by Lori Dwyer on November 6, 2010 · 39 comments

I know these little fore-notes to posts annoy some people. Bad luck. This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while now. I’ve been hesitant to publish it because, quite frankly, I never want to be defined by my depression. It’s an illness. It’s not me.
Although I am very pleased to report that the side effects of the meds, as mentioned here, have either tapered off or I’m used to them, because they aren’t bothering me the way the wear.
And so, us usual, I publish the post weeks after the fact- when it’s not quite so raw.


The pills.

The small, white, oval-shaped pills, scored in the middle for people who are only half as f*cked up as I am.

Two a day I swallow, every morning. With my pride, my guilt and my anxiety.

The first word that comes to mind, in association with those pills, is ‘necessary’.

And the next word is ‘numb’.

The pills, they function for their purpose. They serve as Novacaine for my emotional spectrum. They stop me from plunging into that darkness, that place where the world is in pain.

It’s not me. I know how difficult it is for people who have never had the dog at their door to understand that. But it’s not me. I am not the person who sits, and feels sorry for herself, and makes herself miserable, wanting more from her life.

If only you knew me, really knew me, could meet me face to face. You see me, parts of me, I know you do. This place, with it’s purple, with it’s jellybeans and smack talk and fun and stupidity, this is me. I am the optimist, the light hearted one. I smile a lot. I am a blessed, happy woman, and very contented with my life.

Which is why it’s so very frustrating, so very devastating, when the black dog is prowling around, sniffing at my feet, my face, my hands.

Because then, the foundations of humanity become dripped in pain. So much pain. All the terrible, wretched things that have happened, that will happen, that are happening right now. The terrible sadness of it all. And underneath that, the stumbling fear that I am not good enough, I am simply not strong enough, how I would I cope under that kind of pain? How does anyone cope under that kind of pain….?

Image from here

The pills, they numb the pain of the world. They place a bumper on my emotional spectrum, that allows it stop at a relatively normal place, where I can view other people’s pain from a distance, less exquisitely.


At the same time, this emotional bumper extends to the other end of the spectrum. I am happy, content, but elation is a tragically difficult emotion to find. Elation, rapture. Intensity. All these extremes are, temporarily, cut off from me.

For my own safety.


The pills, they make writing the UnFunny difficult. That’s frustrating.

And, very recently, the pills have been causing a disconcerting feeling of missing-something. Like I’ve forgotten something desperately important, and have no inkling as to what it is. It doesn’t matter how many inconsequential things I can bring to mind, none of them are it. There is no relief to be found.

The mental equivalent of pins and needles, the numbness wearing off?

Or is that wishful thinking?

If you’re in pain, physical pain, you take medication. For constant, emotional pain, for which there is no cause, you do the same. There is no shame in that.

Eventually, they tell me, the chemical matter around my brain will right itself, and I will find some relief from the depression. The pills, they mask and dampen the symptoms, until that happens.

But if you’re in pain for a long, long time, do you stay on the medication, or do you find other ways to manage it?

I don’t think that’s a question for now, for just yet.

The pills, there is a comfort in them, their numbness, that keeps the screaming agony and the endless fear at bay. Not a crutch, not a blinker to the world.. A God-send, where they’re needed.

If I have to do this, if this is my cross to bear, I’d rather do it with the pills, then without. Believe me, if you were me, you would do the same. You would run, weeping, pleading, in the direction of your script, your pills, your shrink. For the blessed relief of it.



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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous September 11, 2011 at 9:26 am

I started reading your blog in the after so I didn't see this at the time. You have no idea how much this post just helped me. My daughter suffers from severe generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks. She was born this way. I recently made the decision to put her on medication. I couldn't stand that she was missing out on her childhood. It has made such a big, no, enormous difference in her life. She is now a cheerleader. I cannot believe that tyhe same girl who refused to go to birthday parties less than a year ago is now a cheerleader! (She's 7, by the way). I am so glad that I can help her have a more enjoyable life and freedom from the anxiety that used to tie her down. She is also in therapy to learn coping skills for when the medication isn't needed as much. Anyway, thank you for this post!


Anonymous September 11, 2011 at 9:26 am

I started reading your blog in the after so I didn't see this at the time. You have no idea how much this post just helped me. My daughter suffers from severe generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks. She was born this way. I recently made the decision to put her on medication. I couldn't stand that she was missing out on her childhood. It has made such a big, no, enormous difference in her life. She is now a cheerleader. I cannot believe that tyhe same girl who refused to go to birthday parties less than a year ago is now a cheerleader! (She's 7, by the way). I am so glad that I can help her have a more enjoyable life and freedom from the anxiety that used to tie her down. She is also in therapy to learn coping skills for when the medication isn't needed as much. Anyway, thank you for this post!


lori November 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm

These posts are what I love about you – so very, very honest. Thank you for that, it's inspiring.


Melissa @Suger Coat It November 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm

A great post. As always open, honest and that wonderful dry humor. Well done you. Great post.


