Saturday, June 14, 2008
I am going to be laying myself out there pretty raw and vulnerable in this post. But I do it for three reasons:

1) Writing is my way of processing things in my own head and, oftentimes, of letting go of them.
2) Someone may read this and have some good input for me.
3) Someone may read this and in some way be helped by it.

I have struggled most of my adult life with just getting "down in the dumps" from time to time. I would not begin to say that what I experience is anywhere near the horrid depths of darkness experienced by those with clinical depression, but it's still no fun.

My blues come and go. It's interesting to note that my first real experience was about the same time I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. That has always intrigued me. Depression is considered to be a symptom of fibro. To me, it's sort of a chicken and the egg thing though. Am I down as part of my fibro or am I down because I am tired of being in pain all the time. Interesting, eh?

Anyway ... maybe about 12 years ago, my blues hit the point where I inquired with my doctor about antidepressants. This was about the time that Prozac and some of the other drugs were hitting it big. He put me on Paxil. I went back to him after a month and reported that I was feeling much better in terms of my depression. So, we agreed that I would stay on it.

Then, about two weeks later, things changed. I started having real vivid, intense and unpleasant dreams. And I started feeling more than ever like I was in a fog -- like I wasn't "all there". So, I stopped taking Paxil and never really looked back. About that time, my doctor changed so no one ever asked me about it.

Fast forward to this past winter. Again, I was feeling pretty blue. Not as bad as I remember 12 years ago but still not the greatest. I also have been feeling pretty bad with fibro symptoms. Again, the chicken and the egg thing between the fibro and the depression. So, I talked to my doctor and he prescribed Effexor which is an antidepressant but is also used a lot to treat fibro.

Same story as with Paxil ... at the end of a month, I felt pretty good. And the fibro was better. We decided I'd stay on the same dosage of Effexor. Then, about two weeks later (just recently), the dreams set in. Real vivid, intense dreams, often about childhood experiences that I really would prefer to not re-live without the help of a trained therapist. And then a fibro flare set in. And then I felt like I was in a fog ... very little energy ... and my creativity (which normally is reasonably high), fell dramatically. It took a toll on my blogging, my family life, and my work.

So, I have stopped taking Effexor. I realize I have some issues from my childhood that I need to process. I really can't process them in an open forum like my blog. I have talked to close friends about them but they are not necessarily trained to ask those "tell me more" sort of questions that really help one work through such things.

One of these days, I need to invest in a therapist. But, until then, antidepressants are not for me I have decided.

There you have it ... just keepin' it real.

  posted at 6:22 AM  

At 9:16 AM, Blogger HeyJules said...

Wow, does this bring back memories...

When I had my last depression/crisis three years ago I was put on Zoloft and, after a few weeks, began having those vivid, intense dreams as did you. That's because, chemically, we're not depressed. When you're not chemically depressed and you begin taking an anti-depressant, it invariably leads to mania.

I, too, stopped taking the Zoloft...and I crashed, big time. I tucked my head between my tail and headed back to the doctor who put me on Effexor...and Effexor was what I was on the night I decided to kill myself. It, too, did what Zoloft did only in the opposite direction - it led to a worsened state of depression.

Thank GOD I was in therapy at the time.

So here's the deal: For those people who are chemically depressed, whose brains do not make the right amount of chemicals to keep them in a safe state of mind, anti-depressants are a wonder drug. And, for those like you and me, who need them as a short-term life boat kinda thing, they are fine for that, also.

But...if you have issues from childhood and you think this might possibly be the cause of some of this depression, then take it from me: GO DO THE WORK. It will never get better, no matter what drugs you take until you face what is behind you.

Find someone you like, that you trust, that you can build a really safe environment with and go do the hard work. The payoff in the end is totally worth it. I know you are a man of great faith so go ask God to join you in that room with a great therapist and show them both what you've been afraid to deal with all these years. You'll be so surprised how healing that light can be.

As you well know, these have been the best three years of my life and I owe it all to letting the light into that corner of my world that was still living in darkness.

Email me if you need help finding a therapist or have any questions. I'm here, Todd...

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Todd M said...

Thank you, Jules, for being a great friend and investing so much in me.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger HeyJules said...

No, Todd, thank you for being honest out in an open format where other people might see it and be helped. I wrote that comment TO you but also FOR them.

It's so hard to look back and fix the broken parts of ourselves but it is so very worth it. We can't just keep assuming we'll be made whole in heaven...we need to work on that process here on earth, as well.

Remember, Todd, if God is with you, who then can be against you? There's nothing stopping you - but you.

Be well my friend. Hugs to Lisa and Evan.



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Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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