The Pill in My Hand Like the Gun to the Head


In psychology, you’ll learn that people ‘tell’ on themselves all the time. Forensic psychologists learn to hear what people say and what they don’t say and use that to develop a profile of the person. My title to this post, a somewhat provocative one, I suppose, tells a lot. See, it’s MY hand but it’s THE head. I don’t “own” the gun to MY head–’cause it never will be. I couldn’t quite bring myself to even type ‘my’. But that’s all beside the point. I’m digressing, and it’s not at all what I wanted to talk about.

What I did want to talk about is depression. Depression is the proverbial gun. The pill in my hand is one of the components of a treatment, but not a cure, for the gun–the pill is the safety lock on the gun. Just like a real safety lock, it can malfunction, and sometimes the gun still goes off, but more often than not, the pill, or the safety lock works and the gun can’t do as much damage. Sure, you could turn it around and use the grip to beat the snot out of someone, and someone can stay depressed if they really want to, but that’s really wearing an analogy and metaphor way too much.

The whole point of this blog post, that again, if you  knew me and you were a forensic psychologist, you’d see that I was trying to avoid, was talking about MY depression. And it was almost as hard to type that as it was to type MY in front head when pertaining to a gun to my head.

MY depression.

Over twenty years ago… wow, am I THAT old? Yeah, I guess I am; just had a birthday two days ago (<—avoidance, classic)…. I was nearly hospitalized for a major depressive episode. I had nearly ceased to function. Quit caring about anything in life, myself, my family, my job, my friends, my home, health, nothing. Nothing made me happy. Nothing made me sad. Nothing made me angry. Nothing made me FEEL anything at all. I didn’t care. I spent most of my time asleep on the couch. The phone would ring and I would just let it (and this was before voice mail, too) and the doorbell would ring and I would just lie there and hope they went away.


The word ‘depressed’ is really a misnomer. A person who suffers from clinical depression is NOT depressed, and yet people use that interchangeably. Depression is a disorder, ’caused by the body not producing or uptaking the right chemicals when a person’s mood chemically tries to change, the way most people’s bodies will. We all get ‘depressed’ or ‘sad’ sometimes. That’s normal. Everyone has it. For some people, that depressed feeling lasts for as long as the situation that caused the depressed feeling lasts. That could be a few hours for something minor or a few days for something more major… to a few months for something devastating. But beyond that, at some point, life goes on, and so do we. We might always have some residual sadness pertaining to the thing that gave us the depressed feelings, but eventually, we get stronger, and we grieve, and we begin to pick up the pieces and move on. It’s a process. Some people go through it faster than others. Along that journey, our bodies help us by releasing certain chemicals and neurotransmitters that help use to change our mood in the direction we need to be going. The more efficiently our bodies do this, the easier it is for us to move past that depressed feeling when we are ready to do so.

A couple of things have to happen for the depressed feeling to leave us: 1) we have to want to move out of feeling depressed (ie: we are ready to move past grief, we’re ready to let go, we’re ready to move on with our lives, etc.) and 2) our body has to release and reuptake the right chemicals properly to allow us to change that mood on a biological, chemical basis. If either of these two things fails, we will stay in a depressed feeling. When one of or both of these two things continues to fail consistently, we move from being in a depressed feeling to depression.

There is a difference between depression and being depressed.


And once we’ve been feeling depressed for long enough, and depression kicks in, it goes from tears and sadness and feeling blue to numbness, and void and emptiness. Darkness. Pain. Suffering. Suffering often and usually way beyond any situational depression/depressed feeling.

I hate that the two are used by so many synonymously and I hate that mood and behavior disorders are somehow considered a weakness by so many people. You’d never tell an insulin-dependent diabetic that he was weak because his body doesn’t make insulin right. You’d never tell a person with cancer that they were weak because they can’t kill the cancer themselves and need chemotherapy. You’d never tell a heart patient not to take their medicine because they are weak.

