It seems everyone has an opinion about medication when it comes to mental illness. I suppose, as a passionate and opinionated person myself, I get it. When you find something you really believe in or find something that works out so well for you, you want to share it. The thing I’ve come to realize, in recent years, is that everything in life is a matter of perspective. We are all different, and, as I’ve stated before, what works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
I think people who are so vehemently and adamantly against medication for mental illness are ones who have had bad experiences themselves, so they assume it will be bad for everyone. Or they are the kinds who have given into the stigma of medication and don’t truly understand just how real—both mentally and physically—things like depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar and schizophrenia are. These are people who think medication for thyroid or heart disease is okay, but not when it comes to mental illness. It’s a double standard some people just can’t see past. Anyway, my experience with medication was good. I started taking Zoloft a month after my son was born for my horrible postpartum depression. Within a few weeks I felt so much better! It didn’t “cure” me or make me exuberantly happy, but it did take away the utter darkness and sense of defeat I had been living with. It helped me become functional again.
After about six months I slowly weaned myself off of the medication, hoping I could survive without it, but it didn’t take long for me to crash again. That’s when I realized I would likely have to be on medication the rest of my life. I started taking it again—until it stopped working two or three years later.
This was the second time my body had adapted or adjusted to an anti-depressant. I went in to see my nurse practitioner, who put me on Lexapro. It turned me into an insomniac, which was just as depressing and debilitating as . . . well, being depressed. So I went back in and she told me she thought I would do better on Prozac. The stuff worked! It got me back to functioning—other than in the winter. My seasonal affective disorder always outweighs medication, but before and after winter, it helped so much. It literally was a life saver.
A year or two after I started the Prozac, I went off of it. It was stupid, really. Something I was trying to prove to my then-husband. And guess what? I was fine! I went off of the medication, and I didn’t crash. I didn’t go back to the horrible, awful place of darkness and despair. It was amazing! Not only was I functioning, I was actually happy! It lasted for awhile—until my marriage collapsed. Going through a divorce was the most devastating hell I’d ever been through. I tried to stay strong, tried to remain happy. And while I knew getting divorced was the right thing to do, it was just so damn hard. So I went into my NP again and told her the Prozac had worked great so it seemed like a good thing to go back on. Unfortunately, it ended up having the same side-effect as the Lexapro. I stuck with it for a few weeks, hoping something might change, but only getting two to three hours of sleep every night wore me down, and I just couldn’t do it.
Luckily, life went well for awhile. Then all sorts of . . . stuff happened, I’ll say, and I went downhill again. And again I ended up in my NP’s office. This time she wanted me to try Wellbutrin. No surprise here, no twist in the story, it turned me into an insomniac zombie AGAIN! Another failed medication. Okay, so my NP also prescribed me a sleep aid, but that’s one thing I refuse to become dependent on.
Here’s where all sorts of people tell me about other ways I can get help with my mental illness—from changing my diet to using natural or homeopathic remedies to getting therapy. All of those things sound great, and maybe I could get results from them, but some of them are way too expensive for a struggling single mom who pretty much lives paycheck to paycheck and some of them are just too complicated for someone who’s anxiety-filled mind turns molehills into mountains. I like the idea of medication because it is simple and easy, and just once in my life I want a simple, easy answer. But that’s never how my life has gone. Everything has been complicated, everything has been hard. Nothing comes easy, never has.
I feel stuck, trapped, not knowing how to move forward. Will I eventually get over it? Can I get out of this slump, out of this hurt, this darkness, this anxiety, this circling hole of OCD all on my own? Will I ever be able to find some sort of “alternative” solution? Right now, I have no idea. I guess I just keep on surviving one day at a time and see what happens.