Week 23 of Working on Us: Medications

Working on Us is a wonderful series over on Beckie’s Mental Mess, where each week has a new prompt meant to get people talking about mental health topics. Check out the original prompt for week 23 and click around to find participants of previous weeks’ topics!

mental health matters

When you first were diagnosed with your mental illness/disorder, did it take a while to get used to your medications that were prescribed to you?  If you answer the question, (YES), How did you feel initially?

It took me a while to get used to the idea of taking medications for my depression, but the first antidepressant I tried had very little effect on me. So, from a physiological perspective, no- nothing wild happened at first. But from a psychological perspective, it definitely took me a while to get used to it. I was a college student when I sought psychiatric help, and I had all kinds of negative beliefs about what it meant for me to be taking medication. It took me a while to accept that I was depressed, instead believing that I was simply not working hard enough. I even believed for a while that I was taking resources away from other students who really needed them by going to my appointments at the student health center. That’s a sad memory.

Depending on how long you have been on medication, how many times do you think it has been adjusted to make you feel stable?

Gosh, I don’t know. Dozens? Counting each medication I’ve tried, there’s been a lot of adjusting. Ketamine infusions have been the most effective treatment for me, but I still take my medications to keep me stable.

Have you ever had a bad reaction to medication?

Twice.

A couple of years ago, I started taking Wellbutrin and almost immediately felt my depression improve. Unfortunately, I also almost immediately had an allergic reaction and had to stop taking it. I developed an intensely itchy, blotchy rash on my chest that spread to my face, back, stomach, and eventually started to cover my arms.

Somewhat recently, I tried adding Abilify to my other medications. I didn’t notice any improvement to my mood, and it made me incredibly shaky. Going down stairs started to feel a little dangerous because my legs were like jelly!

Have you ever suffered withdrawals from a certain type of medication, and if so… What type was it?

No, I was worried about coming off of Effexor because I had heard it could be difficult, but I didn’t have any withdrawals from that or any other med I’ve stopped.

Do you work closely with your doctor in regards to your medication intake?  (In other words, do you have a good relationship with your doctor?)

Yes! Finding a provider I really like has helped enormously. I had such a hard time speaking openly about my symptoms with doctors, so the first year or so of my medication treatment was tough. Once I switched providers and found someone who helped me be honest and upfront, medications have been much less intimidating.

Since your diagnosis, have you ever tried to not take medication and see if you can handle your symptoms of mental illness/disorders on your own?  If so, how did that work out for you?

Nope. I recently tried to decrease my lithium dose and didn’t get the outcome I wanted. I think I’ll be leaving my meds alone for a while.

Tell us briefly how medication has affected your life?

While medications haven’t helped me nearly enough that I would consider myself fully functioning, they have helped me way more than I could do on my own with talk therapy. That is, they haven’t been wildly successful in treating my depression, but they have saved my life and continue to allow me to live with my symptoms and find other treatments.

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