A Side Helping Of Transparency

Ivy says:

Hi. My name is Ivy Hogan and I am using anti-depressants. That might not sound like a shocking revelation- after all, I’ve read several posts in recent weeks decrying how many doctors overprescribe anti-depressants, and how, surely, all these people who are on anti-depressants don’t really need them. I, myself, fought being put on anti-depressants for a very long time, partly due to the “you don’t really need them” stigma and partly because I wanted to see if I could get out of this funk myself, because, really, things in my life are hard lately and I thought that these things were the root cause.

And they might be. For the newbies here and for people who don’t know me and don’t know what’s going on in my life, I’ll give you a recap. About five years ago, my dad was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy. Now, for those of you who don’t feel like clicking the link, the long and short of it is that it is a very slow moving kidney disease that has no cure and usually results in kidney failure. 5 years ago when my dad was diagnosed, they estimated that he had already had it for at least 15 years and was getting to the end stages of the disease.

They attempted to treat it with prednisone, but that has resulted in many other problems such as diabetes and cataracts. And, in addition to everything else, because of my dad’s kidneys failing, he has also developed congestive heart failure, gout, and a few other problems I can’t even remember right now. Basically- my dad is dying very slowly right before my very eyes, and there is nothing I can do about it.

On top of everything else, last year on August 31st, my grandma passed away very suddenly. My grandma, who had lived with us for 8 years. My grandma, who I was very close to. Losing her was heartbreaking, and the subsequent cleaning out of all the stuff she had owned piled sadness onto my heart as much as her stuff was being piled into my house.

You might be thinking, “Ivy, that doesn’t make you a candidate for anti-depressants, that makes you a candidate for therapy.” I’d agree, except I talk to a therapist nearly every Friday. He’s been recommending I see my doctor (or a psychiatrist) for antidepressants for 6 months, at least.

So after several incidents where I picked fights with people I dearly love, after sleeping several entire days away, and finally, after overhearing a conversation my kids had about my depression, I talked to my doctor and he prescribed Celexa.

The night I filled the prescription I was at my mom and dad’s house, and Dad and I went to the store. On the way, I told him about my new prescription. “Thank God,” he said. “I’ve been watching your normal sparkle drain out of you for nearly a year now and I was about to say something to you. Did you know Mr. Ivy had even called me about your depression?”

See, I think with clinical depression, the person who is depressed is often the last to really know. Everyone else sees it, but they don’t want to bring it up to you for fear of making you angry or more depressed. Dad went on to tell me several things that I really needed to hear. First, he told me that it runs in my family. He talked about how, when he was a kid, my grandma would be fine for a few years, but then would lock herself into her bedroom for months and even sometimes years at a time. What was she doing? Sleeping, mainly, he said. She cried a lot too.

This reminded me of when I was a kid and my dad would spend a bunch of time in his bedroom, sleeping or just staring at the television. This just stopped when I was in high school. I asked him what was the difference, why it stopped and he simply said, “That’s when Prozac came on the market.” Ah-hah. One of my life’s mysteries explained.

I told him about how many people in my life had been telling me to just snap out of it, or that I needed to get my act together, or that I needed to start thinking positively. And my very favorite- my mom told me if I cleaned my house, I would be much happier. Because we all know, a clean house is totally the key to sanity.

Then my dad told me something that may have been one of the most important things I needed to hear: the people telling me to snap out of it, or think positively or clean my house do NOT understand what being clinically depressed is like. These people are well meaning, but because they cannot comprehend that all the positive thinking and spotless houses in the world are not going to cheer me up, are making me feel worse. What I needed to do was just what I did. Go to the doctor and find an anti-depressant that works for me.

I’m writing this for you Home Eccers that do understand. For those of you who may or may not have problems in your life, but still feel hopeless. For those of you who, all you want to do is sleep. And for those of you who think it’s probably better for everyone else if you vanished off the face of the planet. Have you been there? Are you there now?

I’ve been on the Celexa for 3 weeks now. People have been telling me they’re so glad to see my “voice” back. Mr. Ivy grabbed me and hugged me hard yesterday and said he had missed me immensely. My oldest son said, “What, you’re laughing? I didn’t know you knew how to do that anymore.” Things are getting back on track.

If you’ve been feeling hopeless or anything similar, I cannot urge you enough to pick up the phone and call your doctor for an appointment to talk to them about getting the right medicine to help you. Also, do not discount the amazing benefits of talk therapy. I’ve always said everyone should have a therapist. They’re like having friends you can tell everything to with the bonus of being absolutely sure they’re never going to spread gossip about you. Plus, you don’t have to deal with their problems. Therapists have their own therapists for that.

Be well, Home Eccers. I’m getting there, myself.

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46 Comments

  1. hariman on October 22, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Nice information, thanks.

