Medications are funny things.
Years ago, when I had my last major depressive episode, my GP put me on Lexapro. I waited for it to kick in. And waited. And waited, worrying all the while that nothing would ever help me, nothing would ever change, and that this thing called life was all an exercise in futility.
Then, pretty much at the four week mark, I woke up one morning and jumped out of bed. It was a beautiful, sunny fall day, one of those rare perfect weather days in my neck of the woods. I was happy. Click — like a light switch. I was depressed one day, and then the next, not.
It didn’t last however, a month or so later it pooped out. My doctor increased my dosage and then, a couple of weeks later, I had another click day. Happy!
The next few months were kind of like this. Happy, then not. I got in somewhere along the way with an excellent psychiatrist. He added Wellbutrin to my mix, and that took care of the poop-out. After that we spent the next few months tweaking things not so much for my mood, which was fine by this point, but to combat side effects like weight gain and sexual side effects.
And now years later, I am coming out of another depressive episode. But, unlike last time, there has been no click. My improvement has been subtle and gradual. When I tried to describe the difference, she nodded. And she went further to say that with the gradual improvement comes a firmer, more lasting benefit. In other words, it takes awhile to get there but it sticks.
Three months in, I am feeling more secure and content that I have in ages. Do I have bad days? Yes. But I now have an artillery of coping strategies that I have learned to carry me through them, as well as a firm belief that moods are temporary. They come, and they go. And when I don’t like the one that is visiting me, making me uncomfortable, I pull something out of my artillery. I focus on the basics (my mantra – food, clothing, shelter), nothing more, and try to be as gentle and compassionate with myself as I can. I do a mood record (thank you, CBT!) and a hot bath, and get to bed early, because sleep is ground zero.
And then the next day, things are better. Not click better, not usually, but better.