An easy fix? A way out? A “happy pill”? You gotta be kidding me.
I come to this post with the intention of burning stereotypes about anti-depression meds to the damn ground. I’ve been belittled and misunderstood by many for admitting my struggle with mental illness, and my choice (well, actually my biological need) to be on medication. Truthfully, I can understand the confusion and fear surrounding medication. I understand that in a world full of he-said, she-said when it comes to health, trusting a doctor to prescribe medicine that *literally* works with your brain and body chemistry can be super scary.
Ultimately, however, there has to be a point where people come to terms with science, facts, and numerous anecdotal evidence that psychiatric medication is safe, effective, and is NEEDED.
With this being said, medication is by no means a magic wand that will instantly make you feel better. I feel that there is a misconception that anti-depressants are a “one size fits all”, and when the general patient discovers the first trial of antidepressants do not work as expected, a distrust and frustration comes between the doctor and the client. Doctors and specialists know what they are doing, and are experts on how to tailor- over time – medications to the patient uniquely.
I have been on multiple medications before FINALLY finding a combination of medication that works for me. Because this blog is my safe zone, and my free voice on the internet, I have no qualms detailing my history in therapy and psychiatry. Let’s break it down:
I began taking an antidepressant during my first semester at NYU. I was prescribed Zoloft, a common SSRI, and started at a low dose and worked up to around 150mg. It gave me terrible night sweats, and did next to nothing for my depression and suicidal tendencies. Unfortunately I did not get off of Zoloft for almost a year or more.
At this time, I was also prescribed Gabapentin to use as needed for anxiety. I often misused Gabapentin and had a difficult time regulating when and how to take it. I remember taking too much one night during a particularly bad panic attack, and shook the entire night while one of my friends held me to calm me down. It was some rough shit, yo.
I continued Zoloft and Gabapentin, despite their general ineffectiveness. I was also seeing a therapist at this time, who was amazing and really held me over until I finally realized my medication might also be an issue.
I was hospitalized twice this year, and was given general anti-anxiety and sleep medication like Trazadone for this. I also moved back to Texas during December after school.
This year has been a general shit show altogether, which I will talk about later. I switched from Zoloft to Celexa with a GP, instead of a Psychiatrist because apparently mental health care does not exist in the south. (I am of course exaggerating, but there is an extensive waiting list for most reliable practitioners here.)
After plateauing on the max dosage of Celexa, I was given Buspar as a PRN to use with Celexa. Buspar simply did not curb any of my panic attacks, which at this time were preventing me from functioning altogether. I was returning to my GP frequently with complaints. She agreed to give me a medication with a more immediate affect, Klonopin. I replaced Buspar with this and it helped for a time, until I eventually was taking too much of it in order to avoid feeling emotions in general.
I was hospitalized in June of this year for mental health and a major suicide attempt, which again I will discuss at a different point. The hospital took me off Celexa and placed me on the max dose of Prozac instead. They also regulated my Klonopin use to once per day and advised me to start Gabopentin again twice a day.
Prozac was not terrible, but not nearly as efficient as I needed. I was in a major depressive episode and felt like I had no way to climb out. I was being closely monitored due to my recent hospitalization, and was referred to a Psychiatrist in Dallas. I did have to be on a wait list, but the doctor was amazing and completely understood my history and what I needed. He immediately switched me from Prozac to Effexor, an SNRI, and tailored my medication to 225mg. This is still what I take currently. He also made sure I was taking Gabapentin twice daily, and only using Klonopin as needed (ideally less that once per day.)
Effexor has proven highly effective and the only medication thus far that has been able to mediate my depression and quite a bit of my anxiety. I feel better than I have in years, thank GOD. I have also been prescribed Prazosin as of late, to help with PTSD and nightmares, but I dislike the side affects of the pill so I try to use it sparingly.
If you counted correctly, you’d see that I have been on NINE (9) different medications since 2016. I am positive there are people who have had even more difficultly finding a proper anti-depressant.
GETTING HELP FOR MENTAL ILLNESS IS BY NO MEANS EASY.
GETTING HELP FOR MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A WEAK WAY TO DEAL WITH PROBLEMS.
FUCKING HELL, GETTING MENTAL ILLNESS TREATMENT IS THE BRAVEST THING TO EVER DO!
If you have a story you want to share, comment or DM me.