Postcard from the Edge

I write and speak openly about depression for a few reasons; I want to play my part in combatting stigma, I want to be a hand reaching out in the dark, touching those who think it is only them, that says, “you’re not on your own in this hell hole.” I want to speak hope, and courage: depression can be fought and beaten. Depression doesn’t have to kill you.

But I have always written from a place of strength. It has been too hard and too vulnerable to send a dispatch from the grey-zone.

Well, here I am and I have been- I am- struggling.  I’ve been struggling since January, and in June I went properly under: the direct result of a particular situation that I can’t go into here. I denied it for a while, then with the strong urging of Shawn, my sisters and various friends, went to the doctor who upped my medication. We went away for two weeks, and the change of scene broke my obsessive and destructive thought-chains, and when I got back to regular life, I threw myself into a care plan involving exercise, diet, company and spiritual input. I started to feel a lot more sane. The situation had not resolved, but I was handling it. Go me. Whoop whoop!

When I first started taking anti-depressants, Judith, my psychiatrist, tried me on three different kinds before we hit upon one that worked- Venlaflaxine. It was like a miracle drug. Amazing. When I got pregnant with Alexa, I was terrified to come off meds altogether- I was at huge risk for post-natal depression, plus she was due in the winter which is always tricky even without the sleep deprivation and hormones associated with new babies. So I changed over to Prozac, which is the oldest and has the most studies showing no ill effects with use through pregnancy. I didn’t get post-natal depression, and I stayed on Prozac which has been fine.

The doctor I saw back in June advised me to go back onto Venlaflaxine once I was in a better place. It is generally considered a more effective SSRI, and it worked like a dream when I was on it before. I am now in the process of weaning off Prozac, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be getting settled on Venlaflaxine. It all looks so simple typed out like that. And I am still confident it is the right move.

But oh my goodness, I am all over the place. That situation I keep referring to in a maddeningly oblique fashion, it is keeping me up at night, and if my fear and stress levels were hitting a fairground hammer they’d be shooting the thing right up to the bell several times a day. I am weepy and irritable and my thoughts are like naughty, flea ridden ferrets rampaging inside my skull.

My aim is to come back and post an update in a month or so that says, “Hello again. Everything is fine now. Drugs are doing their sweet thang and turns out I was able to get through that patch of turbulence without much damage to aircraft or passengers.” In the meantime, I’d appreciate your prayers, perhaps especially for Shawn and the girls who have to live with me.

I want to finish with a verse from Psalm 18 I am holding onto:

“You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;

My God turns my darkness into light.

With your help I can advance against a troop;

With my God I can scale a wall.”

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