Sunday, October 22, 2006

TO WRITE: Belonging to "Club Meds"
I remember the first time a doctor, who happened to be a neurologist, suggested I take antidepressants. It was not to treat depression, but migraines. It seemed an odd, unlikely idea, but my chronic daily headaches were making grad school very difficult, and no other migraine treatment had helped. I agreed to try them, quickly and arrogantly thinking, "Thank goodness I don't have depression to deal with; these are just for a neurological issue."

A few months later, after trying the little white pills for several weeks without any lessening of my migraine symptoms, then a few weeks off of them, something else was amiss. I noticed I was crying at the drop of a hat, sleeping all weekend if I could, and having to drag myself to my work in the lab each morning. My psychiatrist, who I had consulted just in case he could shed any new light on the headaches, quickly put two and two together. Those meds had been treating me effectively for something, it just wasn't my migraines: I was depressed. Now, as he suggested I restart the drug, my reaction was very different. "Who, me? Depressed? And taking pills for it? This can't be. I certainly don't need medicine to be happy! Or do I? Why can't I just change my mood by myself?"

Fearing I was on a slippery slope toward "crazy," I reluctantly went back to the daily medication. I didn't like it, even felt demeaned by the idea of it, but I also felt so lousy that I was cautiously willing to try this for some relief. The upshot: Within several more months, I was not only depression-free, but migraine-free as well. I became a believer.

Play with this...
If you take medication for your depression, bipolar disorder or other mental health issue, write continuously for 20 minutes on how you felt when you started it. Did you resist at all or welcome it with open arms? Why? Have your feelings changed at all over time? How does your attitude toward your meds affect you and your illness today?

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