But many people don’t think a thing about telling a person who has depression (not just someone who is depressed) that they are weak for not being able to change their mood. That they are weak for needing medication to help treat their clinical depression.

This is where the confusion begins for so many: When you have a depressed feeling, doing things you enjoy (like reading, walking, exercise, sex, watching a good movie, going out with friends, etc.) or doing something physically active (like exercise, playing basketball, taking a walk to the park, having great sex (you’ll see in this list a lot–it’s a great depressed mood killer with the right person!), or changing your environment (going out with people, leaving the house, moving to another room or taking a walk)…. these types of things can help lift a depressed mood. Doing this things regularly enough and consistently enough will absolutely help a ‘normal’ non-depression-suffering person to lift a depressed mood. But for someone who suffers from depression–the clinical depression–doing these things will not only NOT make the mood better, but it can indeed make the depression worse!

The strain of forcing social interaction on someone who is already compromised can worsen depression. Pity, sympathy and love from people when someone is feeling worthless and unlovable can make depression worse. Sex can lead to feelings of guilt or sometimes worse, not feeling anything at all–and that’s devastating. Exercise exhausts someone who is depressed and can physically exhaust the body, making it work even less efficiently.

Depression cannot be ‘fixed’ or cured by doing all these things. Sure, in the beginning of a depressive episode, one can indeed TRY these things. If it’s a mild episode, it’s possible (though certainly not always) that it could help kickstart the right chemicals. But most of the time, these things won’t help–and again, could make things worse.

And anyone who thinks that depression is a weakness has obviously never had depression. You have no idea, unless you’ve been there, how hard it is to just get up, every day, to just function, even if it’s at a minimal level, to feel anything, to DO anything, when you feel the way depression makes you feel. This is beyond mood. This is beyond emotions. Depressed people who still manage to ever make it out of bed and out of the house, ever, at all, are some of the strongest, bravest, toughest people I know. It is NOT easy to function when every neurotrasnmitter and chemical in your body is skewed… and no amount of puppies, ice cream and laughter is going to instantly start making your body work right. But you don’t get a cheering squad for fighting your depression. There’s no depression-awareness groups doing free makeovers and sending folks to help you clean your house or cheer you up or read to you… there’s no walk-a-thon for you. But depression kills. It’s debilitating. It can make you physically ill on top of the physical ailment of depression itself. At it’s most extreme, it can be devastating.


It’s hard to tell your family, “I love you. I know I love you. I need you to know I love you. It’s not you. YOU aren’t the problem. You’re not making me UNHAPPY. When I say I’m not happy, I am NOT saying that you make my UNHAPPY.”

That’s the hardest part for me sometimes… making sure people know that they aren’t responsible for my depression. They didn’t cause me to get CTEPH or congestive heart failure or hypothyroidism. Why would they be the cause of my depression? They’re not. I hope they know that, really know that, too.

What does all this have to do with me?

On New Year’s Eve, our cat, Little ‘Lista, the one cat in the house who sort of took to me, when the other cats are a bit indifferent to me… she died. She had been sick for a short period of time, but we really thought she was over the worst of it. It came on suddenly and by the time we got to her and got her to the vet, it was too late. She died in my best friend’s arms on the way there. She wasn’t even my cat, but her death hurt me a lot. Not in the dying part–I’m so glad she didn’t have to suffer. I’m so grateful, since we’re pretty certain she had a type of tumor cancer, that she went like she did–before there was any pain, before she was really sick sick, and before she had to suffer. Two days prior to her death, she was just her normal self and we never suspected this would happen. The surprise of it sort of took me for a loop. All in all, I handled her death well. I’m pragmatic about death any more, but I was sad. I would see where she lay on the bed and make a frowny face. I would wake up and look for her like I always did. I would do something that usually elicited a response from her and would get sad when there was no response. Little things–all normal.

