It’s amazing the difference a day can make. Yesterday, and for the preceding few days, I was pretty much in the horrors. Today when I woke up, it could have gone either way. Thankfully, it went the right way. Turns out (and this really, REALLY shouldn’t be news to me at this stage) that missing even one dose, as well as making me high as a kite, also has a significant impact on my mood. My question is this – is this sudden and dramatic drop in mood a rapid return of depressive symptoms, or is it simply withdrawal?

I know there’s massive variation between different medications, and I’m sure everyone reacts in different ways to them. I already know I have a propensity to be really sensitive to them, and am very prone to side effects, so maybe I experience more rapid and severe withdrawal as well. I spoke to my pharmacist yesterday and he confirmed that yes, the longer you’re on them, the more dramatic the impact if you suddenly stop taking them suddenly. There’s also  the question of different classes of anti depressant. The last time I saw my psychiatrist, we discussed the possibility of my having to change medication. This would pose some problems, because as she explained it to me, there are 4 levels of drugs typically used in treating depression, starting from the most basic at level 1, moving through to the most complex at level 4. Needless to say I’m at level 4, as levels 1 to 3 proved ineffective, and the dreaded words ‘treatment resistant’ were being bandied about for a while. So I guess the level 4 drugs are going to cause far more problems when trying to stop them.

Which leads me to another problem. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would rather not be taking anything at all, but to date, stopping isn’t a topic the hospital are prepared to discuss. My difficulty is that if the withdrawal from these things is so severe, and causes the apparent onset of symptoms again really quickly, how am I ever supposed to get off them? Not a question for now, I know, but I’m curious about how this will be managed in the future, because I certainly wouldn’t like to think I have to be on these for life. If nothing else it’ll bankrupt me!!

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about how this blog is going. I wonder do people want to hear positivity and hope, and assurances that depression once gone, is gone forever? While I have plenty of good days, I also still, unfortunately, have quite a few bad, and I can’t give that assurance. By reading even semi-regularly, it must be clear that there are peaks and troughs in life with depression, and that it’s a work in progress. Meds work to a point, but sometimes circumstances mean meds alone aren’t enough. The occasional missed dose plays havoc with recovery. Psychotherapy is incredibly helpful, but also brings it’s own set of issues and you have to be willing to engage.

Mostly I write for me, particularly on the bad days, because it helps to get me through, and I know I tend to post more frequently when I’m low because that’s when I really need to write. But I am also aware that there are at least 2 people out there reading as well, and I wonder how it makes you feel to see the reality of life with depression. Is it reassuring? Does it help you to realise that there will be bad times, but they always pass and the good times come again? Or does it in fact bring you down, and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth? I don’t want to sugar coat it, depression is tough, there’s no doubt about it, and I’m a particularly tough case. For some people it is a once off. But for others it’s not. At the end of the day, this is just how it is for me. I hope it’s of some use to you, and that maybe you can pick up on some of the mistakes I’m making and not repeat them (case in point – medication!!). But likewise, sometimes, just sometimes, I get it right, and I’m able to not only manage, but enjoy life. That gives me hope. Maybe it does you too?

This article has 15 Comments

  1. The way you are able to put things in words, also the bad times, is amazing. I think it is helpful to many of your readers regardless of their experience. Your clear and honest as far as you can – and you go a long way.
    I hope the more you share, the more you will receive, for the good I mean!

  2. Fiona, I look forward to reading your blog. My mother was in & out of hospital when I was a child and has been suffering with it for 20+ years. Your blog helps me understand what she is dealing with and helps me be a little less angry at this cruel, cruel, cruel illness. I think you are so brave and strong in dealing with it 🙂

    1. Thank you. Do you mind if I ask (and please, feel free not to answer!!) – were you aware as a child of what was wrong with your mother? I ask because I'm always so very conscious of how my kids perceive me when I'm low, and want to be as honest with them as I can, in a way that they'll be able to understand.

    2. Hi Fiona, it was never explained to me as a child what was wrong with mum, I came home from school one day & she was gone to hospital. I lost my trust in her that day & in truth my mum also. As the little girl sitting on the stairs I couldn't understand how she could leave us & in truth as I got older I just got angry – if she loved me she wouldn't have went etc I also felt she was selfish, it was all about her & her illness. Twenty odd years on nothing has changed for my mum – it's still all about her – I feel motherless like I'm the adult & she is the child. I know this sounds very negative but that is how it was for me. So in answer to your question it has had a profound negative effect on my life & still does so much so that I have been in counselling for many years trying to not only deal with the childhood issues but also trying to the ongoing day to day aspects of her illness.

