Monday, February 11, 2008

Good Thing I'm Not SUICIDAL

I've thought about blogging on depression since I read this post (which, btw, I completely agree with) because I really feel that having survived multiple bouts of this illness and being mostly functional most of the time, I have a responsibility to help others who are just beginning to realize their feelings aren't quite normal. But y'know, how self-disclosing do I want to be here in this public forum? I mean, people that I'm trying to IMPRESS read this blog sometimes. But at this moment in time, I'm so ticked off that I really don't care. (Although I may come to my senses in an hour or two and delete this.)

Depression is the bane of my existence. I had my first mini-bouts in high school, but wasn't diagnosed until after my second child was born. (The doctor, who did not treat the post-partum depression after baby #1, told me that I was getting old and I should just take a nap when the baby napped. I was 22.)

I've learned a lot about depression in the past quarter century—most significantly is that I have a physical deficiency in brain chemicals. Mine are pretty sensitive and it doesn't take a lot to mess them up. If life is easy (choke), I can sometimes go without meds for a couple of years, but any time I have a huge body trauma (childbirth, surgery, broken bones, or a good case of adrenal fatigue brought on by long-term stress), I have to get back on the medication. It doesn't matter how much I pray, or fast, or read my scriptures, the fuzzy thinking won't go away until those brain chemicals get adjusted.

I've mostly come to terms with this and accept it, the same way people accept diabetes or poor eyesight. I say "mostly" because when I'm balanced, it's not a big deal to talk about it, think logically about it, be proactive about it. But when I'm depressed, I start feeling ashamed and guilty and like a total loser—all sorts of bad feelings that I want to hide from the people I love. That's part of the disease.

So is memory problems—as in, did I remember to take my medicine today? So is not being able to tell time—as in, how long have I been feeling this bad? So is mood assessment—do I feel better today, or worse? Am I having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, or an abnormal reaction to a normal situation?

I can tell when I'm okay. And I can tell when I'm waaaaay over the line. But I can't tell when I'm in that murky in-between. Maybe I'm having a bad day, or didn't get enough sleep, or I'm still recovering from the flu, or life has just been a little stressful lately... In the very first stages, depression feels just like normal life stress that will pass in a few days. But when it goes on and on and on, I get lost in the disease. Fortunately, I have a few key people (my sister, my VT) who keep an eye on me and tell me when I start acting weird so that I can get to the doctor.

I've had a couple of really stressful years—one thing on top of another without any time to breathe and recover in between. For awhile, my medication was keeping me stable but on November 6, 2007, it stopped being completely effective. I can tell you that specific date because that was the day I stopped writing. Things have gotten gradually worse since then but I blew off the signs because I thought I was having the usual reactions to a few unusual situations. I had some days when bad things happened, and some nights when it was hard to get to sleep, and then there was Christmas—and who isn't stressed over the holidays?

But finally, after some gentle hints from my sister and VT (hints along the lines of, Do you need to go to the doctor? and You better get in there now!), and after having a fight with one of my best friends and bawling all day, I sort of figured out that I'm past the murky in-between and I need to have my meds adjusted. Meds that I've been taking all this time but that are no longer working correctly.

Which brings us to today. I called the doctor and explained to Miss Snooty Office Person that I needed my meds adjusted and that I was taking WELLBUTRIN—a drug for depression. The soonest she can get me in is two weeks from now! Ergo, the title of today's post.

Update: Miss Snooty called back while I was typing this post and moved me up 4 days. Wow. I'm so excited—I only have to wait 11 days to see the doctor.

Wouldn't you think someone who says her depression medication is no longer working would be a higher priority?

