There was a bout of depression in my late 20’s. You could say there were reasons.
After moving 2000 miles back to Pennsylvania, we relocated to Michigan. I gave up a promising career to allow for my husband’s advancement. It made sense, economically, but I was struggling to find my way, changing jobs 3 times in the first year.
At the same time, my mother was dying. We had many unresolved issues. There was sorrow, guilt, regret.
I got through it all somehow, without doctors or medications.
The 30’s were amazing, highlighted by the birth of our children. We were still on the move, relocating to New York, then Maryland, each time closer to family. I was happily adjusting to life as a stay- at- home mom.
I put my youngest on the bus to Kindergarten, and I fell apart.
They say that moving is the third most stressful life event, right after death of spouse, and divorce.
We had made 6 major geographic moves in less than 20 years.
This time, I didn’t wait for other symptoms. I saw a psychiatrist.
As soon as I sat down, I suggested that I might be manic depressive.
I spoke of my mother’s history, my father’s legacy of depression, my grandfather’s institutionalization; genetic cards stacked against me.
I detailed my own experience with depression and anxiety.
He took notes. He agreed. His diagnosis… “atypical mood disorder.”
He prescribed lithium, saying that when I felt better, I could go off of it for a time; advice which was rejected by later professionals.
For many years, through more relocations and new doctors, I managed. I would go off medication, sometimes for a 2 year stretch.
There was no recurrence of depression, a few episodes of hypomania, mostly characterized by bouts of frenzied energy, reduced sleep, irritability. Was this illness, or the normal stress that comes with parenting ?
It made me wonder. Was I wrong to diagnose myself ? Was I carrying the bipolar label forward of my own choosing? Was I using lithium as a means to handle stressful periods of life when it was not clinically necessary? Was it my new placebo ?
As I approached retirement age, I was tired of it all. The 3 month doctor visits, blood tests, constant monitoring of liver, thyroid, other organs that might be compromised.
I just stopped. All of it.
That was years ago. I’m still here.
Life still presents its challenges. I manage them as best I can.
Will I ever need medication again ? Probably. Maybe.
For now, I pay attention to basics… diet, exercise, vitamins, sleep patterns.
It seems to be working for me, with the love and support of family and friends.
The best placebo of all.
This is the follow up to Placebo. https://vanbytheriver.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/placebo/