Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the truth, vol. 2: the pills that you take to stay happy

i'm the only 28 year old that i know of who has a pill organizer. (let me know if there are any others out there, we could form some kind of support group!) i was quite embarrassed just buying it, like a teenaged girl who has to buy a box of tampons on her own for the first time. but i thought it would make my life a little easier not to have to rack my brains thinking, "did i already take that pill today?" so into the shopping cart it went. and i felt like an eighty year old for a little while until i got over it.
the truth is that i've been on more medications than i can remember since i was diagnosed with depression. i guess i've been on it and off it for about 5 years now (probably mostly on.) i've taken prozac, zoloft, wellbutrin, cymbalta, effexor, wellbutrin xl, and a few more, including the one i'm on now. there have been times when i was so frustrated about side effects, figuring out dosage, doctor's bills and pharmacy receipts, repeating my medical history yet again to another new doctor who only might be able to help, worrying and praying over the safety of breastfeeding or being pregnant while being on meds; that i have given up. i've given up more than once. but i guess i didn't give up permanently because i'm still trudging on. i can say that while nothing has really helped me feel great, the stuff i'm on now has probably helped me the most, which i'm really grateful for.
even though i have bad days, (like today: i forgot to take a pill yesterday, and today has been quite bad,) and days when i feel like it's horrible that i have to rely on medication to make me feel almost normal, most of the time i'm just glad to have it. i can't imagine living in a time when they didn't have anything to help people like me and maybe some of them ended up getting locked away. (have you read "the yellow wallpaper" by charlotte perkins gilman? yikes.) there are so many things to be grateful for, and one of these days i'll get around to posting about the blessings of having depression. until then, you have some belle & sebastian lyrics to keep you company:
i said goodbye to someone that i love.
it's not just me, i tell you it's the both of us.
and it was hard, like coming off the pills that you take to stay happy.


D'Arcy said...

I love belle and sebastian, but I love you more, and that's saying something.

Wow, I have A LOT to say on this subject. I grew up with a mother who struggled as you have, and they DIDN'T have medication! At least, not that we knew of, so I was born in 1977 and I dealt with a manic depressive mother until about ten years ago, maybe 8. She had a REALLY hard time first of all admitting that she needed pills and then staying on them. While her dosage and brand hasn't been as hard of a road as yours, she still has this idea that when she has good days, then that means she is better and DOES NOT need the pills (and when she is having a super bad day and you say, "Mom, did you take your pill today"...wow, watch out, cause that's when she freaks out, we sort of can't mention the pills to her, I think she still feels shame that she needs them, which she shouldn't. I wish i could take that shame away from her!!!.) I think it's been the past two years only that she realizes that she does need them every day and her life (and her family's lives) are so much better when she takes them.

I think our world is changing, our world is becoming more accepting of mental illness, there are so many diseases and illnesses where people just react with kindness and sympathy (since when did anyone ever get a weird look from taking blood pressure medication?). I only hope that the world of medicine gets better and better so that you can have only GOOD days!

By the way, I have a pill thing too. Ever since my accident I have to take all these muscle rebuilding pills, and I had to get a thing (plus a pill chart) to keep track. Plus vitamins and natural chemical balancers to help my other problems.....I think they are cool!

I just really wish we could have a big long chat about this, and I while I don't understand what it is like to HAVE it, I completely, one hundred percent understand what it's like to love someone who has it. Those are both rough roads to walk.

Again, I love you jo!

D'Arcy said...

oh yeah, and the yellow wallpaper...i read it first at the hum ref desk way back when!

I am wondering if I should teach it or not....what do you think?

jomama said...

d'arcy, the hardest part of having depression is knowing how it affects my family. i feel for you and your family and your mom. the times i have felt the lowest is when the depression already hurts and then there comes this voice, i know it's a bad voice, but it's there anyway, and it says, "they'd be better off without you." so over time i've learned and am still learning to tell that voice to shut up.
i'm glad that you talked about reminding your mom to take her pills, because i do the same thing! even though i don't have manic depression i go through the same things sometimes, or sometimes i just forget to take my pills. and i should be glad that someone reminds me, but i get defensive, just like your mom. i think you hit the nail on the head, i think it does have to do with shame, and even though it shouldn't, that shame is a really hard thing to get rid of. i'm glad you brought that up because i meant to talk about it in my original post and forgot.
d'arcy, i think you are the best kind of daughter a depressed mother could have! your empathy for her and wanting to take away her shame for her! wow! i'm so glad your mom has a child like you in her life!
about the yellow wallpaper. i remember reading it either last year of high school or first of college...i think college. if you think your kids are mature enough to handle it without being like, "she's just a quack!" like some kids are about that story, i'd definitely teach it.
love you.

jomama said...

i've been taking lots of vitamins too! one of them is a b complex for energy, and i also take omega 3 fatty acids (these are supposed to help women who have been pregnant and nursing and apparently lose their stores of omega 3's. supposed to help a lot with depression.) i don't know if it's one of these or the combo, but when i take them all along with my anti-depressant faithfully for a period of time, it helps A LOT. almost back to normal. almost.

D'Arcy said...

jo, keep telling the voice to shut up. My mom had a hard time with this and the thing that caused me most grief was when she said she should just kill herself or leave us...

Things happen, had things happen,to us and to those we love. This is life, it's not always pretty, but I am a much stronger, more empathetic, caring, kind, sensitive, and independent person because of having a mother who has struggled as mine has. It has also brought me a closeness with my siblings that I don't think we would have had otherwise as we pulled together to support and love her.

And I know a lot of my students deal with a lot of this, and I think that story could be the catalyst for a great discussion and research and growing and sharing on mental health.

D'Arcy said...

supplements are god's gift to us. with taking my collagen and ligoplex and many others (plus the omega 3s) I've basically rebuilt my damaged muscles. It rocks!

jomama said...

i'm glad that you can look at all the positive things that your mom's depression has given you. you're amazing!
if that is something a lot of your students are dealing with, i think the yellow wallpaper would be a great discussion starter.
i completely agree about supplements.
thanks for your kind comments and helpful insights here. just thank you.

Cindy said...

My 24 year old brother has a pill case. He has had Crohns Disease since he was 15. He has almost died a few times.
My Father in Law had to use one of those boxes that men keep screws in to hold all his medication... now that would be embarrassing. :)

jomama said...

crohns is horrible. i have a close friend who has it and has been hospitalized many times since he was diagnosed with it about 8 years ago.
i hope i didn't sound whiney or complaining in this post. i'm really grateful to even have medication that helps as much as it does. :)

Anonymous said...

hey jo, i was just wondering which tablets you're on now? i'm on citalopram (celexa) and have been for a while. just wonderered if you're on the same one. it's beth/dream in colour btw xx

Natalie* said...

miss j

oh goodness! i'm SO sorry that my visiting post offended.

i actually just got back in town to read it..... did read insensitive... and much more elaborate than the brief synopsis story i OK'ed via text.

i hope the addendum i posted softened it a bit.

i am SO very sorry. i'm sensitive to depression and had a VERY serious boyfriend who was/is in the same place you are... trying to find a pill cocktail that works. we all, i think, are trying to find what makes us balanced. ... whether thru pills (mine happen to be thyroid and let me tell you, it DEFINITELY adds to the depression swing) or some other means.....

thank you for commenting. thank you for being open about your situation. i think the stigma attached to mental health issues is so ignorant and unnecessary.

sincerest apologies and much respect,