When I came home from hospital, after suffering post natal depression, earlier this year I was taking a medication called Quetiapine. Officially an anti psychotic it proved helpful for me in reducing the negative thoughts in my head and in stabilising my mood (useful because of my pre-existing cyclothymia). It did the job but the side effects were fairly challenging. Basically I felt pretty doped most of the time. This was at its worst first thing in the morning when I had to literally peel myself out of bed, unstick my eyelids and try desperately to focus on being awake. Pretty tricky whilst looking after three small children.
In July four months past discharge and feeling much better I began to wonder if it might be possible to change meds. In the past I have taken a different medication that has worked wonders on my mood swings with minimal side effects, I wanted to go back to that. I got my doctors on board with this idea and prepared to withdraw from the Quetiapine. I was not expecting such a full on withdrawal, I was literally shaking, weeping and feeling like I was losing my mind for three solid days. I was a mess but I soldiered on thinking that in the long run this would be worth it.
Then I started on the new medication and I waited. Things got messy, I became irritable, anxious and generally started to slide downhill again. I hoped that this was a temporary blip and that my meds would soon kick in and I would begin to feel much better. Then I slid back down into a hole so big it appeared larger than one I had ever inhabited before. I sat in that hole and I cursed this illness, I cursed the hold it had on me and I cursed the damn slippery rope that seemed unable to keep me from falling into the hole time and time again.
As usual my personal relationships started to suffer and I found myself spending a lot of time hating myself. How could I ever respect myself with this weakness, it didn’t matter what I achieved or how many good weeks I had they didn’t count for anything because I found myself back here time after time. Why couldn’t I cope with the tiniest amount of stress when others pulled through personal tragedy with dignity and strength. With these thoughts in my head I couldn’t help myself from considering giving up, taking my burden away from my family and friends.
Then I went away on holiday and I saw the sky, I saw dolphins and I sat by the sea. I love the sea, the vast expanse of water puts everything into perspective for me. As the days past things started to look clearer, brighter, more worthwhile. I watched people. Watching people made me feel less alone, less disconnected. At the risk of sounding like a total hippy I felt a connection. A connection with the planet, the water, the people around me, and it made me feel good. I began to breath again, and the hole dissolved around me and I was in the sunshine.
I’m sure it was a combination of holiday and my new meds kicking in but for now I am okay again. I’m trying really hard to hang onto that. As I get older and I experience more and more periods of depression it can feel as though the next one is only around the corner. Even now it feels a little like there is no point enjoying this good feeling because it is false and it won’t be long before I’m down again. However I am fighting, I won’t live like that, I will hang onto each moment that I feel good for because no matter what happens tomorrow it won’t cancel out the fact that today was a good day.