doctor

Little white pill.

Dear D

I thought we were well acquainted, but even after all these years it seems that you are still somewhat of a mystery to me. The things that worked before do not seem to be working to the same degree now. Sometimes it makes me think I’m crazy.

So the doctor has suggested I try a new medication. New medications seem simple on the surface, but if I’m honest, I always have some fear when I try a new one. They give you this pamphlet filled with information about what this medication could do to you. Yes, it’s supposed to help, but it can also do all of these things that are the opposite of what you want it to do. Potentially hurt or potentially harm. And even though they give you this big list and you should feel so well informed, at the same time you wonder – what is this medication going to do to me? They can put together this list of all the potential effects, but they don’t know exactly how my body, my mind is going to react. And if it reacts badly, is it worth the side effects just to be free of you?

I make my decision. The little white pill looks so small and unassuming, but there is so much more there. I slip it into my mouth, hoping, hoping that it’s going to do what the doctor wants it to do, what I want it to do, what the pharmacist says it could do. But not knowing at the same time. All I can do is wait and see.

I’m thrust into a new level of hyper-vigilance with the entirety of my body and mind. Is that pain new? Is that because of the medication? Am I feeling a new body ache or is that something that was always there? What’s happening in my mind? I try to pray and have peace, knowing that God is in control and that it’s going to be okay. Yet I’m here, with this little pill now inside of me, wondering what it’s going to do, and only time will tell.

Tami

 

This post is part of an ongoing series called ‘Dear D’. Click here to view all posts in the series.

How to Deal with The Cat that Came Back: A Life with Depression

I remember listening to a children’s song when I was young about a cat that always came back, no matter how much you tried to get rid of it. In the Fred Penner classic version, the chorus goes like this:

But the cat came back the very next day
The cat came back, they thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; he just couldn’t stay away

Though the song is about a literal cat, I find it serves as an apt metaphor for other things in life. A cat that I thought I had left behind recently came back. Its name is depression.

After a six-year battle with depression, with three and a half of those years on different kinds of medication and a variety of counselors, I was finally free. My doctor had titrated me off the medication and declared I no longer had depression. For the next number of months, I was afraid it would come back every time I had a hard day or something bad happened. But it didn’t. The cat was a goner! At least I thought it was.

Four years depression-free came to a crashing halt at the end of 2017. I had been feeling off for a while but thought it would pass like all the other times. The feeling persisted, despite my best efforts to address it through engaging projects, extracurricular activities, time with friends, and prayer. I still didn’t think it was a big deal until the suicidal thoughts crept into my mind. It was then that I knew I needed help.

I felt like I had failed and was going backwards in life, especially as this turbulent time coincided with my 30th birthday. Why couldn’t I have things together like everyone else? Of course, now it is easy to see the lies in that question, but at the time it was a real struggle. I talked with my family and they encouraged me to see my doctor. He prescribed the same medication I had been on before and met with me until I stabilized. I’m grateful that medication works for me, but that doesn’t mean it is an easy road. I’ve had to continuously deal with a lack of motivation, tiredness, and self-defeating thought patterns. Sometimes I ask God why he couldn’t have given me a dog instead of a cat. Despite these struggles and the unknown ahead, I have been discovering ways to deal with my cat that came back. Here’s what I’ve learned that I can pass on to you.

  1. Though the cat may eventually leave, accept that it is here at the moment.

Fighting against reality makes dealing with it impossible. Trying to say the cat isn’t there, or that it isn’t affecting you, actually gives it more power. Accept the presence of the cat for the moment. This doesn’t mean you want it to stay, but it allows you to do what you need to do to address its presence.

  1. Take care of the cat. Feed it. Give it water. Empty the litter box. Buy a scratching post.

Once you’ve accepted the cat is with you for the moment, take care of it. Be kind to it and find out what your specific cat needs, which may be different than what other cats require. Healthy eating, regular exercise and time with other pets are all important, but easily neglected when you have a cat. You may need to see a veterinarian, or other cat specialist, too, but that does not mean you are weak in dealing with your cat. It means you are wise and strong.

  1. Talk about the cat with others. It could just be that they have cats, too.

Trying to hide the fact that you have a cat is fairly difficult. People who visit your place will probably see the cat hairs and furniture scratching. Lying about having a cat is exhausting. Although it is hard to be honest about your cat, when you are it is incredibly freeing. Not only will others be able to help you take care of your cat, you may find out that they have cats, too. Actually, having a cat is quite common, even though it seems everybody else has dogs or other cool pets that are way nicer than a cat.

I’m still hoping that my cat goes away. Until then, I’m going to practice acceptance of its presence, good cat care, and talking about the cat with people like you.