Thursday, May 22, 2008

Taking Control

It seems like I've been struggling for far too long with little success with my depression. Since my stepfather Lou died, stress and BS from my family has largely calmed down and faded to the background, of which I'm very grateful for. Despite that, it seemed like I was suffering more and more without any real outside issues driving it.

Like I mentioned in my last post here, this feeling is so overwhelming and terrible that it just about cripples me. It's like a grand feeling of impotence that is wrapped around anger, self loathing, sadness, and despair. My life is seriously put on hold when it gets this bad, and I feel that everyone around me suffers along with me to a degree. This is something I hate.

There are two things about this that are frustrating. The first is that treating it chemically with prescription medicine is often hit or miss. Trying out different pills, for 2-3 months at a time, trying to find the right pill or combination of pills in the hopes of seeing some improvement can takes years to be successful, if at all. In addition to the further frustration of each attempt failing to help is dealing with side effects that can be painful, disruptive to your life, and in some cases make your depression worse. The second thing is that after dealing with this for so long, I'm aware of the habits and behaviors that either make me depressed or lead me further into it and there is nothing I can do to stop it. For those who don't understand, it's like hanging out with a group of your friends and knowing that you're going to act like an asshole, recognize when you're doing it, and knowing that you can't stop yourself.

Like I said, treating this with medicine can take years to get right, and I have reached a point that I don't find this acceptable. So after looking at how my treatment was going, how I felt, and how I felt those around me were being affected, I decided to take my treatment into my own hands and I stopped taking my medications cold turkey.

I figured that since I have become very familiar with the signs and bad habits of my depression and that I have been making really phenomenal progress with my personal therapy I could fight this on my own, mentally. At the very least I knew that if I wasn't successful, Meva would be very vocal about how I was behaving and that would be my sign to go back to treating it chemically.

First of all, Meva was very concerned and skeptical of this approach, but I was able to at least ease her fears by saying I would go back to trying medication if this didn't work. If I can't be honest that I might fail in this then I think it would be safe to say that I was definitely going to fail. Our friend Colleen, who also has battled depression for years, was even more worried for me and really took her time to check with me. I'm very lucky to have such great support and when I succeed it will be in large part because of them.

So shortly after my last post, I stopped my meds and immediately crashed. By that I mean I had two weeks of some God awful headaches, and pains that were a bear to get through. There were a few times that I almost went back to my depression meds just to stop it pain and then try to slowly ween myself off them, but I'm just tired of taking pills.

So I stopped taking everything, with the exception of pills for my headaches, and if my kids will allow it, I've been working on better sleep habits. Although it's been tough, I think it's been a success up to this point. Meva has made comments about how she's glad to "have her husband back again." That's probably the most telling sign of all.

It's not been easy, and I find some days are harder than others, but knowing the signs and behaviors helps me to avoid them or take action against them quickly. After almost a month, I'm feeling very good about this and I've had a few instances where I've noticed the bad habits creeping in and I've been able to squash them. For now I feel successful and as though I have this in hand, but this stage is the easiest (as scary as that is to say). Keeping vigilant and alert so that this success continues is going to be the hard fight!

But for now, my wife and my kids, and Colleen as well, are my motivation to keep strong and keep going. I can't ask for more than that.