Thursday, November 01, 2012

Free from the Happy Pills!

In early August, I decided to wean myself off my anti-depressants.  Today, I am happy to report that I have been completely off the Happy Pills for a whole month - and finally I feel normal again.  Later this month will be 4 years from my cancer diagnosis.  In December, I will be 4 years in remission - one year away from the title of being "cured."  It's been a wild ride and a long road.

Obviously, I'm not anti-drugs by any means.  I used them briefly when Jenelle was going through the worst of her seizures, and it helped keep me focused.  I remember clearly the day my doctors put me on the anti-depressants with my cancer diagnosis.  It was three and a half years ago, February 2009, and I was quickly spinning into a deep depression.  I was in the hospital in Santa Monica because I had no immune system (0 neutrophils) after my second round of chemo.  I felt completely fine and wanted desperately out of the place.  I was so desperate, there was a morning where I sat on my hospital bed, bags packed, in street clothes ready for the onslaught of doctors with their entourage of medical student that would eventually arrive at my door to tell me my numbers.  I was determined to discharge myself against doctors orders if the numbers hadn't improved, and take a bus home if I had to. 

Upon entering the room, the doctor told me that his students had to literally push him through my my door.  The entire team knew that they were about to deliver news I did want to hear.  That I still had 0 neutrophils, and that I wasn't going anywhere.  I remember that feeling of disappointment; I cried hysterically and wanted desperately for there to be some way that I could go home to Brett and the kids.  So I could sleep in my own bed, and feel normal and comfortable once more.  After the bad news was delivered, they left me alone with a blond nurse (whose name I cannot remember) who stayed by my side all day, stoked my hair, helped me unpack and just let me sob.  I was literally on suicide watch, with doctors, nurses and staff checking in on me every hour.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the cancer and the chemo had sent me spiraling very quickly into depression.  The next day, an anti-depressant was added to my daily drug regime and when I was finally released 4 days later (14 days total), I realized that the pills were just as important as the chemo in helping me survive the cancer. 

This summer, I knew I was ready to wean off the drugs.  I'm always happy and optimistic, so I knew that wasn't drug induced; however this summer I realized I hadn't been showing or really feeling any emotions.  And I'm talking the good emotions like laughing so hard that you cry, or getting a lump in your throat with pride for something your child has done.  Having had experience with weaning Jenelle on and off medications, I had a good idea what to expect when I started the wean.  For my close family, friends and co-workers; you know the last few weeks have been quite an emotional journey!  I knew it was my brain, and hormones sometimes over-reacting to tiny situations that on the happy pills wouldn't normally bother me.  I was fully aware that my brain chemistry levels were slowly getting back to normal. 

About three weeks ago, I would categorize my emotions as "bat shit crazy!"  I had road rage, and snapped at every little scenario that sounded the slightest bit confrontational, and I was just a raging hormonal mess.  It was quite a journey.   But I survived, and today marks one month that I am completely anti-depressant free - it feels fantastic!  I have real emotions again, even moments when I have a good cry!  I'm still happy, optimistic, sarcastic and finding humor in everyday life.  Only one more year until I'm officially cured... and I'm really starting to believe that will soon be a reality!


A few weeks before Jenelle's 10th birthday, Jack asked me if I ever imagined that she would be 10 years old.  In all honesty... yes.  I imagined a 10 year old Jenelle.  And I can imagine a 16 year old Jenelle, and a 20 year old Jenelle.  Doctors tend to tell you the worst to prepare you for the fight ahead when really no one knows the end result for sure.

Jenelle's life with us has been an amazing gift that has changed our lives in so many ways.  We see the positive in every situation, we are compassionate, and we realize the miracle we have been so blessed to share with the world.

15 years ago today, Brett asked me to marry him.  On that day, neither of us imagined the challenges that would be thrown our way - but we have survived together.  What a wild ride it's been!

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Congrats Kelly! I heard that weaning yourself off of anti-depressants is really tough. I'm glad you were able to do it and that you are back to feeling "normal" again.