I live with Depression.
I’ve lived with it for years but have been afraid of naming it, because I thought it would have power over me if I called it what it was. Instead, I was “tired,” or I “had a hard day.”
Last year I named it. Pamphlets with all too familiar symptoms made me realize I needed to name it, face it, and deal with it. In the past, I’d tried therapy, but being too afraid of the word “depression,” that never went too far. People seemed to like “Drunk Richard,” so I’d drink to make myself happier and more likable. That didn’t really help. I needed something more.
This is the ongoing story of how I started taking anti-depressants, and the affect it’s had on my life.
A long time ago, I was a moody teenager with a penchant for writing melodramatic poetry. But behind the melodrama were cries for help. One really good friend recognized those cries for help and called me out on it. Of course I immediately tried to ice her out. Years later, we reunited and she told me that she was on anti-depressants herself, and that her life had never been better. She was living the life she always knew she was meant to.
That resonated with me. But admitting to wanting anti-depressants would equate labeling myself as depressed.
So I threw myself into the things that could make me happy. I did tons of theatre. I fell in love. And I tried getting away from the things that made me unhappy. I left home. I quite job that was bringing me down.
And all those things helped. The depression hid away and I could feel what happiness felt like.
But for me, depression always comes back.
Last year was a rough one. 2016 was no friend of mine. And my depression came back, stronger than ever. And the thought of taking anti-depressants came back. This time I didn’t push it away. I named it. I told my boyfriend.
Taking a pill was a scary idea. For him. For me. But I knew that it was something I needed to do. So I went to my doctor and told him about my depression.
Now for me, depression has never been about suicidal thoughts. Thank God. It’s been about feeling worn down. Feeling disconnected. Feeling like I was at a 5 while everyone else around me was at a 10. And I was sick of feeling under.
My doctor prescribed me Lexapro.
From my research I knew that it wasn’t an instant cure. It needed weeks to do it’s work. And I’m a product of my generation and am therefore impatient.
One night, about two weeks in to taking Lexapro, I felt what I can only describe as little lightning strikes in my head. I could feel the light coming in. It’s weird but that’s what it was.
As the weeks went on, I felt a little better. My doctor increased my dosage when he thought I wasn’t where I should be. He added Ability.
And soon, I had tons of energy. I was happier than I’d been in a while. I was making music. I was good at my job. I felt myself being a better partner.
…but it didn’t last.
Slowly, the depression came back stronger. Nothing prompted it. No significant life changes. It just felt as if it knew I’d tried to defeat it so it came back ready to fight.
I knew I had to call the doctor. But I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t pick up the phone to do it. I didn’t want to admit failure.
And besides, there were still good things going on. I was happy teaching Improv. I was happy at my job. I was still in love.
But as usual, saying I was happy was a lot easier than accessing that happiness and actually feeling it.
So it got worse. I felt myself disappearing into a funk. I gained weight. I couldn’t get out of it.
Until my boyfriend called me out on it.
That’s the thing about depression, I’ve found at least in my case, I try to handle it all on my own, but when I get called out on it, it’s easier to step into action. I wish it wasn’t like that. But that’s my lot.
I made another appointment with my doctor, who increased my Abilify dosage, and suggested that if that didn’t work, he’d refer me to a psychiatrist.
That’s where I am not.
Between an increased dosage and a psychiatrist. It’s not a fun place to be.
So why am I sharing this?
I’m sharing this because I’ve felt alone in my depression. Nobody talks about it. A famous person kills themselves and it’s a topic for a day or two, but nothing changes.
In the last year, I’ve had two friends commit suicide. I wish I could have shared my story before now. Maybe they would have reached out for connection.
Maybe someone will now. I welcome it. I don’t have answers, but I have experience.
I’ll probably write another one of these soon. Maybe I’ll update it with how each new attempt at treating my depression affects me. Or maybe this is just in response to another famous person dying.
Either way, I’m glad to have written this. Scared to share it. But eager to open connection.
Originally Written Thursday, July 20, 2017