I am Numb

It’s true what they say about being depressed—you’re  the last one to know. It’s as if we can’t recognize the signs, or we don’t want to. The old,’ if I can’t see it, it’s not real’ philosophy.

But with everything else in life, you can’t wish things away. If you turn your back on it, it’s still there. Just the scenery has changed.

I hadn’t been sleeping well, averaging a mere 5 hours each night. I didn’t want to do anything, wasn’t interested in producing any of those delicious too-good-not-to-eat-high-calorie-baked goods Mom and I used to make each Christmas season. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to write. All I wanted was to be left alone.

All signs of depression.

But my conscious self didn’t recognize my mood for what it was. I’d dug that hole again. Escaped down that rabbit hole, burrowing myself deeper to insulate myself from the world.

I know the signs. I’d felt them often enough over the last seven years. Been on medication to treat both depression and anxiety and yet, somewhere inside me I chose to ignore it. Silly girl.

Fortunately, I was to go to my neuro-psychiatrist on January 6th for a follow-up. We’d moved me off the Escitalopram over to Venlafaxine last year, and she wanted to check on my status. But I already knew it wasn’t working. I either needed a second medication or an increased dosage. I knew and this time, I didn’t ignore that inner voice telling me things weren’t right.

It’s two weeks later and I’m on a bumped-up dose that’s racing through my system and kicking the hell out of the doom and gloom that’d been pulling me down.

It’s like I stepped out of a fog. Going from a real peasouper to a wispy mist. All the shadows have taken shape. There’s a beginning and end to their form, an outline shaded in with colour. Life had structure, purpose, and meaning. I almost felt like me.

The old me before my world incinerated into a thousand pieces. A jumbled mess unrecognizable and shapeless.

I couldn’t believe the difference. At no time during this wild ride have I ever felt this way.

I started writing again. Attending Zoom sessions. Meeting new people. Poets, volunteers, all like-minded individuals enjoying life despite covid.

I have to admit, the only downside to this rediscovery of self is the negative interaction that can occur between anti-depressants and anti-seizure medications. My anti-seizure meds don’t play nice with other types of drugs and the results can be disastrous. However, in spite of that, the improvement to my mental state, the lifting of moods and eliminating the chance of suicidal ideations, far outweighed the reduction to my seizure threshold.

I feel happy, light, awake. The regular day-to-day challenges we all face are just that much easier to deal with. I think the added benefits to taking the Venlafaxine are worth the risk and one I’m more than willing to take.

Now, I’m not saying everyone should run out and start taking antidepressants. What works for me is, well, designed for me, not anyone else.

There are many other methods out there to alleviate anxiety and depression. Exercise, eating right and getting an appropriate amount of sleep. There’s yoga, meditation, and therapy. Programs especially designed for people with epilepsy to manage their depression and anxiety. Weekly support sessions offered through many epilepsy associations, such as project UPLIFT. Eight weekly sessions facilitated by a qualified medical professional with the aid of a person with epilepsy, instructing participants on the use of cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness techniques.

So many resources are available to us. All we have to do is ask for help.

Take care of yourselves.

Stay safe and healthy.

Enjoy the days as they stretch out. The daylight casting away the dark luring us out from our caves. Hibernation is over. Go forth and drink in the renewal of life.