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Antidepressants and Art Therapy

I have had a love-hate relationship with my antidepressant medication for the past decade.

We’ve been together since college. I discovered my “need” for this particular SSRI when my general practitioner suggested that I give it a try. Like a blind date. Only, I had to pay for it. And it made me nauseous.

But I guess actual blind dates could have a similar outcome.

We were together on and off throughout my college years (all 5 1/2 of them). I would inevitably break things off abruptly and shortly thereafter experience all the awful side effects that happen when I suddenly stop feeding my brain a chemical it has grown accustomed to having every day. I did this repeatedly for reasons I still can’t explain. I guess I mistakenly believe that I’m smarter than every doctor who has told me repeatedly not to do that.

And then I remember that I’m not smarter than my doctors when I’m face-down in a pool of my own drool. 

[That seemed a bit dramatic.]

As you may have read back in September, I took myself off my medication again. Cold turkey. I broke it off. I was out of love with my antidepressant.

And I was fine for several months. I even felt confident enough to write a post about how I wanted to fight through it with scripture and dependence on the Holy Spirit alone. I wanted so badly to remove my dependence on this medication. So. Badly.

But I caved.

I couldn’t come up with a good reason why I should stare at the wall for hours on end in a complete trance when I know there is something available that has helped me in the past. I couldn’t justify the toll my mental state was having on my children and my husband.

Still, I can’t shake this nagging guilt. Not because I’m medicating sin (at least I don’t believe I am) but because I don’t really know what to think of anti-depressants in general. I’ve read and read about depression and how the brain is wired, and I do believe that we have been so misled as a society. The studies and information out there about mental illness are sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit the most from their results. It’s a vicious cycle.

But how can I go back to that place where I’m mentally and emotionally drowning knowing full well that there’s a life preserver within reach? 

[AGAIN with the melodrama.]

Okay, so life preserver is a bit of an overstatement in my case. It’s more like a really annoying person who leads you over to the shallow end of the pool. And you’re like, “Well, I would rather have had someone who doesn’t annoy me and induce vomit, but thanks for your help.”

That is how I feel about antidepressants:  annoying but helpful.

Guys, this is just where I am right now. Sorry to say I don’t have my life more “together” than this, but I’m giving it to you as I experience it. God has taught me so much this past year about the power of prayer and His desire to glorify Himself through adversity. So, I humbly ask you to pray for me as I seek God’s will in this—for His glory. And I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my mental state.

[Well, thank goodness for that. Where would we be in life if we couldn’t follow Katy’s mental state?]

Oh, and while I have you here, I’d love to show you something I have only briefly mentioned on this blog. Brian and I have seen our fair share of counselors and therapists through the years. I’m not ashamed to admit that we have sought help in multiple States in our nation and even in another country.

We’re overachievers like that.

One particular counselor believed that he could best communicate our psychological shortcomings by utilizing his tremendous gift of stick figure drawings. I literally have a stack of them in a file entitled “Art Therapy.” Not even kidding. These were too good not to keep in a manilla folder with a printed label. And they’re too good to just keep them locked up in a file for my kids to refer to later.

Art Therapy - Passive Control

Please pay special attention to the noose around Brian’s neck as well as the “passive control?” subtle question/diagnosis. With a squiggle underline.

What a false representation. I mean, if I am so depressed, then why is my stick figure smiling?

I guess because that’s how I passively control:  with a noose and a smile.

And since this counselor was so skilled in the art of communicating lunacy through stick figure drawings, I decided to give it a shot.

Art Therapy - Shallow End

[Well, that’s a pitiful cry for help if I’ve ever seen one.]

I think that actually helped. I feel better already.


Comments to "Antidepressants and Art Therapy"

  1. Karmen

    November 6, 2013

    Katy, I will pray for you! There is no shame in medication. I have missed your posts and thoughtful humor and pray you can feel like your best self soon.

  2. jenny

    November 6, 2013

    Goodness. Not sure if I’ve ever read a post that I could relate to so well. I started on antidepressants in college…and I also made the decision a few too many times that I could handle it on my own. I quickly found out each time that I was wrong. I also struggle with the idea of needing medication to “function,” but I certainly don’t want my children to be forced to grow up in a home with a depressed/anxious mother. That’s just not pretty either. It’s a battle for sure – and many people in my life don’t “get it.” Some don’t know I’m on medication. Some know that I’m on medication but seem to forget the side effects and the fact that there are some things in life that I just feel “numb” about. Anyway, I pray there is a time that I am able to function without my little daily pill… but until that point, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, dragging myself out of bed most days with a smile and not caring that my house is a mess (until my hubby decides it’s time we have company…. then I panic.)

