19 days ago I started taking Lexapro. I tried to come up with some witty way to start this blog. Some way to lighten the paragraphs that follow. I considered talking about the time I stayed up all night concerned that there were no clean sock in the house. Or how I’ve managed to create 10,000 small To Do piles all over the house untouched for months now and how they’ve started to grow and multiply on their own, creating little ecosystems and flourishing societies…
SEE? That’s how I “deal”. I try to fight a disease with humor and denial.
Five years ago before my first, and undoubtedly my worst, bout of depression, I’d have told you that it was a ‘head trip’. I didn’t understand how anybody could actually BE depressed. You have ups and downs. You grieve, you yell, you have a bad day… it’s a process right? But at the end, there’s always… normalcy? Even as I watched my mom drop 60 pounds in six months and lose the ability to function well enough to complete the most simple tasks, I didn’t believe it was caused by something other than her unwillingness to just DEAL with the cards she had been delt.
That month or two before I move up here to San Jose were the darkest months in my life. I look back now and there are entire days I don’t remember. They are just.. black. I can remember laying on the couch one morning and wondering how long I had been there, what was going on around me, how long did the lapse last this time. People told me about conversations I never remembered having. Cassidy would be wearing clothes I didn’t remember buying. Thank God I’d moved into my mom’s for the transition from there to here.
I remember very clearly however sitting on the couch one night at 4am after not having slept for what seemed like days and days and really thinking ‘How much longer can I live like this? How much longer can I hurt like this? How much longer am I going to punish myself for everything that has gone wrong? How do I STOP this?’ But even then, I didn’t see the depression. I thought, like I always had, that in a few days things would be better. It was just a funk. The distant light at the end of the tunnel was just a mirage placed there to suck me farther and farther into a painful darkness.
When I finally got onto Zoloft after months of denying there was even a problem in the first place it was such a wonderful relief. I’d fought myself up from that dark place but I was still too far from the light. I was just close enough to have moments of clarity, but never close enough to feel certain that I was thinking rationally. Zoloft fixed that. But not unlike a lot of people that suffer depression, the first time around I got better and quit taking the meds. I figured I’d gotten out of the funk. I was done being depressed!!
What a pipe dream.
A normally functioning brain is a giant messaging system that controls everything from your heartbeat, to walking, to your emotions. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons. These neurons send and receive messages from the rest of your body, using brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
These brain chemicalsâ€”in varying amountsâ€”are responsible for our emotional state. Depression happens when these chemical messages arenâ€™t delivered correctly between brain cells, disrupting communication.
Think of a telephone: if your phone has a weak signal, you may not hear the person on the other end. Their communication is muted or unclear.
Serotonin is one of these neurotransmitters. Most antidepressant medications (called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI’s) block receptor sites from absorbing serotonin too quickly which creates a shortage. The shortage caused by these receptor’s means that the brain can’t send and receive messages the way it should. Depression explained.
I can’t control the depression. That’s a big pill to swallow for somebody that likes to control EVERYTHING. I have a chemical imbalance that, at least for right now, can only be controlled by medicine.
The most recent bout probably became “bad” a few months ago. I don’t really need to go into the details here because it’s not the journey that got me to this point that matters. It’s the journey that I’m on now. Plus, I’m sure that the gossipers will be able to come up with much more entertaining stories than the truth anyway. And that’s fine. This is not something I’m ashamed of. It’s not something to explain why things went they way they did with them the last few months (although I’m sure it will be used as such).
I’m getting better. The biggest boost I got was the other day when Ben told me (without me asking) that he could tell the difference. My fuse is much longer, my thought are much clearer and the sky is a magnificent shade of blue.
And my closet is so organized and clean that you are all totally jealous.