(I posted last Friday but it looks like it got stuck back in December of 08 when I first started drafting it. For those of you who missed it you can read part three of my series on Support Where You Need it the Most.)
No, no, no, I'm not quitting blogging. I'm quitting my medicine. Well, maybe.
For those of you who have been reading for a long time now, you'll remember that last summer I had a Prozac poop-out. (I was on Lexapro, so technically it was a Lexapro poop-out, but you can't link to that term so what's a blogger supposed to do!) I met with a friend-of-the-family psychiatrist out in Utah during our family reunion. It was awkward but free so I went for it. She explained the Prozac poop-out phenomenon to me and recommended I switch to Cymbalta. She said it would do a better job at nipping my intrusive thoughts in the bud. I had reached the point where I was nervous to be alone with the kids so when I got home I dialed up our family practice doctor and she wrote me a prescription.
And it worked. It was a little rocky at first but it worked. I still get nauseous if I go too long without eating and I still nap 3 out of 5 days and since it's still winter I don't worry too much about my increased sweatiness--I just go without a coat--but most of the time I'm not depressed. That feels good.
Except for when it doesn't.
I have to admit those little blue and white pills are starting to annoy me. I hate having to remember them every morning. I hate having to call in for the refill. I hate how much they cost. I fantasize about how much I could get done if I didn't have to nap. I'd love to be able to lose my muffin top but the urge to snack is too strong. And, well, it's still winter now but it will be spring and summer soon enough and I don't want to have to carry around a pack of tissues just to soak up my extra perspiration. It's gross!
Of course, the real reason I want to quit my antidepressant is well, I want to quit being depressed. I want to quit having a mood disorder. I want to quit feeling less than normal because I have to take medicine every morning. I want to know if who I am now is who I really am. I think it is but how can I be sure when I'm popping this pill all the time? I'm just tired of being that girl.
I've gone off my meds before. I wean off them before getting pregnant. I tried to quit my Lexapro last summer (before it quit me. If I could argue with my medicine we'd totally have one of those "You can't fire me, I quit!" conversations). It's always ugly. My patience disappears and my anger comes back and then the guilt sets in. My intrusive thoughts get all noisy. I have to pray myself out of bed in the morning.
But this time is different. The first time I quit my meds I'd only been on an inadequate dose of Lexapro for three months--which research shows is too short a time and actually leads to worse depression. (I can't find a link to cite that last bit, but I know it's true. Ask your doctor!) The second time I weaned off was after eight months and a lot of the environmental factors of my depression hadn't changed.
So how is this time different? Well, I've been pursuing treatment that includes off-and-on therapy (the insurance only covers twenty visits a year so I've got to use them wisely) and SSRI/SNRI for over 18 months. I've actually been working with my therapist for over two years. Come to think of it, I should have sent her flowers for our anniversary last November!
I guess the big thing that hasn't changed is the environmental stresses. I still have three little ones, who are bizarrely unable to sleep through the night, and my husband is still in grad. school and working full time. He graduates in May so maybe I should hold on to those little pills until then.
It is such a wearying truce to strike. I'm so sick of having to act like I'm sick just to prevent the sickness, you know? It doesn't make sense to keep taking Nyquil just to make sure you don't get a cold. But depression isn't a cold. It's not something I can just get over. My body doesn't have a response system for this. Depression is a disorder that I will have to be aware of and manage for the rest of my life. That's what that pill means. And that's why I hate taking it.