I have given birth to 3 wonderful children. I am married to my best friend. I was a collegiate athlete. I have wonderful parents, in-laws, and siblings. I have many friends, new and old that I thank God for everyday.
I also have spent the past several years going on and off anti-depressants, and for portions of the time I have struggled with some pretty severe depression. Depression characterized by extreme exhaustion, lack of interest in activities, sometimes nearing resentment that other people were so happy when I was miserable. I had extreme social anxiety, to the point I would cancel things with others, even haircuts (and I love getting my haircut) because I couldn't face people that were in a good mood, but I took comfort in the fact that I was never suicidal or homicidal, which meant I wasn't depressed, right?
Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa are some of the more famous names I've tried. I have tried counseling, self-help books, diet changes, spurts of exercise. You name it, all to fight off this undercurrent of malaise I've felt. I've had weight gain, acne, bloating, and most recently joint pain from the latest medication I was taking. I would be prescribed these medications and not see the prescribing doctor for a year or more, or never again sometimes. That is not a safe way to take medication.
Today I went to the doctor. I explained to the doctor, quite truthfully, that I love my life (see 1st paragraph), but every time I try to stop taking these medications I feel so crummy I start back on them again. After talking to the doctor for quite sometime, we decided that I should taper off the current anti-depressants I am taking and see what I am really like without medication. She gave me directions on how to safely taper off of the medication I take and made me promise that if I feel bad, don't feel bad calling her and making an appointment. I also need to come back in 2 months to see how things are going, good or bad. I've never had a doctor plan a follow-up for anti-depressants before.
In this day of health care reform talks, and lack of access to health care providers, I found this refreshing, not only did this doctor try to help me help myself, but she didn't throw a prescription at me, and she did offer me reassurance that she was there for me if I needed help, and that we were a team in charge of my health.
No, I did not go to a small private clinic, which makes this even more incredible, and for the first time since I began taking anti-depressants, when Prozac was really the only one out there, I feel like I can do this.
What I want to communicate to my readers today is this:
1. Anti-depressants are ok. Some people do need them.
2. Don't think that you have be on them forever.
3. If your doctor isn't your care partner, find another doctor.
4. Depression isn't something you have to be embarrassed about.
5. The only shameful part about depression is not doing something about it.
October is Depression Awareness Month, and I didn't even know that when I started this blog post. Depression is a scary thing, I know, I've been there and I think I'm on my way out of it. Don't be afraid to tell someone, help and support are a great part of treatment, but may not be the only treatment for you.
I was a little embarrassed putting this out there, worried I might embarrass my husband or family somehow, but I know that writing this has helped me more than keeping it to myself ever has.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Get help, it's out there now more than ever. http://http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression_support_resources