As you may have read, I stopped taking an antidepressant on January 11th and as I approach the two month mark, I admit I don't always feel great. Mentally and emotionally I feel well with some minor side effects, but physically I've been feeling like I was hit by a truck. And I hope that passes soon.
My medical doctor reminds me to keep my mind open to going back on medication and when she says that to me I find myself nodding in agreement but I so want to prove her wrong. But she is right. I do need to stay open. I see her again on March 9.
I'm likely not the only person who has experienced depression and felt motivated to take a pill everyday out of fear of relapse, if for no other reason.
But why I quit is because I believe it stopped working for me some time ago and the medication itself was making me feel unwell. But I didn't realize that and did what was logical to not feeling well.... I tried more and more medication to the point where it seemed obvious to stop altogether.
Regardless, something I am certain of is that while bouncing out of depression can feel like moving a mountain most of the time, it's the small things that you do that can lead to feeling better. Small things like exercising, being social and reaching goals.
So that's what I've been doing lately. I've been taking care of small things, to give room for the big stuff (recovery) to take care of itself.
As a side note, this is some of the dichotomy of being a police officer challenged with depression. I see myself handling other people's problems effectively, with ease and certainty, over and over again. This while even the more simple of my own problems go ignored in a fit of denial or being over-whelmed.
It's really odd.
So in that spirit, I'm proud to brag that I changed the third bedroom in my house to a comfortable working office and filled it with things I like. I set up a cozy lounge area with a TV and the DVD player, so I can sit with my laptop and a movie on as I type future blog posts.
I also finally set up a desk and my PC (I bought this house in July and hadn't done that yet) with my wireless printer and have wired my PC into the TV. Ha! And I thought I was a techno peasant!
I used antique apple crates and some live edge oak as shelving and my TV stand. There's some of my favorite art on the walls and my desk looks out the window to my backyard that opens onto a forest of green space in the city.
It sounds odd but depression has robbed me of doing for myself and of setting myself up for success, and I've decided I won't stand for that anymore. I want to do well with this blog and so the office might be very important to that end.
Something else depression has done is it has allowed me to be so over-whelmed by things like moving furniture up and down the stairs, and setting up my computer etc, to the point where I just wouldn't do it, then beat myself up for being too lazy.
That has to stop too. I'm not lazy.
What's worried me a bit lately is I've been feeling like I can't get enough sleep since I went off Prozac. I've been very fatigued and as anyone out there who has experienced depression knows, chronic sleeping is one of the first signs of illness. But even though it makes me fear relapse a bit, I've also noticed the sleep is much more restful now. I used to wake up in the morning feeling like I hadn't slept at all and that has changed.
I've had to break down my thinking errors a bit and remind myself that I was recently off of work for two-and-a-half months (while I went off medication) and I only came back to work one month ago which meant returning to shifts. Every second week my shift ends at 2 a.m and every first week it starts at 5:45 a.m.
I traveled to Mississauga for a Chiefs of Police conference on mental health two weeks ago, then a second conference on depression in Ottawa last week (I didn't make it to the second day – too tired) and I'm on a two-day mental health course this week. And of course, I'm working!
So now... is it so bad that I take a nap or two after sleeping in late on my days off? Um, no! You see how well that works? lol
Still in keeping with looking after the small things, I decided some self-care was in order and I met with massage therapist Erin Whyte at Kneaded Touch on Tuesday. It was my first appointment with her and Whyte has a reputation for working with clients challenged by trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
We talked about how I feel crappy in my body right now. My appetite is off but I've been over-eating anyway, I've gained a few pounds, I have tense muscles and I feel bloated.
We agreed that stuffing my face might be a natural reaction to a change in my body; an unconscious way of trying to soothe or medicate. Thankfully, there hasn't been too many bags of Miss Vicky's chips.... a few, but not too many!
Whyte suggested that therapeutic massage is a good plan toward reducing or eliminating pain, improving joint mobility, improving circulation, improving lymphatic drainage and reducing muscle tension. All of which can help with feeling bloated and uncomfortable in my skin.
While I was in Westboro, I made my way to Rainbow Foods and had a spontaneous consultation with Homeopath Lynn Simpson (which is free by the way!). She explained to me that the digestive system produces hormones that readjusted to the mediation I was taking when I was on it. (Some would say the medication interfered with my digestive hormones and now I'm resetting but I'll leave that to personal opinion.)
Simpson suggested that stopping medication, is like ending any addiction and my body is in detox mode. She agrees with theory supported by Harvard Health Publications that some medications, like what I was taking, can take about 25 days to leave the body, and maybe longer.
Simpson believes there are stages of withdrawal and I may experience several of them in say, three, six and nine months (approximately). She said how long this detox journey takes is an individual as I am.
Simpson recommended Schuessler tissue salts as a way to help my cells rebalance the intake of mineral content from my food. Tissue salts have been around for about 130 years and is premised on the theory that during times of illness our bodies go out of balance of 12 essential minerals.
She also suggested a more alkaline diet and gave me some information to that effect.
And, I got some Boiron homeopathy pellets (Colubrina (Nux Vomica) and Iamara (Ignatia Amara)), which became popular in France about 80 years ago, on Simpson's advice to help with some of the moods I've been experiencing (over-eating and crankiness).... afterall I also quit drinking coffee on January 11th! That news caused Simpson to toss her hands in the air and say, “Well doesn't that explain alot!” lol
Lastly, I emailed the Ottawa Police Services Employee Assistance Program (EAP) on Saturday. Our provider is Homewood Health and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that even as someone who is trying to advocate for anti-stigma around first responder mental health, I haven't looked at our current EAP recently.
I emailed Homewood on Saturday, I got a call on Sunday and they were ready with an appointment for me right away. I'll meet my new counselor on Friday and she's within six blocks of my home. Cool.
In closing.... one more thing. A fun thing! On Sunday I'm going to go and do glow in the dark yoga!! I'll be sure to write about it and I hope you'll visit again.