I haven’t taken my antidepressants in three days.
This isn’t entirely my doing although on occasions I will forget to take them accidentally on purpose just to prove that I can; that although I recognise that I need these little white pills I’m not entirely dependent upon them to function.
However, when I phoned the GP to order my monthly repeat prescription there was some issue with re-ordering it without a review from the doctor and that I can’t pick it up until tomorrow. This wouldn’t be a problem if I’d actually ordered the repeat when I realised I was running low but for some reason, even though I knew I would run out in the next few days I didn’t phone the GP.
On the first day after missing a dose I feel quite normal; my mind remains stable and I function at a productive level. I play with Squidge, I blog, I do chores around the house and I walk to the park and to the town centre, pushing Squidge in his purple pram.
By the second day I start to wobble. I feel panicky and weepy and I start to struggle with simple tasks such as putting the laundry on. I manage to carry on looking after Squidge but then I tend to crumple in a heap when the Northern One gets home.
On day three my brain feels like it’s starting to misfire. My thoughts become foggy and my vision becomes blurry; I struggle to focus on things that need doing or even what I’m actually looking at. I can almost feel my brain trying to kick start itself; flooding the neurones and synapses with chemicals to try and restore normal function.
Only this didn’t happen today.
This morning (not this afternoon, ooh no) I struggled to wake up and then to actually get up. Fortunately I was having a rare Squidge free day as I wasn’t working but he was still in nursery. I vaguely remembered the Northern One telling me they were leaving this morning before I passed out again.
Squidge has started waking at night again and I’m having to readjust to functioning on a few hours of broken sleep again.
But I did get up; I got showered, dressed in my very attractive blue and purple jodhpurs and I went to my riding lesson.
By the time I finished my lesson my legs ached, I smelled quite strongly of horse and my stomach was rumbling but I felt pretty good. I went to Sainsbury’s to do some shopping and treated myself to a cream bun.
I don’t know if it was down to the subsequent sugar rush, the endorphins released by the workout of trying to persuade a rather large animal to follow my instructions, the antidepressants having worked their way out of my blood stream or a combination of all three but on the drive home I started to feel really good.
Actually, it wasn’t really to do with feeling good.
It was because I was actually feeling.
Really, truly feeling.
No barriers, no constraints.
No anchors tethering me to the earth; to reality and sanity.
I forget what it’s like.
What it’s like to feel.
I suppose it’s a bit like the sedation holidays we gave intensive care patients when I was a student on ITU. These patients weren’t well enough to be woken fully from their medically induced comas but we’d stop the sedative medications for a few hours to allow their brains and bodies to be a bit more awake rather than keeping them completely shut down for days on end. They would sometimes open their eyes and move their hands and feet; remembering what it was like to live in the real world before they reentered the twilight state that their bodies needed to heal.
I know I need to take the antidepressants for the rest of my life because my mind is unlikely to ever truly heal.
I know a few minutes or hours of elation doesn’t mean that depression has fled, never to darken my thoughts again.
I know this and so I accept that I will go through the rest of my life with everything slightly dimmed, like someone has altered the contrast on the television. I still laugh and cry, love and hate and find the joy and sorrow in life but I now that there’s something missing; that I just don’t experience the same depth of feeling that I used to.
I drove down the dual carriage way feeling my heart start to beat faster, goosebumps rippling over my skin and the fine hair on my arms and the back of my neck standing up.
I can’t put into words how amazing it felt.
I felt awake
I felt invincible
I felt free.
My heart soared as I sang along to the radio, the music rising up inside me and my head began to fill with thoughts and ideas and possibilities until it began to overflow.
Nothing seemed out of reach and everything seemed possible.
There was no fear, no darkness, no pain or doubt.
I knew the feeling couldn’t last; that before long the joy would start to border on mania and the familiar sensations of panic and dread would crash over me until I was overwhelmed by them.
I knew that by the time I got home I would have to take the tablets before I lost control completely.
But until then I was going to feel everything that I could.
I remembered how I felt when the Northern One first said “I love you.”
But I didn’t just remember, I felt it all over again.
I felt it so strongly, so completely that I thought my heart might burst from sheer joy. I felt the rush, the almost frantic beating of my heart, the battling emotions of elation and fear and the knowledge that my life would never be the same again.
I felt it all.
I got out of the car and I looked up the stars, truly seeing them and the beauty of the world. I forgot about the tears and the longing, the self hate.
I stood in my dark garden with my thoughts and the stars and I felt at peace
That even though depression and medication would always be part of my life there would still be times when the sun would break through and it would blaze in all its glory; burning away everything bad until it felt as though my very soul was on fire, fuelled by joy and wonder and feelings than ran so deep I had forgotten they were there.
I took one last look at the night sky and then I went inside.
I slowly put away the shopping, savouring the last few moments before the medication entered my blood stream again.
I could already feel the vaguest bubbling of unease.
I popped the small, white, lozenge shaped tablets out of the silver foil of the blister pack into my hand and then I swallowed them down with a glass of milk.
I don’t regret taking them; my mind is such that I need to take them in the same way that I need to eat and drink and breathe and that even though the world is a bit less bright that in could be at least I will continue to live in in.
That if spending my life slightly sedated is the sacrifice I make so that I can be wife and mother to the two people that I love with all my heart and protect with every fibre of my being then I will do so willingly. A life with a little less colour is better than no life at all.
Maybe if I was alone then I might refuse the tablets; enduring days of seemingly endless darkness in the hope of experiencing that rush of feeling that made my heart sing and my soul soar just one more time.
But I’m not alone and in no being alone I’m part of something that is so much bigger than me but at the same time could not continue to exist without me; that if I ceased to be then it would shatter and the fallout would be devastate not me, but the two left behind.
And so, every evening I take the pills without argument or conflict because I know that I am loved and wanted and needed and that I have to carry on.
I know what I need to do.
I take the pills and I am thankful for them.