Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Club

About 5 years ago, I found myself stagnating in a job that had absolutely no future. I couldn't move up, I couldn't be more creative, I couldn't get anywhere. I'm not bitching about the job - I'm just stating for the record that I learned a lot from this experience, and a lot happened because of it.

In case you feel like you know where this is heading, I'll put the moral of my story up front: What I learned that when I feel this way about a situation, it's time to get out. There's no shame in moving out, and moving on.

What happened to me in this process was: I got to the point where I was so overwhelmed with my feelings that I could barely get through a day without crying. I never knew crying and driving were possible. I had a hard time justifying my time... I finally broke down, fashioned a white flag out of every Kleenex I could get my hands on and waved it until I needed to wipe my nose.

I scheduled an appointment with a counselor. It was a hard thing to do... Difficult not only because it was expensive, but difficult because I'd always felt I could remain in control and up until then, felt I had the answers to everything I needed.

Luckily, a friend referred me to a counselor who worked for me. (Not every counselor can work with just anyone...) She didn't mind that I cried a lot. She didn't mind that the first thing I said to her was, "I just need you to know that I don't want to be in therapy forever..." She listened and asked a lot of poignant questions that maybe should have seemed obvious, yet weren't. We worked together for maybe a year... And was the only person who correctly suggested that I was suffering from Depression.

If that wasn't a blow - I don't know what is. Depression meant that something besides my personal will was hindering my abilities, my emotions, and my success... It was a lot of things - if not... well, darn depressing.

I e-mailed my doctor, and cried as I typed. He scheduled an appointment with me and felt so badly for me at the end of our teary discussion (my tears, that is), that he actually hugged me when I left (have you hugged YOUR doctor lately?). He prescribed a low dose of Zoloft to see how I would do with it.

A note on depression: Doctors have a wide range of medicines available to them - and each affects people differently. The trick is to find one whose side effects aren't debilitating... There are SSRI's, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (which current research believes affects glutamate, not serotonin), Tricyclic drugs, and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors ... They all work differently. Some block the body's production of certain chemicals (like norepinephrine or dopamine) - so the body works harder to produce more. Others simply aid in the production of chemicals that help us feel better.... I don't want to go into a lot of detail - if you want it, it's more than availble online... Suffice it to say that a lot can go wrong when you're on the wrong type of medication.

Zoloft was the wrong drug. It worked in that it did make the doldrums seem less severe... But it also made the emotional highs less enjoyable. In short, Zoloft rendered me an emotionless lump. I didn't really care to talk to anyone, I didn't go places, I couldn't think of anything to say... The lack of emotion became even more depressing...

What made matters worse was my first weekend on Zoloft. I was talking to my friend, Bob, who out of nowhere, started telling me stories of a social group he once led. He said, "There were some real loonies. My wife and I often commented that we should serve Zoloft Cookies at all of these functions!!" I'm not kidding. I was *this* close to offering him my stash.

After a time, my doctor and I decided to switch meds to Celexa (which I believe is now Lexapro). Both drugs are SSRI's, but I responded very differently to Celexa.

My sense of humor slowly returned. I started to take ownership of the things that were bothering me. I began to feel better. I actually quit my job - because I felt it was really the reason I was feeling so badly in the first place. I told my counselor that it was easier to get through the days... "You know," I said, "I'd like to market a depression kit... It would consist of sunglasses, to hide the fact that I'd been crying... Kleenex, and a bottle of allergy meds..."

"What are the allergy meds for?"

"So when I'm wearing my sunglasses and wiping my eyes, I can pull the bottle out of my pocket, rattle it around, and say, "Damn allergies!" and exit the room sans suspicion of crying.

I knew I was feeling better when I had the courage to start telling other people what I was going through. I realized that many of my friends, their parents, and some of my colleagues had either gone through or were going through the same thing... It was such a great number of people, I started calling it "The Club..." and would frequently have conversations about medications... "Oh really? I didn't try Prozac!" "Zoloft worked for you? That makes one of us!" "What are you trying next? I had a good result with Celexa!" "Have you heard about the depression kit?"
_____

Three or four years ago, I felt better enough to get off the meds (although I reserve the right to start them again if I ever need to.) I learned that there's no shame in depression. In truth, it's probably made me more compassionate, less quick to judge and maybe just a tad more.... vincible.

Oh, and by the way - If you're wondering what I did with my leftover Zoloft? Why I made cookies of course!

I shellacked them and gave them out to my favorite Club Members...

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3 Comments:

  • At 10:01 AM, Blogger Trixie said…

    Can we talk offline?

     
  • At 11:14 AM, Blogger kimmmmm said…

    During a rough rough stint in grad school (complete with endless tears, exhaustion, and the like..) - breakup, job search, figuring out where I wanted to live post college, I started taking lexapro. At first it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I was taking drugs, but when I started to feel better I realized that sometimes it just boils right down to chemicals, no matter how great you are at handling lifes mishaps or dealing with other people. This is pretty brave of you to post right out in the open and I commend you for it. :-)

     
  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Kell said…

    Thanks, Kim - but the real truth of the matter about why I like talking about this is that - the only real reason I was okay with the diagnosis was because two of my friends were open enough to tell me what their experiences were - The Club is the best thing in the world because it prevents us from being isolated.

     

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