Meds, Part One: An Overview

ErinMedication, Symptoms and Side-Effects2 Comments

I am a walking cocktail of medication and have been since I was diagnosed with depression. One by one pills have been added and subtracted to balance out my brain, some making me physically sick, some making me sleepy, some making me suicidal. Why put myself though all that? I do it because the alternative is worse. After years and years of trying medications that did not help, I’ve finally found pills that help me enough to function. It would be safe to say that without my medication this blog would not exist. Neither would my apartment or my art or the fact that I can function in day-to-day life.

I take seven pills at breakfast, three pills at dinner, and four pills at bedtime. Cymbalta and Wellbutrin are antidepressants to treat depression, Seroquel is an anti-psychotic I take to help me sleep, and Xanax is a PRN (Pro Re Nata – Latin for as needed) I take once in a while for anxiety. Those are the straightforward medications and why I take them.

Next comes the round of pills I take to cope with the above pills. I take Pindolol for blood pressure, to offset the headaches Wellbutrin causes in me. I also take Ibuprofen and sometimes Tylenol throughout the day to combat those headaches. I take Nexium for my stomach problems, which are stress related.

Originally, when my parents learned of my depression they said that once I found the right medication I would be fixed, and for some people, it can be that simple. Unfortunately my depression was so severe that my doctor only assumed a medication was working because it supposedly prevented me from suicidal impulses leading to hospital admission. I really couldn’t have cared less at the time. I figured medication was shit and that nothing could help me, so I took whatever my doctor prescribed. That said, he didn’t try hard at all. I was one of only dozens of patients.

Eight years later I was sick of assuming that meds couldn’t help me. I was desperately stuck in my recovery and despite all my efforts in other areas of my life, my depression wasn’t improving. I found a new psychiatrist through my therapist and he was a thousand times better than my first doctor. He agreed that I needed to try a different medication.

I was on Wellbutrin and Effexor at that point and had been for years. We started to decrease my dosage of the latter by 75mg. Oh my God, I thought I was going to die I felt so sick. I was incredibly nauseous, dizzy and weak. We then carefully decreased my dosage by 25mg at a time. Unfortunately I still felt pretty sick going down that slowly but it was far less intense this time. It took eight weeks of flu-like symptoms to get off of Effexor. About a third of the way down my mood started to worsen which was the first clue that my medication had been doing something to help me, just not enough.

I had heard good things about Cymbalta and my doctor and I decided to try it next. At first I was just so relieved that I didn’t feel fluish every day that my mood improved on its own. Then a few weeks into taking Cymbalta I noticed that things started to feel easier. It wasn’t as emotionally exhausting to go on quick shopping trips and minor inconveniences of the day were just that, not devastating like they were before. I didn’t feel great when I woke up in the morning, but I felt neutral, like my mood could go either up or down from there. Before Cymbalta my mood was always low right from the moment I woke up.

I had some side effects with the Cymbalta, like dreams from over-the-rainbow while on acid while standing on my head. A dream within a dream within a dream and so vivid that I’m sure my parents became really tired of me telling them about my nightly adventures because it took all fucking day to do so. I also had night sweats which were gross but those side effects calmed down after I was on Cymbalta for about a month. That was about two years ago.

I recently increased my Cymbalta because my mood became very depressed again. Without realizing the change in my spirits I suddenly noticed myself accomplishing more in my days and feeling more excited about the future. I started to lay the groundwork for this blog. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY CYMBALTA…AND THE LETTER “M”.

That is my medication history in a nutshell with emphasis on my recent benefit from Cymbalta. As you may have noted, the title of this post indicates that this is the first in a series of posts consisting of my medication knowledge and insight. In the near future I will examine the overall effect medication has had on my life from a side-effect point of view and later I will explore the stigmas surrounding psychiatric medication. There undoubtedly will be more medication-related posts in the future but I’ll try to spread them out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s almost ten o’clock; time to take my bedtime meds.

ErinMeds, Part One: An Overview

2 Comments on “Meds, Part One: An Overview”

  1. G

    Thank you for sharing, Erin! I was very skeptical of trying medication after the first two antidepressants I tried resulted in suicidal thoughts and worse insomnia than before medication. I finally agreed to try again and was amazed by the effects. I again had a dilemma recently when my psychiatrist recommended added a 2nd antidepressant to the mix. Your post reminded me that it is worth going through a few failed attempts in order to find the right combination of medications. Thanks again! =)

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