Just over a year ago, I had an episode with depression and anxiety that I could not ignore. It's a year and a bit later. I've left two jobs, and managed to stay in one. I've tried different combo's of anti depressant/anxiety meds, before settling on a daily 60mg dose of fluoxetine, or prozac to give it its common name. Ive had some fairly minor panic attacks, and a couple of major ones. I've leveled out somewhat, thanks to the meds, but I'm not cured. Im handling my condition a lot better, but it still beats me some days. I've dabbled with some pretty dark thoughts. I wrote about it for a while, until the effects of the prozac seemed to dull my edge.
These things always seem to happen in the spring and early summer. Not so long ago, I woke up through the night, having a full on anxiety attack, which put me out of action for a couple of days. They really exhaust me, and I only take meds for those as and when they happen. I had two anti anxiety meds which would put a randy bull to sleep (16 hours solid deep unmoving sleep, anyone? Not as pleasant as it sounds..), and am now pretty much settled on one that I take very conservatively, and in emergencies only. I've still had some pretty bad days, the most recent being yesterday (21st May, 2015), and yesterdays was by far one of the worst dips I have taken in a good eight months.
So.. What did I do? I mean.. I've had a year to build up experience, and ways of dealing with this illness, (which, I have come to accept, is exactly what it is.) so what have I learned?
Well, first up,Im still here, writing about it, aren't I? It's taken me a while to get my words back, or at the very least, have something to say that is A – Interesting, and B – not me repeating myself. Sure, I do think the prozac dulled my creative side a little, but I really had run out of things to write about.
So, on the subject of meds, I have been taking a daily 60mg dose of prozac, to help with the depression. It really has helped. I can now get through 90 percent of my days without having any kind of emotional breakdown, or other episode. They still happen, but less frequent and not nearly as severe as one year ago.
Thats one of the things about anti depressants that I have learned. They don't cure depression. In the same way that a crutch doesn't cure a broken leg, and nytol doesnt cure a cold, prozac does not cure depression. What it does do however, is make the symptoms easier to deal with on a day to day basis.
Which, leads me to another realisation. When I nosedived yesterday, It felt pretty bad. I was close to submission (not in a suicidal way, before you worry, depression is a long road from suicide..) and ready to withdraw. The usual symptoms.. Panic, fear, despair, exhaustion, muscle and joint pain, social anxiety, the full collecters edition. If I hadn't been on meds... well... lets not go there. But I fought on. I called my wife (who is endlessly and unconditionally supportive during these episodes.. More on that later) and she listened to me as I calmed down, and managed to get the feeling into plain English. I was able to get through the rest of the day, which is something I would not have been able to do before, without withdrawing immediately. But I'm digressing...
I knew I was having an attack of depression. I could immediately identify the problem. I then thought to myself, “Be cool, you'll cheer up eventually”
But then, I thought.. “No.. Thats wrong. It's not about cheering up. I wont cheer up soon. I'll recover. I'll get better.”
Know what I mean though? It hit me, that this was not a mood issue. This was the symptoms of an illness. Cheering up had nothing to do with it. My mood didn't dip. I got sick. It's that simple. Being someone of a minimalist nature, to have reached that simple answer through thought and consideration was a real big thing for me.
Im not in a bad mood. I'm sick.
I also knew I was going to be in for a rough couple of days. After most of a lifetime of fighting, I know the drill. Sure enough, on came the fatigue and exhaustion, mixed with the wired sleeplessness. The thick headed sensation, the walking through wet concrete sensation, the mindlessness and all the works which I dont need to go into. But this time, I felt prepared. I knew what to expect. And I didn't think 'Oh no, the prozac doesn't work, I still have major clinical depression”, I accepted that it is working, and very well. Doesn't mean it's cured though. I doubt it ever will be. Its such a part of my life, that accepting it and losing the guilt and embarrassment seems to make sense. Like I pointed out earlier, a crutch wont cure a broken leg. It will help you get around easier though.
So, thank you for your patience and support, everyone. You are all very excellent.