If You’re Happy and You Know It

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“If you’re happy and you know it… clap your hands” – Such simple, yet profound and affecting, lyrics. To know you are happy while you are happy is the greatest thing, and yet we often don’t realise we are happy until that happiness has faded – and sometimes by then no amount of clapping will bring it back.

A few weeks ago I felt as high as a kite – everything in my life was perfect and I knew it, I may have looked like a wibbly mess on the outside, but inside I could feel the happiness simply skipping along without so much as a wobble. But, then I did something very stupid. I made the decision, with the help of my healthcare team, to wean myself off the anti-depressants that I have been reliant on for the best part of 8 years. Previously, I have made the mistake of stopping cold turkey, which had the rather unfortunate result of turning me into someone resembling Jekyll and Hyde. Not keen to repeat this catastrophic mistake, I gradually reduced my dose over 3 weeks, shaving a smidge off the tablets each day until I was left with a crumb. It seemed to be working, my mood remained stable, I had no flip outs and I still felt as happy as that Larry bloke. Until, that is, a couple of days after I’d taken the last crumb. My mood became irritable. I could feel an inner rage bubbling away and the world looked bleak. I was back to feeling low-down, dark and dismally depressed. I searched and searched for excuses – it’s just that time of the month or the kids are being too demanding – but that wasn’t the reason, and I knew it.

Sitting opposite my Neuro Nurse a week later, I listened to the whole scientific explanation of how MS operates for, what must surely be, the 10,000th time. My MRI results have previously shown damage to the parts of my brain that control emotion, this is common in people with MS and can cause irrational mood swings and several emotional changes as well as depression and anxiety. I should know this by now. I should know what MS is. I should know the sort of damage it can cause. Yet, I somehow switch off from the facts and prefer to live in my own bubble of denial, where I can pretend that I have complete and utter control over my MS and its menacing ways. During this appointment, my nurse miraculously managed to puncture this bubble and convince me that I needed to resume my anti-depressant medication and accept that this is all part and parcel of this stupid condition; in her words, I should give myself ‘a break.’

And so, I find myself back on the pills that I was so desperate to stop and happily back to being more ‘me’.

Now, sing along: “If you’re happy and you know it… clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it…
clap your hands
…”

10 thoughts on “If You’re Happy and You Know It

  1. What antidepressants were that? I’ve been on SSRIs for two years now and, like you, I’d love to get off them, but they do tame the emotional roller coaster.

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    1. Hi Will – I’m not on anything too hardcore – 20mg Citalopram, but it’s enough to keep me sane!

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  2. Joan Elaine Kafetzaki July 16, 2019 — 2:38 pm

    Yes, I can identify with this. I have been weaning myself off gabapentin, quite successfully. But then my son wanted to take me to the beach. I couldn’t go more than a few steps outside without wanting to turn back. Irrational fear of the ‘can I really manage it?’ type. And the internet has packed up. And I can’t get my digital radio to work. And, and, and!

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  3. Karen McTaggart July 16, 2019 — 3:39 pm

    This is brilliant Emily and so true!

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  4. I totally get why you wanted to not take the tablets anymore. My husband has to take tablets for high blood pressure. He will always have to take them, to keep him safe. You needing to take anti-depressants is just the same. You are amazing x

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    1. my apologies if my reply was patronising. i just want the best for you x

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      1. On the contrary – I liked your point very much! Thank you x

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  5. I have been on anti depressants for two years and have been weaning myself off them during this third year of being on them. I’m now on 10mg a day and hope to be completely off them by next year. I feel this is the best way for me. I am still having ‘anger’ issues and depression and recently very tearful (I’m not even due on!) so to hear you are going through the same is wonderful (hopefully you know what I mean when I say wonderful!) as I know I’m really not alone and what I’m feeling is okay. Ironic thing is my tablets are to help me deal with anxiety I get from another long term illness of Crohn’s disease so sometimes I really do feel life is unfair. Thank you for such wonderful, funny and honest posts xx

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    1. Thank you, Ann. I know exactly what you mean – just knowing that someone else is dealing with the same issues can be a big help, it’s one of the main reasons for my blog! And, sorry to hear you are struggling – I honestly think that we need to take the most care of our mental health, perhaps even above all else. xx

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