Peonies and Popsicles

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Depression

April 18, 2015

If you think that depression is just a passing thing, I can attest it is not. I have always been prone to the "blahs", but I was much younger.  Beginning in my early 30s, things changed and while I wasn't sure it was depression, I chose to treat myself with vitamin B6 and St. John's wort. For several years this combination worked well.  Once I decided to try getting pregnant, I had to stop both the B6 and SJW, but I think the excitement of possibly getting pregnant kept things light and upbeat.  Of course, getting pregnant quickly helped as well. 

While pregnant, I was in heaven!  Whatever all the hormones are that are flowing, I wish they could be bottled and I could have them all the time.  I felt physically the best I have ever felt in my life and emotionally happier and more stable than ever.  Aside from the pregnancy naps, I had the most energy ever. 

Once I had Jake, I tried going back on the B6 and SJW.  It did not work at all, especially once you throw in postpartum blues on top of what I assume was general depression.  Eventually, I realized I needed help and visited our family doctor.  I began trying different antidepressants.  Some didn't work at all.  Others worked for a period of time before plateauing.  Eventually, after a few years, Cymbalta was introduced and it was a miracle drug for me. 

I have to say, I don't take anything except maybe Advil or Excedrin Migraine, but I knew that I'd be foolish trying to deal with depression without medication.  Cymbalta worked really well at a dosage of 90 mg. 

When you have depression, you learn to distinguish the difference between your depression and something else.  In comes perimenopausal symptoms such as tearfulness and irritability.  My doctor added a birth control pill for the estrogen help given I was around 47 at the time, and for about 3 years this was an excellent combination. 

There can be triggers, I believe, that can possibly alleviate the depression a bit as well as cause it to worsen.  Well, I had one of the worst triggers ever, which was losing my job.  I wasn't worried at first, thinking I'd have a job within the month.  That month turned into 6 and then into longer.  I lost my insurance, which meant I could no longer afford Cymbalta at $600.  (Don't get me started on pharmaceutical companies and their gouging of the American people.)  I go to my doctor and with the help of my family, I'm able to get Effexor, which helps a bit, but nothing like Cymbalta.  Eventually, as the time goes by without finding a job, it becomes more obvious that the Effexor isn't going to cut it, and I'm becoming more and more depressed.  I don't do anything I enjoy because I feel guilty because I'm not working.  The mindset there is I can't enjoy myself and should spend ever waking minute looking for a job. 

Then you have outside influence or input, some of which makes you feel like crap.  Some people couldn't believe I was still unemployed, but this was 2012 when unemployment was very high.  I loved hearing all the places I should try.  I'm not saying I don't appreciate input, but there are certain things I'm not capable of doing or not qualified to do.  Then the best one was, "Do you think you aren't being hired because of your weight?"  Well, what a horrible thing to say and given that I hadn't even had an interview yet, NO, it's not because of my weight.

You can look at depression like a closet that keep filling up and filling up and when someone says something like the weight comment, that only adds to the closet. Every "what have you done today", "have you found a job yet" makes you feel like a loser, and the depression not well treated feeds your mind.  "Yes, I'm a loser, a failure, and everyone thinks so."

I was to the point where I would take my son to school and come home to go to sleep until time to pick him up.  I was in flight or escape mod, and once you're there, it's very tough to get out. 

Eleven months went by before I found a job.  I began work at Limestone College part-time, which was a great job, had promise of going full time, could lead to a job in another department that was full time, and I could go back to school paying for nothing except my books.  I was able to get insurance for Jake and myself and finally able to get Cymbalta again.  I started back on the 90 mg with an eventual increase to 120, which is the max dose.  Also, with the Cymbalta, it is prescribed for fibromyalgia pain, which is a recent diagnosis for me.  Off the Cymbalta for 11 months, I could not believe how my body felt. It would hurt for Jake to rest his chin on my shoulder.  There were parts of my body that I didn't know could hurt that were so painful.  It was nice to have that pain ease up a bit being back on the Cymbalta.

Despite everything, I could tell things were not right.  I was making mistakes at work that I'd never make normally.  I would wake up and know there was no possible way I could go to work.  Things were simply out of control and I was spiraling downward. 

On the weekends Jake was gone, I slept them away.  In the evenings after homework and dinner was done, I slept, went to bed and slept some more.  I tried to keep up with everything, tried to go to work and function like I knew I could, but it wasn't happening.  Panic attacks at work took over, and I run to the ladies room to get myself under control. 

It's getting late so I'm going to stop here for the night.  Guess this post will be in two parts!

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