My apathy is pissing me off. So I guess that’s an improvement.

Pssst – the Honest Voices linkup for bloggers is back! Get the skinny after the post…

ssris and apathyI keep starting this post. Then I erase what I wrote. I walk away. Sit down and try again. And my brain keeps hijacking me.

I feel foggy and tired and unfocused and unmotivated and just plain old apathetic about most stuff. And that makes it really tough to write.

I think it’s this new antidepressant – Luvox – that I’m on. But I’m pretty sure the last couple of SSRIs did this to me too, just not as severely. It’s hard to remember, really. I have to go back to my notes and my old blog posts about depression to remember.

Zoloft, Celexa, Zoloft again. And there has been Prozac and Viibryd and Lexapro and Luvox. One loses its effectiveness so we try another. Another has bad side effects, so let’s try another. On and on and on.

I’m tired of the SSRI merry-go-round and all the side effects. Trying something new, hoping it’ll work better. And then being disappointed. Again.

Now I’m in this weird, fuzzy place. I don’t feel sad or down or depressed, really. It’s not like I want to crawl into bed and avoid everything. I’m still doing everyday, normal things. Playing with my kids, taking them places, doing work and household tasks, and so on.

I just can’t seem to really care about anything that matters. I have a list of to-dos and some get done. Some don’t. Whatever.

Laundry piles up. Dishes pile up. Emails accumulate. Maybe I’ll get to them. Or maybe I’ll just get lost in Facebook or the TV or a magazine or some random task that suddenly becomes important. Or maybe I’ll take a 45-minute shower and not notice how long I took.

And then suddenly the day is over and I realize I wanted to get two specific things done today, and I didn’t. This would have panicked me in the past. Now I just shrug my shoulders and say, “meh.”

In a way, this sounds like a good thing, right? Not worrying so much, just kind of floating along and doing what I can. But it’s a terrible feeling. I don’t feel enough and it’s a terrible, terrible feeling. I know I’m not alone in this because I spent a lot of time last night Googling “SSRIs and apathy” – and I found out this isn’t totally unusual. But no one seems to know how to solve the problem.

What’s odd is if you saw me out and about, you wouldn’t notice how bizarro I’m feeling. I’m pretty good at hiding it. But I bet my good friends could tell if they spent some time with me, because I’m not following conversations very well. I have a sort of numb, drunken feeling that colors everything I do. I can’t focus. I feel drugged. And I HATE IT.

I need to achieve clarity again. I need to feel like ME again. This apathetic feeling is pissing me off! That’s a good thing, right?

So I’m playing phone tag with my doc. Chugging coffee and hoping it’ll clear my head a little. Or avoiding coffee and drinking green smoothies up the wazoo. Just trying something, ANYTHING, to feel normal. I’m trying to force myself to care enough to take charge of my health. Trying to figure out the key to clarity.

I’m wondering if I need to get off all meds and clear out my system. The last time I did that I did okay for a couple months. And then all the sadness and irritability came storming back, so back on the meds I went.

I don’t know what to do. Sometimes meds make me feel worse and then when I go off them, all is well. Sometimes meds are what make me feel like me again.

Right now I need to find that place between feeling too much and feeling too little. That normal place I used to know. Does it exist for me anymore? I think it does. It’s just really hard to find right now. But I’ll get there. I always believe I’ll get there. I have to, right?

Have you dealt with this weird, fuzzy, apathetic feeling from antidepressants? Did a different SSRI fix it? Or did going off antidepressants fix it? What about alternative therapies? Let’s hear your ideas and experiences. I know I’m not the only one looking for answers. Please comment with your thoughts after the linkup for bloggers below.

*****

It’s back!

Honest Voices linkup at HonestMom.com NEW

 

Hey bloggers! Welcome to Honest Voices, an every-other-week linkup at Honest Mom. I invite you to link up with a post of yours that you’re really proud of. One that shows off your blog’s voice and what it’s all about. Funny or serious, old or new, it doesn’t matter – just as long as your post is HONEST.

TWO SIMPLE RULES:

1) Visit and comment on the blog that linked right before you and one other blog post of your choice.

2) Promote the linkup at least once, but more is better. Tweet it, Facebook it, Pin it, whatever. Just remember – the more people you get to visit the linkup, the more people will discover you!

Now what are you waiting for? Let’s see your posts!

*****

photo credit: jenny downing via photopin cc

Depressed? Or just an irritable, impatient mom?

Some mornings I wake up and I just really, really want to take a pill.

