I don't recall being especially depressed during college, though the self-medication I did at weekend fraternity parties during my freshman and senior years might have been an indication of something going on. Or that could have just been my own personal "girls gone not-quite-wild" endeavor.
My first major depression as an adult came in the form of post-partum depression after Charlie was born. It wasn't depression in the long crying jags, sort of way. It was post-partum OCD, which was characterized by what they call "intrusive thoughts" and is really not something I'm ready to write about in detail yet (yes, 15 years later), but suffice it to say, those 15 months were the darkest of my days, ever.
It was during that time that the most-wonderful-woman-in-the-world-who-quite-honestly-saved-my-life encouraged me to look at depression as a disease like diabetes. There is treatment available and it improves health and quality of life, so use it. And mostly I do.
Sometimes, though, I think "I've been doing so well, maybe I'm 'over' it." So I stop taking the antidpressant I've been on for years. And usually, I do ok...for a little while. And then my view of the world begins to change. Sometimes I get sad. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that all I want to do is stay in my bed, or once out get back in it. Mostly, I get very irritable and the world is full of idiots who don't know what they are doing.
So duh, just take the meds, right? Well, it's not actually that easy.
When I don't take the antidepressant for several weeks, or a month or longer, I feel things I don't usually feel when the drugs are managing the chemicals in my brain. I cry at situations where normal human beings would cry, when, medicated, I find tears hard to come by. I'm a little more spontaneous and free to be silly with my kids. I actually have a sex drive. (TMI?) Is it any wonder that many of the most famous artists and thinkers in history have also been classified as a little crazy?
That's where I am right now. I didn't make a conscious decision to stop taking my antidepressant. I thought it was on auto-fill at the pharmacy and I just didn't pay attention to the fact that I'd run out and hadn't gotten a call that a new prescription was ready. A week or two went by and I thought, "Hey, I'm doing pretty well. Maybe I can handle this." Then another week or two went by and people around me kept getting more and more irritating. I could hear myself being unnecessarily snappy. Mike commented that I seemed to be on edge. I do find myself tearing up with greater ease. But I am kind of enjoying the thought of being "free." I'm not paralyzed by sadness. I'm not feeling a magnetic pull to my bed. I'm not having any crazy thoughts.
So I'm here, trying to decide where to move from here. Go back to the antidepressant which has served me well and which resolves the world of so much of its idiocy (as I perceive it to be) and takes the biting edge off my anger? Or stay drug-free? If I choose Plan B, I know I'll need to employ some other techniques for dealing with it -- things like exercise, meditation, etc. (For the record, Mike is all for Plan A.)
I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write about this. Maybe that's part of the unmedicated inhibition that I'm experiencing? Maybe because I suspect others know where I'm coming from. Who knows? I guess you can just call me crazy.