it’s been two years since i first started this round of medication and it’s the eighth or ninth time that i’ve been on anti-depressants since i was twenty.
i don’t have a problem taking medication.
i don’t have a problem until it becomes a problem and problems start at about the two-year mark.
i’m good at taking my meds when i’m massively depressed. i push through the difficult the early days of medication trial and error. first, you have to find one. that often takes several tries with different drugs. it’s hit and miss. i’ve rejected some wholesale – the side effect of significant weight gain does not work with my eating disorder. there’s no way i’d stay compliant.
once you find one that works, you need to adapt to the medication’s side effects. i know some people don’t get much in the way of problems but that’s never been my reality. previous unpleasant side effects included a medication that dropped my blood pressure so much that i’d get light-headed or pass out every time i stood up.
other side effects are no less unpleasant.
i’m currently taking two anti-depressants and the problems have included: vomit-inducing nausea, insomnia (which is ironic since depression kills sleep), muscle spasms in my jaw, restless legs, kidney pain, and cognitive difficulties (i have difficulty speaking; i stutter and struggle to get words out). why, then, do i keep taking them?
i take them in the early days because the alternative is worse. because the pit of depression is hell. it’s that simple. it’s dark and ugly down there; when i’m not medicated, i have a tendency to try and commit suicide. it’s an unfortunate quirk. i take the pills so i can find my way back from the edge to the land of the living.
it takes time. it took me almost three months to level up to the therapeutic dose. things improved. my mood gradually got better. i’m not all the way back, that’s for sure, but things are at least headed in the right direction. i’d rank my average mood a six which is miles and away better than the negative two it was hanging at before.
what, then, is my problem? it’s that i consistently, at the two-year mark, start to rebel against taking the pills. i start to resent them. i start to think that maybe i don’t need them, that maybe things weren’t that bad.
i know why it happens at twenty-four months. two years is the recommended minimum amount of time one should stay on an anti-depressant drug regimen to see effects. two years is how long it takes to get to a degree of stability. my brain knows that and keeps track.
so here i am. i’m recovering and relatively stable. thus, my brain figures this is a good time to quit. i’m better, it tells me. i shouldn’t need the pills. i’ll be okay without them. i’ll save a lot of money. i’m pretty sure this comes from the part of my brain that wants me to stay sick. it’s probably in cahoots with the eating disordered part of my brain that’s trying to kill me.
historically, this is when i’d be done. i’d convince my doctors that going off my meds is a good thing. i’d expound on my progress. i’d point out that i don’t want to be on pills my whole life. a shocking number of doctors go along with that assertion. fortunately or unfortunately, depending on what part of my brain you ask, i don’t think my current psychiatrist is going to be on board with me leaving medication behind. the part of my brain that doesn’t want me to quit life thinks this is good; it’s has concluded i should probably stay on them forever, if for no other reason than to avoid another suicide attempt. i’m tired of doing that.
time for me to buy what i’m so willing to sell to other people. time to do the two-year anniversary differently. the truth is, i suffer from depression. that means i’m not producing the right kind of neurochemicals, or not producing enough, or the re-uptake isn’t great. in the end, it doesn’t really matter why i get depressed. what matters is that the pills help correct the chemical imbalances that make living such a struggle.
being mentally stable, mood-wise, gives me the capacity to work on my other issues. i can’t do that when i’m spiraling out of control.
being mentally stable, mood-wise, lets me live.
thus, ignoring that little anti-pill voice in my head seems like the way to go. after all, the quote i see regularly on social media is true – if you don’t have enough neurotransmitters, store bought are fine.