Once upon a time long, long ago I took pride in being a fit and healthy person who did not need to take medication of any kind. Well, those days are long gone now. Bye bye Miss American Pie. I’ve taken levothyroxine for more than 12 years for my non-working thyroid. Last year I became severely anemic and now I take iron pills every day. Not too long before that I started taking a daily probiotic in order to treat “female problems.”
And then, there are the antidepressants…. a much longer story. To be sure, finding the right medication to treat mental health disorders can make a colossal difference for a lot of people, as it did for me. And like a lot of people, I’ve tried several different kinds. BPD does not have a magic pill associated with it, unfortunately, but antidepressants can still be helpful.
First there was Zoloft. It wasn’t too bad. I took it for a while but it made me gain weight like crazy! Lexapro was ok too, it often made me sleepy and spaced out though. Celexa was the worst! Not only did I not want to get out of bed, I couldn’t get out of bed. I was so tired I literally could not function. I tried one or two others but have forgotten what they were now.
One day my doctor said, how about we try something different. She proposed bupropion (the generic form of Wellbutrin.) Bupropion is in a class of antidepressants all by itself so of course it works differently. Since first taking it more then a decade ago, it has proved to be quite effective for me.
Many people go through a cycle of going off and on medication. The brain loves to play tricks. When a medication makes one feel better… a few months or a year later one may think, hey I don’t need that stuff anymore. I’m doing just fine now.
What happened when I stopped taking the antidepressants? My life would turn to absolute shit. It always happened gradually so that large chunks of time would get eaten away before waking up from a fog to see that my life was in utter destruction… again! For a while I had the idea to cut my dosage in half because I didn’t think I needed a full dosage and of course it was cheaper. That didn’t work either.
One day I came to the conclusion that I might need to be on this medication for a good long while… indefinitely maybe. I’ve come to accept that and I think it proves what neuroscientists have been hypothesizing for years. Mental illness isn’t always behavioral in nature. Cognitive and/or physical impairments within the brain can be a factor as well, which antidepressants work to correct. Is this “impairment” temporary or permanent? Good question and one that doesn’t have an answer until such things have been studied for a lot longer time.
The stigma of taking medication for mental health problems is vanishing. Young people today are lucky. The taboo is steadily going away. Antidepressants can be talked about. It’s ok. No need to hide it. No one would have dared talk about such things two decades ago! Seems pretty silly now… kinda like when people thought the world was flat.
Lastly, I’m happy that the cost of such medications have been going down as well. When I first started taking bupropion it was crazy expensive. These days the cost is becoming more reasonable. I pay less than half as much as I did ten years ago.
So, no feeling bad! Take advantage of modern science and technology!
Every Monday from now until I get tired of it I will be posting on various mental health topics. That’s a joke. I never get tired of talking about mental health!