  2. Sherri Moore on August 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you Thank You Thank you. I am bipolar (I inherited it from my father). Its so hard when the people you love, the people who are supposed to l0ve you prefer to believe you can just snap out 0f it. Its ideas like that, That keep mental health in the dark ages.

  3. bridgett on August 28, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I know this struggle well, both as observer and participant. I’m glad that you got the right help at the right time for you and wish I was as forthright about seeking out what I need when I need it. I am one of those “stumble around, tough it out, put my family and myself through the mill” people. Once I dug myself out the last time, I decided that I would take whatever steps necessary if it ever happened again. So far, so good, but I’m still resolute and stories like yours only confirm me in my plan to seek out help quickly next time.

  4. Terrie on August 27, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Thank you, thank you, for both going for help for yourself and for writing about it. There is still a stigma to taking anti-depressants and going for therapy, but the combination of the two is more effective than anything else you can do. Your father was wise; NO ONE can understand the black pit your life can feel like, unless they’ve experienced it. I started on Prozac years ago and am now taking Elavil (an oldie but goodie that works for me) at night, and Paxil in the morning. I can’t describe the difference in my life now! I only feel bad that I didn’t go for help sooner so my kids would have had a fulltime mother instead of a zombie after their father and I separated. But I’m good now. Keep your chin up; it gets better, much better.

  5. Kati B on August 27, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Hip Hip Hooray!

    I remember finally making that appt that I had put off for so long, and being terrified that after all of my own kvetching about whether it was time to get medicated, the doc would listen to me and say, Ah, you’re fine. Have you tried yoga?

    Because I was still so stuck in thinking – I haven’t done every single thing that I possibly could to “snap out of this” myself.

    And of course I hadn’t. I was depressed! That’s what clinical depression means, you can’t do the things that you know will bring joy to you!

    Hooray!

  6. tink on August 27, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Ivy,

    I’m VERY proud of you.

    My husband is military, and has only begun to battle PTSD after his last deployment.

    I’m one of those “tough women” – thought I could kick my own butt out of it as I slowly watched my husband become the ghost of the man he once was.

    I finally went for help(for myself) 2 weeks ago — how can I help someone else if I wouldn’t even help myself??

    I’m thinking much more clearly and am just now able to take the steps he needs me to take to be able to fight for him as well as myself.

    Good luck to you, and be proud of yourself – you are doing the right thing.

  7. kristen on August 27, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Ivy, I just stumble upon this post (although I have read many others of yours) and am so glad I did! It is so refreshing to see someone so open regarding depression. I suffer from depression, PTSD, and anxiety and, yes, I take an anti depressant. I was PROUD of myself for recognizing that I did in fact need this, not ashamed. And I certainly hope you feel your old self again soon!

  8. Brenda on August 27, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Wow, you’ve written a post that I always wanted to write, but for me it’s anxiety. I too resisted because I didn’t want to “jump on the bandwagon”. My doctor had known me for over 10 years, delivered my kids, and he convinced me to try Effexor. It was the best thing I ever did…

    I wish I could hug you in person…but a virtual one will have to do:) {{{HUGS}}}

  9. holly on August 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    You are so brave and inspiring.

  10. MJ on August 27, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I think if more of us are as matter-of-fact about our depression and what it really IS, it won’t be such a big deal in the future. Well, maybe. We can always Hope!

  11. Cheryl on August 27, 2008 at 10:47 am

    We are all so very proud of you! May you and your family feel our support and hugs!

  12. Teresa on August 27, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Better living through chemistry has always been my motto 🙂

    May you continue to heal and move forward.

  13. TennZen on August 27, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Miss Ivy, hun…

    There is no shame in taking antidepressants, no shame at all. I myself have been on Prozac and it’s literally saved my life. I laud you for your honest revelation.

    You are all the more a hero to me!

  14. Susan on August 27, 2008 at 2:33 am

    thank you for sharing your story.

  15. Annie (Adventures In Mommyland) on August 27, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Ivy,

    I am so glad you shared this. I read your blog daily, but never comment. I have to tell you that I know about many of the things you are going through. My dad was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer (Stage IV) and was told that it is the worst possible situation. My dad is one of my best friends, so this situation is so hard. I have also been dealing with the stress of a crazy toddler and the stress of trying to start a small business. I have to say, stress causes depression, I know it! I am so thankful that you are getting help, and that you can write about this topic with such honesty. I really admire you for that…I just want you to know you are not alone!
    Annie

  16. JRae on August 26, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Congratulations! I’m happy you’re feeling better now. 🙂

  17. Crystal on August 26, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Lexapro is a godsend to me now that i have finally adressed that side of life. 2nd child and ppd finally mad me seek help. Good Luck!

