Medication: a substance used for medical treatment
I've mentioned briefly in a few of my blog posts that I'm currently on medication for my depression and anxiety. It’s not a subject that I really talk about, but I've decided to open up about my experience with antidepressants. When I first started my medication in June I was scared; I don't like putting things into my body that are unnecessary. But at the time, medication was the only solution for me. I was afraid of how it would affect my body and how others would perceive me if they knew I had to rely on a pill for my sanity. But, I have over come the fear of being judged and have decided to share my "happy pills" story.
When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety I was given a low dose of Paxil, 10mg to be exact. Paxil is classified as a SSRI, which stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Because mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain, taking a SSRI increases the levels of serotonin to help create a balance in the brain again. Now the thing about being on antidepressants is it's a process of trail and error. Your doctor gives you an antidepressant from the very long list of medications that can be prescribed and hopes for the best. The medication can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to start working. So within that time your body is trying to adjust and deal with the side effects. For me, I experienced weight loss, fatigue, and headaches. I had been on Paxil from June up until recently when I came to the conclusion that the medication was no longer helping me; it was in fact hurting my well-being.
Between June and November my dose of Paxil had gradually increased from 10mg to 40mg over the span of 5 months. The last month and a half on 40mg was the worse. Every time you increase your dose or completely change your medication your body has to adjust; you get worse before you get better. You deal with side effects and feeling like crap until your body finally adjusts; but this time it was different. I was completely loosing myself again and going back to that dark place I thought I had conquered. My anxiety was through the roof. It was no longer something I could control on my own; the anxiety had become a physical pain. Every night I would wake up with the feeling of anxiety all over my body. It kept me up all night and without even realizing I was loosing a significant amount of weight again. All my hard work of becoming stronger, healthier, and happier had disappeared in a blink of an eye.
I had finally hit my breaking point, I didn't want to live like this anymore. My body was exhausted mentally and physically; I just wanted to give up. I didn't want to be on medication anymore, I didn't want to live. I was just tired of everything. The next day I emailed my doctor saying I needed a medication change immediately! I was put on a new medication called Effexor while at the same time tapering off of the Paxil; abruptly stopping an anti-depressant is a big no no. Well I was only on Effexor for a day because 2 hours after taking the pill, I broke out in huge hives on my legs. Fun right? There's a perfect example of the trial and error process of finding the right medication that works with your body.
I was very upset; I just wanted a new medication that worked. I just wanted something! The next medication I was prescribed and I’m currently taking is Prozac. So far so good, I haven't had any major side effects. I’m hoping for the best with this new medication. I’m still tapering off of the Paxil, which is causing my body to pretty much freak out! I experience random moments of anxiety and have developed a tremor in my hands and fingers. My body is going through withdrawals and it sucks!
I know some people may think, why even stay on medication? Why not just see what it's like with out the pills? Believe me I go back and forth on this matter everyday! But, I honestly feel that once I reach a stable place while on my medication I will be able to control of my life again and start the process of living without antidepressants. That is my main goal in my healing process. Even though the process is a burden and can seem never ending, I am grateful for my happy pills. Without them I may not have made it this far.
"Everyday I choose to live, and that in itself is a blessing." -Jess