I started taking anti-depressants two weeks ago. It takes about three weeks for this particular brand of medication to take full effect, so technically, it’s not even working all the way, yet. Trick is, I feel better. Like, all the way better. Allow me to explain.
I started feeling better on day 5. Incidentally, I also started my period on day 5. I woke up that morning and got out of bed at 8:00. It wasn’t a school day. I think it was a Saturday, in fact. I’d been sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day for the last month, so the fact that I was out of bed at 8:00 a.m. was a really big deal. The fact that I was out of bed that early and that I was all sunshine-and-roses and I’d just started my period–that was an even bigger deal.
By the end of the day, I’d convinced myself that I was only sad because I was premenstrual and that I wasn’t actually depressed at all. Okay, maybe I was depressed, but I wasn’t the kind of depressed that needs medication. It was mild depression, at best. But major depressive episode? Hardly. I was just busy and a little sad and about to start my period and that’s why everything was so terrible!
Then I realized, if you start antidepressants because “your period” threw you into such a funk that you scheduled a crisis appointment with your therapist, girl, you NEED to be on those meds. Needless to say, I stayed on the meds. The next class day, I talked with my psychiatric nursing professor about the medication action timeframe and she explained it a little more fully to me. She said that even though it takes 3 weeks for the medication to have it’s FULL effect, it starts working at about day 4 or 5 to get you out of “The Pit.” That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was just out of the pit.
(Then, another ton of bricks. THIS, I thought to myself, IS WHY PEOPLE QUIT TAKING THEIR DEPRESSION MEDS. Because all of the sudden when you’re out of the pit, you’re like Dude. I am so totally okay. I don’t need these antidepressants because I am ffffiinnneee. It’s all sunshine and bluebirds and fields of wildflowers when you’re on these things!)
But just because I’m happier on this antidepressant doesn’t mean that I have it all figured out. In fact, I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to switch medications.
I remember telling a friend of mine that if Day 5 felt THIS good, I was almost scared about how much better I was going to feel at week 3. Was I going to be bouncing down the street instead of walking? I doubted that I was even going to be able to recognize things like sadness and depression when the medication had built itself up to ‘full-blast’ in my system.
Now that I’m closer to ‘full-blast,’ I can see that I was right. By the time week 2 finished, the medication had redoubled my defenses against sadness to the point that I can’t cry anymore. And I’m not crying, not because I don’t have anything to cry about, but because I just don’t seem to be able to. I’ve had a few major moments in the last week that would have normally made me cry. I got into a fight with Zack. I didn’t cry through a whole counseling session (for the first time in my life). I found out that Rachel’s brain tumor was cancerous. A lovely couple from the camp where we used to work delivered their first daughter only to watch her pass away 72 hours later. I can acknowledge a sadness in my head about these situations, but I can’t feel it–not like I would normally feel it.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong for me to be happy. People seem to be concerned that I’m afraid to let myself be happy, and that’s not it. I’m just saying that it’s wrong for me to not feel. I know there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ when it comes to how much we feel, but I do know that normal for me is more than I am feeling right now. I want to be able to cry when I have a fight with Zack and when Rachel has to have chemo and when friends suffer the lost of a child. I have always strongly preferred to be intimate with life’s cycles of emotions, and right now I feel blunted. I feel like blunting my emotions takes away a part of who I am, a core piece of my identity. I love that I feel everything. I love that about myself. And in this time in my life when I’m struggling to find and cling to my identity — to these things that I know to be true about myself, and these things that I love about myself — to lose that part of me would be catastrophic. It would take away something from the very core of me, and I’m not willing to let that go.