Most people who have never taken antidepressants don’t realize this, but one doesn’t simply take the right antidepressant on the first try. It’s possible, but the first two I tried didn’t work out so well. Another fact you need to add to your bag of expectations is that they don’t start working right away. It can take a month or more for the effects to present themselves and you may need to adjust your dosage several times (followed by more time for effects to level out again). Patience is the name of the game.
My Fun Journey began with Escitalopram, aka Lexapro, after I realized that I needed more than counseling to start climbing out of my depression & isolation. I did feel slightly better which meant I was able to nap in a few different places per evening on the living room carpet instead of just having to pick one. I think I tried a higher dosage before moving on to the next one. There was a lot of crying throughout the Lexapro phase, continued from the pre-antidepressant phase, as well as continued fatigue. The difference between the Lexapro phase and the pre-antidepressant phase was like the difference between your bedroom floor coated wall to wall in 1 inch of poop or 1 inch of diarrhea – not quite as terrible but still extremely shitty.
The next leg of my adventure was when I moved on to Venlafaxine aka Effexor aka Satan’s Anus (because it’s the worst when you’re trying to exit out of it). I felt more functional overall on Effexor but there were some pretty worrisome side effects which really affected my sleep quality and also were on the alarming side of the prescription instructions. Like, if these things are happening to you, you probably want to take something different maybe right now. Every night for over a month, I woke up in the middle of the night needing to pee. Also, each time I woke up to pee I noticed my legs were sweating through my sweatpants. Not my armpits or scalp or anywhere else, just my sweatpants. A tad unnerving considering my legs don’t sweat that much compared to armpits and head when I’m working out or being too warm in other fashions.
The cool part about Effexor is that you don’t need to be a drug/substance abuser to feel the intense effects of withdrawal. I was told to taper off of Effexor and taper onto Wellbutrin simultaneously over a week, possibly 5 days if memory serves me. I will try to find my paperwork to confirm the timeline. While I was taper-transferring, there was also a crazy snowstorm in town, while I also began feeling very dizzy, disoriented, isolated and was having some electrical brain zaps. They were like if you had a bug-zapper and a lot of moths IN YOUR BRAIN. A few days of being effectively stranded at home (I was in no condition to drive in snowstorm/snowy road conditions) my sanity was beginning to unravel and I called my wonderful sister to take me to the pharmacy. I had called my doctor’s office – and the cool part about western med (corporate whore) doctors is that you can have very intense experiences and they can tell you that it’s not even possible that you’re feeling that way and that all the opinions you read on the internet of the same thing happening to other people are because all those people are lying whackos. Here is one such lying whacko, for example. Nonetheless, they honored the fact that things were not going so smoothly for me and prescribed me a week of Prozac to take on top of the taper phase. After a small fiasco of the pharmacy not getting the order from the doctor’s office and me calling the office a few times to convince them they needed to re-send it, and also freaking out a lot, I got my Rx filled. All I gotta say is THANK YOU PROZAC & also WHAT THE FUCK, PROZAC? I remember feeling so happy and wishing I could hold on to feeling so good while also knowing that I was never naturally as happy and it probably wasn’t healthy to sustain such a happy existance. My chemical happiness was annoying me (thanks for sticking around and poking through the happiness barrier, poor self-esteem and depression!) but it was a welcome break in the monotony and isolation. I didn’t remember the last time I had felt so good.
So my current jam is Bupropion aka Wellbutrin. I have had to adjust dosage a few times but have felt no side effects after exiting Satan’s Anus. Funny enough to mention, when my doctor was searching her computer for the new option, she stopped on this one and said, “Ok, so this one has the mildest side effects, and it works for A LOT of people.” I thought ‘Great. Good thing we didn’t start with that one.’ I also want to mention that I had been alcohol free since I started taking antidepressants. In total I didn’t have alcohol for 7 whole months, and I was well into the Wellbutrin phase when I started dabbling again. I have had a few times when I realized I probably shouldn’t be having drinks as often as I was since it interferes with progress you can make on antidepressants, but where I knew I didn’t want to drink alcohol starting out because I didn’t really want to do anything, at all, I had started feeling like I could handle a little bit of it. If I could go back and do things perfectly I would have probably kept the no alcohol thing for longer but honestly, I was feeling a little left out of some fun things and being sober all the time kept me focused on all my depressive thoughts and how I was different from everyone else. I don’t feel guilty about this but like I said, I would do things a little differently.
All in all, I am thankful for antidepressants as I think I would have suffered quite a bit longer without them, but I am looking forward to leaving them behind me in the future. In my experience, they are not the whole story. Depression is a manifestation in your mind & body telling you that you really, REALLY need to change something (more like some things, or maybe all the things). I’ve been going to a counselor since before starting antidepressants and have learned a lot about myself as well as all the different areas I can or need to improve. I didn’t think I had low self-esteem/confidence, but what I really did over the years was just turn off my feelings and reactions. I learned I am highly sensitive, I need to eat better, I need to exercise more because I feel so good afterwards. I learned I did not know how to mourn, and over the years prior to my Major Depression diagnosis, a lot of people I knew died in different ways and they were very traumatic to me. I learned a lot of other things but instead of listing them all here I will try to post more often on all of those topics.