courageous of you to write about your experience. I imagine your thoughts will help someone else going through difficult times.

    I’ve had periods of depression in life when going through trauma, divorce, loss but it’s not hung on for long periods of time. I definitely notice a shift in my mood and motivation when the seasons shift to shorter days. I must have outdoor time, sunshine and activity to keep from feeling blue. The SAD effect with shorter days is well known. I’m also keenly aware of how my diet effects my moods. A stark example is with my sugar-addicted husband. He is Jekyll and Hyde when he’s eating sugar. This isn’t to say he’s ever been violent or nasty, he hasn’t, but he becomes almost withdrawn, unmotivated and sluggish in his physical and mental state.

    About a month ago I got very ill from food poisoning. (Turns out one of my favorite Mexican restaurants was preparing my veggies on the same grill as they did meat.) I did not, could not eat for 48 hours so when I recovered I decided to continue on a liquid fast. I drank clear liquids and 1/2 gallon of water a day for 6 days. My mood was uplifted far beyond what I’d been feeling, my thinking was sharper and I continued to do my beach walks with plenty of energy. I’m not saying this is a cure for depression but I do wonder if clearing out past toxins, including mental toxins, would be helpful? I’m eating again but looking forward to another fast. This time I will juice and focus more on detoxing.

    I wonder if some of our depression isn’t related to the pressure we put on ourselves. Our culture is very focused on the expectation that we must always be joyful and “happy”. What does that mean exactly? I think that for each one of us it’s good to define what happiness is for ourselves. For me happiness could be something vastly different than for someone else. I wouldn’t know if I’ve attained that level of ‘happiness’ unless I defined it. Maybe just defining what happiness means for us as individuals would have us feeling more happy . . .

    Thank you for this conversation Terri.

    • Oh Darris, so many good points you make. As always. I think you have something with the fact that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I think for a long time, I had achieved what people thought should make me happy, but it didn’t, and that made me question myself even more. I find myself more contented now when I think about what makes me happy and realizing I don’t care as much what others think, as I used to.

      It’s funny that you talk about the liquid fast. I’m not necessarily going to do that (not sure I would have enough energy to function while going through it) but I am planning on drinking much more water than I used to. I decided yesterday, when I feel like knoshing on something, I’m going to drink water, because i know it’s a response to something else, like boredom, or, I’m not sure what, that has me grazing so often every day. I did it yesterday while at work at the gym and felt a lot better about myself when I got home. I’m excited to see how it works in the longer term. And like your husband, I’ve definitely seen a change in myself when I eat better vs. when I eat more sugar and crap.

      Darris, I’m so sorry to hear about the food poisoning. Wow.

      And yes, SAD is definitely a real thing. I definitely suffer from it. I’m sorry you do too, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone. And thanks for writing such a great, well thought out comment, as always.

    • And you know, you have a very good point about mental detoxing. How would you go about doing it? I have an idea. Like deleting a lot of the digital clutter, such as emails that only seem to make you sad, or are bittersweet when you read through them?

  2. You’d be amazed how many people I’ve heard from that have depression…that have contacted me since I wrote my book on the subject. Even people from the UK. It just shows how many people suffer all around the world.

  3. By definition Depression is a “suffering” or a longing for happiness that our mind (through addictive thinking) is trying to find …out there…in our material world through objects, substances, states of mind, relationships, etc. Our True Being (God, Universe, Consciousness, whatever you want to call it) that, in the truest sense, is “Us” is trying to call us back saying: “Hey, everything you’re looking for is right here, you’ve looked everywhere else, don’t you think you would’ve found it by now, I’m right here, here is your love, here is your contentment, please come back to me.” It’s already here inside but we refuse to take a deep look inside.

  4. Pingback: Something Just Hasn’t Been Right | Chasing Simple Dreams

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