How to Manage Your Depression

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on October 19, 2007
Tags: , , ,

me & my meds.

I don’t want to be a downer, but.

I’d like to post on a book — Is it Me or My Meds? — that did a really excellent job of putting into words the things I was thinking and feeling as I finally made the leap into SSRI-user. Both it and my experiences have helped make clear for me that yes, depression is not something that can be cured, but only managed.

I had been leery, for years, of going on medication for my depression and anxiety, and had stuck with a diet of regular talk therapy. Finally, Dr. Jill (shrink # 4) convinced me that I should give the meds a try. She sent me to a psychopharmacologist she knew (whose office I have forever after referred to as the Fifth Avenue Crack House, as Elizabeth Wurtzel once did in her own writing) and I was prescribed a very small dosage of Lexapro.

It was only 5 mg., but I felt an instant change within myself. A sense of balance. It was obvious, and obviously caused by the meds.

Still, after months went by, I started forgetting my initial, drastic transformation and starting thinking that a.) maybe I was cured, or b.) my sanity had actually been restored by situational elements in my life. So I stopped popping the pills.

I inevitably had a dramatic emotional crash, and went back on. This happened several times. And the changes were obvious to all around me. Whenever I’m cranky now, I inevitably hear, “Are you still taking your Lexapro…?” Sometimes my dad says to my mom: “Okay, you hold her down and I’ll shove the happy pills in her mouth.”

It’s a source of hilarity for us all.

I’m pretty regular with them at the moment. But when I was going through that back and forth, I picked up this book at a professional conference…APA or APsA or some such thing…and felt instantly understood.

The author, David A. Karp, writes of his self-experimentation in weaning himself off his medication, and then introduces the stories and words and experiences of others, those masses of people who are feeling exactly how I’m feeling…and perhaps how you’re feeling too, if you’re waffling on the SSRI issue. A persistent and across-the-board sentiment:

“I shouldn’t have to take a pill to be happy. I should be able to be happy without medicine.”

Of course, not everything about medication is wine and roses and sprinkles and rubbing your kitty cat’s belly when he’s trying to take a nap. There are those who find it difficult to accept the fact that they may be taking anti-depressants for the duration of their life. Others who can’t find one that keeps on working after long periods of time. The endless interior search for an authentic identity…for example, is “one’s ‘true’ self revealed or obscured by the pills one takes[?]”

In the end, this book doesn’t give any definitive answers but, much like the ever-popular Quarterlife Crisis, it provides what I suppose could be considered a book version of a support group…and the relief one gets when realizing they’re not alone.

P.S. Of course, I still have that love/hate relationship with my meds, and by no means believe it’s the only or best way to boost your mental stability (depending upon levels of emotional difficulties and whatnot). Other things I use to keep my mood up (which may or may not be ideal):

  • snuggling my cats


  • belly dancing
  • making cotton candy
  • talk therapy
  • throwing myself into my career
  • seeing my buds (rather than hiding from the world, as I sometimes have the inclination to do)
  • singing (in the shower…in church…wherever…)
  • etc. (like, it’s sorta gloomy outside right now and i’m feeling too affected by it to overtax my brain right now)

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