November 8, 2000

We Interrupt this Entry...


I'm putting the online journal story (a continuation of the previous entry) on hold until next time, or maybe the time after, to discuss a more pressing matter.

I've occasionally mentioned here that I'm on prozac, and have been for several years. I can count three fairly major clinical depressions in my life, the earliest at age 18. (I define "fairly major" as affecting my ability to function and lasting for several months.) The most recent, which prompted the prozac prescription, was in my early 40's. I made a few half hearted attempts to get off the medication but they didn't work out. Maybe it's a placebo effect, maybe not, but whatever it is, it works.

Usually.

I still have ups and downs but the downs don't last as long and aren't as painful. Right now I'm about as down as I've been in quite awhile, and I want to try to describe what it's like.

First let me say.. don't worry. Medication and being aware of what it is enable me to not be overwhelmed. I'll bounce back to good as new within a day or two, and I'm hoping that writing this entry will help.

Let me also say, nothing happened. There was no tragedy or event that triggered this. I have the usual daily stresses but while I'd like to say that worry about one thing or another set me off, I have to admit that on other days, those worries wouldn't bother me in the least.

Since it's November, I could blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder (reaction to too little daylight) or remember that I always get crazy for a few weeks before holiday time, especially if we're planning a trip, which we are, to Florida, yet again, because Hubby and the kids (really!) want to go. (I'll leave my reservations - pun intended - about the trip for another entry; or maybe not, since they involve a lot of whining about how we always go to the same places and how Hubby worries about every penny - actually 1.5 cents Canadian - that we spend.)

There is a real physical component to feeling this depressed. It resides in the chest, and comes and goes in waves, similar to nausea. There is also a feeling of pressure.. as if something heavy (bigger than a cat, perhaps a medium-size dog) is lying on me. When I lived with this every day I used to wish for an aspirin that could relieve it but I eventually found that relief in prozac.

There are times when I'm not far from tears. In order to explain this to myself, I trot out all the unsatisfactory aspects of my life and dwell on them. These mostly have to do with my husband but they're issues that I can generally live with; only at times like this do they seem intolerably unfair. For variety, I might invoke my mother's transgressions too. I know enough to try not to carry it into my real life interactions with Hubby; he might just notice that I'm a little crankier than usual, or maybe not, since I'm trying harder to be nice.

This whole process consumes an enormous amount of psychological energy. There's not much left for coping. My fuse is short and I tire easily, yet I don't sleep well. I also don't have much of an appetite, which is definitely not normal for me. (I don't fight that part of it.. I can stand to lose a few pounds!) I have trouble concentrating; I feel jumpy, too, as if I've had too much coffee, but coffee actually helps alleviate things.

Getting out and being with people usually helps. I felt somewhat better during bowling today but was exhausted afterwards. I'm going to see Dad tomorrow so that should keep me occupied. Loud rock music often helps too. It has to be loud - it numbs the pain.

Linque Du Jour - Relevant to the above:   Bizarro comic strip

This comic appeared in Monday's paper: (if you can't access it, it's a drawing of a 19th century-style man writing with a quill pen; the words he's writing are, "Quoth the Raven, 'Hey, things could be a lot worse.'" and the caption is, "Poe on Prozac".

At first glance it's funny but I'm not sure I like the message underneath.

I've often heard it said that prozac and similar medications make people feel not like themselves, take away the creative edge, and words to that effect. That hasn't been my experience at all, in fact, the opposite. It's enabled me to be me. I've heard this often enough, however, to have to acknowledge that it can have that effect.

The implied message in the comic is, that if depressed (read, "creative") people took prozac, the world would be deprived of some of its masterpieces.

I can't say whether this is true or not. What I can say is that maybe it would be worth it.

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