I haven’t written about depression in a while. I’ve been acting as if I’d kicked it. Two years ago, deciding I was good to go, I ditched the meds. Drug free head, and all that. But depression isn’t a mind-over-matter sort of thing. And with the stress of life piling up, so were the covers over my head.
It hadn’t occurred to me over the past six months (or more) that bathing only intermittently, “working” from home more often than not, and rarely stepping foot outside my home on weekends, was not exactly normal behavior. I had to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer for me to register the fact that I was back down in the pit. The sledgehammer? Being unable to get my shit together to go work on the Monday after I’d gotten the axe from BigLawAholic from the team (as predicted, here), despite my best efforts. It took me until 9:00 a.m. to talk myself into getting out of bed. Having not bathed in nearly a week (and having spent the weekend working on clearing out my mother’s house), I had to bathe before going to work, even though it was already late. So I got into the bathtub and filled it with water. Once in the tub, I couldn’t get out. I sat there in the tepid water, crying. It was then I knew mind-over-matter wasn’t going to cut it.
Eventually I managed to drag myself out of the tub and back into my bed. I sent an email to the office: “Not coming in today. I’m not feeling well.” And then I called Dr. McEnroe, the psychiatrist I hadn’t seen since I canceled an appointment over two years ago and stopped taking the meds cold turkey.
This is your long-lost patient, Ella. I’m back in the pit and need to come in.
At this point, my voice broke and I began crying. I sobbed out my phone number and hung up. He got me in the following afternoon. As I sat in his office staring at the familiar pictures hung behind his desk, he thumbed through my file. He told me the last time I saw him was a week after my brother died. Yeah, because I was fine. I didn’t need the medication. I was grieving, is all. People need to grieve. I realize now my timing may have been off.
I left Dr. McEnroe’s office with two months worth of samples of a new drug called Brintellix. I spent the rest of the week “working” from home. The official word: I had shingles. I’d had them once before just before my dad died, so I knew how to work this excuse. You don’t sound sick, but the pain is severe enough that Vicodin is prescribed. Yes, I lied. After all, I couldn’t call in depressed.
I had no side effects from the first 5 mg dose of Brintellix, so I called Dr. McEnroe the next day and asked if I could up it to 10 mg. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time screwing around before I got up to a therapeutic dose, and he gave me the go-ahead. I spent the rest of the week sleeping, and crying, and trying to get some work done. I felt a little better on Friday. Saturday, Paris happened. I spent the entire day in bed, sleeping mostly, interspersed with crying bouts.
Finally, by Monday, I felt good enough to venture out into the world and get a long-overdue haircut. On Tuesday, I went to work for the first time in nearly two weeks. Today is Day 12 of the medication. So far, I’ve had no noticeable side effects. It seems to be helping, but I know it will be several more weeks before it reaches peak efficacy. Once I get there, I’ll take a crack at writing about the triggers: being booted off the BigLawBlackHole team (welcome, yet stressful), and sorting through and discarding forty years of family memories and detritus at my mother’s house. (At some point, I made the mental shift from it being “my parent’s house” to just “my mother’s house.”)
And now, I must bathe before meeting a friend for a movie. Although I’m forcing myself to go, it counts as progress.