This is a little heavy and a lot private, but important, so here’s some sloth cuddles to get us through.
Vulnerability is scary. I always think of Courage the Cowardly Dog or Coraline, when I think I should be vulnerable. “When you’re scared and you still do it anyway, that’s brave.” So, here goes.
I think we all like to talk shit about Facebook and apps listening to us and using what we say to better market to us the things we really don’t need, but I am here to tell you that sometimes, a little AI help isn’t so bad.
I’m currently going through withdrawal from my antidepressant and some other medications I was prescribed to help with clinical depression. I’ve had clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, since I was young. It isn’t a new thing for me. What’s new is how I’ve been dealing with it.
I’ve always been resistant to psychotropic medications. My mom is a nurse and when I was young she was against medicating my depression. My dad is still very anti psychotropic medications. So, naturally, I was against them as well. I always felt like my mood should be something I had control over. I never wanted to admit that I couldn’t control my own brain.
But, that isn’t the truth. The truth is sometimes, my life would be great, I would be successful, loved and in love, financially comfortable, spiritually connected, and still think about killing myself. All. Day. Long. I could control my body from acting on the thoughts but I couldn’t keep the thoughts away. I could keep them small and quiet sometimes, but I knew they were always there. And that was on the good days, the best days. When life was life, those small quiet thoughts became unending roars.
I’ve never been one to cope with drugs or alcohol, those made me feel too out of control and I knew my problems would still be there when I sobered up. So, the thought of taking an antidepressant felt a little bit the same. I’m just faking my way “better”, I told myself at first. But, then I started to actually feel better. I was able to meditate and disentangle my thoughts and emotions. I was able to engage and still feel things but not be overwhelmed.
But, my medication had some negative side effects. At first the dose was too high and it caused me to have panic attacks, night sweats, and insomnia. I called my (now ex) boyfriend too many nights, nearly in tears over nothing, just so I could have someone to talk to while my heart was racing and I felt like I was going to fly into a million little pieces. He was so good at calming me down but I know it wore on him. It wore on me, too. Then, I realized that I’d gone flat and lost all interest in my creative pursuits. I couldn’t write or paint or draw with any feeling. I felt happy when it was appropriate and sad when it was appropriate, but my emotional range was narrowed drastically. I didn’t feel like myself. I had my dosage lowered in January after talking to my doc about the anxiety attacks and sleeplessness.
Now, three months later, I’ve been experiencing some neurological issues, bad migraines, a severe tremor in my hands, racing heart but not anxiety. I haven’t felt depressed for months but I definitely did not like these side effects. So, I stopped taking the meds. The headaches have decreased and dulled. The tremors in my hands, that made it almost impossible to sign my name and play my violin, have all but stopped completely. My heart isn’t racing.
Withdrawal from these meds comes with a price, too. Driving down the road yesterday, I burst into tears over a memory, not a single tear simply escaping the dam of my eyes, but a gushing flood that washed my makeup off and left purple black streaks of mascara on the collar of my shirt. The dark thoughts haven’t come back, thankfully. Just sadness. Sadness that I know is not real. Sadness that is an echo, like a hard rubber ball bouncing toward you in on a squash court. If it hits me, it hurts, but it isn’t real sadness. It isn’t heavy.
I’m rambling. Maybe that’s a side effect as well, that my thoughts aren’t quite in their orderly files… back to the AI. I was talking to my mom, apologizing for crying and feeling stupid for having such messy emotions. She reminded me what I told her to remind me. It’s just the drugs, it’s just withdrawal, and it takes time. It takes time and compassion for yourself.
After I hung up, I scrolled aimlessly through Facebook for a moment. And this popped up with an ad for online counseling services.
I’ve gotten ads like that before, after talking to friends about my therapist or my depression. I don’t need these ads, I have a great therapist, but maybe someone else has talked about feeling depressed and they got that ad and it helped them. Maybe someone else was discussing the pros and cons of meds and they saw this. I hope they reached out. Sometimes, we are surrounded by people who love us but don’t know the best way to help us and this little AI in our hands just might have some right answers.
If you are struggling with your mood, whether it is depression, anxiety, apathy, or maybe just a pinch too much “edginess”, don’t be afraid to ask for help, even with or without meds. Life is too short and too good to miss out on it because your brain chemistry is a little off. There is nothing to be ashamed of about this. We don’t shame people for needing any other type of medication.
I’m hopeful that once the withdrawals are over, my brain will be better balanced. I’ve got my holistic plan in action (sunlight, eating whole, unprocessed, low-carb foods, daily exercise that I enjoy, creating) so I know I’m on the right track and this is just a little bump in the road, not a crater. And, if it isn’t, I know my doctor and I will have a plan to try something else, because life is worth enjoying the entire bandwidth of emotions and not getting stuck in a rough place.
Take care of yourself. Handle yourself with love and compassion and care.