Is it possible to be both depressed and happy?  Common sense would tend towards no.  But I’m thinking that it is possible to be both, at the same time, without even being aware of it, especially if your ‘normal’ state is some degree of depression.  I think that depression runs the gamut from mild sadness occasionally all the way to severe clinical depression.  I cannot honestly remember a time that I was not depressed, though if asked now, I would say I am happy.  What does that mean?  Being happy?  Obviously, happiness is subjective.  What makes me happy will not necessarily make you happy, and vice versa.

I can remember clearly the first time I was aware that I really didn’t want to be in this world.  I was 14 years old.  As I am thinking about this, though, I suspect that this idea occurred to me when I was far younger.  I simply do not remember.  Much of my childhood is a blur. I have very few actual memories, but knowing myself as I do, it makes sense that it would have come up long before I was 14.  So much more is known and understood these days about depression and the genetic link.  I am definitely predisposed to suffering from it.  My brother and uncle (my mother’s brother) are both diagnosed bipolar.  I believe that my grandmother, though not diagnosed, also suffered from it.  And plain old depression runs rampant in my family.  Two of my brothers have died as a result of it.  It is something I continue to struggle with, though certainly not to the degree I have in the past.

I think part of the reason that depression is still so misunderstood and seen by many as some kind of weakness, is because it is possible to live with it and function almost normally.   I did it for many years before I finally took the antidepressants I needed to get my chemicals back in balance.  I’m sure I even had times that I felt happy in the midst of my suffering.   I remember when my grandmother found out I was taking an antidepressant, she said, “You’re not depressed.”  Ha!  I told her that just because she didn’t see it did not mean it wasn’t there.   I was very good at hiding it from everyone.  I knew for years, and other than a few attempts at therapy, I did nothing about it.  My mother’s attitude was, buck up and stop feeling like you do.  Oh, okay.  Too bad I didn’t think of that.  Unfortunately, that is the attitude of a lot of people.  If you were stronger you could do it.  It does not work that way.  If your chemicals are truly out of balance, no amount of wishing, hoping, talk therapy, exercise or anything else is going to change it.  You must get the help you need.  What made me finally break down and admit I had to go on medication was being in Key West, the sun shining and I was feeling nothing but darkness.  I thought, oh crap, my therapist is right, I do have to take something.  I was always able, when I lived in Chicago, to blame it on the weather and the lack of sunshine, which were definitely contributing factors.  But when I was in sunshine and warmth and still had such negative feelings, I knew the time had come.

When I got back to Chicago, I asked my therapist for a recommendation of a psychiatrist so that I could do what needed to be done.  When I first went to him (I do not even remember his name now) and he confirmed that, indeed, I needed medication, I asked how long I would have to take it.  He told me that usually a year, maybe a little longer was considered ‘normal.’  I said, “Okay, but that’s as long as I plan to take it.  No longer.”  He agreed, and I continued with my therapist and once a month saw him as well.  All I can really say about the drugs were they accomplished what needed to be done.  I have always described the process of being on them as hateful.  I was first prescribed Prozac, which just about killed me.  Every bad side-effect that was possible to get, I got.  Finally, he changed it to Wellbutrin and though I hated it too, it was not quite as bad as the Prozac had been.  In the end I took it for 14 months, and when I was done, that was it.  Luckily, he agreed, and I went off of it.  I felt better than I had in years.  At the time, too, I asked if I would ever have to take it again.  He told me that I might, that there was no way to really know, sometimes people did and sometimes they didn’t.  There have been times when I thought maybe I should probably be on something again, but until my attack, I never seriously considered it.

If you’ve been reading this blog all along, then you already know what happened when I attempted to take something for my depression, post attack.  Because I had had such a negative experience with antidepressants, even though they did help me, I really did not want to take one if I could somehow do it more naturally.  So, Suzie, my amazing therapist, recommended St John’s Wort, which is an herb.  I thought this was a suitable compromise.  Well, just as the prozac almost killed me, the St John’s Wort almost made me kill myself by jumping off the Coronado Bridge.  Thing is, I did not realize it was the pills, I just thought I wasn’t getting better.  I did not tell anyone, including Suzie, for a couple of weeks.  I finally told her and she immediately knew it was the supplement that was causing the problem.  I had to wean off of it, but because of that and the fact that every other thing I had tried taking and had had such a bad response to, I was afraid to try anything else.  I had to white-knuckle it the rest of my therapy.  As I’ve said before, my depression after my sexual assault was situational, not clinical, and I was able to do it.

