Saturday, October 31, 2015

I Had To Change

SOMETIMES I MISS THAT TEDDY BEAR.
Shortly after I was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, clinical depression (see previous blog post), San Geraldo and I were on the move again. It was our third move in our five years together. From Boston, Massachusetts; to Los Angeles, California; to Washington D.C.; to New Haven, Connecticut.

I was doing well and didn't seem to need any talk therapy. The antidepressant medication had done the trick. After about a year on the medication, I independently decided I was ready to go drug-free. I phased off the meds and continued to do well. However, over the course of the next year, without really realising it, I had begun to give myself those pep talks again to help me face the days. Finally, more than a year later, I had another major crash. I found a psychiatrist in New Haven and started back on Sinequan. He was a Freudian psychiatrist (so, let's call him Sigmund) and hardly spoke. But that didn't really matter to me. At first, I just wanted to talk and cry. But, after a few weeks, the medication levelled off my brain chemistry again and I was back to this new life I had been learning to live. I was no longer crying and only went to Sigmund for weekly med checks.

Since Sigmund didn't talk, he didn't help me to understand my condition any more clearly. I still thought I could get to a point where I wouldn't need to take medication. So, I went through another cycle of about a year and half without medication before another crash. And I still wasn't learning.

By the next crash (yet another), we were living in California (having moved from New Haven after 1-1/2 years to Guilford, Connecticut, and then to San Diego five years later where we celebrated our 12th anniversary). I found a psychiatrist who truly changed my life permanently (although I still had my stubborn moments).

When I insisted I didn't need to be on medication forever, he asked, "Would you say that if you were diabetic?"

"That's different," I argued.

And thus began my real education on the "illness" called clinical depression. I've read that clinical depression is one-third each biological, brain chemistry, and inherited traits (if broken into quarters, the fourth would be hormones). Maybe an oversimplification, but my depression I'm sure has been partly a result of my childhood and later-life experiences. But many children have suffered much more troubled childhoods. And many adults have suffered much more painful lives. This is simply the way my brain responds. There's nobody and no thing to blame. Besides, I've looked hard into my life experiences and, finally, there's only me to face the result and survive it.

SORRY. I'M EVEN BORING MYSELF.
I know that physical activity is important for me. And healthy mental activity, too. But those alone are not enough. Unless there is some new revelation in the treatment of clinical depression, I now accept that I will likely always be on medication to treat it. And that's fine with me. Sometimes, the medication may need to be changed or adjusted. That's also fine with me. Yes, I do have some challenging times, but they're nothing like those crashes I used to have. And, as I think about it, I probably wouldn't give up my experience of this depression. Now that I've survived it, at least. It has played a large part in forming the person I am. I'm sure it's where my humour was born. It taught me to be more honest with myself and with others. And it has certainly taught me to appreciate this life.

I'm still learning to forgive (myself and others) and to forget what doesn't do me any good to remember. But, as long as I'm being honest, I haven't forgiven everyone. And I haven't forgotten everything. OK, and I can still be bitter, sarcastic, and acerbic. But not all the time. So, what the hell.

Many of you were very moved by my recent revelations and I'm so grateful for your support and understanding. But please don't cry for me. I'm here to entertain you, enlighten you, charm and inform you. (Ain't I grand?) I'm not here to depress you!


The truth is...

24 comments:

  1. Funny how it takes repeated mishaps for us humans to learn that a change is necessary.
    Happy you did, Mitch.
    Now, keep up the entertaining!! Your audience is captive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim:
      And to think it only took me about 8 years to finally get it!

      Delete
  2. Some people think it is important to forgive and forget, but I'm not so sure. There are some things I will never forgive and will never forget and I don't really want to. That would almost be like saying my feelings, my life doesn't matter. But I don't want those memories to have any sort of negative impact on me and my life; I don't want to waste time raging or whining or crying. But in the meantime, please keep your sarcastic, acerbic edge - I love the way it fuels your wit and outlook - but make sure to forgive yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wilma:
      I really do agree with you. It's not in my nature to forget most things. Forgiveness doesn't come easy. But forgiving myself is the toughest one of all.

      Delete
  3. Your psychiatrist is extremely intelligent. So many people have negative views of antidepressants. They have saved my life many, many times, just like insulin saves the lives of diabetics daily. :)

    These are important posts. Keep writing them! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Snoskred:
      That psychiatrist in San Diego was exceptional and really enabled me to turn things around. I have an even better one now here in Spain, but we only talk briefly for med checks. Still, exceptional. (And I even do it all in Spanish now... which can be pretty funny.)

      Delete
  4. My diabetic friend used to use that line on her bi-polar husband, who simply couldn't accept that he needed to stay on his medication, and would need to take it for the rest of his life. He finally did, but only after he pretty much ruined everyone's lives, including his own. And then she died. So, I am a big fan of meds. Just wish everyone who needs them could come to the understanding that you have. I admire that greatly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy:
      Now, coming from a diabetic, the statement might have made a more immediate impression on my stubborn mind. Such a shame about what your friend had to go through.

      Delete
  5. High 5 Mitch!!

    We are all on some kind of journey and pushing forward and backward and forward again. I need me some Mitch Time! I need to laugh!

    LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ron:
      Things are looking up around here. And San Geraldo has, of course, been providing lots more stories lately!

      Delete
  6. Your experience of deciding you no longer needed meds if not unusual. Lots of us do it with other stuff. "Hey, I've been going to the gym and eating right and now I look and feel great. Obviously I don't need to do that any more!"
    Wrong!
    Stay well, bro!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael:
      I must be plugging for sainthood. I ate healthy today and went to the gym... and took my meds!

      Delete
  7. Mitchell it a very serious illness. My brother has experienced it many time and stil fights. Take care and never give up

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosia:
      So sorry about your brother. I hope he's getting the help he needs.

      Delete
  8. I'm glad you're finally coming to terms with this issue and realizing some important things about managing your depression. I can only imagine what you've gone through and I consider you a success for managing the depression as well as you have. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephen:
      I was a bit of a slow learner, but at least I learned. thanks.

      Delete
  9. oh those freudians.
    The freudian silence may work for analysis but this does not work well for meds management or any other type of psychiatry in my opinion. Happily I am a Jungian; we do a lot of talking and lots of Rx explaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spo:
      Jerry so disliked SIgmund that he, too, sat without saying a word and then got up and said, "Well, this is ridiculous. I'm going." Let's hear it for Jung.

      Delete
  10. Good an analogy on the meds, I have seen the amazing difference the right meds can make. Stay well, stay balanced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Travel:
      Well, I don't know if I'd ever describe myself (or want to) as balanced. But at least I can now stay on the teeter-totter.

      Delete
  11. Give me a Jungian over a Freudian any day. Sitting in silence feels like judgement to me and I'm just perverse enough to think "Well hey, I'll just give you something to be judgemental about!"

    The comparison of clinical depression with diabetes was spot on and no doubt gave more than one person something to think about.

    Sarcastic and acerbic? Surely we must be related.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jacqueline:
      I needed the meds and was too much of a softy. Jerry simply gave him the silent treatment right back. No more Sigmunds for me, thanks!

      Delete
  12. NO shame in staying on meds that work!! I am glad they help you! xoxox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knatolee:
      They do. Too bad, I have to change them at times. But I'm even getting used to that reality.

      Delete

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