Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tropical Depression

In the late spring of 1993, I was finally coming out of my shell and making friends. The man who started this was a chap named Dean. He was a member of CIA. No, not that one, you dirty devil. Christians In Action. We both attended Winona State at the time and were business majors. I lived off-campus in a house on East 3rd. He lived at Lourdes (how appropriate for a Christian) Hall.

It was a very old building with a lot of character. From time to time, I would get lost in their halls. There was much to do there, however. We played frisbee outside, walked around the neighborhood, and I once even ate at their cafeteria, which reminded me of a monastery (not surprisingly, it once was). I also got to know a friend of Dean's named Candy and spent some time with her as well. I had friends now, but still wasn't happy. How could this be? I gradually became more and more depressed.

It's hard to describe depression to someone who hasn't experienced it. It's not something that you can "snap out of". It's like telling someone with diabetes to "get over it". No matter what I did, no matter where I went, I was in emotional agony. All I wanted to do was stay in bed, in a fetal position, no less. If I couldn't be happy, what point was there in living? Dean encouraged me to pray which I did, but I still couldn't seem to get out of the shitter. I talked to my mom about what was going on. She suggested I see a counselor. I agreed. After all, this was something I could no longer handle on my own. I was seen at the Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center.

They were located in downtown Winona, just a couple blocks from the mighty Mississip. I saw a nice lady there and talked about many things. My childhood, my time in college, the passing of my grandmother just a few months before. She encouraged me to get counseling regularly and that it probably wouldn't hurt to go on an antidepressant. In order to do this, I would need to see a psychiatrist. I was referred to Dr. Smick. She worked at Parkview Behavioral Health Systems (located just adjacent to the hospital). She did my intake and said there were several meds available for depression. She decided to put me on a more old-school one called Desipramine.

Smick told me it would take several weeks for me to feel the full effects. I didn't feel like waiting, but if it could improve my mood, I guess I could hold out. I started the meds, but there were problems right away. One of the main side effects of desipramine is difficulty urinating. That was something I tried to deal with, but couldn't. So a week or so later, I was put on a more recently discovered antidep, Zoloft. I lived right across the street from Goltz Pharmacy, so had no problem getting my fix, I mean, pills. My friends knew I was getting professional help and were quite supportive. I called my mom most every day to let her know how I was doing. She had recently separated from her 2nd husband and was sharing custody of their twin girls, who were just 5 years old at the time. I went to Winona's book store and found a book that helped me deal with the negative thinking that had begun to consume me.

The Zoloft was better than the Desipramine, but not by much. I seemed to constantly have headaches while on it. Smick had told me to be patient, that one of the meds should be able to give me the kick I needed, but, thus far, it just felt like I was treading water.

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