Ask me if I’m happy now, and I’ll say YES.  Some times I am happier than other times, and I still have issues that definitely challenge me, but, over all, I am happy.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


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Before I get to my journal entries, I wanted to tell you that I have been pushing the envelope of darkness, so to speak.  I am still (mostly) afraid of the dark, and going out into it to walk, unless I am walking with someone, is not possible.  Or is it?  Lately, as it gets lighter earlier, I have been going out before it is actually light.  Okay, only by a couple of minutes and only because I know the sun is coming up and it will only get lighter and lighter.  And when I walked at 4:30a the other day with my friend Mike, I was able to meet him part way down my block.  Of course, I watch out the window and can see him turn up my street.  Still, it feels like progress.  I also remind myself of my friend Erin, who was raped 30 years ago in an attack that was similar to mine, in that she passed him, spoke to him and then he grabbed her from behind, and she walks in the dark, sometimes alone, almost every day.  And then there are the odds.  I mean, really, what are the odds of it happening again?  As they say, lightening doesn’t (usually) strike twice in the same place.  I am still very cautious, though.  I expect that at some point I may be able to walk in the dark again.  But maybe not.  And maybe I’ll just continue to push it a little more each day, but never too much.


Back to the past and my journal entries:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Feeling rather crappy today and I’m not sure why.  There is no rhyme or reason to the ups and downs of my emotions.  I walked 6 miles and still feel bad.  I feel okay as I am actually walking and then when I stop, all the crap comes back full-force.  I just want the pain and awful feelings to stop.  Why are they being so difficult to release?

10:25a  Had my shower and cried the entire time.  I can’t believe how bad I am feeling.  I’m back in bed, hoping I can sleep and wake up feeling better.  The thoughts that keep running through my mind are disturbing, to say the least.  It’s like I am in a battle with a part of myself that is determined to make me give into it.  I feel like I cannot not tell anyone this, even Susie, but Monday when I was coming home from therapy, feeling really, really, really low, as I was coming across the bridge, I actually considered stopping, hell, I almost stopped and, well, at the very least would have caused the bridge to be shutdown.  As it turned out, Mike was 2 cars behind me, which I didn’t know until he came up right behind me at the light at Orange.  As far as I can remember, I’ve never come so close to doing something that I don’t think I really want to do.  I continue to fight that annoying part of me that just wants to leave, to check out.  I am trying so very hard not to give in.

11:20a And now I just feel like I’ve been beat.  The feeling of complete hopelessness goes away to be replaced by a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion.   All I can do is sleep.


Monday, 23 April 2012

“8:15a  It’s another marine-layery day.  How delightful.  Oh ,that’s right, not so much.  Like I need depressing weather when I am already in a depressed state of mind.

And the big question is – Am I being completely honest with Susie about how I am really feeling?  Not all of the time, but more than I think I should be.”                                               [ Note- I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote this.  And I wrote this prior to seeing Susie on this day.  At this point I had not told her what happened on the bridge.  I had not told anyone, including Bill.  And as a matter of fact, I did not tell him until some weeks later.  I was always afraid that if I was completely honest with Susie, she would have me committed to a mental hospital.  I did not write that afternoon when I got home from therapy.]


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

“5:30a  Had another very fast walk with Mike.  13 1/2 minute miles, which is pretty dang quick.  I’m planning on the 7:30a yoga class, so I am resting until it’s time to leave.

I am very hopeful that, once all of the stuff (SAMe, St. John’s Wort, and whatever that other pill I’ve been taking) is out of my system, Wellbutrin won’t be necessary.  I guess it’s a good thing that I told Susie what’s really going on with me since, it appears, the pills I was taking, at least the St. John’s Wort, was making me worse instead of better.  I just want to not feel like I do”.


So, the St. John’s Wort was making me suicidal.  I should clarify that.  It was making me even more suicidal.  Although I am not bipolar as my brother and my uncle are, it turns out I am in the bipolar spectrum and what that means is, just as there are certain drugs and/or supplements a person with bipolar disorder should never be given, someone who is in the bipolar spectrum has to be treated in the same way.   Had I not told my therapist what happened, there is no telling what I might have done.  As I said, I do not remember ever coming so close to doing something about my desire to leave this world.  It’s not like I ever had a plan or have ever thought much past the idea of not being here anymore.  This incident really scared me, and even though I did not tell Susie right away, I did tell her the next week.  She immediately knew it was what I was taking; something that was supposed to make me feel better, was making me so much worse.  I couldn’t just stop taking it, either.  I had to taper off of it.  Eventually, all of what I was taking got out of my system.  At that point, I was afraid to take anything.  My body has such weird reactions to medications and after this horrible episode, I didn’t trust anything.  In the end, I decided to go without any kind of medication.  Should I have tried a ‘real’ antidepressant?  Maybe, but I chose not to.  As I said in an earlier post, I thought that  I was not clinically depressed, but situationally depressed.  It was what I was going through and I felt like once I got through the therapy, I would be okay.  I was, however, open to it if Susie really thought I needed it.  I was lucky that I was being monitored and that I was finally honest with Susie.