Saturday, February 16, 2013
Since I was an adult, I've spent some time on antidepressants. The first time was when I was at a point in my life where I didn't know where my career was going, where my relationship was going, where my life was going ... I fixed my career problems, and my boyfriend proposed, and I was able to get off the antidepressants with no negative effects.
More recently, when my baby was 5 months old I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I cried a lot, worried incessantly about whether I was a good mother, and felt like I was trapped in the role of caregiver rather than enjoying my new baby. With the medication (and all the other usual help from a caring husband, good friends, and healthy habits) I was able to find joy in my new life.
A few weeks ago, my prescription for the antidepressants ran out. I thought to myself, maybe I'm cured! My son is now 12 months old; I'm not technically postpartum anymore, and it would be nice to enjoy life without medication.
However, as they've worn off I've found myself more and more in a funk. I find myself feeling overwhelmed but unable to concentrate on the tasks I need to get done; I feel more and more insecure about myself; I feel fatigued more easily; I feel hopeless and helpless. It has affected my sex drive. And it's been harder for me to eat well and easier for me to turn to chocolate and other junk foods to make myself happy from an external source, since the happiness is coming from outside. This has affected all areas of my life, including my parenting skills, but also my eating and my exercising.
The thing about depression is, it's insidious. It's a mental disorder, so when you have it, one of the symptoms is that it's hard for you to realize that this isn't the way your mind normally works. So even knowing what depression is like, it took some time to realize that this funk that I'm in isn't the real me, it's what happens when the chemicals in my brain are in disarray. We don't know why they don't always work correctly, but body and brain chemistry are mysterious. It's tempting for everyone, including myself, to say that I should just snap out of it, but that's not what depression is all about it -- it's not about maintaining happiness by force of will, but about correcting an imbalance that allows me to live life as I should be living it. I don't feel bad about taking a thyroid supplement to correct an underactive thyroid, and I shouldn't feel bad about taking an antidepressant to correct a brain chemistry problem.
I'm sharing this here in part to remind myself that the depressed me isn't the *real* me. The real me can accomplish great things without feeling distracted, out of focus, fatigued, and overwhelmed by life. The real me is lots of fun, is someone I enjoy being, and soon, I will get her back.