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Depression, Antidepressants, and SAD, Oh My!

About two months ago, I realized something significant. My antidepressants are actually working. Am I always happy? No. Am I even happy most of the time? I guess it depends on how you define happy. But, to be honest, that’s not what depression is really about. Depression is about not being able to cope with stresses in life. It’s about shutting down when life gets too hard to deal with. It’s about brain chemistry and not being able to enjoy the simplest of pleasures.

I have a very stressful job. I think about quitting almost daily. Some days, like any other job, are worse than others. When my antidepressants weren’t working, I’d “cope” with my stress as a result of my job and my depression in very unhealthy ways, like:

  • Burning through my PTO (paid time off) like there’s a hole in my pocket
  • Having a ton of Fibromyalgia flareups
  • Overeating
  • Over sleeping
  • Procrastinating my to do list at work
  • Being extremely irritable and grumpy
  • Being anti-social
  • Sitting on the couch doing nothing while I’m at home
  • Going into victim

I know my medication is working because even though I’m still extremely stressed and I’m not always happy, I’m not depressed like I have been in the past. And, I’ve realized I can cope with the stress in healthy ways. Sure, I’d still love to quit my job if a better opportunity presented itself. But, until then I know I can survive.

When I’m in a good place, I:

  • No longer burn through my PTO, which is nice because I can actually take vacations
  • Take 5-minute walks to breathe when I realize I need a break
  • Don’t procrastinate and just get the job done
  • Stick to my diet (lifestyle change) and take care of my physical health, which in turn allows me to take care of my mental health
  • Exercise to release endorphins

Seasonal Affective Disorder

My only concern is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), something else I’ve been diagnosed with. SAD affects me during the winter when it’s dark before I go to work and dark before I come home. I’ve never been in as good of a place as I am in right now before with medication and I don’t know how it works or will work with SAD. I can already feel SAD affecting me. Or, today I started wondering if I’m beginning to fall into its clutches. I’m not sure if I’m just tired, bored, and stressed (remember HALT BS?) or becoming depressed. They often feel the same to me in the beginning.

I had hoped my medication was going to keep SAD away this year, but SAD may be too strong for my meds. I just don’t know since it’s only seasonal. If I do fall into SAD’s clutches, I hope once it starts getting lighter again and SAD eventually goes away, I can go right back to being in a better place.

SAD be damned. I’ll get through this. I always do. I’ll just remember that everything is better in the spring. 😉

I’m glad I’ve been able to see how awesome it is to feel “normal” since I haven’t felt normal for more than half my life. I hope my antidepressants continue to work so I can keep feeling normal and keep coping with life in healthy ways.

6 replies
  1. Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books)
    Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) says:

    So, my question about SAD is: Does it only affect people in the dark winter months? I grew up in Washington State, where it was often overcast and rainy, and that kind of weather makes me feel happiest. I feel most energetic and content on moody, broody weather days. Here in Arizona, though, it’s constantly hot and sunny, which makes me feel tired, lethargic, and grumpy. It’s not debilitating or anything, but I definitely feel a difference inside when the weather changes. Just curious what you think …

    Reply
    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      It can be any weather. From what I know about SAD, for most people, it’s usually during the dark winter months. But, I do know that some people get SAD in the spring or summer. It think it all depends on our brain’s chemistry. I’m not sure it hot and sunny is SAD or if that it’s just hot. I get tired and lethargic when it’s hot as well. I love overcast weather, but I hate when it get dark so early.

      Reply
  2. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    I’m glad your antidepressants are working. The winter months have never bugged me but they drove my mom crazy. I find it helps to make my home bright and warm and get into a warm and fuzzy state of mind. Hot baths, hot chocolate, cuddling with a warm blanket and kitties, reading, going out in a warm car to look at Christmas lights, etc. If that doesn’t work call me! We can go to a movie. I still want to see Wonder. 😉

    Reply
    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my posts. And, yeah, everyone does deal with this stuff on some level. I think mental illness is just categorized as not being able to cope for long periods of time without intervention. If only electricity were enough for me. I need natural light. Electricity just reminds me it’s dark outside. 🙁

      Reply

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