rollercoaster.jpgThank you to all the Beyond Blue readers who asked me for an update on my health.


In my post, “Grateful and Depressed? You Can Be Both,” I explained that I have been in a depressive cycle for about nine months. Able to function. Most people probably couldn’t tell, assuming my smile was genuine. But looming over every event, moment, situation was that longing to be on the other side of life (i.e. death), desperate for a relief of some kind for the chronic pain. Although I had lots of good days–even some weeks–I mostly woke up with that familiar nausea and dread you feel when you’ve fallen into the black abyss.

Dr. Smith has been inching up my Zoloft.

I started at 50 milligrams (which I was taking with 100 mg of Nortriptyline and 1050 mg of Lithium). I didn’t notice any change in my depression until two weeks ago, when I started taking 175 mg of Zoloft.

I clearly marked the morning in my mood journal when I woke up without any thoughts of death, and was actually excited to start the day. It feels so foreign, not to have to constantly fight the morbid thoughts. I guess I had grown so accustomed to the depression–applying all the coping skills I have learned over the years–that I figured it was a permanent disposition. You do that when it lasts more than six weeks. You assume the black hole is your home and start buying furniture for it.

Moreover, with me, I always fear hypomania when I start to feel good.

Because the lands of “wellness” and “hypomania” share a small strip of real estate that is forever being contested. As soon as some homes go up, the other says it’s their property and tears them down. Fuzzy terrain … determining what is level and what is at a slight incline. That’s why Dr. Smith inched up the Zoloft by 12.5 mg. I am hypersensitive to increased levels of SSRIs. In the past, increasing the dose by 25 mg has triggered a hypomania.

Now I do love being hypomanic. Not only can I complete today’s and tomorrow’s to-do list done in an hour, but I want sex! I can leave my below-sea-level self-esteem in the ocean because I actually have self-confidence! I believe in my own capabilities and when someone questions that, I tell him to go somewhere warm and don’t think twice. Ah yes. It’s a great way to be!

But what goes up must come down.


And the crashes I’ve experienced after a hypomania are brutal.

You definitely want to avoid them.

This, however, is the message I want to relay to all of you who are fighting chronic death thoughts and waking up with nausea and dread: depression doesn’t last forever. Having camped out in the black hole for three seasons straight, I was beginning to think that I would never ever escape.

But I did.

And so will you.

Getty Images/Business Week.

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