Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Me and my antidepressants

As I mentioned before, I'm taking antidepressants and I feel that they've totally changed my life. This entry expands on my history and why I think that. If you have questions, please ask them.

I've had episodes of major depression throughout my life: although I don't remember it, apparently my parents got called in to the school when I was in grade school because I had told them that I wanted to kill myself. I do remember wanting to run away and being depressed then, but not telling anyone that I wanted to actually kill myself. I think that was probably the first big episode of depression that I had - at least, it was the first one that was recognized by people around me. I suspect that I had been depressed a few years prior to that.

The worst episode I remember was when I lived in Markham about 10 years ago. I was drinking pretty heavily, which didn't help things, but I was also lonely and sad. There was a voice in me that said that I was ok but I couldn't listen to it and I didn't believe it; it was overridden by the other voice that said that I didn't belong, that the world would be better off without me. One night I sat at my kitchen table with razor blades in my hands and seriously contemplated killing myself. Eventually, I made the conscious decision to not commit suicide that night; a friend had told me before that if I thought I didn't have any reason to live, wait one day to commit suicide - one day won't matter, and who knows what could happen that day that might change my mind. After that I realized that things were not good, I was unhappy, and I decided to change my life. That's when I ended up making the decision to go back to university.

Later on, when I first went back to school after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I remember talking to a counselor about this and telling her that it was like there was this dark grey film over everything; that not even the colours were bright. She told me that I was clearly depressed - who wouldn't be? - but neither of us thought to suggest the antidepressants to me.

In between all of those times, I'd kind of gone up and down - sometimes I'd be sort of happy, but most of the time I'd be more depressed. The bad inner voice stayed sort of quiet, although the good inner voice didn't say much, either. Quite often I would scratch at my chest, arms, or legs when I was depressed and angry, which can be difficult to hide. I was definitely the freak in the corner after one of those episodes - but I already thought of myself that way, so it was ok, in a twisted sort of way.

Things got really bad after the mets diagnosis and once I'd had my ovaries out. , I finally talked to my doctor about the depression because I was experiencing one that was as deep as the one where I almost killed myself. It scared me because I didn't think that there was anything else that I could change - the last time, I could go to school and quit drinking and smoking and whatnot, but there wasn't anything like that that I could do this time.

And I really didn't want to commit suicide - my mets will take care of making sure I die young enough already - but I didn't know how to stop the bad voice that was telling me that it would be a good idea. It was the same voice that had told me before that the world would be better off without me, but it was much stronger this time. If you've heard that voice, you know it's scary, because it's you but it isn't you all at the same time, and it sounds so reasonable... and it can be seductive. Anyways, it scared me badly so I talked to my doctor and he put me on antidepressants.

Since then, things have been completely different. I can listen to my good inner voice; I know that the other one (the one that slinks along together with my depression) isn't right and that I am not weak, or dumb, or stupid, and I do know what I'm doing and that I'm good at what I do, and that I have a place in this world. Moreover, that bad inner voice is almost completely quiet. I had no idea how much that voice permeated my thoughts until it was gone.

I wish I'd thought to take the antidepressants before this - I wish I could have taken them at so many different points. I think my life might have been a little bit different anyways, what with the support groups and such, but I don't think that I could be the person I am right now without the antidepressants. At no point before I started taking them was I truly as content and happy as I am now.

If you do have episodes like I did, please try and get help - there are lots of antidepressants out there that can correct the chemistry that causes the depressions. Life really is better now, at least for me, and you all deserve good lives too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suspect that your not being offered antidepressants had a lot to do with the fact that they were the older kind with lots of side effects. Had the SSRI's or ASRI's been around, I quite certain you would have been offered them. I'm just glad you are better able to enjoy life now and put the past behind you.
Love, Mom