Category Archives: side effects

Self-medication and depression

Depression is creeping back in through a side door.  I should have seen it coming.  Even reading my most recent posts on this blog are clues that it was making a reappearance.

Ruminations.  Negative self-perception. Exhaustion even without alcohol.  Hating my husband and my life.

I saw my therapist on Saturday and she raised the Wellbutrin to 100 mg. and lowered the Klonopin to half a 0.5 mg pill.  I continue to take 20 mg Celexa.  Lynn must think my depression is worse and the Klonopin is making me tired.  It’s been 4 days with a higher dose of the SSRI and still not feeling better.  My plan is to continue lowering the Klonopin but since I use it to sleep I fear insomnia so I’m tapering off gradually.

My resolve is down and I am weak right now.  I broke my 100-plus streak of sober days and drank on Saturday night.  It’s odd how I really don’t feel that bad about it.  In fact, I liked the tranquility.  Sad but true, self-medication is what I know when my thinking turns against me.

♥ Daylily ♥

Depression without alcohol

Lynn lowered the Celexa from 20 mgs to 10 mgs and within a month I felt depression lurking. Oddly, I was clear-headed and “normal” for about a week while the medication slowly left my system.   This phenomenon has happened enough times that I’m certain others have been on this merry-go-round.

It starts with taking an antidepressant and as the ride goes up I begin to feel some relief.  When I get to the top, along with relief comes the negative side effects that outweigh the good ones or my therapist and I feel I’ve spent enough time at the top with medications and decide to withdraw me from the meds and see if the ride can continue on its own.  Will my brain be able to balance its chemicals properly?  I hopefully believe maybe I’ll stay on top and the medication’s side effects will go down.  For me, there’s a brief period where it looks like that’s going to happen – I’m on top of the world!  Look, Mom, no antidepressants.  I’m back to myself again.  I have normal emotions and the negative ones aren’t over powering all the others.  Then, every damn time, I begin the decent.  It’s happening as I write.  My emotions are morphing from contentment and acceptance to displeasure and a feeling of rejection with myself.

This time I don’t have alcohol in my system so I’m not self-medicating and the experience is all the more real.  In fact I think this is a first!  Depression without alcohol.  Man, does it suck.

About a year ago I told my therapist I need to treat my depression in order to stop drinking but she said I need to stop drinking to treat my depression.  Here is what my therapist said: “Your drinking is the big elephant sitting in the room.”

I don’t disagree with her analysis but who wants to live constantly aware of the elephant.  Not I.  I want a glass of wine to dull the awareness of my depression and forget about the actual depression.

A couple of days ago, I called Lynn and she suggested we increase the medication to 15 mgs and see if the side effects and the depression both lessen and I find a happy medium.  While I wait for the meds to kick in I’m sleeping a lot and eating more chocolate than I should.  I am also guilty of taking an extra clonazepam (Klonopin) last night.  But at least I waited 5 hours between doses and, more importantly, I didn’t drink.

I’m committed to getting my mental state under control without abusing alcohol.  No more drinking to numb out.

Sorry for all of the metaphors.  I’m not sure what’s up with that!

– Daylily –

Bedroom secrets — antidepressants and sex

My blog gets many inquisitive hits about the use of antidepressants and sexual satisfaction. From time to time I do write openly about this topic. Here’s one of those times so be forewarned; exit now if you don’t want to read an honest post with regard to my sexuality and depression.

Many antidepressants have made it nearly impossible for me to achieve orgasm. All I can figure is antidepressants mess up my hormones and they don’t allow the tension to build to the point of being able to climax.  On Paxil I enjoyed manual stimulation but I couldn’t come. This wasn’t satisfying because sex didn’t feel right to me if I couldn’t complete the act. I would frustratingly try to get-off and all I would get is sore from trying too hard.