Now playing on my iPod: Don't Worry Bout a Thing by SheDaisy (This will be on repeat for the next 11 days)

*P.S. For those of you who are now worried about me, I'm really okay. Or I will be. I've dealt with depression for years now and I know that I don't have to act on every little thought or feeling that I may have. I know that those dismal thoughts and feelings are just the misfiring of my brain cells and they can be ignored until the calvary arrives. Also, prayer and the scriptures really do give me a LOT of peace—and enough patience to wait. I am not suicidal—nowhere close. If I were, I'd be throwing a fit and demanding to be seen today. So don't worry. I'm scheduled for help. And most days, I actually do get out of bed and shower and dress and complete the most important tasks expected of me—as long as they don't require complex logic or sustained reasoning or remembering something for more than two seconds.


Mom2My6Kids said...

Hi Karlene, I have been here a couple of times, mostly because I have wanted to participate in your reading challenges but I haven't done so yet. Anyways, I'm not sure why I clicked on you today but I read this post and the one that you linked to. I too suffer from depression and I know that I have social anxiety. I have been on and off medication for the last 8 years, more on then off, but what you wrote really hit home to me. It's been hard for me to admit to myself that I have this problem. I have thought about journaling it online but have been afraid of what people would think of me. I do not see a therapist and my doctor doesn't really give me much help in this area. He just gives me meds when I ask and tells me when to up the doses but as far as how to live with depression, I'm on my own to figure it out. Thanks for sharing your story. Please know that you are not alone. I'm praying for you, and me, and the millions of other moms just like us! Life's hard. We need each other! Hang in there!

Sandra said...

Love you. And I am glad to see that you called the dr. I was thinking about you this weekend and thinking I needed to ask you again. And I know that if you can take the time to write this down and it doesn't sound cranky, then you will be ok for the next 11 days. (11 days- are you kidding me? how about this afternoon?)

The sun is shining today. Go on your front porch and see it.

Jeri said...

Thanks for sharing. I am amazed how many people suffer from depression. It seems every time I turn around I hear about someone else I know who is suffering... Why is that I wonder? I deal with occasional feelings of depression myself, but so far it's never been too super severe. (I'm hoping my luck holds out, but if not, it is good to know that there is help out a couple weeks:)

hang in there and know that we love ya!

megan said...

I love you, Mama. Always here for you. :)

Marsha Ward said...

Hang on, Karlene. We love you, if that helps.

Candace E. Salima said...

Do I need to go smack Miss Snooty Office Person? I'm willing to. I really need to smack someone right now, it might as well be someone who deserves it, don't ya think? Seriously, take care of yourself. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers because sister I feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

I had someone explain it like this to me...if you were a diabetic, wouldn't you take something to fix it? It's the same thing with mental health, there is an imbalance in your body and meds are okay to take. I've been off them for 5 years (holy smokes, I didn't realize it had been that long), but I would never hesitate to go back on them if I needed to. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Karlene said...

Mom2My6Kids--I'm glad this helped a little. That's why I finally decided to click "Post". One of the things that has really helped me is using the 12 Steps (originally from AA) to come to terms with it. And lots and lots of prayer.

Candace--maybe we better not smack her. Then she might cancel my appointment altogether. :)

Cat--you're right. And I know that, I just forget it when the depression takes hold.

Everyone else--thank you so much for your comments. It does help.

Suan said...

i am such a slacker.... i should have kept in touch better.... i will call you :)
love ya-suan

Tristi Pinkston said...

You know what, you're not the first person I've heard say they needed help with their meds, only to be put off by office workers. I do think depression should be moved higher on the priority scale -- you're not suicidal, but there's no reason why you should have to feel crappy for eleven days.

Anonymous said...

I have suffered a few times with the blues throughout the years. But after the birth of my last baby (lots of complications) I plumeted into severe depression. So severe, I was suicidal and haloucinagetic. (sp) I now know it as post partum psychosis. My best friend saw that there was something wrong and we found a natruopath to treat it with nutritional supplements instead of antidepressants. It was the best choice for me. (it isnt the right choice for all) I feel sympathetic for anyone who has to suffer from Depression. I know how hard it is to wait to recieve treatment you really need right now. Hang in there and know you're in someones thoughts.