The thing about depression is you never know when it’s going to creep back in. And every day that I feel good, I wonder – is this the day it’ll happen? Is this the day the meds will stop working? I try not to live in dread of that day because I know there is nothing I can do. It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression a few months after Grace was born. That was December 2008. Even though I had struggled with depression in college and then had a few short bouts pre-kids, PPD seemed to come out of nowhere to me. Maybe because it was a different kind of depression than from what I had experienced before.
Depression in college ruined my sophomore year
I didn’t know I was depressed that year. I didn’t know what was happening to me. No one knew. I think my roommates thought I was a pill, my parents thought I was having a bad year, and my friends thought I was hormonal. I thought I was just really stressed out. Until the OCD starting creeping in. And then, at the urging of my then-boyfriend, I went to a therapist and asked for help. She diagnosed me with mild OCD brought on by depression.
Back then I resisted medications. I thought that only crazy people took antidepressants. I was an earthy-crunchy, Birkenstock-wearing hippie kind of girl, and the thought of putting mind-altering drugs in my body freaked me out. (You know, unless it was the kind you smoked. Ahem.)
Then, just as suddenly as it came on, the depression lifted. The OCD eased. And I thought to myself, “See? You didn’t need drugs. You conquered it on your own.”
But depression lies. I didn’t conquer anything. In that time I was depressed, I lost friends. My grades suffered. I lost my longtime boyfriend. I created a reputation for myself as being a pain in the arse with a clique of former friends. Sure, the depression lifted on its own somehow. But what if?
What if I had taken the therapist’s advice and tried an antidepressant? Maybe those friendships would have still fallen apart and the boyfriend still would have left me. But maybe those events wouldn’t have scarred me so badly and paralyzed me for a long, lonely summer.
13 years later, postpartum depression overwhelmed me
When I was diagnosed with PPD I was more open to trying antidepressants. I knew this time I couldn’t make it without some help. I wasn’t suicidal and I didn’t want to hurt my kid. But I really wasn’t functioning. I was so, so sad. And my anger and irritability were out of control. My therapist put me on a very low dose of Zoloft.
And it was like a magic pill. Magic, I tell you. Because it made me ME again. Not “happy.” Not spacey or overly mellow. Just me. I was thrilled. I was functioning. I was feeling normal. Until … I wasn’t.
Apparently antidepressants aren’t the cure-all for me. Because for me? They stop working. And when they stop working, I lose myself again.
I’ve gone from Zoloft to Celexa back to Zoloft (which didn’t work at all that time) then to Viibryd (terrible side effects for me) and now it’s good old Prozac. I know after 9 months to a year, the Prozac will stop working. And then it’s time to play the “What med should we try on JD this time” game.
So right now I am feeling fantastic. Happy, normal, me. But in six months, six days, six hours … Who knows? Maybe it’ll be different this time because I’m working out and having more me time and doing lots of other things for my physical and mental health. So I’ll keep on keeping on and enjoy feeling normal. And try to ignore the voice inside me each morning, wondering if today is the day I’ll feel bad again.
What are your experiences with depression and antidepressants? Have you found taking care of yourself in other ways, in addition to meds, helps you feel better? Or are you anti-medication and rely on therapy, natural coping methods, etc.?