Frankly, I feel mortified. My lips are tingling. My swallowing feels laboured. I have a pervading, dull throbbing sensation of pointlessness but due to the drugs I’m taking, it’s just not able to develop.
I wrote the above about five days ago. I had visited my doctor and he suggested that I up my dose of antidepressant (Escitalopram)from 5mg to 10mg.
I had reluctantly agreed to take this drug because I was slipping in and out of ok moods and thoroughly depressed ones; where my energy was so low I couldn’t really do a lot at all and eating had stopped; physical discomfort in my abdominal region-particularly the right side below my ribs; a total belief that my gut is causing my depression; short temper; pretty constant feelings of despair, guilt and inadequacy….
This, mixed with total low confidence, leaving an unpleasant job, renewed dependence on my partner and that, a thoroughly miserable relationship, led me to say ok, enough is enough. My doctor, in relation to the abdominal discomfort and low moods, diagnosed ‘health anxiety’ panic and depression. That, and my children despairing that I look sad all the time, and my inability to separate them from my tainted and charred vision of life equalled putting the tablet into my mouth.
So the five mg over a few weeks did the trick. I still felt completely exhausted (a new tenet of depression for me as I’ve always tended more towards a high energy depression) but my appetite started to return which was incredible, having spent so long resisting the pangs of hunger and favouring starvation. And by god, the ability to fall into despairing thoughts numbed. They are still there, I can still hear them, but it’s as if a giant wall has been put up in my brain and I cant go hand in hand with the despair anymore to the pit of the colourless ocean floor where breath becomes impossible. Instead, there is a dull presence of discontent but no reason with it. It’s actually a bit like having a corpse in the brain. The beating and pulsating heart of the depression -the thoughts which grow uncontrollable, are silenced; but they lie where they fell. In my whole being.
I could feel the activity in my brain from day one; the shifting and reconnecting going on. Quite scary, and if mentioned to anyone, met with slight incredulity and a silent refrain in any conversation, but once I’d taken one tablet, I couldn’t imagine breaking the work that was started, particularly because of the stories of feeling terrible if you stop.(I have been there before)and frankly because in truth, I was ill with a capital I.
So, I visited the doctor and said “look, I’ve increased my dose to 10 mg because I cant take this torment any longer; it’s like a sort of purgatory taking this and waiting for change(I didn’t actually say that). I said “I pretty much realise you are going to raise it to 10mg anyway so I didn’t want to prolong the agony any longer. This waiting game. I’m tired all the time. it’s awful. it’s like being half alive”
The doctor looked at me for a moment and said it was my choice if I wanted to swap to a different anti depressant; he said this was difficult- I was slumped in the chair and complained of feeling sedated and numbed; a feeling as bad as depression, just different.
He then said he thought I should slum it (not his words) on this drug for another two weeks on a higher dose and see what happens. He will see me in two weeks he said. I said I had a job to start soon, and couldn’t do anything while I was like this. He kind of said yeah… it’s your call…your mental health….you do what you want to do…
So in renewed misery, I left; knowing my mind even less than before. I then discovered the said doctor would be leaving the surgery in a week, so I won’t actually see him again; just some other doctor. I have to sort out my own problems,I think. I have a Blanche Dubois tendency to rely on the kindness of strangers- doctors being fairly strangers on the whole, I was coming to rely on this one. But hey ho, he’s leaving- though he didn’t tell me this. The world just gets a little colder and less flexible as time flows on.
The next day… I realise I don’t want to up my dose. I call the doctor to change my prescription to 5mg. They wont acquiesce. You have a prescription; cash it in; the receptionist says. I don’t want to take 10mg- I don’t even really want to stay on this sedating drug, but I am tired. I go and buy the drug and decide to chop it in half and stay on the low dose because I can’t hack the feeling of fatigue which accompanies it, even if that apparently passes in a few weeks.
Before my depressive circular thoughts literally floored me, I was pretty down but with the energy of a foal. I also had a job which kept me busy and gave me an income.
When I left that job, I fell swiftly into a deep depression resulting in physical lowness and despair.
I have underlying issues and believe I have been very ill for many months; this does not make embarking on anti depressant or any other mind/ brain drugs, any easier. It’s an emotive thing; layered with so many opinions; psychology; biology; reality; practicality; spirituality; just so much stuff.
The doctor is slightly irritated with me -or so I sense- when I say, I don’t wish to always remain on these drugs; how easy are they to stop taking? etc.etc… He says I need to believe in them; to believe in medicine and I can, according to him, take them till I die. Great, that’s just made me feel so much better. Thanks.
Looking at how things are on this low dose of brain changing drug.
benefits: appetite returned, incessant voices silenced, occasional ok
negatives: shattered, negative ghost voices/thoughts- I’m still here
I have been on a waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy for a year or so, and held off medication so I could attack the thoughts at source; but I felt I couldn’t get through the last depression, and now the source, while still there, is obscured but still present. I was hoping I could murder the source/ root it out and dispose of it, not just put weed killer on it and leave it to fester and rot in me.
I suppose anyone would suggest increasing the dose and getting through the fatigue but I suppose the truth is, I still don’t want to accept that I can’t do this by mind/diet/life changes/omega 3 etc.. alone. I’m staying on 5mg because I am undecided and still want to try and do this myself. I want to find courage to face my fears. It may seem that I am belittling antidepressants; any drugs ..for improved mental health; of their use, but it’s more that I cant stand my own head; I accept that I am afraid… drugs upset me by their side effects but so does depression/ mental ill health.
I recognise that my life is not satisfactory to produce the conditions necessary to feel good; and yet I seem not to have the tools to take positive action to actually improve. It’s like dangling mid air between the floor and the sky; bouncing occasionally on the rocky side of the cliff. Truth is, I am shit scared of my shadow; of my mind; of silence; of death; of my body; of my breath; of intimacy; of everything.
And I wish I could be a character in a children’s story that learns bravery and courage through some fabled event involving foxes and rabbits or mountains and crowns; but I’m not; I’m a fallible human female being of some years of age trying to navigate a strange and uninhabitable terrain of head versus reality; of personal versus public; of finding meaning/ the soul/ peace and contentment in a fast moving and demanding world; and trying to navigate a mental health journey that seems to go on and on, but aspiring to getting well once and for all……..