Sunday, April 05, 2009

Mother Theresa, I Ain't

Let me start with a small confession.
I have mild clinical depression, so I take meds for it. When the symptoms return I see my doctor and change things up. Usually I stay Steady Freddy, but I do tend to isolate a bit. No big deal; I am one of millions.
Knowing that, BigSis called me in as a ringer to accompany her partner and her to a cheer-up dinner for her depressed friend Bunco.
Get this. Bunco is 40-years-old, with a master's degree, 15 years experience in legal affairs, and a very pretty face with a great smile. I used to call her Tiny Elvis (the young healthy Elvis) because she's got deep blue eyes and used to have dark, minky hair.
But she's so depressed right now, she's kinda toxic.
She got laid off.
The sneaky, three-month relationship she was having with a woman with a partner was discovered and came to an end. Mutual friends took sides and black-balled her.
Now she's here visiting her parents and stays in bed all day.
She looks like a three week old, yellow alstromeria wilting in a waterless vase.
While getting laid off was not her fault, her naughty relationship was a choice, with predictable consequences. You play, you pay.
Anyway, I trotted out my best comedy shtick and managed to get a few tiny smiles out of her, otherwise she sat there, hunched over and miserable.
After dinner, I just laid it on her. "Girl, you have serious depression. See a doctor and get a prescription for something that'll pull you out of this."
There's a time for sympathetic commiseration and a time to lay it on the line.
Bunco has a lot going for her. She's smart enough to get some help and do something about her own condition.
If someone is terribly depressed, there are tons of ways to treat it.
There's no need to expect friends to pull one out of it.
Saturday night spent with loved ones at a delicious Italian restaurant should be fun. It should not be an episode of the Dr. Phil Show.


afeatheradrift said...

Karen, depression is an ugly little disease, and I suffer from it as well, though very mildly, mostly during the winter. I can usually keep it at a day or so at a time, without meds. The stupid commercials for meds on tv make it worse...did you know how miserable you make all around you? even the dog is miserable! LOL. I do urge anyone who is not able to pull themselves out of it within a day or two to seek a doctor's advice. It's just too life altering to suffer too much.

FranIAm said...

Interestingly enough, I almost never feel depressed any more - I have however spent a lot of time very depressed.

For whatever reason, I was never medicated and now I have not needed to revisit that.

Today though, I am depressed and who knows why?!

So it strangely did me a bit of good to read this and to feel connected with others.

One good thing I did earlier was to tell my husband that I felt this way. I know that was one path out of the isolated placed that my depression wanted me to be in.

I will pray for Bunco.

And I would not hesitate to get treatment, if for some reason, this does not lift.

Karen Zipdrive said...

The thing about getting treatment for depression (in my experience) is in finding the right meds for one's body chemistry.
I take Celexa and it suits me perfectly, without any discernable side effects.
I started on Prozac and it killed my ability to have an orgasm, which was totally depressing, moreso than the depression I already had.
Then I tried Wellbutrin and it literally gave me hallucinations.
Made me feel like I was a bug sprayed with RAID.
Women over 40 should also look into parimenopause or full menopause as a contributing factor.
There are lots of OTC herbal meds on the market that help that immeasurably.

nonnie9999 said...

i can't believe you said that you had hallucinations on wellbutrin. when i took it, it immediately made me feel like i was enraged with the world. i remember that i had gone with my mom to pick up my sister when she came home from a cruise. i was fine in the morning, but as the day wore on, i became more and more angry for no reason. it honestly took everything in me not to drive into a tree on the way home. we were supposed to go out for lunch, and instead, i drove to my sister's house without saying a word. then i drove my mom home. i wouldn't speak to anyone, and they didn't know what the hell was going on. luckily, something in my brain told me that it was the medication that was making me feel the way i felt, and that's the only reason i didn't wrap the car around a tree. i have never felt like that in my life, and i never want to feel that way again. it scared the living shit out of me. i understand completely how some people can be compelled to kill when they are on that shit. before that, i had been on a lot of different meds for depression, and i never had a reaction like that. after that little incident, i told my doctor that i don't want to be on meds anymore. i haven't taken any since. however, i'm the first one to encourage people who are really suffering with depression to ask for medical help. there is no shame in taking meds. nobody is embarrassed for taking insulin for diabetes. depression is a result of a chemical imbalance that can be corrected with meds, just as diabetes is treated with insulin to put the body back in balance. there's no shame in it. a shrink explained it to me that way, and that's what convinced me to go on meds. it was the best thing i ever did. before that, i lived from panic attack to panic attack for over 20 years.

the only caution i would add is that a person going on meds for the first time should have a support system in place. someone should be aware of what is being taken and be available to check for any strange behavior or mood.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Thanks for telling that story, Nonnie.
I tend to have a strong tolerance to prescription meds, so when I was first prescribed depression meds I was a little surprised how hard Prozac and Wellbutrin kicked my ass.
But I knew I needed something because I was a happy person who was always vaguely unhappy and I couldn't accept a lifetime of that.
I agree, it is very important when addressing depression through medication that the person share that info with someone so they can help keep an eye on things.
Wellbutrin, for example, works beautifully for some, but for some it's more dangerous than snorting cocaine and chugging tequila.
Depression can have multiple causes, but for those of us who have seratonin uptake issues, meds work. You just have to find the right one, and that takes patience and good medical care.

Anonymous said...

First Zoloft, it was supposed to take up to six weeks before I felt any better, it kicked my ass the first day I took it, so I reduced the dosage and it was better. Stayed on it for years but began to realize I was turning into a zombie. So I stopped, what a bad idea, my depression returned ten fold. On to Effexor XR, A MIRACLE DRUG! I'm never going to stop again. The problem with a lot of clinically depressed people is they don't know they are depressed, I didn't know it until my therapist nailed it, and knowing that it was a chemical imbalance that wasn't my fault lifted my spirits almost as much as the drugs.
You were right Zip on coming down hard on Bunco, I hope she heard you.

Lulu Maude said...

I was diagnosed about 15 years ago, and my, it did put a lot of things into perspective.

It's worth getting in touch with those pains, and it's important to get them professionally medicated instead of self-medicated.

Yeah, going out to eat should be fun. But what should be isn't always what is.

Hope that she takes your advice.

Dusty said...

Hey, I was a fucked-up mes up until 10 months ago when my shrink put me on Cymbalta. It was because of the three blown discs I suffered 3 years ago this week, at work. The massive pain would drive me insane and that would make the pain even worse. Vicious fucking cycle. I would line up all my pain med bottles and count how many there make sure I had enough to do the job. One night I actually took a whole handful of those puppies..but evidently not enough to kill my dumb ass.

I was skeptical as hell about the psychotropic meds..never believed in them..but they have worked for me and I thank my lucky star every day that my workers comp adjuster was scared enough that he got me into a shrink. Most of WC adjusters just want to get you off workers comp and save the insurance company lots of bucks..this guy cared and I have since met him and gave him a hug and a smooch for saving my ass.