Depression Remission? Or Just Intermission?

Almost five weeks ago, I stopped taking antidepressants.

I had been weaning off them slowly for months, but I hadn’t planned on stopping when I did. After a major breakdown, though, I stopped taking the meds altogether.

Counterintuitive? I don’t know, but it worked. And I had been feeling great – until a few days ago. Now I’m not sure what’s going on. And I’m realizing I’m hesitant to go back to the meds.

Like many people who deal with depression, I have mixed feelings about antidepressants. When I was really in the depths of postpartum depression, Zoloft was my savior. It really was. It made me feel like me again. Not fuzzy or loopy as I had feared – just like me again. That’s how SSRIs helped me for years – they just made me feel normal. (Most of the time, that is.)

Then, after more than three long years, I started to suspect I was finally coming out of my depression. So armed with a plan and the support of my doctor, I decided to see what JD on no meds was like.

And I tell you – for the last few weeks I felt wonderful. The only way I can describe it is lighter. When I was depressed, the SSRIs definitely made me feel like me again. But there was always an underlying heaviness there. Maybe it was the weight of knowing what I was fighting against.

The picture of the umbrellas above is perfect to describe how I had been feeling. It was like I was seeing in un-muted, bright color again. I felt lighter on my feet. I was floating from sheer, clear happiness, because I was so thrilled that I had left the depression behind me. And there were no meds providing a subtle filter that I only now realize was there.

I knew that it would probably not last. But I hoped it would for a while. I struggled with depression in college and it was not until Gracie was born that it hit me again. So maybe, just maybe, I would have years and years of normalcy.

But for the past week, I have been slipping. I have been attributing it to hormones. I really, really hope it’s just because of the hormones, the stress of the new school year, and the lack of sleep. Because I want that lightness back. I want to be free of this bastard depression. I don’t want to be on meds. I want to be normal, dammit.

But maybe normal, for me, is only achieved with meds. Maybe the lightness just isn’t something I get to feel. And that thought has me spiraling back down again into a sad place. A place in which I am yelling at my kids, getting in fights with my husband, raging against an invisible assailant.

I’m giving it a week or so. Maybe I will end up having to take some sort of med for severe PMS each month, I don’t know. I can deal with that. But I just don’t want to go back to taking antidepressants every day.

If I have to, I will, of course. But I’ll be aching for that lightness all the while.

If you currently are dealing with depression, have in the past, or have loved ones who do, does this struggle with SSRIs sound familiar to you? What is your attitude about them?

If you have stopped taking antidepressants before, did you go through a period like this? Did it get better – or did you have to go back on SSRIs?

 Image courtesy of treborwilson via Flickr CC2.0.

{{This post was inspired by Write On Edge’s weekly prompt. This week, the prompt was the picture of the umbrellas. The image immediately inspired me to write this.}}

Write on Edge Memoir: My Scarlet Letter Moment

Paper streamers fluttered from the entryway ceiling. Balloons bobbed in the breeze wafting in from the open front door. Sparkly white lights draped from the ceiling twinkled and winked, promising merriment and good times inside.

But Jenna stood paralyzed. One foot in the hallway. One foot outside on the step. Unable to move further into the house packed with women downstairs, waiting to pounce. Packed with men upstairs, avoiding meeting her eyes.

She swallowed the Scotch-tainted lump that was rising in her throat. It seemed like a good idea at the time to do a shot before coming over. You’re so nervous, her roommate Sara said to her. Drink this. It’ll loosen you up.

Now Jenna was terrified that she was going to vomit all over the mom-to-be as she handed her the perfectly-wrapped, overly-generous baby shower gift.

You can do this, she told herself defiantly. You’ve done nothing wrong. Hold your head high.

Jenna’s eyes fixated on the hallway wall in front of her and a wave of nausea took hold. Two nights before, she leaned against that wall, flushed with alcohol and desire. Griffin’s arms on either side of her, as his whiskey-scented mouth brushed her right ear, beckoning her into his room with sexy promises of what was to come.

“But what about Jason…?” she murmured as Griffin’s mouth reached her neck.

“I told him how I feel about you. He sees what’s happening between us,” he whispered, his mouth making his way back up to her ear. “He said it’s okay.”

A pause. And then: “He broke up with you, remember?”

Oh yes, she remembered.

“It’s all good, Jenna,” Griffin breathed, lips inches from hers, fingers entwined in her hair. Then he pulled away, reached his hand out.

And she took it.

The rumors swirled before they emerged from Griffin’s room that night. Jason victimized, Jenna vilified, Griffin a hapless pawn in her plan of revenge.

It didn’t even make sense. Jenna knew that. The women waiting for her inside knew that. But they all also knew that it didn’t matter.

Ever since Jason had brought Jenna into this tight-knit group of friends, the women watched her with suspicious eyes. She was a tad too pretty. A bit too witty. And their men’s eyes all lingered on her a bit too long.

Her mistake with Griffin was a gift-wrapped opportunity for banishment.

And so here Jenna was, willing herself to walk into this house, one last time. For dear pregnant Sharon, the one woman who had always been kind to her.

Jenna took a deep, deep breath.

And then she stepped up.

*****

Yes, I am “Jenna” in this true story. February 1996 really, really sucked.

*****

New to Honest Mom? Get the backstory on why I write naked.

I blog about my high-maintenance kids, write about dealing with depression, I do the memoir thing, and sometimes, I can be kinda funny.

Thanks for visiting!

Looking for help on what to do: Anniversary of my dad’s death

This is going to be a short post. Because I’m asking for your help and I don’t want to blather on and on.

This weekend is the second anniversary of my dad’s sudden death. And I don’t know what to do with myself.

I’m not sleeping. I’m starting to panic. I don’t know how to mark the day or what to do. Or what not to do. I can’t do nothing and act like it’s a normal day. But I’m at a loss.

I think last year was easier in some ways. My husband and kids and I went to my childhood home and hung out with my mom. We went to my dad’s favorite restaurant and had a nice dinner. My mom and I made a beautiful planter for his grave.

It was hard, of course. Really sad. But being at places that had my dad in them – his house, the restaurant, even the cemetery – gave me a tiny amount of peace.

This year I am not going to be there. I am hundreds of miles away.

My mom will be alone. I feel horrible about that.

I was hoping to spend the day at home, outside, gardening in the shade garden my dad created for me. But it is going to be cold and raining.

The only thing I can think of is going shopping for garden things for the shade garden (a bench, a fountain, something like that) but that doesn’t feel quite right.

I can’t go to church. I will spend the whole time bawling and everyone will stare at me and I don’t want that.

I don’t have siblings to connect with. Well, I have a half-sister, but that’s another story.

I feel lost. I am getting very anxious. I don’t know what to do.

I am dreading the day and afraid I am going to spend it sobbing, hiding from my children, aching for the 24 hours to pass.

Do you have any ideas on what I could do this Sunday? Have any of you lost a parent? What do you do on the tough days like the day of the parent’s passing or birthday?

Any ideas would be most appreciated, whether you’ve been in this situation or not. I’ll reply to your responses in the comments (something I normally do but I’ve been overwhelmed lately and falling behind).

Thanks so much – JD