depression

My Journey with Psych Meds

I have a love/hate relationship with psych meds. I have been on and off anti-depressants for about 16 years, since Michael was 5 months old. I had struggled with mental health issues for years without getting any help, but after Michael was born I experienced severe postpartum depression and was barely functioning. I finally told my doctor what was going on and she prescribed my first anti-depressant.

After a few years on the medication, I found it wasn’t really working the way it had been. I was on Celexa and my emotions were so muted that I don’t think I would have reacted even if the house were on fire. At that point the doctor switched me to Wellbutrin. It worked great for a couple of years, giving me some energy and making me more connected with things again. But after a while, I found it was making me too agitated and had to stop it.

I tried other things but didn’t find one that worked and I ended up not taking anything for a while. I was in therapy by this point and even though I switched therapists a couple of times, it was helpful.

I eventually went back on an anti- depressant. When I went through the separation from my ex-husband, I was really struggling so the doctor increased my dosage a couple of times. Over the next few months, things got really weird. I was exhibiting strange behaviors and out of control moods. I finally told my psychiatrist everything that was going on and she realized that I had been experiencing hypomania, brought on by the increase in the anti-depressant.

She then diagnosed me with bipolar 2 and put me on a mood stabilizer. We tried several different ones, but I kept having lots of side effects such as being groggy. Finally we tried Risperdal and it worked great. I was still dealing with depression and anxiety so I also took Prozac for that. As long as I take the Risperdal, the Prozac doesn’t trigger any hypomania.

Things were stable for quite a while, but then I gradually stopped taking the Prozac. I was feeling disconnected and having trouble engaging with life and I thought things would be better without it. But instead I was miserable. I had to increase my counseling frequency and even that wasn’t really helping. Finally I started taking the Prozac again and now I feel great. I have decided to accept the feeling of being somewhat muted in order to avoid the depression and anxiety.

Things feel pretty stable right now and I’m hopeful that they will continue to be that way. I am down to one a month counseling and see the psychiatrist every three months, which is great for my budget as well. It’s easier to focus and be productive and I’m not sidetracked by constant worrying or preoccupation with my moods. All in all, taking the meds is the best way to go for me.

Have you ever tried psych meds? What has your experience been?

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It’s a Question of Motivation

I used to get excited by things – a new book or movie coming out, a hobby like stamping or blogging, being around friends, a challenge at work.  But lately it has been much harder for me to have much interest in anything.  Most of the time, I don’t want to do anything outside of my basic, normal routine, and even those things are a stretch for me sometimes.

Not all is lost.  I have gotten back into reading after a several-month period where books weren’t holding my attention very well, and I did perk up a bit when the recent Star Trek movie Beyond hit the theaters.  But given the choice most times, I would rather spend my time bingeing on Netflix or sleeping in as late as possible.

When I reflect on this, several questions come to mind:

  1. Is this a sign of worsening depression or just a side effect of the medications I am already on?
  2. Am I getting old before my time?
  3. Does it really matter?  Isn’t part of being an adult that you are allowed to do what you want with your free time, even if that is nothing?
  4. What kind of example am I setting for my son?

As you can tell from the last question, there is a fair amount of guilt mixed in with the other emotions that come up with I think about this aspect of my life.  I want to teach my son how to have a good life and become a responsible adult, but I feel overwhelmed when it comes to actually doing so.  I just don’t feel I have these skills down pat in my own life, so it is hard to figure out how to pass them on to him.

Not being able to pin down the problem makes it even harder to solve.  I keep hoping something will come along that engages me in the way that I used to enjoy.  In the meantime, I have gotten back into regular therapy to help me sort out what exactly is going on with me and what to do about it.  It’s nice to have someone who is both on your side and has the knowledge to help, especially since it has taken me a while to find her (my last good therapist moved away over a year ago and I have been to three different people since then).

I often wonder if other people go through similar times where they feel unmotivated and how they think about it, as well as what they do about it.  If you have any insights to share or can relate in any way, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.