One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

My two month appointment has come and gone. Let’s label it the “Is it working?” appointment.

Eight weeks on the medication and it was time to sit down and have a review with the psychiatrist.  Going in I had thought long and hard about how I would answer since I knew that it would be the most important question of the morning.  

 “No,” it is not.

 That was easy.  But the reality of having to switch from one medication and move on to others, less so. I am coming to appreciate the complexity of brain chemistry: One medicine for this neurochemical and one for that. It would be amazing if science could develop a test that could tell which one or ones were the culprit. Missing. Out of balance. Not playing nicely with others. Whichever the case. But not today. Not yet. For me and for others, it is trial and error.  Satisfaction and disappointment. Good days (is it working – is this “the one?”) and bad days that are noted and accumulated and reflected upon as basic trends are noted. Well, this time around we guessed wrong. It knocked me out so I could sleep, but did not leave me rested. The anxiety was untouched, if not worse. The emotional ups and downs unmitigated. Some good days to be sure. Days of hoping. Days in the sun. But there weren’t enough of them.

You know the medicine is not working when you feel as happy as you have in months having enjoyed a day walking through a botanical garden with the one you love and you begin to cry realizing that such a feeling is unsustainable. That there is darkness waiting to envelope you.  Like someone threw a switch: Laughing then somber then tears. And trust me, I know how ridiculous that sounds. I know that life is full of joys and sorrows and someone’s definition of normal that fill a vast majority of our time. Knowing how ridiculous that is does not make it any easier.

Depression sucks.

And so thank God for kittens.

And yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, too.

Someone dumped a small kitten at our church office door the other day. With a note and an opened can of sardines and the happiest ants in the world who must have thought that had died and gone to ant heaven. The one where food comes in abundance of smell and quantity. The kitten, on the other hand, would not have mistaken that box for any version of kitty nirvana or Valhalla or pearly gates leading to copious balls of string filling catnip fields. The small ball of coppery brown and orange fur was full of hookworms; its eyes crusted over from infection; emaciated and dirty. One could easily believe that, as the note declared, it could not be cared for and was found in a car engine and needed a home.  The text from our facilities manager announcing the kitten’s discovery at the door to my office could not begin to capture the severity of the situation. So I traded sermon writing for a visit to the vet. “You have a very sick kitten,” he said as it laid there unmoving except for the occasion kitten-type mewing. Tests and medicines followed in a kind of “we’ll see what happens, but don’t get your hope up” atmosphere.

 Two weeks have passed and the kitten now named “Apollo” by one of my sons has nearly doubled his weight. The massive diarrhea is gone. His eyes no longer crust shut twice a day. He is using the litter box (a minor point in the larger scheme of things, but appreciated).  He play fights and jumps around and purrs like that is the entire point of his life (besides eating). Life for him is re-booting and presumably much better than it had been.  I think he is going to stick around for awhile. Everyone needs more companions for the journey.

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