Monday, December 11, 2006

Depressed v. Depressed

Over the last 6 months, I've had conversations with family, colleagues, students, friends and acquaintances new and old about anti-depressants. Though I don't lie about it, I don't tell everybody I take "meds." And when I do say so, seriously or as a punchline ("That's what anti-depressants are for!"), most people in NO or of the diaspora reply with, "Y'know, I've been wondering if I need. . ." But if you can ask the question, you probably don't.

You need them when you can no longer fake functioning. When you stop combing your child's hair, when you lie down 3 or 5 times a day but your eyes don't close, just like at night, and no matter how many times you get in bed or how long you stay in, you are alert, pained, exhausted, sapped, hopeless. I won't cover Chris Rose's or anyone else's territory. But you don't need anything until you can't get through the week without it or something. If you're still working, grading papers, cooking dinner, fucking, washing your hair and changing out of your pajamas, you're still on that side of the fence.

That said, most of the time, with the help (even if it isn't quite right and has to change a few times), you get better. Then there are those few of us who have more pus and treatments, most of which are painful. How that turns out, I'll let you know.

photo © Michele Valentinuz for CC:Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


Blogger Clifton said...

After everything that had happen I decided to go get a physical just to make sure I didn't stress my way to a health problem. All of my test and everything came back fine. I asked my doctor if there was something he could give me to help me sleep(that air mattress was killing me). He gave me a prescription for Elavil. I had no idea it was a anti-depressant. I never took them because I refused to believe that I was depressed. Everyone in New Orleans thinks they are depressed in some way. They need to read this.

Mon Dec 11, 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger dangerblond said...

I have major depression and PTSD. I take them, and it's interesting to me that so many people have an opinion about it. I wouldn't take these powerful new drugs if I intended to have any more children, but other than that I don't think people should wait until they can't function before they get some help. If you had something wrong with your liver, would you wait until it stopped functioning? This is some kind of "hang tough" puritan attitude that I don't understand. Everyone in New Orleans IS depressed in some way, unless they are too drunk or high to notice. "Refusing to believe" you are depressed makes as much sense a "refusing to believe" you have kidney stones. The longer you let depression set in, the harder it is to root it out.

Tue Dec 12, 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Cliff, yes, you're right. Many of us are under more strain than ever before and for some, the major pressure is secondary, not primary. Damaging, yes. Often, we get worn down by this secondary pressure and neglect ourselves. Also, not sleeping can cause depression, if it doesn't act as a warning symptom. It's not as simple as I-feel-funny-gimme-Prozac.

DB, not puritanical but pragmatic. For major depression plus PTSD (or plus anything else), yes, anti-depressants are needed to function (if you weren't somewhat out of commission, it wouldn't be major depression) and that is not the same as your liver analogy. You can stop drinking and try medicine before a liver transplant. If one of your arteries is clogged, the first step isn't open-heart surgery. They ARE powerful drugs, hence my caution. If depression is something new in your life, which it is for many of the people I have talked to, the first step should not be your GP prescribing Xanax or Prozac or lithium. You can try exercise, B-complex vitamins, St. John's Wort, talk therapy, meditation, yoga, visualization. There are options for most folks. Too many go straight for the anti-depressant and do nothing else and think of nothing else. Depression is more than altering brain chemistry, esp. if you've come up against it before. I also do not believe anti-depressants alone, with no other assistance or changes, are therapeutic. They don't fix, they don't heal; they prop you up so you can do the things you need to do to get better in the short-term and be better in the long-term. I believe they are a tool, not a solution. Maybe I am a hang-tougher but I don't at all feel like one.

Depression is not just the blues or all in your head or self-pity. It is real, painful, debilitating and needs attention but not all depressions need the same attention.

DB, I'm a complex PTSD/major depression-er myself. And none of this shit started with Katrina. I simply chose to finally end it post-Katrina. And I intend to end it.

Tue Dec 12, 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger CP said...

I started a secondary blog to help me to deal with my bipolar disorder. It's been very cathartic and therapeutic. It's private, but I will share it with you, cause I love ya.

I am certain you will find it highly relatable.


Tue Dec 12, 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

You know it, girlfriend!

Tue Dec 12, 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger oyster said...

I'm pulling for you to "end it", G. Good luck!

Wed Dec 13, 11:07:00 AM  

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