This morning was one of those mornings.

My eyes opened and I knew, I just knew, I was going to have a bad day.

And on mornings like this morning I wonder why I stopped taking antidepressants in the first place. But I also wonder if I’m just an irritable bitch who needs to get a grip.

Here’s the backstory…

Early in the summer, my depression seemed to lightening. I really wanted to see what JD sans meds was like. So under my doctor’s guidance, I gradually stopped taking antidepressants just over two months ago.

The first weeks completely off the SSRIs were really good. I felt so clear-headed and happy and normal.

But I’ve noticed since then that the lightness that I first felt when going off the antidepressants has been hard to attain again.

Anger, frustration, anxiety, and irritability started creeping back in pretty quickly. It’s been subtle, but it’s been there. I seem not as able to manage run-of-the-mill annoyances and frustrations. I get too irritated, too fast. Worse, some terrible, awful bad days have been occurring here and there, and these days are just truly dreadful.

So as a result I’ve been wondering: Do I still need antidepressants? Would I be better off?

But I’ve also been wondering: Am I looking for the easy way out? Had I actually been on antidepressants for so long that I no longer know how to cope with negative emotions?

I don’t know the answer. Honestly. I’m baffled.

What I do know is that my “bad days” aren’t an average person’s bad day. My bad days mean I am unreasonably irritable. Snapping at the kids. Being a mean person. Super anxious. Unable to concentrate. Not myself.

Those are the days when I want to take a pill. Reach over to my untouched stash of Lexapro and Ativan and take something to make everything better.

I have been fighting that urge. And it’s not because I am anti-SSRIs. Believe me, I am a big fan of antidepressants. Being able to take Zoloft when I had postpartum depression was an amazing thing. It made me feel normal again. It saved me.

But this urge to take a pill to make everything better doesn’t seem good. It doesn’t sit right with me. So I don’t.

Then there’s the underlying anxiety and irritability. I feel it almost all the time. But it’s mild. And honestly, I wonder if I feel that way simply because I’m an impatient, irritable person who needs to learn some coping mechanisms.

That doesn’t sound like me, though. At least, that doesn’t sound like me pre-PPD. Maybe my brain got rewired and that’s who I am now. Oh, that thought makes me shudder.

Because I hate the thought that that bastard, depression, may have changed the core of who I am. Is that possible? God, I hope not.

So here’s what I’m wondering…

If I kept having bad days over and over, that would tell me I might need meds again. But what’s really odd to me is that my bad days aren’t a consistent thing. Not even once a week. So is a bad day once every 10 days or so a reason to get back on the meds?

What about not being able to manage everyday annoyances and irritations? Is that a reason to take antidepressants?

I sure did handle life better on SSRIs. But the idea that maybe I just don’t know how to deal with negative emotions after being medicated for so long … well, that haunts me.

What’s the answer?

I don’t know.

Do you?

photo credit: Martina Rathgens via photopin cc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linking up with Shell’s Things I Can’t Say. Welcome, new readers!

There’s No Stigma in Healing

A guest post from Kathy at Kissing the Frog

My blogging friend, Kathy, and I seem to share a brain at times. This post that she generously wrote to share with you all on Honest Mom is one of the many reasons I adore her and her blog. She’s an amazing, honest, wonderful writer. Please do visit her blog – Kissing the Frog – where she blogs about what life is *really* like after all your dreams come true: The good, the bad, the sad, and the funny.

Today, Kathy is giving us her perspective on managing depression and her decision to take antidepressants when facing the type of loss all parents fear so deeply – and how she found peace with her choices.

*****

If you have ever taken anti-depressants in your life, you know it’s not a decision to be entered into lightly. From cost and side effects to fear of addiction and social stigma, there’s always something to consider.

For me, struggling with depression in my twenties, it was the social stigma. Only crazy people took anti-depressants. And I wasn’t crazy. Sure, there were days on end when I didn’t get off my parents’ couch, make an effort to look for work, or change out of my pajamas, but that didn’t make me crazy.

I actually had a paralyzing fear of life itself. A fear that none of my dreams would be realized, a fear that nothing would work out as I had planned, a fear that I would never be happy.

A fear that told me I wasn’t good enough anyway, so why even try? I felt . . . hopeless.

I wouldn’t consider therapy, either, even though my doctor urged me to go and gave me some therapists’ names. Crazy people also sat on couches.

Apparently depressed people lie on their own couches all day.

