Why I Choose Not To Medicate My Depression
It’s 11:03am and I just finished eating a small bowl of vegan ice cream. Living out the childhood dream of [lactose-free] adulthood? Sure. But more so comforting my bruised insides with the soothing sweetness of a frozen dessert.
Today is the first day in about 13 days that I’ve woken up not feeling like death. For the initial week, said death feeling was the result of being extremely sick. Well that passed and then I just gave up. Leave the house? Why fucking bother. Create something new? Bleh I have nothing inside. No, I will not answer that fucking phone call or that text or that email or that notification or that anything. I will sleep though — on the couch, in my bed, all day, every day. Is that daylight? Looks like sleepytime to me. Anyway, as I said, didn’t feel like that this morning, i.e., the shitstorm has finally started rolling out.
Yes, I'm describing depression. And no, I’m not “taking anything.”
I’ve done the anti-depressant thing in the past, about a year and a half on a very low dose of Zoloft. I never felt dramatically different, just a lessening of the extremity of the emotional pain I was in at the time. I came off it at the recommendation of the therapist whose idea it was to start it in the first place; she didn’t believe in relying on meds as a lifelong crutch, merely a short-term adjustment.
Coming off was harder than starting which had felt a little like getting the flu. The end felt more like the hormonal lows following the end of a pregnancy; panic, weeping, emotions in constant flux. I wound up taking Niacin to ease the transition which I think helped?
Currently I take no medication nor supplement for my moods or emotions. I stopped the Niacin about a year ago, after which I took exactly one bottle of L-Tyrosine. [Both Niacin and L-Tyrosine are thought to have some effectiveness in treating depression naturally but I’m not a doctor, nutritionist or even interested in advocating for the ingestion of any pill for mood control so do your own research if you want to know more.] But in all my experience with supplements, prescribed or otherwise, I never stopped having really shitty feelings; they just got smoothed out a bit which never seemed reason enough to pay for and keep up with a daily pill regimen.
I don’t know that I would have the same “I don’t want to medicate my depression away” stance if I wasn’t sober. It’s not just a matter of being averse to taking a substance to “manage” my moods, it’s the experience of sitting through discomfort as a matter of survival, the mental clarity to feel my feelings. After 6+ years living without the crutch of drugs and alcohol, this pain shit is pretty familiar.
But familiar does not equal easy; I constantly have to remind myself that the really shitty feelings will pass. In the beginning I never believe it; I cry, I nap, I sigh and pace and carb-load and sometimes walk in circles. Eventually it occurs to me that I won’t feel like this forever, but that can sometimes take several days of awfulness.
If I take a broad view and look at an entire year of feelings, the really dark times only account for maybe 8 to 10 weeks which isn’t terribly much in the scheme of things. The perspective I get from such quantification helps me cope. It also makes me look at the timing which makes me think about the origin which then makes me think about the "why" because I have absolutely come to believe that there are always reasons for the really shitty feelings.
Maybe my body needs a fucking rest and shutting me down emotionally is the only thing that will get me to pause and recover. Maybe there are instincts or situations I’ve been ignoring and what I really need is a forced reset, some time to evaluate the direction my life is going. Maybe it’s just human to go through highs and lows.
Dealing with bouts of depression is difficult and unpleasant. Regardless, I’d rather go through it and feel in touch with my mind and body, possibly learn something about myself, then to trudge forward with smoothed out emotions and zero impetus to consider the state of things in my life.
I’m sharing this as an offering of something I don’t see discussed very often. What I do see, are ads and commercials for chemical solutions to the point where it seems like a fool’s choice not to adjust pharmaceutically. Do you have any idea how many people ask “are you taking anything” when I share honestly about how I’m feeling? The question may seem innocuous but it feels like judgment, it implies there’s something abnormal about having really shitty feelings. I disagree.
I could go on about yin and yang and bitter and sweet blah blah blah but that’s not the point. My perspective doesn't have to be your perspective and vice versa. So live your fucking life, feel your really shitty feelings or don’t. Having the choice, the opportunity to manage yourself and your decisions, is probably is one of the best parts of being human no?