I took my prescribed medications and suffered with a poor sex life for a couple of years because I understood the benefits to my depression. During this time, life evened-out for me.  I learned to not be in a constant state of flight or fight.  I didn’t have to disassociate my feelings from my thoughts because they were basically under control.  Eventually, I missed the enjoyment of a healthy sex life so I sought out a psychiatrist to help me find a medication that did not have negative sexual side effects. During this time I was able to achieve orgasm but Lexapro, Effexor, Pristiq and Zoloft decreased my desire and having sex was more of a chore than something I desired.

I should mention that prior to getting on antidepressants, my sexual desire was strong. In fact, so much so that early in my marriage I was the aggressor and my husband would turn me away because he didn’t have the same level of desire. I could get off pretty easily with him and I wanted sex often. Because of these differences, I learned to use a power massager to have an orgasm on my own. The massager was made for sore muscles but I found it was useful in other areas.  Talk about quick. When I’m in the right mood I can come in less than a minute.

Husband started showing more interest in me once I didn’t “need” him anymore. He joined me in the bedroom and overtime bought me a couple of different dildos to complement the pleasure from my massager. Truthfully, I was embarrassed by these gifts but also intrigued. Husband continues to like to satisfy me with my “toys” before he and I take care of him. I used to feel embarrassed that he was watching and helping me masturbate because it was ingrained in me that good girls don’t do that. Husband made me feel sexy and loved when I played with my toys so it began to be a part of our love-making. Ironically, Husband initiates sex more now and the tables have turned and he has the stronger sex drive.

This change is probably because of the nasty effects of antidepressants. They definitely lowered my sexual desire and my pleasure.  I began to feel like I could take it or leave it. Last November I sought out another prescribing professional to help me find a better antidepressant. I wasn’t as concerned about sexual function as much as my obsession for carbohydrates. Paroxetine worked best on my depression but it caused excessive weight gain and a desire to drink too much wine. I wasn’t sure if the wine was a craving or a way to self-medicate depression. (That’s another post but basically it was both plus a habit that is difficult to break). My newest therapist writes prescriptions and she currently has me on Wellbutrin and Celexa. This is a good balance of medications that treats my depression, lessons my craving for carbs, gives me more control over my drinking and allows me to be multi-orgasmic once again. My husband is initiating sex almost every night (we’re both on vacation) and I am eagerly responding to his advances.

I believe couples have to get creative when our bodies do less than what we want. My husband’s high blood pressure medication makes it hard for him to sustain an erection so getting-off by making love is nearly impossible for both of us. He helps me use my toys and I help by jerking him off and giving him oral. Even a guy with erectile issues can usually get hard if the woman doesn’t pressure him to penetrate her. (This is where my toys come in handy). No two people are the same so I can’t promise the medications I take would work for anyone else but my advice would be to keep looking for the ones that have the least amount of negative side effects.

I hope this post was helpful to those that visit my blog looking for answers about depression and sexuality. I recognize it’s unabashed and bold but in reality we are all sexual creatures. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I can honestly say I have healed from how the early trauma affected me sexually. It didn’t happen overnight. I became confident and self-assured in the bedroom because I have a great guy in my life who sincerely wants to give me pleasure and sex usually begets sex.


Antidepressants make me tired and lifeless

Is it so wrong that I love to take naps during the day on my memory foam mattress?  Do I have a problem that I sneak off early to my bed — in search of alone time — to go to bed before the rest of my family?  What about that I sleep with ear plugs and a pillow over my head?  Does that say This girl has issues?  She does not want to be a part of  life? 

My husband sleeps in another room.  Not far away, less that 20 feet from my head to his but still it’s not the same bed.  When we sleep together, he snores and I don’t like to be touched at night.  I wake easily by his light snoring and I go into flight or fight reflex if he wraps his arm around me.  I complain and he leaves the room so he can get a good nights sleep.  It’s become easier for him to sleep in the guest room across the hall from our master bedroom.  No one gets woken up with this situation.  (Now might be the time to mention we’ve been together for 30 years, married 23).