Eventually things did work out for me – I got a job, was accepted into a prestigious Master’s Degree program, and eventually met the wonderful man who would be my husband. I thought things were finally looking up. See, I didn’t need that therapist after all.

But a year into my marriage, everything snowballed at once – infertility, bed rest, a baby with a birth defect, an unexpected move across the country. A rapid-fire succession of events was coming at me, but I was determined to knock them out of the park and not let depression get its hold on me again. I had a family now; they needed me.

Fast forward to April of 2009. We were back in our hometown. We had four little boys under the age of five, and I was drowning. Their energy, their activity, their sheer presence every time I had a moment to myself was driving me crazy.

But again, I thought I couldn’t talk to anyone. I had wanted this life with a houseful of kids, and I had it. Only horrible moms resent their children, yell at them, and pray for something to change.

But then, something did change for me. One of my five-year-old twins was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Someone actually looked me in the eyes and said, “Your son will die.”

Even then, oh my gosh, even then, I thought I could get through it myself. Everyone asked me what I needed, gave me cards with support groups and grief counselors’ names.

They even suggested I go on some sort of medication to get me through the tragedy that lie before me.

And, still, I refused. What would people think?

It wasn’t until my sister-in-law, a nurse, handed me the bottle of Lexapro, that I finally began taking an anti-depressant.

After all, I had a good excuse now.

Slowly, I gained more strength, more energy for the journey ahead of me. I was no longer dragged down by this wet blanket of grief that sent me running from the room to cry every time Joey’s cancer was mentioned.

Instead, I was surrounded by a wall of comfort that cushioned my feelings. They were still there, but they were softer and fuzzier.

Perhaps a bit too dull, actually. I found that, taking the recommended ten milligrams per day, I couldn’t cry even when I wanted to. I barely cried at Joey’s funeral. I still wonder if that was from the Lexapro (and Xanax) I was taking, or if it was from the months of anticipation readying myself for the inevitable.

I stayed on the medication after Joey’s death, with the thought of weaning myself off. But every time I missed too many pills, I would collapse into either a crying or yelling mess.

I realized that the medication was also helping with that feeling I was having before Joey’s diagnosis – that feeling of drowning in my own life. Every time I felt like the walls were closing in, I would lash out at my sons. Only now it was worse. There was the feeling of: Why are they here and Joey is not?

I obviously didn’t want to feel that way. I didn’t want to keep taking the meds, but I didn’t want to mistreat my family either. So I played with doses, listened to my body, talked to my doctor, and found a dose that works for me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go off Lexapro. I certainly don’t like gaining weight, having a low sex drive, and feeling hot All. The. Time. But I also don’t like the darkness that fills my mind and makes me feel hopeless and angry and sad either.

I know there are some people who would say, “Why don’t you just exercise more/sleep more/eat better/find a hobby?”

But anyone who struggles with depression knows it’s not that simple. Because depression is not that simple. Some people know exactly why they feel the way they do. Some people have no clue why. Some people know what makes them feel better. Some have yet to discover their salve.

Once I thought it was okay to talk about taking meds (because, remember, I had an excuse), I was surprised to learn how many women were taking them and their varying reasons.

One had horrible post-partum depression. One was dealing with a traumatizing childhood incident. One, my own sister, was just dealing with life. She told me, “I would look at a hand towel in my bathroom and start crying because it was blue, and I didn’t want it to be blue.”

Talking about it and writing about it helps me. It helps me to know that other women struggle, too, for the same reasons I do and for different reasons. I know it’s okay to talk now. I know I am not “crazy” for feeling the way I feel and for taking medication.

None of us are. We are women and moms dealing with a whole new ball game. So many responsibilities, so much social media pressure to be perfect and do it all. But we know, in our smart heads and our beautiful hearts that that’s just silly. Nothing is perfect, and it doesn’t have to be.

So we do whatever we have to in order to be okay with that – let some house work go, drop a commitment, go back to work, stay at home, get healthier, end a relationship, take medication, refuse medication, talk to our friends, blog about it.

There should be no stigma in healing, no matter how we choose to do it.

*****

Thank you so much, Kathy, for your beautiful post.

Like Kathy, I recoiled at the thought of antidepressants and therapy in college when I was struggling with depression. It wasn’t until I was slammed with PPD after Gracie that I took the plunge into taking SSRIs and going to therapy.

Have you hesitated to take antidepressants or go to therapy when you’ve struggled with depression? Or are you on the other end of the spectrum?

photo credit: Augustine Press via photo pin cc