*Button warning: suicidal ideation
Many times in my life I’ve taken antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. I tried Cymbalta, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Xanax, and others I can’t recall because they didn’t work. Starting, upping, or weaning off mental health meds is a notoriously tenuous time because that’s when I, and many others before, beside, and after me, are more inclined to experience suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. Funny and awful how that works.
I’ve reached a point where my current dosage and combo of meds no longer works. I’ve taken it for years and years, so that makes sense. Malcolm kindly told me that it’s time to reassess my meds when I had difficulties regulating my emotions recently. After initially blowing it off, I asked him to help me make an appointment. Sometimes when I sink to the depths of my depression, I have no interest to do anything. I do not care, apathy. So making an appointment feels like climbing a mountain. I saw my new PCP (GP) and we decided I need to wean off the Prozac as she suspects my apathy is a side effect from Prozac. She said it can make me uninterested in doing things… So now I’m like… is that ME or the ADHD or the PROZAC or the DEPRESSION or my PERSONALITY? It feels very overwhelming.
The most overwhelming part is the trail and error. All medicine is trial and error, especially mental health meds. Decrease this by 20 mg, increase this by 150 mg. Take this supplement that may or may not work. See you back in five weeks to see if you still want to kill yourself. Note, I am not feeling suicidal. I have in the past, but not currently. Since cancer, I learned what it’s like to hold on to life white knuckled. I want to live! But I also want to have normal brain chemistry so I can walk through life like people who aren’t biologically dispositioned for depression and anxiety.
The pits?: waiting for a personality change that may or may not fluctuate. Welp, now maybe I’m irritable about everything. But that could accompany motivation to get out of bed. Whoops, I’m back to yelling to communicate which I sorted out in years of therapy. It’s a time of regression before progression. And I feel like a crazy person. Someone pulled the foundation out from under me, and I cling to my coping mechanisms. But depression doesn’t want me to get up and take a walk or journal. My brain says it won’t help, there’s no use in trying. So much chaotic instability.
And I am absolutely sick of the mental health meds stigma. 2020 gave us all a crash course in emotional regulation and it’s shown we are not okay. Now I don’t shut up about my meds. I told my team at work I’m in the process of altering my meds; I blather on about it to my in-laws; I am currently writing this post 🙂 My purpose in writing this post is normalizing mental health treatment. For years, I kept it secret because of the looks of concern I got when I even mentioned wanting a therapist. That makes it 10x worse. Mental health meds have saved my life. I will not mince words about it any longer.
Furthermore, people want to take meds to feel better, which is wonderful, but it’s often not enough to bust your toxic patterns on its own. Therapy is wonderful, if you can afford it. There are great therapists and agencies out there who accept sliding scale payments. For the best therapy of my life, I paid $10 a week for an LCSW’s services. That was possible because the agency got a grant from the state that funds therapy for queer people who are considered “high risk” because of how much hate we navigate.
Now, I know it’s horrible to have to shop around for therapists, but I cannot stress enough (and there’s valid studies, evidence based practice around this) that you have to find the right therapist for you. Getting the wrong one deters many, many people. Try a different person. Try a different mode of therapy. Malcolm’s on all the wait lists for therapy, but just decided the right mode of therapy for him might be equine therapy, for example.
I’d love to connect with you about this if you have any questions. It can be a daunting process, but it’s so worth it, friends. And there are many other ways to deal with it too. Maybe you don’t want meds. That decision is yours. I myself need them because it’s an imbalance in my brain which won’t ever heal. It’s just the way my brain and body work.
How are y’all doing out there?