My Husband came to my bed and woke me up this morning with a need for intimacy that I did not feel.  I kept the ear plugs in and the pillow over my head.  All I said was, “I wanted to sleep late today.”  I feel so guilty that I don’t respond if I don’t feel like it and this morning I had no desire.  As I lay in bed, pillow over my head, I thought I should be wearing pretty panties for husband.  Not the big, white, Hane’s hi-cut briefs that are so comfortable.  What happened to those days when I bought Maidenform matching sets for hubby?  I used to go to great lengths to buy stockings, garters, bra and panties, back in the good old days.  But, Hubby doesn’t complain.  He sees beauty beneath all the outer stuff (like big white undies) and truly seems in love with me for who I am.  He appreciates the essence of my femininity and gets off on something he sees in me that I often lack the ability to see in myself.  I feel he needs pretty lace panties to find me attractive but he doesn’t.  It’s been years since I bought that stuff.  I shouldn’t even be thinking that’s what he needs.  He would rather just have his wife take the ear plugs out of her ears and the pillow off her head and engage in mutually satisfying sex.

Sigh… I suspect the medication is causing a lack of desire.  ♥ Daylily

Perfection is unattainable

Dahlia White Perfection (photo from Wikimedia

I saw Lynn today and admitted my feelings of shame, stupidity, embarrassment and sadness. I wasn’t sure how to tell her I mixed alcohol with the klonopin (and subsequently fell down and got seriously bruised) so I went about it the long way, weaving a story of what led me to drink more wine than is typical for me.  The usual stresses: kids, family, love, loss, etc. I really have a high expectation for myself and when I do something downright stupid I am my worst critic.

When I’m at the therapist’s office I always have this 3rd person approach. I watch what I say, what she says and what we both do. Lynn was trying to play it cool and not show shock or much of anything. I was explaining things dispassionately so I wouldn’t put all my raw emotions on her table. I saw her eyes go down to my arm and the bruises before I was ready to get to that part and I was aware that she already knew. She said, “It’s not quite as bad as how you judge it in your own mind.” Lynn told me I like control and perfection and when triggers occur and I react less than what I would like, I beat myself up.

I admitted I find it difficult to disclose my vulnerability, frailties and weaknesses to others. I showed her my bruise and she did not react.

Lynn asked, “What were you afraid would happen when you told me?”

You would immediately think of your own liability and whether it is a bad idea to be prescribing medications to me.

Lynn agreed that was important and said she has warned me not to mix the klonopin with alcohol. I assured her I knew the risks, as it is also written all over the prescription bottle and accompanying pamphlets.

I felt the need to tell her, I have never taken more than what you prescribe for me, one pill a day is all I’ve ever done.

See. Look. I’m still a good little patient.

She told me if I ever drink just don’t take the klonopin that night.

I think her approach was to try not to make it as big a deal as I feel it is. She was diffusing some of my anxiety and tension by trying to lessen my sense of transgression. It somewhat helped but I’m still walking around with a couple huge bruises on my arm that are embarrassing.

That conversation all occurred within the first 5-10 minutes and then my therapist and I got down to some heartfelt conversations. She asked what feelings or thoughts were occurring when I turned to wine as my escape. I will save the rest for another day because my sense of shame makes it difficult to go on. I’m still processing my mistake and trying to figure out how to forgive, forget and move on.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (taken from the book I’m reading, If Life is a Game, These are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott)


Klonopin Warning

Klonopin Warning

I feel stupid for mixing Klonopin with alcohol when I knew the warnings. I got so dizzy, I lost my balance and fell hard and now I have cuts, bruises and scrapes to show for my stupidity.

How do I tell my therapist tomorrow?
“I didn’t listen to your warnings and nearly broke my arm.”
What will she say or do?
Take me off the Klonopin? That will be hard because my insurance company is shipping me a ninety-day supply in the mail.
Give me a lecture about my drinking? Recommend AA?
I feel like I’m in trouble and I’m headed to the therapist for a spanking.
I’m so hard on myself that I don’t take criticism from others very well.

I have poor emotional control

My weekend was not good. I feel beat up physically and mentally. I feel like I was in a car wreck. The worst part is that I was the driver and I caused my own personal self-destruction.

