When You Start a New Anti Depressant

When You Start a New Anti Depressant October 8, 2013

The hubz & I are going through a 12 week marriage seminar. I did not want to go. It was going to be hard work.  It was going to require all the communications-of-horror.  It was going to give me headaches.  It was going to rip my hair out and hang me upside down by my pony tails.  But then it ended up giving us mutual language by which to discuss our issues.

Also, depression.  I can appreciate any study that helps you go down to deep to that subterranean level where dirty vows and unwise promises are made and should be broken.  Down there, it hurts to look.  When I peer down there, down where folks like me keep our trauma buried neatly under rugs, well, all hell breaks loose.  I’ve been down that road so many times, in those long hours of therapy and even longer hours of staring at walls.  Like I said, it hurts my eyes.

After 5 weeks of our subterranean trek, the depression rolled over me, sat on my face. It came on so quick, so strong, I knew I had to get my hide back on Vitamin Z (Queen Zoloft) before I lost control.  Stay on top of it, just like the cramps from Aunt Flo.  Stay on top or your toast.  Down for the count.

If you’ve ever plunged into the murky waters of antidepressants you know the beginning can be the worst.  And by “the worst,” I mean that’s when the most people who go on antidepressants commit suicide.  All the times I’ve ever started a brand new anti-depressant I’ve plunged into the deepest, darkest caves of suicidal depression for a solid 3 days.

This time was different.  It wasn’t the deepest nor the darkest, but it lasted for six long days, this past Saturday being the absolute worst. It looked like this: get out of bed, stare at a wall, try to clean something but everything feels too heavy, even a washcloth. Get back in bed, it’s too light.  Cover your head.  Sleep.  Get up and try to eat, try to clean, try to shower, try to email, try to post to Facebook, try to watch T.V. but everything is too much, everything is too burdensome, nothing is okay, except the darkness under the covers or immediate death.

When you’re not suicidal you don’t want to do it yourself but you don’t mind anyone else coming along to lop your head off.  If you are suicidal you spend waking moments trying to figure out the quickest, easiest way to get the job done.  Or, of course, all the reasons you shouldn’t but you are preoccupied with the idea.  That, my friends, is the absolute worst.  And that is what riddled my last few weeks, off and on, off and on.

Then you wake up the next morning and like a light switch it’s turned itself off.  You knew you’d get here eventually so you pushed through.  You had one goal: just survive.  And you did.  So you check it off your to-do list.  [Didn’t kill self today: CHECK]  You are you again, you feel normal, even hopeful.  You try a new hairstyle, Bantu Knots…

bantu knot

You don’t want to die, you want no head lopping, nothing but a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles. You go to work, normal.  You come home, normal.  You go see, Don Jon with a friend & you LAUGH & LAUGH because you can, and because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a genius and because he is ALL THE HOTNESS.  You trip UP the movie theater stairs and you LAUGH.  You wear blue eye shadow the next day, just because.  You don’t feel much like Facebooking, but you know you will eventually.  Your blog can wait, you know you’ve got lots to get done:  everything else that sat patiently amidst new-antidepressant-hulabaloo.  You know can handle it, will handle it because everything in your world feels better, lighter, more manageable.

The medicine has, finally, adjusted to your brain and eventually you will feel something remotely along the lines of: happiness.  Eventually, you will be able to face the demons under the rug without them threatening to bowl you over.  You may not be happy all the time but you will have enough strength to rest well.

This is how antidepressants work for me.  They come on like a bat of out hell, but snuggle up like your favorite warm, winter blanket.  And I’ll need that warmth once we get into the nitty-gritty of the next 7 weeks.


Linking up today with Heather of the The EO for Just Write where you just free write & it feels good.


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  • My whole summer (now seeping into fall) has been about medication changes. I understand completely. While my experience is different from yours, I still get it. So hard.

    I’m glad you made it through and are feeling the cozy blanket. Thanks for being honest about this. We need people who speak up.

    • Ahh yes, Aaron, I know your there with me. Yeah, I plan to keep speaking up about it. It is needed & hopefully it will become more normalized.

  • story3girl

    Sending love and support as you get your life back. Proud of you and good to hear you write.

  • SlimButtons

    As always, thank you for being so transparent. I always have a mental meltdown at the thought of having to get back on antidepressants, but my experience is a little different than yours. I have an extremely sensitive stomach and ALL of the antidepressants I’ve tried make me extremely sick. Couple that with other side effects and taking the antidepressants is worse than the depression… AND … the side effects usually last for 6 to 12 weeks. It’s brutal. I find myself trying to decide between the two evils–take the antidepressants and feel better mentally and emotionally but feel like crap physically or don’t take them and feel better physically but feel like crap mentally and emotionally. I must admit, I’ve chosen the later more times than I probably should have.

    • Oh man, that has got to be tough!! I’d probably choose the stomach too….it sucks feeling sick all the time.

  • Welcome back, Grace. Praying that you keep pressing on.