  3. Julie

    November 6, 2013

    Dear sweet soul

    You are giving your heart and soul to a beautiful family. No one can replace a mother’s love and care. No one can love
    another so sweetly and with such a tender
    heart. You have lucky children and family.
    Never underestimate your work, your love and you. So what if a few days are filled with heartache, pain and lets face it grit and rage, snotty noses, tears and despair-

    When we are at this low stage the only way left to go is UP!!!


    Love- ManicMom

  4. Karen

    November 6, 2013

    I just hope you know that you are such an inspiration…we are all fragile creatures, and it’s a darn good thing that God expects us to fall. You are perfection in His eyes.
    And seriously…the way you can find humor in things, it’s truly a gift! 🙂
    Karen recently posted…Late Night Spat with DirecTVMy Profile

  5. Bekah

    November 6, 2013

    Thank you for sharing! Love this! I love reading your blog. The funny and the life struggles. Both are so encouraging. Wow, those drawings, no wonder the counselors charge the big bucks.

  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    November 6, 2013

    Actually, Katy, I don’t think ‘mentally and emotionally drowning’ is melodrama at all. It’s dead-on accurate.

    Depression’s an illness, like cancer or diabetes or pneumonia. I don’t have it, but I am so grateful for the meds that are available, on behalf of people I have known.

    Is medication a crutch? Sure. Sometimes you need one. And sometimes you need a wheelchair, and someone to push it. I’ve been there (with combat trauma, not depression).

    If I may say so, I think you’re very brave. I admire the clarity and courage with which you describe your illness, and appreciate your willingness to share it.

  7. Christopher

    November 6, 2013

    Katy, I pray you find your balance even if doing so sometimes leaves you feeling nauseous. I appreciate that you talk about it so openly. I hope in doing so you help other women to know that treating depression isn’t something to feel guilty about. Though, I imagine guilt is easy to feel while depressed. I’ve seen so many friends affected by depression. While I agree with you that there are a lot of studies, mostly from pharmaceutical companies, I believe there are a handful of reasons why women suffer depression more. I know, you didn’t ask, and I’m not a doctor, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I’m going to tell you what they are anyway. 🙂 First, I believe depression is aggravated by chemical imbalances which is why chemicals can be used to treat it. Now, look at what most women go through during their lives. At an early age they are encouraged to use makeup (chemicals applied to skin). Since 1982, the pill is the most commonly used form of birth control. (chemical taken daily to alter hormones) For 40% of women it is taken from an early age well into their 40s, only stopping to have children. Now you add the myriad of pills used for diets, supplements, recommended to be taken when pregnant to help your baby, etc. and you are adding even more chemical alterations to a woman’s body. Throw in having a baby – or two or three, which changes your own chemical makeup drastically each time. Now look at food. Hormones are added to milk, chemicals are put into just about everything we ingest. With this alone, it is no wonder woman are so literally chemically imbalanced. <– Please don't slap me for saying women are chemically imbalanced. I don't mean it in a negative way. Now, I also believe depression is perpetuated by internalizing stress. Given that, let's look at women's roles in society. Women come under more stress than men. Not only do they have to go work just like men, but they may also be expected to bear the brunt of maintaining a home, bringing up children, caring for older relatives, and putting up with all the sexism. I like to consider myself a very active participant in my marriage and with my family. Having said that, I watched my two children for 5 days recently while my wife went on a trip. I don't know how women do it! Those 5 days of working and managing the kids were stressful on so many different levels. Women take that roll every day without (much) complaint and make it look easy, with what I believe to be a possible side affect of depression due to all the stress. I know if I were to take those 5 days and extend them 360 more per year, I would be insane. Women do this and make it look easy. I guess my point is not to sell yourself too short for having to take some additional chemicals to help keep you in the shallow end. I've read all you do for your family as you've posted it here and personally can find no fault in your reliance on the annoying, if albeit helpful, life preserver you have. If anything, my wish for you would be for the pharmaceutical companies to find a way to help treat depression without making a person nauseous thus removing your annoyance with it. 🙂

    • Katy in a Corner

      November 9, 2013

      Thank you so much, Christopher! Your comments are so kind. It means a lot that you took the time to write this. 🙂

  8. Adrienn

    November 6, 2013

    Your honesty and the way you put yourself out there are why we all love following you along on this crazy journey (no pun intended!) Thank you for writing this…you are not alone!
    Adrienn recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile


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