In my last post, I talked about being admitted into the hospital. For all of you out there wondering if I’m home, I am and I couldn’t be happier being in the comfort of my stuff. But you may also be wondering what brought me to the desperate point of admitting myself in the first place. And the short answer is, I went off my antidepressant.
Now before anyone thinks I’m an idiot who went off my meds, hold up! This was a change in medication that was being done with my doctor’s permission and supervision. The ultimate goal was to clean up my medication regimen. I was on two medications (Zoloft, an antidepressant and Seroquel, an antipsychotic) that weren’t stabilizing my mood the way they should. The plan was to start me on two other medications (Lamictal, an anticonvulsant used to treat Bipolar Disorder and Saphris, an antipsychotic) that would stabilize my mood. Once I was stable, we would then ween me off of the Zoloft and Seroquel because they would no longer be necessary.
It was a process that made sense to me. As someone with a love/hate relationship with medication, I’m the first one to praise a plan of taking less pills. My doctor felt confident this would allow me to be on the least amount of medication possible while still maintaining my stability.
So, I prepared myself for the roller coaster ride of coming off of medication.Even when slowly weening off meds there are inevitably withdrawal symptoms. My moods became more unpredictable. I was crying at the drop of a hat. My body felt worn out, like I was constantly on the verge of getting the flu. I even went through a week with vertigo and nausea that wouldn’t quit. But, I held on and white knuckled the ride because it was for the greater good. If I could just get through this rough patch of instability it was for the better. Because, less pills = better.
I was so focused on the equation of less pills = better that I forgot to assess how I was feeling. I forgot to question whether or not I maybe also needed those other pills to be stable. I didn’t question my doctor’s plan because less pills = better. He said so himself.
And so, as I was holding on for dear life just praying for this rough patch to be over I was sent over the edge and spiraled into a deep depression. But because I still had the equation: less pills = better in my head, I kept my head down and thought I could wait it out.
Until I couldn’t.
Until the dark thoughts got too scary and threatening to continue on anymore.
Until I found myself in the ER waiting to be transferred to the psych ward.
The psychiatrist who was overseeing my care in the psych ward didn’t want to undo the work that my primary psychiatrist had done. So, despite the fact that I was utterly depressed, she didn’t immediately start me on an antidepressant. It wasn’t until it was evident that I wasn’t getting any better that she made the decision to try an antidepressant. And within a few days of taking that little white pill, I could feel my mood lifting. I was less tearful. I felt less heavy. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. And the longer I took the antidepressant the more I could see the positive aspects of my life again.
And that’s not to say that now that I’m on an antidepressant I’m happy all the time. That’s not how they work. They’re not happy pills. An antidepressant just sort of lifts the veil on the darkness that clouds your perspective.
What this experience has taught me is that the equation: less pills = better isn’t always true. And I’m coming to terms with the fact that I will probably be on an antidepressant my entire life. And that’s okay.