The Addison’s Chronicles – Part 7…

Depression and Hydrocortisone.

Hydro is, without a doubt, the major current cause of my depression – depression so shatteringly severe it feels positively dangerous.

I’m not normally depressed, but I am prone to transient and unpredictable bouts of depression which roll in, drag me under – and roll away again, mercifully, after a couple of hours or so.

According to my shrink, anyone who is chronically sick, like me, can expect to be similarly afflicted. The condition – secondary depression – and its link to chronic illness as the causative agent are well known.

Depression is also a feature of Addison’s, but the literature is vague on whether it’s intrinsic or extrinsic (that is, actually caused by Addison’s, or by something external to Addison’s, like meds. I’m going with the latter as I’m absolutely certain its cause, in my case, at least, is Hydrocortisone.

The first dose, 20mg at 06.00, has no deleterious effects but the routine second dose, 10mg at 15.00, very often, after half an hour or so, sees me profoundly depressed.

If, however, it’s a really bad day and I take additional Hydro, say 20mg around midday, then by late afternoon, after what’s then the third dose (10mg at 15.00), I’m totally wiped out – not just tearful but suicidal. And it’s not short-lived either, it can go on into the small hours of the following day and, sometimes, be locked in for days. Yes, I know that for many people – my ex was one – depression is permanent, but in my case its course used to be short-lived and reasonably predictable. Now, it’s not.

All of which leaves me with a problem. There is no doubt that, physically, I function better with Hydro in my system, just as there is no doubt that there are bad days when I need more than the maintenance dose – and that’s where the problem lies.

There is just so much wrong with me (for those who don’t know, see the Footnote in Part 5), that most of the time I have no idea whether the Addison’s is responsible for how lousy I feel, or whether it’s something else. The only way to find out is to take Hydro – if it’s Addison’s I’ll start to feel better pretty quickly – if it’s not, I won’t. But in both cases I will be horrendously depressed.

So what’s the answer? Sorry, I don’t have one.

The reason I’m telling you this is not because I have a fix, but in case there is some other poor schmuck out there, new to Addison’s, wondering why the hell they have a hitherto unsuspected urge to deep-throat a shotgun.

It’s the Hydro. And not taking Hydro at all is not an option.

The thing that might get you through, as it does me, is knowing that while Hydro might make you think you want to die, without it you will die.

My fear is that, one day, that difference won’t be enough.