I want to share some good news. It’s been two weeks since I’ve cried! Since it was a daily, even hourly occurrence pre-Effexor (the anti-depressant I’m taking for the depression and the migraines), I feel pretty splendid about going a whole 16 days without shedding a tear.
I briefly considered doing a separate post about my one therapy appointment, but it’s really not enough material for a post of its own. I saw the therapist on Monday, May 13, the day after I began taking the anti-depressant. I was so nervous I couldn’t even explain my condition properly. I stuttered and avoided eye contact to the point that the therapist looked at her bookcase to see what I was talking to. Embarrassment!
A friend suggested maybe she wasn’t the right fit for me, and that could be the case. But I realized during the appointment that, though there were small things here and there, my life pre-AVM/migraines was pretty fantastic. The migraines have hijacked my life and my emotions.
When I feel well physically, I’m at my lowest mentally because I don’t have pain to distract me. When I’m at my lowest mentally, every little problem is The End of the World. Small arguments with David led me to suicidal thoughts, and those thoughts never stopped because, long after the fight was done, I’d replay every word over and over, mentally lashing myself for all of my imperfections as I went. I wasn’t thinking rationally, to grossly simplify it.
Assuming that I see the therapist on days when I feel worst mentally (which we can’t guarantee because the pain varies from day to day), how will she know that the things I’m saying are irrational?
It made me think of the times I’ve called Mom crying because of some small argument between David and me. Because Mom knows both of us and knew us together long before the AVM, she’s able to say, “Maybe David is just letting the pressure get to him right now. He’s been extremely patient with you up to this point. I really don’t think it’s as bad as you think it is right now.” But this stranger who is only seeing David through the eyes of a mentally disturbed ill person, how is she to know which David is real and which is a figment of my imagination?
[Brief aside: I don't mean to make it sound as though David is the cause of my depression or the reason I may need therapy. He's simply the person I interact with the most on a daily basis, and so, he was hit with most of the emotional wreckage. I've similarly spent hours crying in bed because a grandmother who hasn't spoken to me since my diagnosis claimed she was coming to see me and then couldn't even be bothered to do so 9 months after my diagnosis.]
On the way home from the appointment, Mom pointed out that some depressed people don’t need therapy while others need therapy but not medication. I had already begun taking the medication (and because they were prescribed to help with migraines, I wanted to keep taking them), so I decided to clear the waters by trying the medication first and adding therapy later if I need it.
And I feel really good. The migraines over the last couple of weeks have been heinous, but I increased my medication dosage today and noticed a difference. I still feel stabbing, shooting pains when I move a lot and especially if I bend over or look over my shoulder, but it is a vast improvement to where I was this time last week.
Although I am really excited that I haven’t cried in 16 days, I feel like I’m emotionless, which is awkward. As an example, I found out today that the AVM has not shrunk in size since the surgery, which is devastating news since I don’t want to wait more than a year to have my next treatment. My neurosurgeon said best case scenario for my AVM is two rounds of gamma knife followed up by a craniotomy. It bums me out to imagine turning 30 before I’m done with the AVM, so the idea of still dealing with it in my 30s sucks. (I found out after doing some research tonight that the average time between first and second gamma knife treatments is 40.9 months.)
After getting this news, even Healthy Katie would have shed a tear and smothered herself in a pint of Moose Tracks ice cream, but nothing happened. I knew the emotion I should be feeling was sadness. I knew that I was sad, intellectually I knew that. But I was sad in the way that I’m sad when I hear about something less-than-stellar happening to someone I don’t know. Like oh-this-person-I’ve-never-heard-of-was-turned-down-for-a-job-he-applied-for sad.
I’m really not looking forward to saying goodbye to my youngest brother because not crying for that goodbye is going to make me look heartless. (He’s moving to Orlando to live with his girlfriend.) I can just imagine hugging him, looking at our tear-soaked mother’s face, looking back at Matt, and exclaiming I’m sad! I really am! I’m just on medication! So you can’t tell that I’m sad, but I am!
David says to “just go with it for a while.” He’s been looking forward to Calm Katie for years since I previously had a strong opinion and matching emotion about every topic under the sun.
So even though the no-emotion thing is a little weird, it’s been nice to feel like I’m seeing clearly for the first time in months.
Have you ever taken medication to treat depression? What was your experience?