Breathe

Five days.

I haven’t taken my medication in five days.

I’m not a very good patient, apparently. I need a new prescription, I neglected to make an appointment with my GP, and now I’ve run out of meds. I have an appointment tomorrow morning, but it’s been a tough few days. And I have no one to blame for that but myself.

I have to say though, my feelings about being medicated at all are very conflicted, to say the least. One of the things I found the most difficult to come to terms with and accept is that the medication actually helps. I would even be willing to go as far as to say I need it.

That kind of makes me sad. Which I find perversely funny, because the medication I take is Escitalopram, which treats depression.

Yes. I have depression, and I’m medicated for it.

Very few people actually know this about me. I told both Matt & Nick, it was really no big deal talking to them about it. Matt gets it, he has depression and anxiety and actually was just switched on to Escitalopram as well. Nick was a little more confronting, because I don’t think he’s ever even considered speaking to anyone about any emotional issues he may have, let alone seek medical advice and take pills. Matt’s family might know, I’m not sure. They know he takes medication, I honestly don’t know if he’s mentioned that I do as well, or if I’ve told them.

I haven’t spoken to my family about it at all though, not even my mum. It’s really strange, because my mother is a counsellor, and I know she really worries about my mental health. I’ve always been very cagey with my emotions and have tried to deal with everything myself. I’ve never been one for deep & meaningful, heart to heart discussions over wine & chocolate, or whatever. Not with anyone, even Matt or Nick, or female friends, back when I had them.

Case in point – Matt and I had a massive argument recently. Honestly, it more or less went on for a week. We’d think we had made up, but then something would happen and it all flared up again. At one point, we decided to get a bit of space, and Matt drove down to Sydney and visited Nick. They didn’t bitch about me, or anything like that; Matt just told Nick that we were really struggling, to the point that I was seriously considering moving out.

The next day, Nick called me and asked how I was doing. I knew that he & Matt had spoken, and he said that he just wanted me to know that he was there if I needed someone to talk to as well. He didn’t want me to feel like Matt had ‘gotten to him first’ and therefore he was off-limits to me. It was incredibly thoughtful and supportive of him, but honestly I could not imagine a fate worse than speaking about my personal life to anyone. Even to Nick, who is like a brother, and knows me better than my actual brother.

I think this is why I don’t talk to my mother about my depression. She’d be relieved that I’m taking care of myself, and that I have a psychologist to talk to if I’m not comfortable talking to her. But, somehow, I think I’d still feel weak, and like a failure. Or, alternatively, like I’m being a baby and there are so many people with it so much worse, so I should get over myself. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think in a million years my mother would think those things about me, let alone say them. Still, it remains a conversation I have no interest in having.

Anyway – I am currently unmedicated. I don’t enjoy it. Fortunately (and unfortunately) I don’t really have the kind of depression where you are literally depressed; like a sad helium balloon three days after the party, floating six inches off the floor, looking like a rubber testicle and trailing a ribbon like a lead for a dog that ran away a long time ago. My depression is the (seemingly less well known) PMS variety. I do have my deflated helium balloon days, but they are very very infrequent. No, when I am unmedicated, I seem to be in a perpetual state of irritation and irrational frustration. This still means I have very little energy for activities, but I make the people around me feel like it’s because I can’t stand to be around them, not because I’m ‘depressed’.

This, as I’m sure you can imagine, is especially problematic when you remember that I have a three year old. Children, you might be aware, generally want the adults in their lives to interact with them in some way, almost constantly. To achieve this, they often fall back on nagging. This would become trying for even the most well-adjusted person. When I’m off my meds, it honestly makes me feel like someone is holding a hot blanket (like, just come out of the dryer hot) around my head while sitting on my back and vigorously rubbing a rough towel over my bare skin. I know that sounds like an extreme description, but I swear to you it’s accurate. It feels like my space is being invaded in the most infuriating and slightly panic-inducing of ways. When Thomas actually clings to me, or climbs on me, it becomes even worse. The towel becomes full of needles.

I know, even in my unbalanced brain, that this isn’t right; that I shouldn’t be responding so immediately in such an extreme way. So, I take my medication. I feel normal. Because, you know, I remember what normal feels like. That’s how I knew something was wrong, even though I don’t talk about my emotions. I had no sounding board, no one said ‘gee, sounds like you could be depressed; you should see your doctor.’ I just remember the person I was as a teenager, and I miss her. She had her shit together; and really it’s supposed to be the other way around, isn’t it? Adult me should have it going on way better than 17 year old me. That’s my goal though, to be has happy within myself as I was at 17.

The other downside of stopping my medication, is dreams. I don’t know what to call them really – Bad dreams? Nightmares? I don’t wake up from them in a cold sweat, or with a dramatic gasp. I don’t feel the need to snuggle into Matt and seek reassurance that it was just a dream, and that I’m safe and loved.

The thing that makes these dreams ‘bad’ is that I honestly don’t realise they’re dreams, often for hours after I wake up in the morning. They’re always the same – totally everyday location, like my home, doing a totally everyday thing, like housework. Out of nowhere, I can’t breathe. It’s like I’ve been holding my breath, but now my lungs won’t expand to fill up again. I don’t feel panic to begin with. I actually think ‘Oh, this again. I really need to make a doctor’s appointment about this.’ I know that if I ride it out, the air will eventually come back. It does, but not until I get to the point where I actually am starting to panic a little. So, because I’m becoming more and more accustomed to these dreams, it takes me longer and longer before I start to feel the panic, and so when panic does come it’s more intense than last time because this time I’ve been without air for longer, if that makes sense. It’s God damned awful, and my brain takes a really long time to realise it didn’t actually happen. But even then, it feels so real. I know it seems like a very extreme word to use, but it’s getting to the point where the word I’d use to describe the feeling I’m left with is ‘trauma’. My brain is deceiving me, and I don’t like it.

Now, Matt has suggested that these dreams may actually be caused by sleep apnea. I find that very doubtful, because for one I’ve asked him and apparently I don’t snore. Two, I remember having these dreams back before I started my medication, and now I only have them whenever I’ve stopped taking it. I don’t know if it’s a side-effect of the drugs leaving my system, or a symptom of my depression. I plan on talking to my psychologist about them at my next appointment.

Okay then, this has been a really really long post, I am so sorry. Just, that dream last night really put me on edge, I haven’t felt myself all day. Writing about it has really helped; I’ve put the words together to describe what the dream was, and how it’s made me feel. Hey, maybe I won’t even have to talk at my next appointment, I can just show my psychologist my blog! Psychoanalysis without conversation, that would be ideal! 😀

The best is yet to come. Stay you.

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