But about a week later, when everyone else was finally moving past it, while we were all at the place of telling Little ‘Lista stories and laughing at the silly memories–a good thing to do and a great way to remember and let go–I realized they were all moving on and I was still stuck on numb. But it wasn’t about Little ‘Lista any more. At first, everything was making me sad. My best friend said something, and it hurt my feelings. At first, I thought it was odd she would do that, ’cause she would never hurt my feelings–then it hit me later, she didn’t do it. It was how I took it that was different. Then my bird bit my finger and I was in tears over it, wondering why he didn’t love me any more. Seriously? I could logically see where I was wrong, in my intellectual place in my mind, I knew that was silly–but the tears came nonetheless (yes, that’s all one word for those who don’t know–look it up, love the word).

And for about a week, I spent my days on the verge of tears all the time. Not really sad, but just right on the verge of tears, the whole time. Then the numbness came. For a couple of days, the numbness seems like a blessing after you’ve been on the verge of tears for so long. I welcomed the numbness for about two days, and then that was enough. It’s been going on for a little over two weeks now, the numb feeling. Not finding any real joy in anything. No laughter. Nothing that is touching me beyond anything surface. I’m easily angered, snappy at people for no good reason, ’cause I’m irritable, but I’m really not angry, ’cause I can’t really GET angry. I can’t FEEL anything. My bird is cute and all, but he’s not making me happy. My dog loves me, and I love him, but I’m not smiling on the inside when I play with him. I’m just here. A lump. Staring at the wall. Empty.

Can’t write.

That’s when you know something is wrong. When I can’t write.

I haven’t really been on Facebook much. Haven’t been on the board. Haven’t written on my blogs. Just sort of here. Not writing in my books. Not really doing anything that makes me who I am, makes me me.

So I talked to my doctor, who ran some tests. I’m still anemic, but it’s ‘stable’ in that it’s not getting any worse–not getting any better, but not getting any worse. My thyroid was out of whack again, but we’re getting it back under control–change in meds caused it. But the change in the thyroid caused a change in my PT/INR, so it’s low. So we’re back to out of whack and adjusting meds too frequently. Then my vitamin D levels came back low, AGAIN. They pretty much stay consistently low. They put me on supplements, levels go up, take me off of them, levels go down. Roller coaster ride, up and down. So back on them again. But she also wrote me a prescription for an anti-depressant that I’ve been on before back in 2007. It worked beautifully then, and I was on it for about three years before coming off.

She told me I didn’t have to take it. I could just have the prescription if I wanted or needed it, so I’d have some empowerment to make my own choice when I had had enough, but if I could pull out of this on my own, I could skip it. Sometimes, over the years, I’ll have bouts of this depression stuff, and I will, for reasons I can never fully explain, sometimes pull out of it. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time. Plus, like my new doctor said, with all that is going on with me, doctor stuff, hospital stuff, health stuff… who wouldn’t be depressed sometimes going through all this? Seriously? This is tough stuff… of COURSE I get depressed sometimes. But when I”m prone to depression, ‘depressed’ can trigger a ‘flare up’ of my depression condition, and I really have to be hyper aware of that.

But I sat here tonight, with that pill in my hand, asking myself if I should pull the trigger. When I said that, I meant that putting the pill in my mouth and taking it was likened to pulling the trigger. And then I realized, it’s no wonder I’m having a hard time making this decision when that’s the metaphor in my head–that pill is a gun that is going to shot me in the head. Why would anyone want to do that? I had to explore within myself why I felt that way.

The reality is, logically, NOT taking the pill is actually more likened to the loaded gun at my head–so why am I so against taking this pill without even realizing it? Logically, I’m all for taking it. Logically, I see all the reasons why I should.

What’s stopping me?


I don’t know. But I’ve had the pills for five days now, and I’ve yet to take a single pill.

Until tonight.

I popped it in my mouth and said, I’m ready to get better. I’m ready to be ME again.