Saturday July 7th, in the afternoon — Sadness weighs heavy

I have a twin who lives 100’s of miles away so we only see each other once or twice a year. He has 2 boys and I also have 2 boys. The boys range in age from 11 years to 16 years. This week my twin and nephew’s came to visit for 3 days and the chemistry was incredible. My SIL did not come so it was my husband, brother and 4 boys plus me – talk about a man’s world. I hate that feeling but it didn’t actually feel that way because my twin and I get along great.

Here’s an example that makes me appreciate him. I told him of a website I like about youth soccer. (Followers know this is a passion of mine). Well, my brother found the website and followed this long, drawn-out thread that I had started and talked to me about it the next day. I was genuinely surprised he took the time to go there. My own husband doesn’t care to see what I’m up to so I was touched that my brother did. My twin and I also looked through boxes of old photos and watched slide shows that our deceased dad took of us as children. In all the family photos, I am sitting next to my twin and he and I shared many bonding moments remembering the family events as if we were one and the same person.

He left this morning and sadness covers me like a cloak. I have had a miserable day. I want nothing to do with food so I haven’t eaten since he left. I’m going to climb into bed and sleep the day away.

Same Day, evening — Can I drink away my pain?

I’m not very good at knowing what causes my emotions. First, I thought my sadness was from spending the weekend with just boys/men but I realized tonight, I miss family and my brother. He is such a great guy, a wonderful husband and a devoted father and I hate when we can’t be together. I also feel lonesome for my grandmother that died a few years ago and I miss my dad who died over 25 years ago. Lastly, I am being hit with the reality of my mom’s aging life. This past month she moved to a retirement home and passed things on to me that I knew I would receive, such as my great grandmothers beautiful wedding dress and my parent’s set of silver. But, having these tangible objects in my house is evidence that my mom is rapidly coming to the end of her life. My heart is heavy.

Friends with children came by to say hi and they ended up staying for hours and we had a mini pool party. I ran out to get a few things at the store and stopped for a bottle of wine. My mission for the night was to block my emotions with wine. I sipped 2 glasses while the guests were here but as soon as they left I hurriedly finished off the bottle. I have regrets.

Sunday July 8th, in the morning – Feeling more pain

I woke up this morning with cuts, bruises and scrapes all along one of my arms, due to falling down in my bathroom last night.

I also awoke to a huge cut (2 inches long and a ¼ deep) on the bottom of my foot from cutting the lawn barefoot yesterday. I’m not even going to explain how that happened but it was stupid of me!

My head hurts from too much wine last night.

My eyes are swollen from crying after I fell in the bathroom.

I haven’t seen my kids this morning because my husband [H] took them out to breakfast before I got up. Did they hear me fall and crash over the big metal standing scale? How loud was I sobbing?

I just don’t know the answers and I feel self-hate and guilt that I inflict harm upon myself when my emotions are overwhelming. H was there because we had just climbed in bed and had sex. So, when I staggered to the bathroom and knocked over the heavy steel scale and was lying on the hard tile floor, he tried to help me. I say try because as soon as I fell and hurt myself I began to cry. H told me I drank too much (combined with no food and the Klonopin I took right before getting in bed I was a mess). H looked at my wounds and said I needed to clean up because I was bleeding. I didn’t care but he kept insisting so I got up and took a look in the mirror. I was shocked to see the cuts and bruises so I allowed H to help me. He washed the scratch and fetched an ice pack which he placed on my sore. As he did so he asked, “Are you going to write about this in your blog?” I ignored him and wept uncontrollably. He didn’t know why I was crying and I think he was trying to make me laugh but all I could do was cry. I didn’t know why I was crying either. As a survivor of sexual abuse, sometimes intimacy can overwhelm me but I think this time, the tears were shed for the love of my twin brother. There is no one in this world that I trust or love more. It hurts to love someone who is not with us, whether through death or distance.

I can’t describe it better.

