Monday, May 12, 2008


My dirty little secret.

I struggle with depression.

I was diagnosed after the birth of my second son. I was very reluctant to begin any sort of medication because I thought I could handle it on my own. You know, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get over yourself. Well, that wasn't working. I was perscribed an oral medication and it changed my life. I didn't realize until then how sick I had been. It was a miracle.

I finally felt like the veil had been lifted. I was no longer a slave to my moods. My family noticed a difference. My husband noticed a difference. There were side effects, but compared to the depression, they were nothing.

I had energy and motivation. I was the mom/daughter/sister/wife that I knew was "in there" but just became overwhelmed and incapacitated from time to time.

That was 10 years ago and things are amazing. My life made sense. For so long I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.

I lost my baby weight and then some. I threw myself into Weight Watchers and Jazzercise and felt better than I'd felt since I was married.

But (there's always a but), after several years, the medication stopped working. It's a known phenomena and very common. Higher doses worked for some time, but eventually I suffered from SSRI "poop out"...that's actually the term for it!

My husband noticed it first. That's how depression works. Those of us who live with it are always the last to know. I went to my general practitioner and we started trying some different medications. I knew that the meds took some time to work and a person can't just STOP one and START another. There's a weening off and on process. So, for about 6 months, I tried a few. One gave me panic attacks (which I'd never had before). Another caused me to sleep 12 hours a day. Neither one of those situations is conducive to raising 2 small children.

There were only two people who knew of my struggle, my husband and my best friend. The were very supportive. Nothing was working and my G.P. referred me to a shrink. I should have gone to see one sooner, but oh well.

He immediately put me on a mood stabilizer - Depakote. I was in pretty dire straights at that point and he was hoping to pull me out of a very low low. It worked. And I gained 5 pounds. But that was o.k. Then I gained 10 pounds. And event that was o.k. When I hit 150 pounds I told my doctor that I wasn't depressed about shit in general anymore, but I was starting to get a bit perturbed about my weight. He told me to sit tight and things would get better. At least I wasn't ready to off myself.

One must understand that I am a short person who has never had a weight problem. I always held steady at 130. I was an All-Conference softball shortstop who was offered a chance to play college ball at a AAA school. I was active.

Then we sold a house, bought a house, moved out of state...within 8 weeks. And I slipped a disc in my neck. I tried Jazzercise when we moved to our new town, but it was impossible with my injury.

Now I'm in the vicious cycle of being heavy enough that exercising is painful because of my neck and back injuries, but they'd be better if I wasn't carrying so much weight. The meds make my metabolism shut down and although I eat healthy, I need to exercise to boost things. Being as heavy as I am bums me out which contributes to my depression.



mama o' the matrices said...

Havens, Rix - that's a dirty secret? Phooey.

Depression is a major PIA, all the more so because it's IN YOUR HEAD - and so are you - so how can you tell if your head's not running along the same track as everyone else's? It's your head, after all. I was recently diagnosed with ADD, and was shocked to hear that things that I do - that I have to do - aren't things that everyone does. Go figure.

Sorry to hear that the SSRIs pooped out on you. Hope you find a new one soon...

mama o' the matrices said...

clarification: phooey to the dirty, not phooey to the depression. Depression sucks, but it bugs me that folks sit on these things as something to be ashamed of.

It's just quirky chemistry, after all.