And there is NO SHAME in that at all. And I will be talking about this more in the future, because I believe there is such a stigma to this ‘depression’ stuff that just doesn’t need to be there and more people could be getting help and being healthier and feeling better if we could all understand depression better. I honestly think it needs to start by giving it another name. Serotonin Deficiency or something. THAT is something people can understand. It’s a malfunction in the why the chemicals in the brain work. Hypopituitarism is a malfunction in the way chemicals in the brain work. Type I diabetes is a malfunction in the way chemicals in the pancreas work. Adrenal insufficiency is a malfunction in the way the chemicals in the adrenals work… chemicals, hormones, whatever. It’s all the same.

My body doesn’t work so well. I have poor heart function, poor lung function, poor adrenal function, and poor liver function–why shouldn’t I have poor brain function? Fortunately, my brain decided to kick the emotions part instead of the intellect part.

I know many of my friends suffer from depression. If I can act in any way as a role model for someone who is going through a roof patch while their brain is misbehaving, it will have been worth it to go through this to write these posts. Depression is a disorder, a real medical condition–it’s not your fault, it’s not your life, you’re not weak… there is help.

And for me, that help is a little blue and green capsule taken once per day, while I put on my headphones and do meditation, and force myself to participate in the things that used to bring my love and laughter and joy until they do again. And they will.

I have seen this darkness before, but oh, I have seen the light…. I seek the light.

Now, shine a light on your own darkness.

I love you all…



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3 Responses to “The Pill in My Hand Like the Gun to the Head”

  1. Buffy says:

    It’s amazing what happens when you are given choices, when you are given control and allowed to make your own choices. You gave your body a chance to make the right chemicals, you certainly tried to give yourself things to be happy about, new situations to try things in… but ultimately, you weighed your symptoms and made a decision. It really is no different than treating diabetes, hypothyroid, adrenal insufficiency, or coagulation problems. It’s a medical problem. Feel better!
    Blessings, Love, and Light

  2. David says:

    Does the light honestly exist?…or is it just a false hope?…..its been 6 months for me and I haven’t gotten checked for depression but everything you’ve said has hit me hard….I don’t wanna be around people…just makes me feel worse….I don’t even want to leave my bedroom because the rest of the house seems so empty and big as I feel like a pathetic little ant….yet alone go out anywhere around other people….i can’t really sleep I’ll be up for like 4 or 5 days before I finally crash n then I only sleep maybe 2 to 4 hours….I’ve tried goin out with friends n family but it just makes me feel so much worse….my chest went from a dull pain to completely empty feeling like my chest is just going to cave in around my insides…..and my heart feels like it just exploded into nothing…..and the pain is beyond to damn hard…..I’ve tried drowning my sorrows in liquor and all its done was made it worse after awhile….it was great when I first started drinkin but then it stopped numbing the pain….I’ve been depressed before but nothing like this…nothing this surreal nothing this unimaginable….. I feel like I’m stuck in a dark room that’s just closing in around me getting darker and darker as the walls just get closer…..the only thing that makes me feel somewhat ok is when I’m in the woods hunting….the beauty around u when the sun comes up and the feeling u get when u got a nice size buck in ur sights….but then afterwards…..once u get home its like u never left…its like u never felt better while u were out doing the one thing that pulls you out of the funk…..its like u never done it…I just feel like my life is closing around me….any advice?…

    • Michy says:

      Oh, David, i don’t know what to tell you, except to say, as alone as you feel, you’re not alone. I think you need to talk to someone–to a doctor, in particular, but maybe a counselor too. This is definitely clinical depression you’re describing, in rich detail. I’ve been on that side of the pain and the numbness and the emptiness. I know the feeling. Even sometimes when my brain is telling me there’s no reason for that feeling.

      The fact you are aware of it is a double-edged sword. To know what you’re suffering through while you’re suffering through it… it’s tough. But it brings hope that there can be change, because you can perceive what’s going on.

      Don’t give up. Don’t give in to it. Get help. Seek help from a professional. I did, and I’m glad I did. It takes time, but it can make a world of difference.

      If you need anything, even if you just need to talk, please PM me. I listen well and sometimes it’s better to talk to a stranger who doesn’t know you at all or anything about your life, because it’s safer.

      Take care.

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