Same Day, later – My family loves me despite my shortcomings

My kids returned from breakfast and called to me. As usual, I was upstairs, in my office on my laptop. H and both kids came into the room. My youngest asked, “Did you fall down and get hurt last night?” I felt ashamed and looked at H as if to say, what did you tell them? I answered, “Yes, did you hear the crash?” Then he said “Yeah. Can I see where you got hurt?” I showed him one bruise and scrape and he bent down and kissed my injured arm. It was such a sweet gesture. My feelings of self-hate evaporated and I felt loved by my family even though I did something stupid. My oldest son said “Where’s the cut?” And I proceeded to pull up my shirt to show him the cut under my armpit and the bruises and scrapes all along the underside of my arm. My youngest asked, “Did you cry?” Again, I said, “Yes, did you hear me?” He shook his head and said “No but Daddy told us.” My older son said, “That looks bad. You did not have a good day yesterday.” He walked away and H and the youngest looked at me with loving concern. I told my boy “I am sad because I miss Uncle S” and my lips trembled and my eyes teared. He gave me a hug and H explained “That’s Mommy’s brother.”

“Do not drink alcohol while taking clonazepam. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.”

I know I drink to block out painful emotions and last night was an example. I’m not supposed to drink and take the Klonopin. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. When I went from a prone position to standing I was so dizzy I knocked into things and lost my balance. Shit, I really need to learn other more positive coping mechanisms. It scares me that I self-destruct.

I see my therapist on Tuesday and I know I should talk to her about this episode. Will my sense of shame and embarrassment or will my desire for help prevail? I haven’t decided but I do know what the right thing is. Don’t perpetuate the patterns of my past by hiding behind my shame. I must talk about my issues with managing sadness if I want to gain better emotional control.

Good sex with a survivor of sexual abuse

My life has been crazy-ass busy. I wish I had time to sit back and reflect but it’s one of those time’s in life where every day is fast-paced and my evenings are busy getting caught up for the next day. It’s not over yet either. I’m involved in some big community-wide events and they are coming to fruition soon. I will be able to breathe a sigh of relief later this month; until then, there’s no rest for the weary.

I’ve also been traveling every weekend: I went to a graduation in NY, a visit with my mother up north and a soccer tournament down south. Basically, I’ve been all over the New England states. I love the states but I don’t love traveling. Aside from my visit to my mother’s, the trips were with the whole family, which was good. My boys are getting older and my husband has so many of his own hobbies – it’s rare for us all to get together for extended periods. These days, the longest time we spend together is dinner, which might last 30-45 minutes.

My husband and I spent a lot of time together at the soccer tournament and that was great. He and I sat in our soccer chairs together and hung out in the hotel with the other parents, socializing, while the boys ran amuck. The weather was perfect, hot and sunny, and many soccer fans (specifically the women) were scantily clad. I say this because in the hotel room my husband was all over me, but with the kids in the same room I held him off. I don’t have the figure I did when I was 20 but he got an eyeful of women that do. I would watch his eyes follow a tight-ass walking by and ask him, “Is there something interesting to look at over there?” He would smile and respond, “I’m not dead yet.” Or he would say, “It doesn’t hurt to look.” I just smiled, secure in his love for me. Let him look – as long as he doesn’t touch.

Once we returned home from the weekend, he and I sent the kids to their rooms and, as is typical for me, I went to bed early to read my book. If you follow my blog you will know my husband and I have been married almost 20 years and he sleeps in a separate room. Not for lack of love but because we both get a better night’s sleep. He snores and I wake him constantly to ask him to roll over plus I don’t like to be touched unless my head is in the right place. (Survivor aftermath bullshit). As you might imagine, this sleeping arrangement leads to less sex but not less good sex.