  18. Marty on August 26, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Depression can also manifest as heavy, oppressive, and unrelenting fatigue. I had no energy, no motivation to do anything, and no amount of sleep made me feel rested. I was not in the midst of a life crisis. The second drug I tried corrected the chemical imbalance and gave me back my life. I rejoice for you.

  19. elismsue on August 26, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you!! Sometimes a stranger’s voice is the voice we hear.

  20. Leigh on August 26, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Ivy, I’m so glad you found something that works for you. I remember the first time I laughed at something my husband said when before I would’ve burst into tears, and he just said,”Wow… I’m glad you’re back.”

    Talking about it helps me, too. I’m glad you are able to share this with us, your readers, and I hope it does help others.

  21. Brenda on August 26, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I’m very, very sorry to read about your father….that’s a tough one, for sure. But I’m very, very glad for the improvement you’re feeling in yourself. It must seem like you’ve been lifted out of a deep pit. God’s blessings!!

    Brenda

  22. Jessica on August 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Ivy, thank you so much for talking openly about this, because regardless of how far we’ve come there’s still so much misinformation & so many people who will judge before they listen. I’m really glad you were able to recognize what you needed & that you are feeling more like your old self again. I wish you and your family all the best!

    – Jessica (jessypie)

  23. Cherie on August 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing and being forthright on your blog. I’ve been there also, and also have depression in my family. And my doctor understands the need for anti-depressants! My life also reads like a soap opera, but it is mostly good now.

  24. Christi on August 26, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Bless you, Ivy for getting help, and for sharing your story!

  25. Roxie on August 26, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    If I told you my ‘story’ you would not believe it. I swear you would think I made it up. My life has been a soap opera for the past few years. My father battled cancer 3 times before it took him, my mother had a masive stroke and is now home bound; (we care for her at home with the help of a nurse 5 days a week) My son and ex-daughter in law went to prison for making crystal meth in their kitchen. We got custody of two boys 11 months and 1 year old. Then to add insult to injury my best friend drown while on vacation. Three months later MY husband had a stroke. Want to talk DEPRESSED? Yet, my sister tells me I need to ‘buck up’ and just go. I thank God for Prozac. It has saved me. I am sure. Now if I can just get my friend’s widow to go get some ‘help’ then I will sleep better at night. For some reason my friend’s widow does not ‘believe’ she is depressed. Let me tell you she could write a book. She is blowing through the insurance money like it is water. When it is gone then what????
    Oh well, I did not mean to take over your blog. Thank you for sharing your story. Roxie

  26. Karen on August 26, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Ivy, I’ve been there as well. I wanted to point out that you CAN be depressed and NOT have suicidal thoughts. I’m sure a lot of people think “how can I be depressed when I’m not trying to kill myself.” I think that may be common with moms who know they have to raise their kids, but just feel numb.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I’m sure you’ve reached many people who needed to see this!

  27. Ginger on August 26, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Antidepressants probably saved me from a very horrible life. Chemical imbalances run in my family, and I am SO grateful that there are medications available to help, and that the “stigma” of mental illness is being lifted.

    Thank God for you, Ivy.
    *hugs*

  28. K on August 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve been on Wellbutrin for the past three years, and a host of other anti-depressants for years before that. I’ve had people tell me numerous different ways to “solve” or “fix” my depression, and everytime I hear it, I want to laugh in their faces. But I’m cynical, even on the pills. 😀

    Anyways, I’m happy that you’ve taken the first few steps to returning to your previous, joyful self. It might take a while, and it sure won’t be easy, but the fact that you’re doing it at all says a lot. Good luck!

  29. Paula in NH on August 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I’m on depression medicine too. I know it runs in my family, but no one will talk about it. There is nothing wrong with needing to take it. Depression is a physical disease and needs drugs to control it.

    Congrats to you for getting help. Congrats as well for sharing it with us.

  30. Pam on August 26, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you for your honesty…..I have tried three diffferent kinds and just gave up……believe it or not I have been on fish oil tablets for about 3 weeks and I am a new woman.My daughter helped me find ones that guarentee they are mercury free. I am sleeping and have energy again…..even if it is “just a placebo” I don’t care I finally feel better.
    God Bless you for your willingness to share. Pam, South Bend

  31. Tara on August 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Good for you Ivy!

    I took Effexor XR for years to treat a debilitating, suicidal depression. Then I went off of it. And I was better for a few years. Then one day I realized that I was crying every day. I weeped more profoundly about a broken copying machine than I did when the man who was like a 2nd father to me died. That was when I went back to the doctor and started taking Lexapro.

    I am very frank about the medicine I take precisely because of the stigma involved. It should not be there. Just as Mom of Three said that you wouldn’t tell someone to snap out of kidney disease, telling them to snap out of clinical depression isn’t just mean and useless, it’s irresponsible.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with your readers. Maybe it will make reaching out for help easier for someone who is struggling.

