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What It’s Like When I Realize My Antidepressant Has Stopped Working

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

These days are always the same, yet still always surprising, and I almost always remember them. Mostly because the moment I accept my medication has stopped working is always followed by two very strong feelings: dread and panic. Accept is a key word here, because I will have always realized it days before, but it is the moment when I accept the realization that is key here.

All of a sudden, all of the energy I have been lacking the past days or weeks comes rushing in. I am panicked. All at once, I think I must fix this. A siren goes of in my brain — “Alert! Alert!” — and I go from zero to 100 mph all at once, realizing something is wrong.

And, at the same exact time, that energy is still missing and I am filled with a profound sense of sorrow and dread. “Again?” I think. “Again.” I know. I have to do this process again. My life will be disrupted (well, actually continue to be disrupted because it already has been for several days or weeks since the medicine actually stopped working) again.

My first action? Text my partner. Tell him, though 99 percent of the time he already knows anyway and is just waiting patiently and lovingly for me to realize. Plus, he always says the right thing.

My second action? Let the panic move me. Call my doctor. Talk to a nurse.

Actually, let me be more specific.

Every single time this happens, I am at work. Every time. So, allow me to rephrase the above.

Hunch over my desk; text Dave. I am already feeling scared someone will suddenly see an invisible sign over my head that reads, “I’m sick. Treat me different.” So the hunching over my desk is a very imperative movement here.

Then, find somewhere private. (Please note, there is nowhere private enough for this. We are in an inherently public space, after all). So usually, go outside. Hug my stomach with one hand, and scroll through my phone (taking twice as long because I always forget what my doctor’s number is labeled as in my phone), press the number, hunch over and let it ring.

But today was different.

Today was different. Today, the doctor’s office was closed. Today, when I called, I could not get a voice on the other end. Now please, don’t take this as an attack against doctors. If I really needed their attention right that second, I would have had resources. But today, instead of getting that nurse’s voice and being able to immediately put a plan into action… I couldn’t. My solution stayed still. I could not move it forward.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s why I’m actually writing this right now.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression five years ago — maybe? Honestly, that’s one of the side effects of depression for me — my timeline is wonkers going back any farther than four and a half years… so that five is a strong maybe, and it could very well have happened longer ago than that. Anyway, I was diagnosed with depression five (?) years ago, and since my initial recovery I have not written a single thing about it. Until today.

But the days I realized my antidepressants have stopped working are important. Mostly because they suck so bad. I hate it. It’s awful. It’s something completely out of my control but I still feel like a total failure — a total, complete and utter failure. It’s also pretty terrifying, because I realize I’m slipping. I finally put together the pieces of the past few weeks and know the answer to the whispering questions that have been in the back of my mind, that I have been avoiding, that I refuse to look in the eye, that I gently shove away and say “not now.”

Why have I been so tired?

Why has it been so hard to focus?

Why am I scrolling through my phone more and more and more…?

Why am I completely and totally not motivated?

Why do my thoughts feel like they can’t stick?

Why are my normal chores so much harder for me to do, to the point I just don’t do them?

Why do I constantly feel guilty and like a horrible dog mom?

Why am I all of a sudden afraid?

Why am I more emotional?

Why do I just feel… off?

And suddenly, I know. And suddenly, I’m scared. Because suddenly, its back. But I’ve survived it before and I’ll survive it again.

Photo by on Unsplash

Originally published: November 29, 2018
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