Well, back to the story…

Husband follows me into the bedroom and starts licking, kissing and touching me all over my body. I try to get into it but after some time passes, I realize he is getting pleasure from my pleasure and this antidepressant I’m on makes it impossible for me to have an orgasm au natural. He goes and gets my new vibrator (which he had not tried out yet) and continues working toward his goal. I can tell this sex is motivated by his fantasies of all the women he was watching all weekend. There’s no kissing or hugging – it’s an animalistic craving for a woman’s body. Lucky me, I’m his woman because when he gets like that he doesn’t quit trying to please me. Unfortunately, it’s still not happening and I apologetically moan, “These meds make it hard for me to come.” I’m basically giving him an out, if he wants to move onto his own pleasure. But, he becomes more determined and pulls out a dildo hidden away (that he bought me years ago). I don’t have to do anything but lay back and let him do his thing to me. My pleasure is his. How perfect is that relationship? As a survivor of sexual abuse, I don’t think it could be better than to be with a man who is concerned only about my enjoyment. (Unquestionably, the reverse of what occurred to me as a child under the hands of a masochist.) I ended up having a major climax and then he did what he likes to get himself off. Okay, if you must know, he loves to jerk off all over my face. Hey, it was the least I could do in return for his hour of diligent effort. (Sarcasm, folks, if you don’t know my humor. I’m laughing at the thought of such an understatement. I give him 2 minutes for his one hour!)

When it was over he jumped right up and got me a towel. How thoughtful is that? By the time he had returned, I had already wiped off with my camisole shirt but the act was sweet. Later, I kissed him and told him he gets an A+ for determination. These medications make it hard to come but with patience, persistence and high-powered toys nothing’s impossible.

Moral of the story – even a survivor of sexual abuse can feel in control and enjoy intimacy. For men, the moral is, rewards will come to those that are patient.♥

Antidepressants and side effects

It’s time to get back to the important stuff, like how the new medications are affecting me in terms of social, emotional, physical and sexual health.

It feels like my social and emotional health is balanced on the current cocktail of Wellbutrin, Celexa and Klonopin. This is the first time I’ve taken more than one medication for my depression therefore I felt a bit apprehensive but I think it’s working out. I’m not ruminating or feeling depressed. The only negative is I’m not supposed to drink on Klonopin and I’m still drinking (on occasion). Bad girl, I know. I suspect my anxiety is not completely under control.

My physical health is improving because I’m losing weight and that in itself feels good. I initially sought a therapist/prescribing nurse because I knew something had to give. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure so I committed to life-style changes. I’ve not checked my BP in months so I can’t say for sure if it’s improved. But, I’m on the right course with my weight loss, less alcohol and dietary changes.

So, what the fu*k, let’s cut to the chase and get to the most interesting facet of one’s life – sex. (I’m joking, life is much more than sex but let’s not negate it).

The Celexa has considerably lowered my libido, where I rarely want to engage in sex. When I have sex, it’s pleasurable but completing the act with the “Big O” is hard work. Manual stimulation and/or straight up intercourse are not going to do it. As the saying goes, I have to take out the big guns! Well, even the cheap massager I own wasn’t packing enough power to get the job done so I went on-line and searched for a new vibrator. I don’t need much, just a good old-fashion hand-held massager and that was pretty easy to find. I didn’t allow myself to get lost in all the gadgets and other toys available. My goal is to keep it simple, especially since I’m usually alone (although, I’ve said before my husband and I still get together but not too often anymore).

I had a strong vibrating massager for years and years, which recently sparked and died. I got my money’s worth out of that thing so I decided not to buy a cheap one again. I was looking for quality and power. I ended up purchasing a massager called the magic wand. (No shit, that’s really the name of it). It arrived in the mail on Tuesday and this sucker runs fast and hard. It’s got 2 speeds –low 5000 rpm & high 6000 rpm. It reminded me of my old vibrator that used to be so fast I would wrap a cushioned sock over the head of it because the stimulation to my clitoris was too much.

My kids were at school when I got home from work (I work part-time) and found the discreet brown box from Amazon. Who should I meet in the hallway but my husband, complaining about money issues the minute he sees me. When he notices the box, he cautiously asks, “What’s that?” I give a little smirk and try to rip the packing tape, which is not coming off easily. Husband says, “What is it? I need to know because I’m doing the bills right now.” Of course, he’s worried I spent a small fortune on something. I keep him guessing by not telling him what it is until I remove the packing paper and pull it out of the box. He genuinely relaxed and let up on the money issues.

