The mental health medication cocktail that I’ve been relying on for the past several years to keep me normal has stopped working.
So that sucks.
But I also know that this is often part of life for someone committed to managing their mental illness …. getting to and maintaining mental health.
If you’ve gone through this, you know what I’m talking about. One day — hopefully long ago — you found your drug(s). They make you feel better … normal … calm and collected when you should be … appropriately joyful or irate depending on the situation. You hope things will stay that way forever. But often you’ve got a batch of good years …
and then … well … those days stop.
I have been lucky. My latest mix of meds have worked for probably five or six years. In almost all situations I was a normal, healthy guy. I was able to handle life’s usual — and sometimes quite difficult — emotional bumps and stressors.
But then, last summer the current cocktail probably started failing in its effectiveness. Friends and family know that August 2014 felt a lot like right now feels. By the time I was about to get help, though, that bout with Anxiety and Depression passed. I went on without doing anything to consider changes in managing my illnesses.
Since then I’ve had periods of skirmishes, then full battles, and now the all-out-war with the-often co-existing illnesses.
Six weeks and one day ago everything began falling apart.
I now know that my meds were no longer helpful. And, as my new “get me out of this head-hell” doctor said, the Anxiety and Depression just started pouring out.
She told me this yesterday during our first meeting. After looking at a questionnaire I filled out about my life over the past 30 days (super-yucky) and chatting with me at length about my recent and distant history, she simply said / asked, “Something’s gotta change. Right?”
I know I’m heading down what will very likely to be a difficult process. I am not going to lie.
But I need to get better. I can get better. I need working meds to get better.
I should make clear, I am a big fan of using medication to address mental illness. I’m also all for talk-therapy. I’m even open to some — but a very limited number of — alternative / natural things you can do to assist. But I believe — at least for me — that if I suffer from the diseases chronically (which I do), medication has to be part of the picture.
I write these things because finding your medication cocktail can be difficult. Even if the first drug your doctor prescribes is the one that eventually works out, you’re likely to have a few weeks of discomfort. Depending on the drug — and the uniqueness of you (something I still find strange about mental health drugs) — you may experience a couple weeks of headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, weight gain / loss. You may even go through a transition with increased Anxiety and Depression … so that’s not fun.
Sometimes you make it to the other side … well … normal.
But sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the drug doesn’t work at all. In that case, you need to work with your doc to transition off that med and on to another potential happy-pill. (Transition time is a necessity for most mental health meds because sometimes drugs create withdrawal issues that are not comfortable … especially if you were regrettably to try quitting cold-turkey.)
Since I was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression in 2003, I’ve relied on four different mixes of drugs. (I’ve never been able to rely on just one drug to make all things better.) Another cocktail was a complete and utter disaster: I was sapped of all physical energy, I gained weight (a lot), and my Depression got worse. The only thing that got better was Anxiety. But the disastrous aspects were obvious. My doctor helped me find a new and better place. All told, that period created a few really bad months: one cocktail stopped working, I was transitioned to something that didn’t work, and then I transitioned to the new cocktail — the one I am currently on that worked for five or six years.
I write about these difficulties, first, to be transparent, but second to say that while I did not like those difficulties, they were worth it to find the normal at the other side.
I can also say that even being on a drug that made me gain weight, I eventually found ways through diet and exercise to shed those pounds and then some more. All told, I’ve lost at least 50 pounds; I now weigh what I did at 20 years old.
As my yoga instructors advise: Everything is temporary.
The discomfort of finding your new drug is worth it.
The rest of my life is too important to live in this current hell.
The rest of my life is too important not to try to find normal.