Do you know what’s absolutely wonderful? Waking up, and actually feeling happy to be awake. I had genuinely forgotten what that feels like. For so long now, I’ve been crawling into bed as early as possible, confident in the knowledge that medication would put me to sleep and give me a break from my brain. Waking up has been horrible, like trying to pull myself out of the deepest hole, while all the while being pulled back down, and not only that, fighting against the urge to give in and allow myself to be pulled down. Giving in would have been so easy. Everything, absolutely everything, has been the most monumental chore. Actually, no, chore isn’t nearly a strong enough word. Hoovering is a chore. Unloading the dishwasher is a really tedious chore. But waking up, surfacing from the relative peace of sleep, into yet another day with a depressed mind tainting absolutely every thought, and every action? That’s so much more than a chore. It’s a waking nightmare.
Someone asked me recently why I’m depressed, how can I be when I have so much going for me – married, young (ish), kids, dogs, living in a beautiful place – I think finally, I have come round to the belief that for me, there is no great underlying reason. No childhood trauma, no bereavement – it’s an illness, biochemistry, something slightly wrong with how my brain is wired, call it what you want, the end result is the same. Yes, there are triggers – difficult babies, tiredness, isolation, stress, financial stress etc etc – but these are things that for the majority of people, while difficult, can be overcome. For me, they start a process that unless I’m really vigilant, will spiral out of control and into depression.
I have long wrestled with the idea of needing medication. Do I really need it? Is it changing the essence of me? Am I ok, or am I only ok because of the medication? Will I need to take it forever? The answers?? Well yes, I now know for sure that I need it. The diabetes analogy is a good one, and used frequently. Diabetics need insulin. It doesn’t change who they are, and they need it to be well. Apparently my brain doesn’t generate enough serotonin, and I need that to be well. The medication helps with that. I was going to say I’m resigned to the idea of having to keep taking it, but that sounds defeatist. I’m not resigned. I’ve accepted that I need it. This current combination is working, for sure. It may need tweaking in the future, and my triggers will remain. But the medication is helping.
I’ve written before about depression being a strange kind of gift, a teacher, one that will keep coming back until the lesson is learned. I think the lesson this time was one that I have always struggled with – acceptance. Acceptance of who I am, what I have, and what I need. I am not depression, but I have it, and one of the things I need to help me manage it, for now and the foreseeable future, is medication. If I can finally rest easy with that knowledge, then the last few months haven’t been wasted. I’m starting to breathe again.