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Bereavement Observations #5: Better Live Through Chemicals

Posted Feb 20 2009 7:22pm
    Sometime during the first week after Mom died I schized regarding my supplements, including the critical one, St. John's Wort, which I'd been taking to manage my depressive instincts (which I often enjoy but which can also run away with me if I'm not careful). When I pulled myself back onto my supplement track the week after everyone left, I decided to continue the accidental cutback of taking four 300 mg St. John's Wort pills (I'd upped the dose from three to four sometime last year after my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer) to taking three, dismissing my fragile emotional state as completely circumstantial and figuring, as well, that continuing to drop the fourth pill would be a handy cost cutting measure...the capsules aren't cheap.
    Sometime about two weeks ago, when I was having a particularly hard day dealing with my grieving self, I suddenly remembered the Wort capsule cut back. I idly wondered if cutting out that fourth capsule might have anything to do with my inability to focus on just about everything except episodes of the various Law & Order series; having extreme problems being able to conduct any kind of death business without feeling overwhelmed every time I put my hands and eyes to lists or documents; continuing to feel unusually bereft without let up, blah, blah, blah. I was reluctant, though, to reinsert the fourth pill into my daily supplement regimen without checking with someone, mainly because, well, you know, grief is one of those things you just have to work through and I was thinking maybe it wouldn't make any difference at all and, in the meantime I'd be overdosing myself and spending more money than necessary. So, I decided to contact a woman who has, in the past, helped me out with alternative healing methods and has an expert, reliable and reasoned knowledge of herbal supplements.
    She and I haven't been in touch with one another for some time. She didn't know my mother had died, nor that Mom had been diagnosed with lung cancer...nor anything that has taken place with Mom and me within the last year or so. After I explained everything and posed my question about the fourth St. John's Wort capsule, she advised me that since it hadn't been a problem before, may as well put it back but "don't expect miracles" because grief was "a different animal", it wasn't a reaction I wanted to "quash" and, anyway, even if it makes it easier for me to lift my spirits, the most minor effects wouldn't be apparent for "a couple of weeks" and it would take a "good 60 days" for my system to readjust to the higher dose as she was sure, by this time, it had adjusted to the lower dose.
    That day I decided resume my former four St. John's Wort capsule regimen. Today, two weeks later, almost to the day, sometime this afternoon, I found myself not just ripping into the death and taxes business that I've been having so much trouble handling, I'm actually wanting to do it. What a surprising and welcome change!
    So, you know, I guess the moral is, if you're bound in fresh grief and you've been taking mood altering substances through the event, it's best not to alter that schedule; at least, anyway, don't alter it down.
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