I Swapped Prosecco for Prozac.
Updated: Aug 10
“I pop out the pill from it’s foil, play with it, hold it in the palm of my hand, observing it like it contains a secret, cold water washes it down my throat and I feel ashamed, guilty.”
‘Hunker down, hold out, cling on, you just have to get through till bedtime’. My morning thoughts were ones of survival. I am writing this in the past tense, but actually it should be in the present, they still are some days, there is no magic cure for depression when it sets in. In fact, I had quite deluded myself, filling myself with daily gratitudes, drinking these in, I utilised coping mechanisms (exercise, eating healthily, meditation), but I couldn’t tip the balance anymore. I realised what is meant by depression being an illness. It seeps into your body, claiming dominion over each bit of you that you once recognized as functioning, happy, engaging.
In a conversation I had with my son, Monty, who asked me how I felt (and probably instantly regretted it!) I described it like I had been taken over by something. I felt consumed by an invisible force that was pressing ‘me’ out and a vague, ghost-like version of me was in situ. I think I rambled on for quite a while, because he cocked his head, looked at me and quipped ‘so, I’m afraid your time is up, same time next week?!’
On my phone call to the doctor, I described how I was feeling, he prescribed me anti-depressants but told me they would take at least a few weeks to take effect. At that point I didn’t know how I would hold on for another day let alone a few weeks. I told myself each morning as my heart sunk at the thought of having to do it all again, that I only needed to hang on till bedtime. I broke the day down as much as possible, each few hours a triumph that I was still there, still maintaining.
Just get happy!
The problem is, when the life-coping-balance is out of whack, there is not a lot you can do about it, sometimes you just need meds! You can’t give yourself smiley face stickers to place over your mouth in lieu of the real thing, you can’t smile and wave at everyone – someone will make you have a conversation, you can’t avoid it. You can’t be smacked in the face by a frying pan to ‘just get happy!’ (as per Drop Dead Fred, still one of my favourite fims!). This phase may not pass. Mine didn’t, it got worse, and it got worse. Then the coping mechanisms became impossible because I reached a point of not wanting to look after myself. I couldn’t think straight, my brain was treacle, my thoughts, in their thousands, trying to race through it.
I wrote myself a note to remind me why I needed to start medication. I am not anti, but I felt like the biggest failure for not being able to ‘save’ myself or make myself better. I needed to remember why I made the decision, my note went like this -
This is why you need help, Tamsyn, BECAUSE:
When the kids took a photo of you – you didn’t look like you. You couldn’t find yourself. Your eyes were empty – dead.
When your sentences were left unfinished because forming a sentence was too much for your brain.
When you drive and are scared by everything, then reach your destination unsure how on earth you got there – you zoned out completely.
When you look at your reflection and you can’t find you.
When you are with your kids, but not there at all.
When you cannot look at yourself in the mirror.
When you wake, the pit of your stomach jolts, your first thought is 'not again, not another day'
When your reaction to waking is crying, THIS IS NOT NORMAL!
When you obsess over your body – it’s not enough, you’re not enough.
When you look at your child’s smile and it doesn’t seep into your heart… this broke you completely.
This is the note I wrote, including some of how I felt on a down day, because sometimes I am ok, and when I am ok, I trick myself into thinking that I am fine. Then it’s too late, I am on my ‘I am fine, life is brilliant!’ page for a bit. Then I sink again and dismiss it because it’s a blip, and I have a few more days of thinking I will just see how it goes. I have done this for years. To the point where I think I fell so far that I didn’t even realise how affected I have been.
I resisted taking the medication for a day or so, still determined to come through it on my own. Then I thought, as I cooked and went through the motions and cried as I mopped the floors and numbly said good night to the kids – look at everything you are missing, this isn’t actually normal! I would be telling my best friend to get in on the anti-depressants if she were feeling like me, so I needed to apply the same advice to myself. I pop out the pill from it’s foil, play with it, hold it in the palm of my hand, observing it like it contains a secret, cold water washes it down my throat and I feel ashamed, guilty.
I have had to unpick this and if I needed vitamin-D for a deficiency, I would take it, if I required medical intervention for a broken bone, I would accept it – therefore, this medication I have to look at applying the same philosophy.
It's been nearly three weeks since I took the first pill. I felt a bubble of me rise today. Walking on the shore, sea air, the kids laugh and chatter, I feel, FEEL their laughter, my heart absorbs their smiles - a bit of me, for a while anyway, returned today, and I can hold that as I close my eyes tonight to bring into tomorrow.