Mama Ellen's

A place for thoughts and ideas on everything from family to fois gras.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Pills

I have depression. Did that catch your attention? I wanted to talk about depression and how it effects me and others but actually admitting to having depression is a totally different matter. Unfortunately we still live in a society today that looks upon depression and other forms of mental illness as a character flaw or weakness. I do not consider myself a weak person. As a matter of fact I know that I am not. My family growing up was not the type that put “FUN” into dysfunctional. An alcoholic father, a depressed and sometimes paranoid delusional mother, and an autistic sister rounded out my home. Sounds more like a made for TV movie plot line than real life. And although I went through many trials and tribulations as a child, I’m still here. I survived. And I realize the importance of acknowledging the real me. And in that I find more strength.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have my moments. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor almost 2 years ago to be checked. There was some PPD (postpartum depression) as well as regular run of the mill depression. I wasn’t sad or weepy. I wasn’t really suicidal. I was angry, aggressive, and just didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I wanted to leave, disappear, never come back. This may be a surprise to anyone who regularly reads this blog. I love my kids and get so much joy from there antics. So to realize that I was having these feelings was difficult. I had to put my pride aside and seek help and get medicated.

I hate medication. In some ways it feels like a daily reminder that I couldn’t hack it. I know this really isn’t the case, it just feels that way. I don’t like the side affects. Frequently having dry, cotton mouth without the pleasure of drinking is quite unpleasant. Being overly tired, occasionally dizzy, and having frequent night sweats also is also a pain. But hating life, hating people, and hating my career as a mom is much worse. Kids really can tell when their parents are not connected. Depression creates a disconnect. And the damage that is done, takes time to repair. Unfortunately I speak from experience on this as well. Luckily kids are resilient and forgiving and loving without condition. But don't be mistaken, depression effects everyone in the family.

This all being said I now need to discuss a close friend that is considering going off their medication. The only reason given is not liking the side affects. I get that. But I also realize that it is a matter of pride and self-centeredness that creates this want. Denial and avoidance are self-serving. We have a mutual friend, LCS that disappeared almost 2 years ago. He lives with bi-polar disorder and on more than a few occasions, has abandoned his medication and then his friends and family. Sometimes he comes back within a few months. Sometime it takes longer. He has been a friend and figurative family member for over 15 years, but we have not heard from him once since the last disappearance. For all we know, he is dead. But we hope that he is not. Of course we are worried and saddened by his behavior, but I know that I am thoroughly ticked off as well.

I know that this self-indulgent behavior has effected our family. It has left an open wound that still has yet to fully heal. And even when it does, and it most likely will, his choice to abandon treatment will leave an emotional scar. It hurts to know that he didn't feel he could turn to anyone close when life became to much. It hurts to know that he is hurting. And it has left all involved, a little more jaded and cynical about the world.

I hope my other friend will remember and evaluate the decisions that LCS has made and realize that they are making the same errors in judgement. If your medication isn't working then go see the doctor. Put pride aside and go. Your actions effect others whether you like it or not. You can be angry at me, that's fine. Be angry. I'd rather you be mad than missing, physically or emotionally.


At February 14, 2005 at 9:04 PM, Blogger Margaret said...

Powerful stuff, Mama Ellen. Depression runs in my family too and I have close relatives who have been on the medication see saw, having a terrible time getting the dosages right, etc. My attitude on meds has always been, it's better to bend than to break. Meds can help you weather the storms.

At February 15, 2005 at 2:23 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Thanks for the support. So far, I've been pretty lucky as far as my meds go and I have them adjusted as needed. I hope my friend does the same.

At February 16, 2005 at 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Ellen.

Cathy in the Wright

At February 17, 2005 at 2:58 AM, Blogger Army of Mom said...

I hear you loud and clear. Good for you to own up to helping yourself and your family. My mother and brother both deal with depression and go off and on their meds. Mom suffers from more than depression and I can feel for you in the type of household you grew up in. My brother has been suicidal since July when his world crumbled around him because of bad choices. And, the family pays for his mistakes almost as dearly as he has and is paying for them. My mom has been crazy since I was a kid and it is hard to live with. I suffered from PPD with two of my three children, but I recognized what was going on and sought help because I didn't want to end up like my mom and brother. So, I applaud you for recognizing that life isn't just about you and is about all those that you love and care for.


At February 19, 2005 at 2:03 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Thanks guys for your support.

At February 23, 2005 at 12:03 AM, Blogger R-Five said...

Your story is impressive, that you prefer fact over fancy in this serious matter. We can all draw strength from your example.

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