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Well This Sucks (Depression)

A week ago, I went in for a doctor appointment, the end result of which was that I’ve started taking Zoloft for depression.

I feel like there should be a punchline here. “This is what I get for reading about Arizona politics” or “I blame the mess that is my current first draft.”

This hasn’t been a paralyzing, debilitating problem. I’ve been going to work, writing, taking care of the kids, going to karate … everything I’m supposed to do. But I haven’t been enjoying it. I’ve had less patience with my family. It’s gotten steadily harder to find the energy or motivation to do things. I’m spending more and more time feeling annoyed or apathetic.

It should not feel that draining or overwhelming to answer a simple e-mail.

I took any number of those depression self-assessments, most of which told me I was either mildly or moderately depressed. Even so, it took me close to a year to finally call and make an appointment to do something about it. Why did I wait so long? Probably the same reason I hesitated to blog about this.

I have no problem blogging about my diabetes. I’ve never felt ashamed of that disease, and I’ve never hesitated to talk about it, or to do whatever I needed in order to take care of myself.

This felt different. I’m diabetic because my pancreas took early retirement. That’s not my fault. But in my head, I was depressed because I wasn’t strong enough to deal with everything.

I know better. I was a psych major, and I’m married to a licensed counselor. I’ve watched people close to me start antidepressants, and I’ve seen how much of a difference it can make in their lives. I’ve never thought of them as weak, or of antidepressants as a sign that they’ve somehow failed at life.

It feels different when it’s you. There’s a double-standard. I know perfectly well that depression isn’t something you can simply will yourself through. I understand that neurochemical imbalance can be a physiological problem, just like a lazy pancreas. But I told myself it wasn’t really depression. I was just stressed. I needed some down time. I could tough it out. Eventually it would get better.

I can’t remember exactly when I stopped believing it would get better.

These aren’t things I’ve talked about online. There are aspects of my life that don’t make it onto the blog, and this certainly wasn’t what I wanted to project as Jim C. Hines, World Famous Author/Blogger/Cover Model!

We’re starting with a low dosage, and it will probably be a month or more before the medication starts to have an effect. Maybe longer. I was extremely hesitant about this. I don’t like the idea of messing with my brain … except that depression is a sign that my brain has already gotten messed up. I’m a bit worried about side effects too, though I’m told those should be minimal.

I have felt a little better this past week. I’d blame it on the placebo effect, except that I know perfectly well the meds don’t work this fast. Instead, I think it’s because I’m doing something. I don’t feel stuck, and there’s hope that I’ll get back to feeling like me again.

I am not asking for advice. If that changes, I’ll let y’all know.

Anyway, this is why I’ve been a bit slower to respond to e-mail, though I’m trying not to let anything slip through the cracks. This is why the rape fundraiser this year is a little less organized, and I didn’t get it posted right at the start of the month.

I’m not going to turn the blog into all-depression, all-the-time, any more than I blog about diabetes all the time. But given how open I’ve tried to be about the latter, it felt dishonest to not talk about the former, too. It felt dishonest to me. And, after all, the first step in solving a problem is acknowledgment, right?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



( 145 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 16th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on your courage to take this step.

You know this, but it's a good reminder. There's really no difference in the insulin a diabetic takes to supplement their pancreas and antidepressants someone takes to boost their serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, etc., except the stigma associated with it.

You are so good at fighting stigma and injustice in your blog, I can see you doing the same for depression.

If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing. I look forward to hearing about your trip to feeling better. Having watched a close relative battle this for long time, I actually think training as a mental health professional may make things worse.

I've considered medication too. But it's worrisome to try to do not knowing how the side effects will go.
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what to say other than I hope you get better.
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC)
That works. Thanks :-)
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
Depression isn't your fault either, Jim. It's something that happens. The "fun" part is, no one really understand it (including people in the medical profession). At least, not yet.
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
I have felt a little better this past week. I’d blame it on the placebo effect, except that I know perfectly well the meds don’t work this fast. Instead, I think it’s because I’m doing something. I don’t feel stuck, and there’s hope that I’ll get back to feeling like me again.

That's the important thing. You may not have reached a resolution yet, but you're working towards it. Empowerment, of a sort. You may not know why you're depressed, but you're taking enough control to find out what yo can about why you feel this way, which is a sort of empowerment.
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
First of all, it's good that you blogged about this. Also, it is your blog so you can blog about what you need to. And lastly, go read The Bloggess. She deals with depression on a regular basis, among other things, and with an honesty and humor that are quite admirable. It may be helpful for you to read her blog. I hope the medication does help you and kudos for getting help before it got worse.
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
I've been on Sertraline for a couple of years. At first I didn't notice any difference, but after about a month I was travelling up the outside of a building in a glass-walled elevator ( it was the only way up), admiring the view, when I realised I was feeling none of the usual vertigo I usually get/got in that situation. Longer term, I observe that I find it easier to disengage from depressing trains of thought, and I get less stressed or paralysed in previously stressful situations.

I, too, was doubtful about the 'messing with my mind' thing, but like you, I felt my mind was already messed up. On the whole I feel more like myself with the SSRIs, or maybe the person I'd like to be. It's not a cure, but it is an effective treatment, for me at any rate. I could wish the side effects (dry mouth, and another thing I'm shy about mentioning) weren't there, but they're mildly irritating rather than debilitating. But there are other SSRIs available.

Good luck with the Zoloft!

Apr. 16th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Been there. Done that. Twice.

Good luck and it is not shameful. That's the Depression screwing with you, 'cause that's what it does and how it feeds.
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Better living through chemistry, sez I!
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
-hug of solidarity-
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
When I was going through postpartum depression, I resisted treatment because I wasn't depressed *enough* - I certainly didn't fit all the commercials, I wasn't suicidal. I just wasn't happy.

Thank you for speaking out and know that you have a whole lot of people out here rooting for you.
Apr. 16th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I can relate to this. I knew something was wrong, but it didn't feel like it was *that* wrong. I could get out of bed every morning, I was getting most of the things done that had to be done ... I was still functional. So that meant I wasn't depressed, right?

Apr. 16th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
I haven’t been enjoying it. I’ve had less patience with my family. It’s gotten steadily harder to find the energy or motivation to do things. I’m spending more and more time feeling annoyed or apathetic.

That's a dead-on perfect description of what depression feels like, before it reaches the flat-out "no reason to get out of bed in the morning" stage. BTDT, although mine was situational and cleared up once the precipitating condition was fixed.

This, BTW, is probably why you kept waiting for it to get better -- many people have had experience with mild situational depression that clears up on its own after a while. Organic depression is sneaky because it produces the same kinds of symptoms, only they get worse instead of clearing up.

Good for you for getting help, and best of luck dealing with this!
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I am glad that knowing you are doing something about it is helping even as the medicine gets into your system. I am rapid cycling, mixed-episode bipolar person. I have talked about it openly when I thought it was approriate. Your discussion is eloquent and I wish you all the best in your course of treatment. I am pulling for you.
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
Sending you good wishes.
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
I empathize with you on this. I've been diagnosed with depression since my teens. It sucks. And it feels like it's your fault. But it's not. And realizing that and asking for help is the healthiest thing you can do. I'm glad you're taking care of yourself.
Apr. 16th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
Good for you for being proactive. I went on anti-depressants a few years back. They did wonders for me at the time and when I was ready to be off of them - my body cooperated with me going off of them. The short term use of them was something that I hadn't even considered before. Sometimes we just need a temporary helping hand.
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