Saturday, December 31, 2016

Struggles with depression and medication

No one wants to be on medication.  No one with depression / anxiety issues wants to be on medication.  Without exception, everyone I've ever talked to about it has either put off getting on medication, avoided taking it altogether, or really struggled with the need to take pills.

I am included in this list.  When I am feeling well (due to the drugs) I try to lower my dose.  When I gain weight on them, I want to get off of them.  When I read articles like this one from Scientific American, I think that I shouldn't be taking them at all.

I've been taking Cipralex for a while now - a couple of years - maybe 3 or 4, I can't remember.  It works most of the time.  But like most of the drugs, I've ended up increasing my dose and I worry about having to continue increasing it until it no longer works.  I was taking one pill for a while, but then needed to increase it to 1 1/2.  But then I gained weight.  So in the summer, when things were brighter and easier, I went back down to 1 pill.  And I was fine.  As the sunlight decreased, the fall got colder, and I was feeling crappier, I increased it again to 1 1/2.  And then I noticed that the heart palpitations I had experienced 6 months earlier came back with the extra medication (an emergency room visit, 24-hour Holter monitor, and echocardiogram were required to test them out).  So I cut out the extra half pill a couple of weeks ago.

On Thursday, after freaking out at my husband and stressing my son from the argument that we had (which does not happen when I'm actually feeling well), and having a night of crying a few days before, I realized that I need the extra half pill.  But I can't live with the heart palpitations.  So I am likely going to have to change meds again.  Can't live with them, can't live without them.

The only time I've been able to go without medication in the last decade was about 2 1/2 years ago when I wasn't working.  I had a few months when work just didn't come in.  And I felt well.  But if I want to make money, I need to be on medication (no matter what Scientific American says).

Medication does not cure the problem.  It covers it up - much like taking an Aspirin covers up a headache.  SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) do not help your brain make more serotonin.  They don't fix anything - but they make life livable.  The only other way to make life livable would be to completely change my lifestyle - and that of my family.  And that might not even work.

My own opinion after dealing with this issue (it's always been around, and it is absolutely genetically predisposed) is that our Western culture exacerbates the problem.  Too much data input.  Not enough quiet and brain rest.  Inability to deal with quiet and brain rest.  TV, Internet.  Too much.

And our kids are going to have it worse.  As the parent of a 13-year-old boy, it is almost impossible to control the amount of input they have - especially when I am depressed and having a hard time dealing with anything at all.  So it keeps increasing and perpetuating itself.

The answer?  A great deal more self control and parenting control than I have at the moment.  So it's medication - making sure the meds are balanced, and then taking back control of the things that have gone out of control while not feeling well.  A constant tide of issues that you have to ride like a surfer.

Again, I am not writing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I really don't want that.  But I want people to know they are not alone, and of those who don't have the issues to possibly have more understanding for people they know who do.

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