At some point I may have to rethink this “Day” number title pattern. Not necessarily because it’s cliché, but because it somehow roots me to a specific point in time. Is it possible to truly move on if I continue counting the number of days since I stopped teaching at Horlick?
I started taking anti-depressants sometime around 2008, about eight years ago. Is talking about it weird? It really isn’t for me, especially in the past five or so years. Society seems to be recognizing the impact each individual’s chemical brain soup has on behavior and disposition. Sure, most of the time compositions that aren’t mixed within one standard deviation of the ideal balance are labeled “mental illnesses,” but that’s okay. Personally I think for the sake of consistency we should also claim people shorter or taller than the typical average range are suffering from a “height illness.”
I wish I would have started taking medication sooner, like when I was 16. No matter. I’m just glad I eventually started. Depression has ended up to be a central adversary in my life’s story. And, as a former educator, the expectations society has for egalitarian intellectual and emotional norms is beyond my understanding. Does anyone really expect that everyone can run a five minute mile? Why, then, do we expect that every 15 year old should be able to ace Algebra? These topics are a significant foundation of my daily reflections.
Today at dinner (Charcoal Grill) Dana and I talked a bit about medication doses in light of my meltdown on Sunday and some other factors. Proper medication makes a world of difference. I started with a dose of 75mg of Sertraline. Okay, I ramped up to that dose in a couple of weeks: 25mg the first week, 50mg the next couple of weeks, then finally settling with 75mg. How was that dose determined? Honestly, I could just feel it. Sometimes I describe it as a dark cloud. Sometimes I liken it to that feeling that someone is staring at you. That makes it sound more like paranoia than depression, but I don’t mean it like someone, as in an actual person, more like a personification of “Anti-Happiness.” Not necessarily Sadness, just someone waiting to point out that a cow had to die for that fancy steak dinner you’re eating on what might be a spectacular first date.
At 50mg, I could feel the storm clouds breaking, but the thickness in the air was still there. At 75mg, the clouds were gone. No, everything didn’t suddenly become sunshine and sparkles and unicorns farting rainbows everywhere. Things just became… normal? I could distinguish between feelings that were triggered by an external factor, even if that resulting feeling was still irrational, or if I was just having an case of the Monday blues. The pervasive gloom was lifted, even if the underlying darkness remained (see my very first blog entry).
A couple of years later, I felt the clouds forming again. My dosage was increased to 100mg. Maybe three years ago now when I sensed them again, my doctor gave me a prescription to figure out if I needed to be at 125mg or 150mg. I ended up going with the 150mg, and have stayed there through a damn challenging couple of years.
So many legitimate external factors have caused a raging storm, and that “someone” hasn’t just been staring at me, It has been stalking me through legal paperwork and costs and transitions and chaos. Nonetheless, I stuck with the same dose of Sertraline. Occasionally I’d augment that with a Alprazolam for a week or two here and there. Longer than that, though, I’d start to get irrationally agitated. Some say meds just don’t work, and yeah, the wrong dosage or wrong drug can do a person worse or not at all. Many, many years ago I tried Zyban to help me quit smoking. Three weeks in I was such a raging asshole. Everything was an irritant. That was my first experience with prescription behavior modifying drugs, and it wasn’t a good one. The importance of self-awareness, external stresses, and “normal” or “ideal” reactions to life events are extremely important when evaluating the effects of medication. I suppose that’s where psychiatrists, faith, or support groups help those more on the extroverted side of the spectrum. Me? I lean more introverted. Self reflection is usually pretty adequate for me to distinguish rational from irrational reactions to external factors.
Now that many of the major external factors have been removed, I’m almost able to rethink my dosage. It has been a few years since increasing my dosage, but I also don’t want to increase my dosage until it’s absolutely necessary. The literature says 200mg of Sertraline is the maximum dose. My tolerance/effectiveness for most drugs (like Ibuprofen, aspirin, cold medicine, sleeping pills, etc.) runs higher than the recommended dosage, so maybe I’ll be able to go higher than 200mg; but, if not, then what? If I up my dosage now, what am I going to do the next time the clouds build in a few more years?
See, therein lies that Someone looking over the shoulder. I recognize it’s an irrational reaction. That’s a sign that upping my dosage would be wise. Still, I can argue that it’s a logically sound concern. If I wasn’t getting tired, I’d construct a syllogism as proof. But, my point is I can acknowledge the irrationality of the feeling, but am still subject to those feelings… no farting unicorns here, but also not paralyzing despair driving me to either sleep or staring into the abyss.
I am going to try something with my current dosage though. I usually take the entire 150mg dose at once right when I wake up. This evening, after experiencing a mild agitation for no particular reason, I am curious what would happen if I took 100mg waking up and 50mg later in the afternoon or early evening. Yes, it is the first time in around eight years I’ve thought about that. Hell, now I’m wondering about taking 50mg every five to six hours. I’ll try the first thought for a couple of weeks first because, like I said, I’m not really at a consistent low point yet, and the external stresses have only just been laid to rest.
As far as today’s accomplishments go, Dana got the kitchen chaos whipped into shape. I disassembled a home gym and took some pictures of it to try to sell. Tomorrow’s goal is to reassemble the home gym transferred from the Racine house. I also set up my laptop from Racine to print in Kenosha, which should have been an easy and forgettable task, but took much longer than I really want to admit. More beading, too, but that’s such a habit, I don’t consider it an accomplishment. We finished up watching the current seasons of iZombie and Legends of Tomorrow.
Look at that, 1:00am again. The sky is making some booms. I like that.