I read an article recently on kottke.org that assured me that I am not, in fact, the last personal (i.e. non-topical) blogger out there. In reading some of the blogs he referenced, I realized that I haven’t been keeping up with regular, “real” updates. Sure, every month I post a Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post, and I’ve been getting behind on my Cookbook of the Month posts, and I’ve completely stopped posting monthly weight updates (because what’s the use), and I have several somewhat time-sensitive posts in the queue — mostly about the vacation we took last month. But the old-school life update post has become kind of a rarity lately — which is a shame, since so many minor happenings will slip past undocumented if I’m not careful. I don’t really journal longhand unless I’m trying to work through something I can’t really post online, so if it’s not here, it’s probably not anywhere to be found. Except in my brain, and that’s kind of iffy the older I get.
So, here’s one topic I’ve been meaning to bring up again: depression.
Specifically, treatment via medication.
Back in January, I got myself a new General Practitioner, and I came to him with a few nagging issues. One of those issues was depression — or, to be more specific about it, the general feeling of apathy that’s permeated my entire adult life. He asked me a few pointed and slightly uncomfortable questions — when did it start (puberty), did I have post-partum depression (not diagnosed, and it was hard to tell depression from sleep deprivation), did I ever think about self-harm or suicide (yes, briefly, in high school, but I easily talked myself out of it), questions like that.
In the end, he asked if I would be open to medication. I gave it a thought, and said yes. I’d finally managed to tell a medical professional that I felt like something was off, so it seemed like the right thing to do. (I have since been told by an old acquaintance of mine who is now a licensed therapist that therapists in general are bothered by the fact that general practitioners are so liberal with the psych meds, when talk therapy would likely resolve issues more thoroughly than simply medicating them.)
So, I’ve been on Wellbutrin for the past few months, and I have actually seen an improvement. I’ve felt a general lifting of the defeatist attitude that I’ve had to push through or ignore for so long. Me being the skeptic that I am, I’m hesitant to grant the entire change to the Wellbutrin when I can’t really tell whether it’s a combination of the meds and the changing of the seasons — although I didn’t experience my annual February depression, which was a pleasant change.
There’s been one pretty nasty side effect, though: sudden irritability. It manifests mostly in the evenings, when I’m getting my son to bed and he’s not listening (in typical six-year-old fashion). Normally, I’d get frustrated but still be able to give him plenty of warning before I’d raise my voice. Now, though, he deviates from the program and I go sideways and start yelling for the stupidest reasons — last night’s breaking point was when he asked me to adjust his blankets for him over and over and over again so they’d be EXACTLY at his neck.
We always have heartfelt apologies afterward — me for yelling so much, him for misbehaving or not listening — but it’s just not right. I don’t want my son to have to walk on eggshells around me, or feel like he has to temper his actions such that I won’t blow up for some ridiculous reason. And it’s just not who I am. I’m an even-keeled person. It takes a lot to get me mad, usually, and when someone who knows me sees that I’m angry, they know it’s an epic circumstance.
At yesterday’s follow-up appointment with my GP, I told him about the excessive irritation I’ve been feeling. He suggested that we add Prozac to the mix, to help alleviate the negative side effects of the Wellbutrin. The two meds affect different chemicals in the brain — Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, while Prozac inhibits serotonin reuptake — and together they’re supposed to be a very effective combination with few side effects.
However, I also asked if talk therapy would be beneficial to add to my treatment, and the doctor said absolutely. So, he placed a request with their affiliated local mental health organization, and I should hopefully be getting some information about that soon.
I’m not sure why I feel weird about being on Prozac — no, I do, now that I think about it, and the doctor and I discussed it at our appointment. There’s a negative stigma around Prozac as a general symbol of the concept of psych meds. It almost feels like, by taking Prozac, I’m admitting that there’s something wrong with me that I can’t fix on my own. Which is absurd, because I take antihistamines (and sometimes steroids) when I get into the poison ivy, and that doesn’t make me feel like less — and getting into that is something that is absolutely avoidable.
I started on the Prozac this morning, and the doc gave me to OK to step down off of the Wellbutrin after a couple of weeks if I feel that I really can’t tolerate the side effects anymore.
I’m glad that I’m finally taking action — that I’m ABLE to take action, both from a mental standpoint and a financial/insurance standpoint. While I definitely needed intervention like this, say, in college, I also didn’t have the resources to do so, either with money or with maturity.
I just wonder how many unnecessary years I endured, beating myself up mentally for being a lazy slacker, when it was fixable all along.