I admitted that I was feeling good to my Psychiatrist on Wednesday.
My 3-month medicine management appointment was first thing in the morning. I was early, as usual, and I caught up on my email using my phone while waiting for my doctor. My Psychiatrist was happy to see me.
She told me that when she checked her appointments last night, she was thrilled to see I was her first one. Dr. Murry has been very encouraging and supportive. She has also been incredibly open and is a good listener. Dr. Murry and her staff were able to consider alternatives, not just those based on what medicine worked for another family member.
This allowed the consideration of three different courses of treatment.
One was to increase the dosage of my Prozac. Having done this once before, that idea was not appealing. The extra dosage left me groggy every morning. And it made getting to sleep even more of a chore. So, we moved on to a different type of anti-depressant.
I cannot remember what this was.
I do know there was a lot of SSR or SRR or S something being tossed about. As I recall, there were some side effects that might have increased side effects I was already experiencing. In the end, this course of treatment was tabled.
The final idea was to gradually switch to Wellbutrin XL.
This plan was to continue my 20 mg Prozac for 30 days while adding 20 MG of Wellbutrin. After 30 days, I stopped taking the Prozac altogether. 30 days from there, the Wellbutrin was increased to 40 mg. This has been my treatment now for 7 or 8 months. And it is working!
I am thinking about projects and I am thinking about the future.
Planning more than a few hours in advance has been one thing I do when I am well. What will I do today, this week, this month, this year? Where will I be in 5 years? My mind can see past the depression. And I can once again make plans. I have missed this.
But I did not know I was missing this when I was in the throes of depression.
When I was up against the wall, I could not see a way forward. Just getting out of bed was an accomplishment. And finding reasons to go to bed early was a standard thing. The less time I spent awake, the less time I had to deal with all the unhelpful thinking styles that depression so eagerly shares with me.
Even today, almost two years after my hospitalization for MDD, I sometimes have unhelpful thoughts.
But with mindfulness training, I can see these thoughts without engaging with them. Seeing them as words on a leaf in a stream, I watch them float away, rounding the bend out of sight. And then I move on. Engaging with these thoughts, like “I could have done this…” just opens the rabbit hole. Dwelling on this will send me to the drain, where I will circle and circle, sliding closer and closer to the abyss.
Yes, it could have been different if I did not have depression.
And none of us can change the past. But I can sure make the future different. One way I am doing that is with the help of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan. My WRAP plan is unique to me. In it, I outline what I look like when I feel well. Second, what do I look and feel like when I begin to slip and depression starts offering suggestions?
Then, I have a list of actions I can take to address this.
Knowing I have a plan gives me confidence to face the future. And knowing I have a secondary list and a list of what I look like if I begin to lose it, allows me to function. I know that I must be vigilant about what I feel and what depression wants to share with me. This is depression’s job. It is nervous when I am well. It hates it and is jealous of others when I am not under its influence.
I do know that depression is always there.
I am no longer naive about my relationship with depression. But I have finally faced it, instead of concealing it. You might remember that up until this episode with depression when I would finally crawl out of the abyss, I would sweep whatever was left of depression under the rug. It was easy for me to pretend that it never happened. I even convinced myself that others did not notice.
So, I write all this to say I feel good.
I am excited about the future. I am making plans beyond today. And while this feels great, I am also beginning to help others again. Giving back, mentoring, teaching, sharing what I have learned, is gratifying and helpful to me as well as to those I work with.
I have received both doses of Moderna Covid-19 and before that, I avoided coming down with Covid.
Now I am helping others register for their inoculations. This is very gratifying for me and will give those who receive the vaccine peace of mind. I am searching for additional ways to help.
Almost 24 months ago, I could not see past the next few hours. There was no future, just a nothingness that kept me in what felt like suspended animation. There was no forward movement, just that darn wall which I was up against. Getting to where I am now was a lot of work.
So, know there is hope and do not give up.
Suicide has always been way to frightening for me. That was what led me to head to the hospital that morning. Saying I had depression and needed professional help was less scary than the alternative. But doing that was one of the hardest things I have done.
I often believe I keep writing this to convince myself this is real.
But I am different. My focus has changed, and my life has meaning. So, I am heading into the future with my eyes open. I know I will always have depression, but depression will never have me.