So, there’s something I haven’t been talking about too much. Last summer, depression started creeping up again, despite everything right in my world and all the support and love I’m surrounded by. I was heavily alarmed when I realized; summer is my best time, my happiest time, the sweet spot of the year for me. Winter, with the cold and the dark, has historically been tougher. So to feel worse in late August than I do at the end of the average February – well, I took it as a bad sign. (This is a word-heavy post, so I’ve put some random pics from my ‘photo’ folder in. Just to brighten it up a bit.)
I didn’t not mention it out of a sense of shame – but it’s not one of those things that commonly crops up in conversation. It’s one of those things that society is still trying to get a grip on. Diabetics need insulin, and they can talk about that fairly openly. Depression still has a stigma attached to it – some think that that using prescription drugs is weak. I’m of the opinion that using a cast to fix a broken arm isn’t weak, and neither is using medication. Anyways. It’s a Big Topic, and while I talk about the snow, or what I’m knitting, or any number of other small things, Big Topics can be harder to broach.
(Knitting on a beach in Tofino.)
I tried to learn a lot from my experience with post-partum depression (PPD), and the biggest lesson was “TAKE DEPRESSION SERIOUSLY”. So, I talked to my doctor, and started an antidepressant. Pristiq, to be exact. My mood improved, although I gained twelve pounds out of the blue, and my sleep took a while to adjust.
After a couple months, I noticed a ringing in my ears. I talked to my doc, and she put in a referral to a hearing specialist. That appointment is at the end of this week – not super quick, but you know, not costing me anything out of pocket. Anyways. The ringing has been getting worse, and weirder – it moves from ear to ear, varies throughout the day, and changes tones a lot, too.
(The girls in our garden…)
To say the least, it’s distracting. And sometimes hard to fall asleep. Just before Xmas, I realized that hey, this might be a side effect of my antidepressant… and sure enough, after internet research, tinntinnitis is a listed side effect. Visited with my doc again, made a plan to come off Pristiq and then go from there, as far as mood goes. Apparently, ringing ears is a really rare side effect, but it sucks.
(Me, all spoofed up for a wedding last year? Year before?)
The plan was the same as how I came off Prozac (which is was lifted the PPD). Skip one dose the first week, two doses the second week, etc etc. EXCEPT IT WAS A GIANT FAIL. You see, Pristiq has a different drug in it that Przac – one that is metabolized and used far faster. I was a little leery of how a skipped dose would be, because varying the time of day I take Pristiq by even an hour caused… effects. The day of the skipped dose wasn’t so bad, but by bedtime (when there was virtually none of that drug in my body or brain), things got weird. Insomnia crossed with brain zaps crossed with lethargy… It was very weird. I took the next dose on schedule, and got A to school on time that morning, but on the drive home, I realized how very stoned and awful I really felt, and called to make another appointment to talk with my doc about A Different And Better Plan. After a lot of research and online conversations, I had a series of suggestions.
Chief among them was NEVER SKIPPING A DOSE LIKE THAT AGAIN HOLY CRAP THAT WAS TERRIBLE. I’m now taking a bridge dose of Prozac, and after the Prozac had built up in my sytem over the course of a couple weeks, I cautiously skipped a dose. I was out of it, a bit, but no brain zaps. (A brain zap is hard to describe – but most people describe it like a little electric shock, in your brain. You know how fireworks look and sound? That’s how the inside of my brain felt.) So. I’m calling that a win.
(Suki, being a polite knitters’ cat. Sometimes he does try to floss with my knitting. But that gets him NOWHERE GOOD.)
I’m in at the beginning of the process, really; in a month and half, I should be on Prozac alone. Hopefully all of the weird tinntinnitis will have gone away – I talked to my dad over the holidays about his ringing ears, and he said no, his are the same noise, all the time. That should increase my ability to focus and sleep. (On skipped Pristiq days, the ringing is not as weird and loud.)
Of course, the problem I had with Prozac last time was that it completely sapped my creative drives. Now, for some, this might not be huge, but for me, it was a very big deal. I have creative ups and downs, but to completely lose the urge to create something new? It was quite frightening.
I mean, the part where I just plowed through all my projects that were on the needles and finished them was great, but once I was done those, and had no urge to cast on, or any ideas? Creepy. I mean, I could just sit on the couch. My fingers didn’t itch to me knitting. I could look at things, and not see new ideas whirling. I felt sort of like I’d lost a superpower, and sort of bereft.
(When I finally break the current self-imposed yarn fast, these babies may very well be what I go for.)
I’m on a lower dose of Prozac this time, and hopefully it’s not going to turn off that tap of creativity again. The Prozac (currently) isn’t a long-term plan, although given the Pristiq brain fire-works, I am loath to try other brain meds. I don’t have many long-term plans, actually; what I once told my boss during a yearly review was actually the truth. He asked where I saw myself in five years. I told him: “I don’t tend to make long-term plans because then I miss the potential right in front of me.” Who knows what will be going on in a year? Or five years? This afternoon, I know that I get to take both girls to their first ballet class. And in a month or so, I’ll hopefully be done with all the weird ear ringing. Plans* enough for now.
*Oh, but I have knitting plans. And yarn. Lotsa yarn. Like, a lot. I love it all – it’s good stash – but I need to knit quite a lot of it before I get any more new. Most of the knitting plans aren’t time-linked, though. I have one sweater I’d like to knit before winter is done – but ha!ha!, winter is never too far off and I’m usually cold, so meh.