I’ve read enough about depression from people who suffer from it to know that I don’t really have it. I don’t have the same relationship with this dark cloud that can descend and take over.
I have good days, I have bad days, I have hormonal days when it feels like nothing will ever be good again, but I am not depressed. When bad things happen I’m sad. When good things happen I’m happy.
When I was going through my divorce, I thought I might have a chemical imbalance. I felt like I needed help and I asked my doctor about it. I was given a prescription for Wellbutrin, I started taking it, and as that medicine worked into my system, I didn’t feel better, I felt numb. I didn’t give a shit about anything anymore, and I started thinking about suicide. Not in a passing way, in a way where that option sounded reasonable and logical. This movie sucks, I’m tired of it, just press the off button and it will be over.
I sat in my boss’s office one morning after a night of drinking and sitting on my crappy apartment balcony alone. I’d messed something up, and he was trying to explain to me how to fix it. Instead of my usual dismay at screwing up, I was having a daydream about rising from the chair, telling him quietly to go fuck himself, and going home to eat some Cheetos. Maybe running my car off the road into a tree on my way home instead. Both options sounded fine to me.
I knew this was not the intended effect of this medicine. I’d watched my mom suffer through the loss of her best friend and partner to suicide. I’d felt my own anger and grief over his decision, and I realized that my family was very far from these thoughts of self-harm. This was inconceivable to me only a few weeks earlier. It scared me, and I stopped taking the pills that day. After a few days this cloud lifted, and I felt like myself again. Not happy, but no longer numb.
Since then, I’ve tried the suggestions people make to deal naturally with the blues (I don’t even want to label it as depression because to me it’s not the same thing). Do something for someone else, get out of your head and your own misery. Connect, talk to friends, force yourself out of the funk. Exercise. Blast your music of choice, and run until something feels good again. Eat donuts. Write. Maybe stop drinking. These things work for me, but at the time, I really wanted to take a pill and feel better.
I tried it, it didn’t work.
I’m not writing this as an opinion about depression medicine. It didn’t work for me because I don’t think I needed it. But, I know so many people who do and whose lives have been radically improved with treatment. I think it’s important to know which camp you fall in, and how your body reacts to these chemicals. If you are trying them for the first time, I think it’s important to chart your moods, stay aware of how you’re feeling, and stay in close contact with your prescribing physician.
I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. I’ve been in a dark place lately. I haven’t been writing much, I haven’t been feeling great about myself, I spent most of yesterday crying about something that I would have normally taken in stride, and when I try to explain how I’m feeling, I can’t articulate it well.
I want a happy pill today, for real.
When this happens, I give myself one day. One day to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and feel whatever I feel. It would be so easy for me to turn it into two or three or a week. But I have to get up and get on with it, and do whatever I can to feel better and make light shine in my life again.
I’m one of the lucky ones who can do this.
Yesterday was my one day.
Today, I have to do something else.