Monday, November 17, 2014

The Sounds of my Blog Being Silenced and "What's Up Doc?"

I am a very private person. However, a blog is very public especially when you write things about yourself that might uncomfortable. Talking about depression should not be uncomfortable but it usually is. 

In my mind, "Depression" is a dirty secret that people do not talk about. Especially, me. 

However, I have been trying to use my blog to educate people about stroke. Warts and all. "Stroke" is not pretty. Depression is not pretty. 

I try to do my blog every week; however, I have not done it for many weeks because I have been very depressed.  "Depression" is common when you have strokes.

About 6 weeks ago, I was startled when I realized “this is basically it for my life.” Sure, I get better every day, but I will NEVER be back to what I was before. That is a shattering realization for me. Despite brain scans and doctors, I just assumed I would “back.” There is no going back for me. This is it.

Even though I have never really liked Simon & Garfunkel, their sad song -- Sounds of Silence -- is apropos for me right now in many ways.

“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again, Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping, And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains Within the sound of silence.”

My blog has been silenced.

Even though I know depression is common after strokes, I did not think I needed any help. “Anti-depressants” are for weak people. I remember my parents saying that people you need anti-depressants were crazy and pathetic.

Intellectually, I am smarter than this. I do realize that people need help. But, I just assumed that, even after my having strokes and seizures, I was strong to need any help. “Buck up” was one of my motto's.

One of my favorite movies is “What's Up, Doc?” is a 1972 screwball comedy  starring Barbra StreisandRyan O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn. In the movie, Streisand’s father is a judge who is exasperated and tired. In a funny scene, the judge talks to his bailiff:  

Judge Maxwell: You see this yellow pill?

Bailiff: Yes sir.

Judge Maxwell: You know what it's for?

Bailiff: What, Judge?

Judge Maxwell: To remind me to take this BLUE pill!

Bailiff: What's the blue one for, Judge?

Judge Maxwell: I don't know. They're afraid to tell me."

Even though this is comical scene, is resonates for me. I do not like to take pills. On the other hand, I have no choice. Because of strokes and seizures, I have no other option: Take pills or die.

That should be an easy decision, but it not really when you are so depressed that you do not think there is any hope or relief.

I talked with my neurologist about my depression. My wife encouraged me to talk to her. I realize I need “something.” My family needs something to combat “me” and my depression.

My neurologist was somewhat surprised that I have not sought help sooner. She said, “When a devastating brain incident happens, depression is expected.  You are not weak. You are human and need help.”

She prescribed Zoloft.

Another pill I have to take…..

There is the definition:
“Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sertraline affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Zoloft is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
When I try to research medications, I get concerned about the side effects.
I was amazed that a side effect for Zoloft is to have “slightly improved verbal fluency but did not affect word learning, short-term memoryvigilanceflicker fusion time, choice reaction timememory span, or psychomotor coordination.  Memory, attention and alertness stayed unchanged. Divided attention was improved and verbal memory under interference conditions decreased marginally. Because of the large number of measures taken, it is possible that these changes were still due to chance. The unique effect of sertraline on dopaminergicneurotransmission may be related to these effects on cognition and vigilance.”
Since I started taking Zoloft, I have noticed that my speech is more fluid. When I do my vision therapy two times a week, my verbal memory and divided attention is getting noticeably better.  My therapist has noticed also. Who knew that the side effects would help me!
The stigma of taking anti-depressants pills for me is still a concern. However, I need to take them. My realistic and wonderful wife said this to me: "Anti-depressants will not make you happy. They will make me not be sad."

Hope so.