Thursday, February 2, 2012
From Hare to Turtle
I am taking the next 6 months a little slower. The Boy is now at school, which leaves me a bit more time alone at home. Eventually I am going to have to do a bit more work, paid or otherwise, or perhaps a bit more study. But for the next 6 months I am going to find my inner turtle (when naturally I am probably a bit more of a hare).
For the last 4 years I have taken antidepressant medication. This was largely because I got pretty anxious after the birth of The Boy and we moved interstate when he was 2 months old. I also went a bit crazy premenstrually. I would get very, very down and think some very dark thoughts a few days before my period, then as soon as it started I was ok again. One day I found myself seriously planning how I could become dead. This understandably scared me (and the Mr) a little, so very soon I got myself a box of Prozac and things got much better. I never fully liked the idea of having to take a little pill everyday of the month, to prevent the crazy feeling that only came on 3 days of the month. However, this was preferable to ending up dead by accident, just because of one day of silly, uncharacteristic thinking.
Are you still with me? I hope the death comments don't freak you too much, I do have a some what inappropriate sense of humour...
Jump forward to now and while I am very thankful to the little happy pill and relieved that I am very much alive, I find that I am not actually very happy. Now I do not expect life to always be happy, to the contrary, my views on the happiness game are very much in alignment with this book, not to mention of course, this one. One day I was talking with a patient about the side effects of antidepressants and in particular the tendency, over time, to become a bit flat in one's emotions. Not too sad, yes, but also not that happy either. Not able to cry or feel too much sadness is sometimes a trouble. It is good, I believe, to howl like a baby some times. There are also times you want to howl like a wolf, to be filled with the thrill of being alive, to enjoy the intimacy of your relationship, to be overwhelmed by the beauty of the world and the One who created it. To be deeply in love, with others, with God, with your self.
I was lacking these things, I had become flat. Light bulb moments are good, aren't they? Had I been better at crying I probably would have burst into tears in front of my poor patient, but fortunately, being still in control of my senses, I was able to complete the consultation and reflect on the "ah-hah" moment later.
I have taken myself off the little pill. My life is very different now, compared to when I first started taking it. I am different. You see way back then I did also spend some time with a lovely psychologist who helped immensely. I started living in a fantastic community, surrounded by other Christian women who taught me soooo much. I got creative, I started this blog, I started exercising, I lost some weight. I met you guys, and despite the on-off nature of my blogging and commenting you are still here. You are fab, thank you. I have a new psychologist too. He is trying to help me loose weight, and being the clever chap that he is, he has helped me get a grasp on the happiness game. Apparently deeply content and truly happy people are less likely to be overweight. Go figure.
So, I am finding my inner turtle. I am giving myself time to do the things I want. I am going to potter around my house, finishing projects, starting new ones. I am going to read books, go to the gym, catch up with friends, be more mindful in my relationships. I am going to love my husband and work on the relationship I promised to work at, and even in the low times I am not going to entertain the idea of leaving. I am going to love my children and be "present" when I am with them. I am going to show them that emotions come and go, but that which we believe to be real and true never changes. I am going to teach them that it is normal to feel sad, anxious, angry and irritable. It is what we do with the emotions that matters and how we go about getting help when they hang about too long. When they start lurking at the front door, like the proverbial black dog, threatening to take us from everyday blues to outright depression.
Many of you know I am a doctor. I treat people with depression all the time. I think I treat them very well. Sometimes I use medication, but always I use my time, my creativity and my professional networks to help them get better. When I prescribe an antidepressant I get them to promise, and I promise them, that every 6 months we will review if it is still needed or not. I am glad I have started to actually treat myself as well as I treat other people.
So, hey, all is good here, ok people? I am going to work on a queue today. A list of all the projects I might want to do over the coming months. I am going to post them soon, because I think they are cool and I thought you might want to check them out too.
I hope you can find something encouraging in this post today, but largely I am just writing it for me, for my kids, and for the record. If you relate to what I am experiencing, you know you should just go see your doctor, right? This post is all about me :)