  • mongupp

    I’ve been on the same anti-d for….15 years….they do help 🙂

  • Jill Vande Zande

    The introductory symptoms don’t do you any favors either. Would it be easier to just stay on something rather than go off and on all the time? I’ve been on something for the last almost five years. Not always the same medication, but always something. It was off and on before that. I’m more stable, more me, when I’m on something. But everyone is different.

    • Oh my gosh, yes, that would be ideal…to just stay on. I’ve only hopped on & off for pregnancy & breast feeding. After Rhysie was done nursing I never went back on until now.

      • Oh no prob. Some people take it through pregnancy/breastfeeding if things are very, very bad. But, yeah, it’s the start up that’s the worse for me…I’m hoping I’m on it for good now.

  • That’s likely going to be my life. =)

  • Thank you so much, Peter!

  • Jill Vande Zande

    Duh! Of course! I’d forgotten all about babies and breastfeeding. Boy, that’ll be a treat if I ever find myself in that situation. Kids are worth it of course, but oy!

  • Jillie

    Hi Grace…Thank you for this today! I so appreciate honesty when discussing anti-d’s. “Queen Z”–That’s good! I have been on the things for several years now, adjusting to 2 a day, then 1 a day, then 2 a day…ad nauseum. But they help.
    Growing up in a family where my mother struggled with depression for years, and died at the age of 44 from a heart attack–the result of combining meds with alcohol–my greatest fear is that I would end up like her. I have siblings who suffer depression, as well as my Dad. I didn’t figure I stood a chance of escaping it, but I tried for several years to just keep on keepin’ on. The difference my anti-d’s have made is good, most of the time. And yet, I still have those times in the dark pit–thoughts of suicide. So much secrecy and shame in the Church about it too! We had a woman, convinced by our Pastor that she should do so, give testimony to her struggle and how God was helping her, slowly, to overcome. She was met with opposition to meds., shame for feeling depressed “when she had Jesus, after all”, rejection from “friends” who didn’t know how to handle “her problem”…..she left our church shortly after and has never returned. There should be NO SHAME. We treat cancer, ailments of the body–shoot! We even pray for those facing dental issues! Depression is no different. If a med helps…why not use it?!? I’m frustrated, can you tell?
    I am thankful you have come through the tunnel, Grace, and I trust you will begin to feel better and better.
    Thanks again for your honesty and chutzpah in addressing this depression of so many of us. There are many more than care to admit.

  • Jillie, so sorry to hear about your mother & about the woman from your Church –how awful. And there’s so much more of that. I’m so thankful for outlets like blogs & other things like this that are making the whole depression experience much more normalized. In fact, I waited so long to start antidepressants after years of debilitating depressions simply b/c of the stigma, not understanding anything about it & fearing both the sickness & the meds….I’m so thankful I was able to work through all of that b/c they really have been so good for me (aside from the lousy start up time). Anyway, thanks so much for the encouragement to keep talking. I will. =)

    • Jillie

      Bless you, Grace. You are doing such a good work here on your blog! There is nothing quite like honesty and transparency–especially when working through the human dilemma that afflicts so many. It helps the rest of us, so much, to open up and be more human too. Thank you for your sympathies regarding my Mom, too! She lived in a veritable hell for so long. How I wish things could have been different for her.
      Thank you, Grace.

  • Arnebya

    I tried one. And it made me see shit and feel like crap. I stopped taking it. I know I would likely benefit from one and that that doctor wasn’t fully listening to me anyway, but to go back and ASK? Why is it so hard? Why is there such stigma? Because I’d have to tell the girl on the phone why I needed an appointment, and then the triage nurse why I was there and then the doctor what I needed. It’s enough to make me have a panic attack WHICH I KNOW, I KNOW.

    • Yes, I agree with you Arnebya it can be SO hard to go back and ask, to go back and try and fix it, to go back and admit defeat but i have to admit…I think it’s worth it. the yr. my depression was AWFUL I was basically forced to keep going back and back b/c I knew I had to….I’m less tempted now, but I understand that mentality. but yeah, it’s rough in the beginning…all this to say, if you know you need it, press on and get the help you need. love u girl! xoxoxo

  • sharon autenrieth

    I’ve spent several months in therapy, desperately hoping I could avoid going back on antidepressants. I hate the side effects so much, and I’m a little worried that as soon as I feel better I’ll stop working through some of the crap that I need to deal with in therapy. But good lord, it’s hard sometimes. I’m glad the good side of your meds has kicked in and that you’re feeling better. I am new here, but loving your blog.

  • Thank you, Sharon. I’m so glad to be feeling better too. Oh, what a relief! You can do it though, you can keep working through it, I hope you will. It always ends better that way!! =)

  • Latoya Scott

    Just recently re-started mine again and can relate to much of what you’re saying. For me, I don’t even think it’s a matter of wanting to die, I just simply want to feel better when I hit rock bottom. Absolutely everything brings you to tears and absolutely nothing can make you smile. And oh that day…that day when the switch is flipped and normal life resumes…live for those days. As always, reading here has been a pleasurable experience.