    3. Thank you so much for sharing, that's exactly what I'm trying to avoid with my kids. The absolute last thing I want for them is to ever feel in any way responsible, or abandoned. I'm so sorry that that's how it was for you, and while I can sympathise with your Mam, and appreciate that she was in no state to think about it at the time, just talking to you and reassuring you could have made such a difference. I hope that the counselling is helping you come to terms with it all. As for me? I'm going to keep talking to my kids.

    4. You're welcome. Please do keep talking to your children. I realise my earlier post sounds angry but at this stage its an incredible sadness I feel. This cruel illness robbed me of my mum and I wouldn't wish that on anyone – the hardest part is that I remember my mum from before she got ill and how good of a mum she was to us and I haven't been able to let that go. I'm grieving for a person who is still alive. Your blog really helps me understand what you go through. Somewhere in my mind I always thought my mum had a choice about her illness. It frustrates me so much that she is not able to fight it or try and make herself work towards getting a little better but I'm afraid at this stage she has nearly given up as I wonder is she too afraid to try and work on herself – she has never been able to stick with a counselor etc. I think you are so strong and courageous to speak out as the one thing that was nearly worse that living with her illness was the shame and embarassment I felt about – it all had to be kept hush, hush, don't talk about it! Thank you again for sharing in your blog as it is really helping me. A day at a time is my motto even if I don't always live by it!

    5. I'm so sorry, for some reason I'm only seeing your response now. I think you've every right to feel angry, living with someone who is depressed is hard work, and when that person is the very one that you should be able to rely on……well I can only imagine how difficult that is, especially when as you say, you remember her like she was before. I really hope she is able to find good support, it is possible to get better but I'm not sure anyone could do it alone.
      For yourself, try not to judge yourself for how you feel, your response is completely natural. I don't know if you ever saw my husband's post, but I'm sure you can relate to it – http://sunnyspellsandscatteredshowers.blogspot.ie/2013/06/on-being-caught-in-fallout.html.
      Anyway, thanks so much for your support, I really appreciate it. Mind yourself!

  3. I read you blog because it well written and interesting and done with a sense of humour that makes it engaging to read.

    I read your blog because I'm nosy and I get to peek in through the curtains at someone elses life.

    I read your blog like a novel in installments, cheering on the victories, sympathising with the problems and shouting advice at the screen when I think I know best ("what do you mean you want to stop therapy, don't you remember what you posted last Thursday?!)

    I read your blog because I want to live in a world where mental health issues are not stigmatised.

    I read your blog in awe of your bravery in writing it, of the truth you speak, of how you are not standing back but working to bring much needed change in attitudes.

    I read your blog to challenge my own attitudes, which fall far short of where I want them to be.

    I read your blog when I'm feeling bad, to help put what I'm feeling, however different it is from your experiences, into some kind of context.

    I read your blog to retreat to a space where it is possible to have the problems I encounter that don't seem to fit in the "real" world.

    I read your blog to give myself permission to verbalise what I'm going through.

    I read your blog to help learn the language of self awareness, so I can work out what is going on.

    I read your blog as one of many forms of internet procrastination that I indulge in.

    I read your blog to hear a sane voice.

    I am glad that writing helps you. But I am worried that you may feel pressured to "suceed" in order to "report a victory" and that feelings of guilt could arise about having to report a bad period which would give fuel to Bitchface. Maybe this is projection on my part, I'm good at guilt and convincing myself I've let people down. But just in case it's a little bit true, please don't ever feel pressure from this reader to "have a good day". Support, sympathy, a listening ear, unsoloicited advice for you to ignore yes, but pressure no. And remember, there's plenty of Mainstream media to tell us what life without mental illness is like (or with it surpressed) but what you're doing is very special, on the bad days as well as the good ones.

    1. Wow R, I don't know what to say. Thank you doesn't seem enough. But genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

      Honestly, yes, I do sometimes feel bad that I can't as you say 'report a victory'. But usually when I feel like that, it's because I feel bad anyway, and it's just something else to pick on. I'm always very conscious in the real world that I don't like to put too much on people – do you know what I mean? That I don't want to consistently say, 'no, not good today', because I imagine how draining it must be to hear that all the time. But here, well this is my virtual escape, and if I feel bad, I'm still going to write because it's how I help myself feel better. That, and the support I get from wonderful readers like you goes a long, long way towards making this whole drama much more bearable. It really does help more than you know x

  4. Every day is a victory. Don't undersell yourself. Being truthful is necessary because there are those who would think "what am I not better if everyone else is" . It could send them further into despair. You are doing completely the right thing being honest.

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