Those of us who have known depression, felt the grasp on your functionality slowly leave your reach, you know what a loss of resiliency can cause you when you experience even minor setbacks. Setbacks can seem insurmountable, like a huge crater opened up on the kitchen floor and your car keys are on the sill out of reach.

The self talk sometimes helps, but if it doesn’t, I wonder why the antidepressants I’ve been taking for many years have not averted this sudden disaster.  It’s a helpless feeling for me, almost like a child feels when his ice cream cone fallls into the mud. I just don’t have “it” anymore; I’ve lost “it,” and I want to go barricade myself in my sanctuary place until I regain “it.”

Sometimes I reflect on the many interventions my doctors tried on me, and even a few I tried on my own.  St. John’s Wort, the popular herbal remedy that comes with special warning to stay out of the sun when taking, or you may be susceptible to sunburn.  I doubled the recommended dosage.  I tried making SJW salads, and brewed tea, and it just didn’t budge my bad days.  Wellbutrin, the wonder drug, one with fewest reported side effects seemed to help me for awhile, though I could not tolerate anything more than the loading dose of  150 mg.   The recommended 300 mg dosage side effect was urinary retention, and I’ll leave it at that since medical conditions can be unpleasant to describe in gory detail.

I’ll long remember my psychiatrist’s happy face when my DNA test results suggested several new and expensive antidepressants that worked on different pathways for warding off the blues.  I’ve always believed in the placebo effect when taking medicines.  If you believe that the drug will help you to feel better, then your chances of having a good response will be higher.  Well Belsombra, made from a nightshade plant, almost killed me.  I remember the psychiatrist and then my general practice physician both insisting this new cure would be lasting.  My experience was paralyzed sleep.  Waking up seven hours after going to bed, still and sore from not moving at all during the night, dry mouth from mouth-open sleep, and drool down my chin and front of my T shirt.  Excited with my results, my doctor said “but you did get sleep, right?” My response was “I was paralyzed in bed, felt like I’d been rufied the night before, and was dead in the head until 3:00 pm the next day, barely able to function, feeling sore and stiff, unrested, and worse off for the trial. It’s the only time I can remember raising my voice to the doctor.

What should you do when you experience setbacks?

The best advice I received for addressing and surviving mental setbacks was given to me by a very dear friend, and it was threefold:

* Take your time

*Forgive yourself any elongated recovery time

*Talk with someone about the really bad setbacks

Brutally common sense, but for me, immensely important because I trusted the source.  She was my placebo effect, someone whom I knew had a rough life, but was a world-beater, and wasn’t going to curl up into a fetal ball and be institutionalized.  She’d beaten cancer, and faced several bad breakups.  She was successful in life, professionally and personally, and though she’s been gone for several years, I’m still inspired by her grace and loving manner.  There’s always someone battling setbacks, some potentially worse than your setback.  When you follow the 3 steps, you learn more about success in dealing with them.  If you find a good fit for antidepressant drug therapy, ride it for as long as it works for you, but remember you can do your research and ask your doctor for advice on any new drugs that have come to market for which you might be a match.  There are also some medical trials that work their way into social media feeds, I’ve thought about volunteering for one of those too.

My depression is here with me waiting to bloom like dandelions from between your driveway paver stones.  It’s up to us to figure out how to keep it at bay, or whether we need to take some time to process through it.  Sending you well wishes of depression free months and a minimum of drug interventions.





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