How did it come to this? I’m a tough nut, but in recent months, I seriously considered trying a beginner’s dose of anti-depressants. When I told friends I was contemplating this, I was surprised at how many were already downing what they call their “happy pills.”
I also thought about trying therapy, now called tele-therapy, since it is done over the phone. I figured it might help me feel like I counted for something. Yeah, I found out several of those friends also had therapists.
Statistics show that recently, during the coronavirus lock down, one in six Americans have turned to anti-depressants, and there was a 10 to 15 percent rise in antidepressant prescriptions distributed during the pandemic, according to a May article on Britain’s news web site The Telegraph.
About three weeks ago, I started both — antidepressants and tele-therapy. Talking to a psychologist on Zoom makes sense. You really don’t need to talk in person. I haven’t put much stock in therapy in the past, but now — with COVID and all — I wanted an outlet whereby I could complain about how lousy my life is.
The anti-depressants are working. I had no appetite and felt nauseous most of the time. I was randomly vomiting after eating. I lost 12 pounds. It was miserable. My cancer docs thought I had brain cancer with these symptoms. So I had an emergency brain MRI at a hospital in the middle of lock down. I was happy to learn that I had no cancer in my noggin. Amazing, all of these symptoms were caused by anxiety.
Now, I feel a little better about life. COVID-19 continues but the summer months seem to have vaporized some of the evil. I still have that hollow feeling whereby there is not much to look forward to, but I’m coming to accept that. It means no vacations and no joyous occasions such as my nephew’s wedding shower or even his wedding in August. I’m facing the possible cancellation of my own daughter’s wedding reception in September. I still need to hold my month-old granddaughter sporting gloves and a mask. The downside of this: I cannot smell her sweet infant smell.
The COVID lock down had negative effects on many, but those of us living alone who were super social before were painfully impacted. All the activities that held me together vanished. I was able to handle my severe health problems and loneliness through a string of regular monthly activities and volunteer work. Now I have been been relegated to a Zoom book club, and no movie club, and a Zoom book-to-movie club. Just recently, we met on people’s patios for some of these events. Our 17-year-old movie club congregated at one of our city parks. We sat on soccer chairs and sipped our beverages while we visited. It was pleasant, and I see more of that this summer, but it doesn’t compare to having dinner and watching a movie followed by dessert at my friends’ houses.
The book-to-movie club is dissolving. A couple members are opting out for the summer. Deep in my heart, I feel like it won’t be like it was before.
I know there are many much worse off than me. Thousands are dead, and those who suffered and recovered from COVID-19 in hospitals and nursing homes are left with the morbid memories of fighting the virus. Still, those of us dealing with severe illness alone, getting regular blood draws and scans and worried we might end up in the ER, not from the corona virus but from cancer progression, worked our way through roughly seven weeks feeling at times like we wouldn’t survive.
But we did as we faithfully popped those anti-depressants in all shapes and sizes and strengths. We waited for the pills to kick in. Often it takes two to four weeks, we were told. And we talked to our therapists who were snug in their kitchens or offices, safe in their quarantine bubbles with their spouses and children. Oh, how I wish I was lucky enough to have had a quarantine bubble with someone I love. Oh, how I have missed Tom.