Let me just start like this and get it out of the way – This post about how Abilify changed my life is all my opinion and is in no way sponsored. I was not asked to write this nor was I compensated in any way. I am not a doctor, just a person who has suffered with Depression for many years (maybe my whole life) and I have chosen to take medication to help me. This is my story, all mine, and is not intended to tell anyone else how to or how not to live their own lives. Period. Phew…
As I was getting ready for bed last night, I reached up to my bedpost to grab my medicine bottle for my one nightly medicine. I was almost out so I reminded myself out loud that I needed to call in a refill. Believe me, I will not forget to call in this refill. This nighttime medicine is Abilify and Abilify changed my life. This medicine is my #2 most important medicine that I take (the other being Effexor XR and boy do I never want to run out of that, either!) and I am not prepared to live without it yet.
I’ve told my Depression story many times on this blog, but I’ll give you a quick reminder. Oh, and I totally started this post many, many months ago, got sidetracked, and I’m finally getting around to it again. You may have wondered what this graphic is talking about – “music return”…
I have been depressed for about as long as I can remember.
I’m pretty sure that when I was growing up, I was depressed on some level. I think back then it was purely a hormonal imbalance or a chemical imbalance or whatever causes depression in young children when they really have nothing to be depressed about. I had a good childhood. Sure, there were bumps and all, but overall, my perception of my childhood was great (at the time, at least). I still feel like my parents were doing the best they could and I love them so much for the childhood I had. I honestly don’t think I would change a thing. So…yeah…chemical imbalance.
As a teen, I was probably more shy and reserved than most teens until my parents divorced and my dad loosened the reigns just a little. I was working my tail off at two jobs over the summer and I was a responsible teen so my dad just figured that he could lighten up on me. Or maybe, he was distraught from the divorce and felt some guilt over who knows what and maybe he just felt like he owed me. For whatever reason, I was more free than I had ever been and I wasn’t as afraid of getting into trouble by my parents so I let loose a LOT. Having been depressed for most of my life and now having a situational reason for more depression, I didn’t think too highly of myself (and my body) and things just went awry. Let’s just leave it at that, except to say that if I ever allowed myself to regret things in life, these would be the things. But, I don’t believe in regret, only learning lessons from our mistakes, so let’s just move on.
In college, the depression just continued to get worse. I was stuck back in my shell because I was in a large city (Austin, TX) yet I had tasted the free life so I was trying to continue that. I made a lot of mistakes back then. I just kept messing up until the worst possible thing (in my mind) happened. I failed out of college. I was working full time and supporting myself and I just didn’t want to go to class. I never really learned how to study because I didn’t need to study in high school.
When I finally settled into my first “real” or “grown-up” job, it was at a psychiatry office in medical records. I love how I can look back at this and see how God stepped in and said “ENOUGH” and then started to guide my life. Of course, at the time I was just trying to survive and I had made even more mistakes in choices of boyfriends, dumping one who I thought was going to be “the one” for another who was already married, moving in with him, quitting my job of four years, and floating along until that one shoved me one day and I thought I had hit the end of the road.
This time in my life was probably my darkest time.
I was in a new job (at the psychiatry office) but I didn’t really know anybody yet. My dad had to move me from my apartment in the middle of the night. I slept on a couch in my old roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s apartment with a tank that had a large snake in it. I moved from that couch to another couch in my old roommate’s apartment and then into a spare bedroom of one of my psychiatry office coworker’s homes. I was still communicating with my shover boyfriend for some reason and one night he just got to me. That night I tried to overdose. I took a bottle of Excedrin and was scavenging my coworker’s cabinets when she came home and called the ambulance. I stayed in the ER for a few hours where they gave me charcoal and wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom (one and only time I used a bedpan). Then, they released me in the middle of the night, to nobody. I had to call around and the old roommate’s ex-boyfriend came to get me and took me back to my coworker’s home and my new room.
Wow…I’ve never really written all of that down so I hope it makes sense. I’ve told a few people about it, but I don’t know if anyone really knows all the bits and pieces in full. Well, I guess now everybody does.
Anyway…after my coworkers heard about my night, they were worried and they sent me to a therapist.
This was the best thing that ever happened to me.
During my first session, I poured my heart out to her and she told me about me. Did you catch that? She told ME about ME. She nailed it, too! She knew what I had been through and knew where I had been. She knew where I needed to go next. She talked to me about the ditch that I had dug for myself in the circle of my life. Picture walking in a circle over and over for 22 years. After that long, you would be in a pretty deep ditch. Getting out of that ditch and walking on level ground can be difficult. She told me that through therapy, we would fill in that ditch one positive thought at a time. However, if I tried to start walking on level ground right away, I would just continue to fall back into the ditch. She suggested medication to temporarily cover that hole while we filled it in.
The second best thing that ever happened to me.
It took just a little while before I was able to find that Effexor XR is a great anti-depressant for me. It brought me back to life and I gained confidence. I continued in therapy and even got off medication for a little while. Situations in my life have lead me back to Effexor, but I do know that if I was back in therapy (I’ve been out for a few years now) that I could get back off the medication.
So, how has Abilify changed my life?
I always thought that taking an anti-depressant and going to therapy would just keep me in my non-depression mode, but I was wrong. After heading back to college, and graduating this time (yay!), I headed into Graduate school. I made it a little over a year and then situations hit me hard again.
I turned 30, I met my husband, I became pregnant, my mom died, I planned a wedding in 3 months, I married my husband, I had a baby, and I turned 31 – fun year, right? While it was a blessing and I can NOW see where God was leading me, in the midst of it, I was lost. I was walking my circle again and I had a false thought that my Effexor was going to keep me from making a ditch. Well, it didn’t. I walked that circle for 5+ years and found myself in a ditch.
I was not happy in my marriage. I was not happy being a mom. I was not happy with my job, my blog, my life… I wouldn’t let Howard and Benjamin talk, much less listen to music, in the car, and we spend a lot of time in the car together. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of running away, with or without my family, and even had thoughts of running my car off the road, with or without my family. Luckily, Howard is understanding when it comes to depression. Even though he hasn’t experienced it in the way I had, he knew that I needed to ask the doctor for some help. So, I did. He gave me Abilify to supplement my Effexor.
Here’s how Abilify changed my life!
Within one week, I was feeling better. I was starting to smile more and laugh a little more. I was joking around with Howard and Benjamin, and then the unthinkable happened… I turned on the radio in the car! Both of them looked at me like I was crazy when I turned it on, but they just went with it. We were on an hour long drive to Tyler when I started dancing to the music and laughing with them. Life was about to be back to normal for the first time in over 5 years. Howard just looked at me and said “no matter how much that Abilify costs or what we have to do to get it, we’re getting it for you for as long as you need it…I have my wife back!”. He even actually thanked the doctor the next time he saw him in the office. Weirdo!
I’ve been on Abilify for I guess almost a year now…and things are looking good. Of course, I still have my “blue” days, but they are truly just “blue” and not that dark grey or black like they used to be. I can enjoy my family, my son, my husband, my job, my blog, my life… Life is Good and I love this journey that God has me on right now. I think I’ll keep taking my Abilify a little longer and enjoy the view.
How do you feel about medication for depression?
Now that I’ve asked that, I will put a disclaimer that I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean-spirited or inappropriate. I have just poured out my heart here, so just be nice. I do respect all opinions and as I stated at the very beginning, this is my story and it’s true for me.