Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It, Share Your Meds

I haven’t done this in a while, there’s been so much to talk about, but today I’m going to take another retro look back at my first year in recovery and a journal entry from back then. I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about depression or anxiety medications and how ambivalent I have always been about taking them. Once upon a time my firm opinion was that depression meds were over-prescribed and that most people didn’t need them. My thought was that “people aren’t meant to be happy ALL of the time.” I still think that both of those things are true, but now I also realize that people aren’t meant to be sad and frightened all of the time either.

I started on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med about a year and a half ago, and it has made a huge difference in my life. I do still have down days and angry days and even anxious days, but now I have more happy and calm days than I do bad ones. And when I have bad days, I can handle them, and I understand that it’s temporary and that I won’t feel like this forever. That’s a huge reversal of what my life used to be like.

Starting anti-depressants is different for everyone, because everyone has unique body chemistry (even if they’re related). The first brand I tried was wrong for me; it actually increased my anxiety and I had a very scary panic attack after just a few days on it. The second brand I tried worked much better, but left me feeling a little off kilter; I was happier, but I was careening back and forth from happy to sad to mad and back and forth again all day. So it was back to my doctor again, and she upped my dose by just a little, and suddenly I was good. I’ve been on that brand ever since. Lately we’re beginning to consider whether or not I can begin to cut back on the dose, but that’s a story for another day...

Also, that all sounds like it happened pretty fast, but in reality it was over a period of several weeks. For most people, it takes a number of weeks or even a few months for the effects of the pills to take hold. If you (and your doctor) should determine that an anti-depressant is the way to go, you probably won’t start feeling better on the next day, or even the next week. You have to give it time! And remember that it’s different for everyone. For me, it took a few weeks to feel better. For someone I know, the effects were almost immediate. Someone else I know takes that first med that made me worse, and it works just fine for her.

So, here’s the takeaway... IF you need meds, don’t be afraid or ashamed. You don’t deserve to feel bad all the time. IF you need meds, do talk to your doctor and please please please WORK with that doctor to get on the one that’s right for you. Don’t just take the first thing you are given and then quit because you don’t feel different, or because you feel worse. Talk to your doctor about how it makes you feel. If you don’t feel better, give it time; if you feel worse, you can try something else; if you don’t feel better enough, you can try something else.

Journal Entry #14

Well, today I guess I was paying a bit more attention, but I let the moment of “finished” just roll right by and kept on eating anyway. And I don’t really even know why. Once again, I’m not really feeling anything. Just empty - and tired.

I can’t tell if the anti-depressant is changing much. I do think I’m less anxious, but emotionally.... well, I’m not sure that this is better. Before the meds I would get depressed and it would go on for two or three weeks, then I would have a phase of feeling good for a week or two before I would return to anger and depression. Now I feel completely erratic. I’m up, I’m down, I’m empty, I’m angry, all in one day. I’m all over the place.

The only consistent thing is that I’m tired. I can’t seem to sleep enough. I don’t always let myself nap during the day, but I always want to.

Fourteen days. It’s only been fourteen days on the meds. Give it time. It has to get better, it couldn’t get much worse, right?


I think I deserve this HATE, but I don’t.
I give myself permission to be patient.
I deserve good things as much as anyone else.


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