Crying. All the Time.

For those of you who receive the blog only via e-mail, there are several YouTube videos embedded in this post.  To see them just click on the title and it will take you to the blog and you can click and play.

Among the many really fun things going on at the Cooper Clubhouse, I have decided to take a break from my antidepressants.  I've been on them (this time) since October 2008 when the chronic pain I was in over my malformed and malfunctioning foot led to chronic despair and then a semi-permanent residence on the couch. I saw a doctor, I started taking anti-depressants, felt much better and eventually left the couch.

I'm a little worried about going off of them but I am trying to manage my mental health in other ways (exercise and abstinence from alcohol and some sort of positive self-talk) (I KNOW!  Who am I and what have I done with Barb?) because when I'm ON medication?




At least I couldn't while on Cymbalta, which was the drug I was taking.  In my entire life, this has never really happened to me before --along with death and taxes, the other certainty of the world is that I am always, can always and always will be WRITING.  And boom, it was gone--the habit, the talent, the sheer need to get thoughts on paper.

It was the strangest thing. It was like having Pregnancy Brain all the time.  My husband says it's like I was in a fog -- I had NO proper nouns for things. Actually, I had no appropriate words for anything.  I once told our yowling kitty, with outrage in every fiber of my being, to "HUT UP!" (Which, you know, was about the funniest thing my kids had ever heard. It's what we say now.)

So, almost seven weeks ago, I cut back to a half dosage (which was interesting-- in a "woowhee, so THAT'S the edge of sanity" kind of way.) (Part of the withdrawal from medications that mess with your serotonin levels is this phenomena called "brain zaps."  I cannot recommend them.) (I can't help it, I have to post this YouTube digression because I keep thinking about the zaps. (Plus, who else can use a YouTube video in a digression? ONLY I CAN, because only *I* have that kind of power. )

Then, almost three weeks ago, I stopped the medication altogether.  I've been monitoring things very closely because I want to avoid another depressive cycle at all costs, but honestly?  I'm really doing okay!  I'm pretty cheerful and although there has been just an ungodly amount of stress in my life right now (house sale, Jane switching schools and turning ten-years-old, financial duress, Ana (12.6) losing her mind periodically as she morphs into a hormonally-poisoned teenager), I am handling it fairly well.  Life unfiltered --it's not as bad as I remembered.

Except for the crying.

Y'all, you know what happens when you go off of antidepressants?  You find yourself crying a LOT.

I think I've talked before about being an easy crier before (in the tips portion of that column) but this was freaking ridiculous. I would be just going along and suddenly, I'd have tears in my eyes over things like:
  • the news
  • something one of the kids said
  • a spontaneous hug
  • a DISNEY COMMERCIAL depicting a happy family being surprised by tickets to Disney World (And people, I have BEEN to Disney World.  I should have been crying for the poor deceased bank account of said family.  But no, there I was: the sappiest of the sappy criers. I mean those commercials are MEANT to grossly manipulate our feelings and I know that.  Knowing didn't help.)
  • an episode of Income Property on HGTV  (Because that need for property income
If I had been sobbing and unable to get out of bed, I would have worried.  But I was/am really just happily marching along, only with tears lurking just below the surface. Happy tears, sad tears, laughing tears, empathetic tears...just coming out, all the time, like I broke the seal or something. Maybe it's just hard to get used to having unfiltered emotions again, as unruly as they are.  I'm leveling out now, thank goodness.

The best part is that I am also writing again, in my head, which is where it always starts for me, so I'm happy, happy, happy.

In fact, I'm so happy I could CRY.


Unknown said…
oh the weepiness!!! how I hate it. Cymbalta was great for me for a while then not so much. I get the brain fog thing. I am on a very low dose of Lexapro now and that seems to do it for me. Enough to keep the weepies and sads and black days away but not enough to fog me out.
What's it like to have a brain that makes this stuff naturally?
momwhoknits said…
I loath things that get in the way of my productivity (be it person, place or thing - and yes, sometimes that means my family, even though I love them to bits), but it is hard to take the steps you need to take to get on track again. Bravo for you doing this - hard decision, but the anticipated results will be worth it , I would think.

As for Becca's comment about brains that make it naturally - what is tough about that is that when you are blue or crying about something, people find it hard to recognize those as legitimate feelings - you should be happy all the time. We are not all made to walk in the same straight line (that's what makes life interesting) - but you are clearly getting the good support you need to take this step.
momwhoknits said…
Sorry - meant to say also, that I love that k.d.Lang song - if you ever get to see her in concert, GO!!! She does a fabulous show - you could have heard a pin drop when she sang Hallelujah.
Barb Matijevich said…
I've been lucky enough to see her in concert several times and also (not to be TOO boastful!) I once got to meet her backstage. In my former life, I was really connected to the Austin music scene and I was blessed enough to get those kinds of perks from time to time. Miss those days!
hollygee said…
Have you been reading Dooce? She recently went off somethingerother to go on Cymbalta. She's having a few problems with it: nightmares.
Kathy Ireland said…
I think that maybe those tears are all the bottled up words that were went to be put to paper (or screen or keyboard...whatever the hell this is) and they are all rushing to the surface. I'm so happy for you my friend. I am, frankly, a little worried about me though. I cry at all those things and I have never taken an antidepressant. Hmmmm.
So jealous that you saw KD Lang in concert! I love her CD Shadowlands.

Glad you can write again - I hate that feeling of not being able to!
Anonymous said…
Glad it is going well for you. I have never been on antidepressants, but I do experience that crying for no apparent reason thing all the time. Drives me crazy! Every time I talk to a teacher about my child, good or bad, I feel myself tearing up. I cry at toilet paper commercials for cripes sake! I am a sap!

Bullwinkle said…
You are very brave. And special. And I love your blog.

(I sometimes do the weepy thing for no reason. I'm at the lovely age when, I can shrug it off as menopause. Its kind of a cop out (for which I then feel guilty and angry with myself) but comes in handy sometimes.)
jennyp said…
Feeling for you with the stress levels. And the crying. My gifted 4th grader, Noah, is just having a terrible school year. Bringing much of it on himself of course, with the whole not doing any work thing. And a teacher who doesn't get gifted. So Thursday at student led conferences, I cried in front of the teacher. And the other parents and kids in the room. Sigh. I'm sure we're the talk of the carpool line now. Noah was crying, too, to add to the fun.

Glad things are balancing out for you! Hopefully I'll get there sometime this year.
Heidi Malott said…
Barb, this brought tears to my eyes! Hugs and thinking of you!
Susan said…
I understand about the brain zaps. I tried to explain it once to a doc and she looked at me like I was crazy - I knew I could not be the only one with that symptom. I am on Effexor for a migraine thing and if I miss a dose - zap.

I am glad you were able to wean yourself off and can write again. Nothing wrong with tears - but not being able to speak or write is a big problem.

I hope things settle down and that we get to hear more from you soon!
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