MEDS WILL ROB ME OF MY SPARKLING PERSONALITY
(Voice of Doom trapped in pill bottle.)
I should probably start by stating that I am not a doctor. Any choice about medication should be made under the advisement of a licensed professional, not a writer/artist who spends her days coloring sad bears.
But here's what I tell friends:
If you are wary of psychiatric medication, I get you. Trying meds is scary.
I dealt with depression for ten years before trying medication
(or seeking professional help of any kind. I was a real hold out).
That said: if you suffer from chronic depression, and it keeps coming back, and coming back, and coming back, and you’ve already tried therapy and all the lifestyle stuff, my thought is: you owe it to yourself to give meds a try.
You may fear that meds will make you feel unlike yourself, or have debilitating side effects.
And they might.
But here is the great thing about medication: if it doesn’t work, or if it robs you of your sparkling personality, or if it makes you break out in hives, you can stop taking it. (After consulting a doctor about how to taper off of it safely, of course.)
There are rare cases where people have alarming allergic reactions, or side effects that stick around even after they stop taking the pills. You may also worry that if you start and then stop a medication, you may end up in a deeper depression than when you began. Talk to the professionals about the likelihood of such risks. Read up on the med you are trying before you try it.
Hmm, when I read what I’ve written above, it doesn’t look like a stellar advertisement for medication.
But you know how terrible depression feels? If there was a one in three chance something might give you the ability to feel human feelings when you look at a pretty tree, wouldn’t you want to give it a shot?
When I look at baby photos of my daughters, I feel nostalgia. I also feel a pang of regret. I spent years of their babyhood white knuckling it through depressive episodes. I didn’t want to experiment with a new medication. I prided myself on being strong and stoic. And despite my inner turmoil, I managed to be a good mom. But looking back, I wish I’d enjoyed their baby-hood, and not just clawed my way through. I wish I’d felt joy when I regarded their radiant faces, instead of telling myself: YOU SHOULD BE FEELING JOY. If I could go back in time, I’d tell my young mom self: at least try a new med. Then maybe you will laugh when your daughter spits out her sweet potatoes, instead of staring at the splatter on the wall and contemplating the impossible-ness of mustering the spiritual courage to find a paper towel.
Hmm, I’m worried this is getting less and less convincing.
The bottom line is: if you’ve already tried therapy and all the lifestyle stuff, and the depression keeps coming back, and coming back, and coming back . . . meds might help.
Another things I tell my depressed friends (and this only makes sense according to depression-logic, so if you are not depressed, it will sound unhinged):
You’re afraid that meds will make you feel terrible.
But you already feel terrible.
Wouldn’t it be nice to change things up and feel terrible in a different way? Variety is the spice of life!
If you are a hard no on meds, totally cool, I respect you.
I feel a compulsion here to restate that I am not a doctor. Think of this as what I (a writer/illustrator with an unfashionable haircut) would say to you if you invited me over for coffee and muffins to chat about your mood stuff. I’d also say: thank you for the muffins, and this is delicious coffee. (Unless it was light roast coffee, which is an abomination unto the earth.)
Bipolar Bear & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance: a Fable for Grown Ups is a graphic novel about a bipolar bear who gets lost in the Labyrinth of Health Insurance Claims.
When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a novel about an idealistic teacher who has a nervous breakdown and corresponds with her former students from an inpatient psychiatric facility.