  32. Melanie on August 26, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Wow. I can totally relate to this. I finally went to see a psychiatrist in July after years and years and years and years of being constantly anxious and sad and upset and dreading every social outing and fun event in my life. Turns out I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and PTSD that was most likely initiated by my dad’s heart attack 17 years ago (I was 10) and his subsequent bypass surgery this past summer. It’s a chemical imbalance, not an emotional problem, and so many people just don’t understand that. They always think that it’s something that you’re not doing…your life isn’t in order or this or that. Thanks for being so transparent on the blog. I’ve been reading for about a month now and love it, and I do even more if nothing else than to know that other people out there face the same things as me:) Thanks again!

  33. Diane on August 26, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    My old dad is suffering from dementia and I understand exactly how you feel. If only it was that easy to “snap out of it” I’m sure we all would. The worry about my father is a constant shadow over my life and the antidepressants are the only thing that keeps me going at the moment.

  34. Fawn on August 26, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Good for you, Ivy. I’m sending you healing thoughts and best wishes.

  35. Mrs. Micah on August 26, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Amen. I had something very similar happen when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Antidepressants actually saved my life. I was in therapy for a couple months before my therapist said that I should look into them.

    Once I was on them, I was able to stop crying all the time, stopped being nearly as suicidal, and was much better at taking charge of my thought patterns and the like. It’s still not something I’m all the way out of, like having a long illness that requires medication, physical therapy, and a lot of time. But I am off medication now and doing ok. It was about 2 1/2 years for me.

    I owe a great debt to my therapist, to Micah, and to the friends who first made me get help. I also know that antidepressants got my brain to a place where I could start to “snap out of it” (though I don’t like that phrase at all).

    I’m glad to hear that they’re helping you balance out too. Thanks for sharing your story, depression is still not understood by so many people. *hugs*

  36. Mom of three on August 26, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Ivy,
    You would not tell your dad to “snap out” of his kidney disease, or diabetes. If you son broke his arm, you wouldn’t tell him to “snap out” of the pain. I say take the drugs until your doctor says you can stop. Usually that’s a year, but can be shorter or longer. And if Dad has stopped his, he may want to try some more to help him deal with his illness.
    To the friends that tell you to snap out of it, tell them with the help of your doctor you are and smile pretty. What they don’t know want hurt them.

  37. Keter on August 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Hugs to you, Ivy. I’m glad you are starting to feel some relief.

  38. Jasi on August 26, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Whatever it takes to give you joy and a functional, happy, and productive life is well worth it.

    I consider myself lucky, though. I’m of the OCD set. A clean house still does it for me.

  39. Kacie on August 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I’m sorry about all of those rough things in your life recently 🙁

    Glad things are starting to look up!

    It isn’t as if you can just flip a switch and “stop being sad” or some nonsense. Depression is much more than that.

    I’m going to ask my doctor to monitor me really closely for postpartum depression after my son is born at the end of the year. I’m hoping I’ll be fine, but if not, I want help!

  40. jim voorhies on August 26, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    More people ought to take drugs. I’ve said that for decades. 😉

  41. Fraulein N on August 26, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I’m glad you’re getting what you need. I just get so angry with people who don’t believe that anti-depressants can help people. Are they over-prescribed? Probably. But for some people (and I’m one of them) they can absolutely be a life-saver.

  42. Angela on August 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    My family struggled with craptastic doctors for years and that was one reason when as an adult I started having symptoms that I was even more hesistant to try drugs that I already knew could screw you up. I didn’t want to have an idiot screwing with my already fragile hormones.

    I decided that I was going to see a psychiatrist because at least then there was a good chance he would have greater experience with these meds. It worked. I still see a counselor periodically but I swear by a psychiatrist for meds instead of your general practioner.

    I also thought that depression was more apt to come on at puberty like it had for my siblings but mine hit hard when I got pregnant, and got worse with the second pregnancy.

    I still have only told less than 5 or 6 people what my actual diagnosis is because of the stigma it carries. It feels like a life sentence to me that at this point, a few years later, I’m still accepting. But you know what, I feel a heck a lot more like myself and bottom line, I’m functioning.

    Anyway, from another totally against anti-depressants believer, congratulations for getting help. And even more for speaking about it. And most of all, for feeling a little more like your old self.

  43. Amy on August 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I have been there. Yay Zoloft! Hugs to you. It takes courage to admit, so publicly, that you’re not perfect.

    It runs in my family too. Let it end with us.

    Hugs, and understanding,
    Amy

  44. newscoma on August 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I applaud you for being so honest and just wonderful.
    🙂

  45. jag on August 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Thank you, Universe, for Ivy. For all parts of the package.

  46. Christy N on August 26, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Yay for you! Thanks for sharing.

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