Progress, I Think

Art work by Sarah @

Art work by Sarah @

I started taking anti-depressants at the very end of August. I was on Zoloft at first, and I was really afraid of side effects. I didn’t really have many at all- some dizziness the first week, a loss of appetite that I still haven’t regained, and headaches. Even though I think it was helping my depression, I was switched from Zoloft to Celexa earlier last week because the headaches I was getting were so intense that I was nauseated more often than not, and it was hard to function.

Since beginning Celexa, my headaches have mostly gone and I think my depression is continuing to dissipate. And while that’s really great, it’s also really strange. Once, when discussing medication with my therapist, she asked me if I was afraid to not be depressed. I kind of dismissed the idea; why on earth would I want to be depressed? But a few weeks later, I realized that I was a little scared. After all, depressed is what I’ve been for over a year now. It’s part of my life and my being. It’s not so much feeling or an experience as a habit. I was suffering in my depression, but that had become where I was comfortable.

Today confirmed all of that if I hadn’t been sure of it before. Before I was on medication, every day had at least a little black cloud over it, sometimes in the form of sadness or self-loathing, or feeling the overwhelming urge to sleep all day. After I started taking the anti-depressants, I wasn’t always tired and things weren’t always at least a little tinged with sadness. And that was nice. Every once in awhile, I’d stop and appreciate how not sad I was. My therapist thought my anti-depressant should be doing more for me than that, which is another reason why I was switched, but in general, I felt more “okay” than I had in over a year.

But today I woke up and it was raining. I’m not one whose mood is particularly influenced by the weather, depressed or no, but yesterday, I had had a terrible day at work- not selling well during a longer-than-usual shift, and fighting an awful headache the whole time- and the weather meant that my forty-five minute drive to the gym would be spent on pins and needles because I am terrified of driving when the roads are wet. And then there was the sadness. Before I started anti-depressants, and even the first couple weeks I was on them, before they started kicking in, I would have days where I could do nothing but be depressed. I cried a lot. I hated myself a lot. I couldn’t sleep. I just wanted to run away from myself and everything I was. Today, I could feel that sadness, but really distantly. I knew it was there, but no matter how far I reached out, I couldn’t touch it. This was good in that it meant my meds are doing their job, but it’s also really disconcerting. It was my biggest fear about medication that I wouldn’t be able to feel anything, and while it’s not terrifying, like I thought, it’s still really disconcerting. It’s like my vanished appetite: my body knows it’s hungry. My stomach growls and burns when I’ve gone too long without food. But there’s some disconnect between my body needing food and my brain giving me the urgency to eat. And while I certainly prefer distant sadness to wanting to curl up in a corner and die, I’m used to feeling emotions the whole way, and it’s weird not to.

The nice thing is that the distance from the sadness gave me the ability to do  what my therapist has wanted me to do for almost a year now: acknowledge thoughts and feelings as just that, not things that need to rule what I am. I feel things so strongly that usually once an emotion hits, I’m too deep into it to pull myself out until it’s passed on its own. But now, I can sort of feel the sadness while still being able to go, “That is sadness, and I am feeling it right now, but I don’t always feel it.” In a strange way, it’s like I’m relearning how to cope with things, and it feels almost like a literal baby step: shaky and foreign, but hopefully leading to a life that’s more fulfilling.


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