Louisa November 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm

You give me courage and make me want to be braver xx


Drazil November 8, 2010 at 1:57 am

Sent here by JBS…because we have much in common. Which really – I'm sorry about. I never want to be able to say to anyone "I know exactly what you mean"…but I do. Happy to be a follower….


Megan Blandford November 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Thank you for your honesty, Lori. Lots of love and hugs xx


So Now What? November 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Please don't feel any shame. Like Annie said above, if you were suffering from cholesterol, you'd get a pill to get it right. The only difference is this is your mind, not your body.

My husband suddenly got depressed some years ago. It was EXTREMELY hard for me to understand. I mean we had a great family, jobs, kids etc etc. I got angry and to be honest, wasn't very supportive because I simply did just not understand it.

I do now. I had to learn and I'm glad I have because I was living in bitchville.

Mate, do what you have to do to get you well. Because YOU are what is important xxx


Brenda November 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Much love to you my brave


ClaireyH November 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Thanks for writing this, it helps all of us that don't know the feeling understand the medication more. My mum was on them for about five years, including when we got married, it was hard for me to understand how she didn't really seem totally excited and enthused as she had with my siblings. She later explained it was one of the reasons she came off them, cos she couldn't feel extremes of emotions.


River November 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I don't suffer from depression, so all I know about it is that my husband has had it since he was very young and can't take medication because it makes him psychotic. We're separated now because I couldn't live any longer with his threats and violence.
I'm glad the medication helps you and I'm glad you're willing to take it.


The Fat Lady November 7, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Right there with you Lori :hug:

I've been off meds for 3 1/2 years now, and I am SO proud of myself. I still get the black dog sniffing around my feet, but because of the coping mechanisms I learned while on the meds, I can kick his butt away again. Never permanently, he does like to visit his old resting places, but he never gets to stay long these days.

It'll get better, I promise.


Being Me November 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Another thinker of a post. Thank you for writing it. I'm not medicated, never have been… People assume I am/was because of what has happened to me. Perhaps I should be. Perhaps it would ease this apparently permanent funk that casts a pall over everything, even the good stuff. Perhaps I need to blog about it. Meh. One day.


fairchildstreet November 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I haven't been there but thank you for sharing. Charmaine


Jen November 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I am too. You make taking medication make so much sense. This is the best post about depression and the need for medication i've ever read Lori. I'm glad for you that the numbness has decreased. Thankyou for sharing this xo


Bronnie and family November 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm

It doesn't matter. It doesn't. It has only been this year that I've admitted to my depression and anxiety, and I am no longer ashamed to it. Some of the sanest, most intelligent/popular/clever people I know have mental health problems. It is an illness, just like any other, which can be treated and managed.
Doesn't make it easy, but life isn't easy.
I've had support from the least likely quarters and been abandoned by many I thought of as friends.
I don't care. I am me, and I love the people who surround me with their love and support. The others don't matter.


Glowless November 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Beautiful post.
This is the first time in ten years I've been off medication… I went off it when I got pregnant… and I've done every type of therapy you can think of, but keep going back to my old friend CBT (love/hate relationship with that friend). It looks like I'll be back on the meds soon so hearing that other people are on them (I'm not daft, I know there are heaps of people on them, but actually hearing someone say "Yep, I'm on them"), especially people I admire, is comforting. It lessens the feelings of intense loneliness and isolation that so many of us with depression have.
If meds turn your Black Dog to a Black Puppy so that you can cope with life, then power to you… plus puppies are cute.


JourneyBeyondSurvival November 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

Actually, they are scored in the middle for people 1.5 times as wacky as you. Really. I know all about it.


Anyway, I'm in favor of muting a bit of the edge off the high in life. Especially when it makes it possible for me to stop staring at the wall and make my kids feel loved. Doesn't make it easy. Doesn't make it fun.

It makes it worth it though. Keep looking into those soulful eyes surrounding you. You'll remember.

It is worth it.


Kebeni November 7, 2010 at 11:22 am

love to you Lori. I am one of the medicated too, have been for years and quite frankly I wouldn't be alive if I wasn't. Baby steps and all that. I thank you for your frank and honest blogging.

Nadine, love your comments!


nadinewrites108 November 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

I have been in the pit. I have been on the hysterical rollercoaster of self destruction. I was there for 7 years. I still go there from time to time, but I find safety without numbness by:
1. seeing my great psychologist – not a councellor, a psychologist who specialises in Emotional Freedom Technique.
2. Thompson's Mood Manager – yes, pills, but herbal stuff designed to give the body the building blocks it needs to make its own happy hormones.
3. Extra protein and omega3s in my diet.
4. Plenty of space to cry and cry and cry and release all the unnameable shit that brings the dog sniffing around my baggage.