I don’t know why I feel the need to control some situations with him. I suppose I like showing him he doesn’t control me or every move I make. What’s more blatant than the wife buying herself a sex toy? (I wonder if that is cruel to do.)

Husband asked, “Are you going to try it right now?” He knows I like to take a nap, when I can, before my boys come home from school. I said, “Maybe.” He works from home and had to get back to his desk so he wouldn’t find out. It would have been nice if I asked him to join me later but I didn’t because he goes golfing with his friends on Tuesdays. Nevertheless, I didn’t use it right away and Husband never inquired about my private activities. That’s how familiar he is with me getting off on my own. Sigh. I wanted him to join me but we’ve barely cross each other’s paths. I like to go to bed early; he stays up really late and/or falls asleep in his chair. I’m certain he’s thinking about all of it, though, and when the weekend rolls around, he’ll be curious enough to investigate. We are going through the daily grind but the tension is growing, I can feel it.

So, you’re probably asking if the toy served its purpose. Absolutely. I rode it on high (with a sock on it, just like the old one) and when I was ready to climax I lowered it and rode out the wave. What can I say? I’m a sexual woman. Very private, too but I’m trying to be honest about all facets of battling depression.

Many antidepressants have a negative sexual side effect. The only one I found that didn’t was Wellbutrin but it doesn’t touch my depression, like the SSRI’s do. So, I will take the Celexa accepting its negative side effect and taking it upon myself to improve things.

Son asks about my depression…

This is how the conversation unfolded…

We are alone in the car, driving home from a soccer practice. My son is old enough to ride next to me in the front.

I tell my fourteen year old he needs to get more sleep because he’s missing his 7 am bus and Husband ends up driving him to school.

His reply, “I don’t know why I’m so tired, I get 8 hours of sleep.”

I suggest, since he is growing, he needs closer to 10 hours.

“Then what do you need, if you’re not growing anymore?” He asks.

“8 hours.”

“You only need 6.” He tells me.

I have to think about that one. No way do I feel I could live on 6 hours a night.

I feel brave and bring up my depression, which, on occasion, I’ve talked briefly about with him. “The medication I take for my depression makes me tired.” I laugh, think of my regular habit of afternoon naps, and explain, “I don’t sleep a lot because I’m depressed, I sleep a lot because of my antidepressants.”

Son asks, “What would you be like if you didn’t take your medication?”

Wow, that’s a loaded question. How very astute of him to wonder. I’m pleased he is comfortable enough to ask me and that our relationship is upfront about my mental illness.

“I get really angry and I’m pretty mean to everyone.” I pause and think how not to say too much but to say enough. “When I’m depressed I also feel like no one likes me and I know that’s not true because I have many people who do.”

Son doesn’t say anything so I go on. “A few months back I got off all of my medication and I was complaining and yelling a lot at all of you.”

He still doesn’t say anything so I continue, “I got on a new medication for depression and it is also helping me not feel as hungry as my other antidepressant, so that’s why I’m trying to lose weight.” (Son has been my number one fan with regard to me getting healthier.)

He still doesn’t have a response so I open up a window into his world. “You may know people at school who are depressed. Perhaps they keep their head down and don’t look up at others. Or you might notice a kid who’s acting out and verbally angry at everyone.”

Son tells me that he doesn’t know anyone like that. He mentions a girl in one of his classes who is “always joking, dancing and talking.” I ask her name and he goes on to tell me that she is like a GLEE character. She talks about GLEE all the time with his English teacher, who also likes GLEE. I think he might have been telling me she is gay but I’m not sure. He states, “She could be on GLEE right now.”

I say, “It sounds like this girl is self-assured and knows what she enjoys.” I don’t know if I said the right thing because I’m not sure where he was going with that girl. Perhaps that she is different. If so, I hope my response shows I appreciate differences.

That ended our conversation about my depression. It feels good that I can talk to Son honestly about life’s hurdles. I hope these talks prepare him for whatever he encounters in his future. All I want is for my children to be empowered with knowledge that doesn’t stigmatize mental illness and ultimately allows them to make thoughtful decisions.