Not all are always possible. A lot of the time I find myself applying my "happy face" to survive. You know the one, that mask that says I'M FINE (Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional = FINE) to the rest of the world, just so they won't start asking questions that make me feel like a failure and make me want to kill them. But if I can find the space to even do one or two of the above things, the pain ceased to be paralysing and I find I am able to slowly, slowly crawl out of the bog… still covered in shit, but out.

hugs and more hugs


Veronica November 7, 2010 at 10:32 am

No shame to take them, none at all. Depression is just one of those things, when you're deep in the pit of it, you need help climbing out.

I had to stop taking my meds. I couldn't continue to be numb, for me, feeling the pain was better than being numb to it. Even the panic attacks were better. I think now I probably need to revist meds again, trial something different for the anxiety and stuff, but I am terrified of being numb again.


livinglifeasme November 7, 2010 at 10:23 am

Lori, there is no shame in taking these meds. I suffer at times, debilitating anxiety which turns into depression. Whenever I would let it take hold & have to go back on meds I felt like I was giving in, I let it defeat me. My wise and wonderful therapist said this to me and changed my entire outlook. "Annie, some people have high blood pressure, some people have diabetes, some people have epilepsy and they all need drugs to treat their condition. Do you think they are weak for accepting drugs? No? You have a condition. You suffer from anxiety & depression – it is an illness just like those. You need medication to treat it. You are not failing." Those words have made my life so much easier. I look at it from a different perspective now and find dealing with it is no longer a big black cloud over my existence. Maybe her words will help you too. xxxx big hugs & love.


toushka November 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

I have been there. That numbness, it is so debilitating in the beginning yeah? I was afraid it had stolen my creativity completely. But no, it was just sleeping a bit. Same thing happened at the other end when I came off them. Pretty sure I'm not off them forever though, that would be too much to hope for. I understand the necessary part – especially as a mum yeah?

cyber hugs and other fluffy crap and fist pumps and stuff.


Katie November 7, 2010 at 9:19 am

These are the types of things that should not be swept under the rug, but so often they are.
Thank you for sharing Lori.


ForeverRhonda November 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

I am so glad that you shared this, this is something that so many people feel is a stigma. And it's not. There is no shame in getting help for something whether emotional or physical. I wish more people would open up and share their stories so that no one who is dealing with this felt so alone.


Adalita November 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

Hugs to you Lori. A great post and I I identify with. I was in severe depression when I was 18 and medicated for 2 years. I haven't gone back to that place again. I don't need to focus on the darkness when I can focus on happiness. I hope you find you happiness too.
Love Adalita.


Glen Staples November 7, 2010 at 8:29 am

powerful. real. I'm numb


Tina November 7, 2010 at 8:18 am

Great post. I've been there, Lori. I've only been off the meds for about 6 months after being on them (this time round) for about 2 years. {hugs}


Lucy November 7, 2010 at 8:11 am

Lori, I have never gone there. But I can relate so well to what you are talking about. You depict the nature of the emotional pain so very well.


Belinda November 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

Great post. I felt all of it – sending love and strength. x


Jade November 7, 2010 at 7:50 am

Lori, you're so brave. I've just started taking meds and I've found the experience to be slightly scary and confronting. But it's what I needed to do.

Best of luck x


Amy xxoo November 7, 2010 at 7:28 am

I know exactly what you're on about Lori.
I've been off the meds for over 2 years now, but i was on them for 6 years before that… they did numb the pain, but they also gave me a the clarity of mind that i needed to work through the pain, and eventually i DID get to the point where i could find others ways to manage.
Stay strong and stay focused my friend – i know, despite never having met you, you have the strength and the balls to get through it!


DaniV November 7, 2010 at 6:40 am

Well said and I can completely relate!


Mrs Woog November 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I am glad you wrote this. xo


In Real Life November 7, 2010 at 3:22 am

I think it is amazing that you are willing to share your experience, your writing is so descriptive and beautiful. *HUGS*


Toni November 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I've been thinking about this all morning.
My darkest, rock-bottom times have been all about circumstances, not chemicals, and so I have no real understanding of what people go through with depression, except when brave souls like you bare all.
We all know and love people who have been, or are on medication, and not knowing what it's like can make you fearful to tread (or it does for me, anyway)
Your honesty and courage (numb or not) make it easier for me to understand, and maybe not be a complete arse next time. Maybe.


Lisa November 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

This is the first time I have been to your blog and wow what a post to start with! Thank you for sharing – such a privilege to read.
I do know what it feels like to have the dog sniffing around you – for me she comes sneaking up and questions me over and over until I KNOW I am a fraud. All my achievements and success are only because I am good at 'tricking' people, not because I have worked hard or deserve them.
Pills have helped me when this spiral starts. I feel very grateful that I have never felt any sense of shame about taking them – I think I beat myself up enough about other things ;-) – however, I do understand why others may feel that way.
I hope the numbness passes soon – I agree that is one of the most frustrating parts.
Take care,
L xx


Kimberly November 7, 2010 at 12:05 am

Brilliant and beautiful. Understood every word completely. Love you my dear


Eva Gallant November 7, 2010 at 2:22 am

You write about something that many pretend doesn't exist. Take relief where you can find it girl, and stay strong.


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