Please note, as you read this post, I don’t have medical training of any kind and depression is a very individual thing. What I’m writing below is just my own personal thoughts and experiences. If you think you are suffering from depression or anxiety, please see a doctor.
If I’ve never said this before, I’ll say it now. If you’ve never suffered from depression, I hope and pray that you never will. It’s not always obvious if someone is suffering from it. They don’t want around with a big huge D on their foreheads like in that book, The Scarlet Letter. You might think the person is being lazy, and the reality is that they can’t motivate themselves to get out of bed in the morning, or if they do, they feel like they are in a fog and just going through the motions. You might think that they are just a negative person, when the reality is that their brain just won’t allow them to see any light in any circumstance. They might be using all of their energy just to get through the day. Or just through the next half hour.
Some of you know that for about the past month and a half, I have been weaning myself off of Wellbutrin, which is a pretty well-known and widely used anti-depressant. I started taking it a few years ago when I felt like I was just feeling “eh, meh, whatever” about pretty much everything. Nothing could make me feel really happy or really sad. It was like I just didn’t care much about stuff. I was taking about 80 mg of prozac at the time and we realized that was too high of a dose, so along with reducing that to 60 mg, my doctor and I decided to add wellbutrin to the mix and see if that helped. Wellbutrin reaches a different part of your brain from prozac. It helps more with the “pleasure center” of the brain, or at least that’s how I understand it. Prozac helps to calm the mind from the racing of your thoughts from one to the next, irrational or not. Prozac helps to organize your thoughts and not just jump from one emotion to the other. It also helps to calm anxiety symptoms if you suffer from them. In fact, I know some people who take prozac for anxiety issues, not depression.
Wellbutrin is a drug that comes in a few different forms. One is extended release, so you can take it once a day and forget it. Then there is sustained release, and there is also an immediate release formula. The differences, as you can imagine, is how fast it enters your system and how long it stays there. I was originally put on the extended release formula. As I was trying to wean myself off of it, I switched to the sustained release, or SR formula. I went from my 100 mg dose of Wellbutrin ER to the 75 mg SR dosage. Then after a month, I met with my doc and we thought I could start cutting those pills in half, so 37.5 mg was all I was taking.
The differences that antidepressants can cause in your chemical imbalances may seem obvious to some, and to others, not so much. For me, it is very subtle. At first, switching to the 75 mg pills, I thought I was doing about the same as before, and told my doc as much when I saw her in early November. But as the days have grown shorter, and the cold weather grows more intense, I have realized that is not the case. I was finding it harder to motivate myself to do a lot of things. I was finding myself needing more sleep and not getting it, or if I did, it was the kind of sleep where you wake up often. I was finding it harder to concentrate at work. But I think what was most telling that something was not right was my self-confidence. I am not a cocky person by any means, but over the past few years, through the use of my medication and therapy appointments with the most awesome licensed social worker in the whole world, not to mention some very good friends who treat me like family, and some very supportive siblings, I have gone from a person who was pretty self-loathing to one who was like “Hey, I’m an ok person after all, and I’m doing good. I don’t need to beg people to like me. I’ve got a plan, and I’m working toward it.”
Over the past month or so, I have realized I’ve been using more negative self-talk toward myself. I was starting to obsess more about my looks, and in particular, my stomach. And I’ve noticed that it has been much harder for me to get going in the morning. I’ve been a morning person for quite a while now, and in the past, have not had a problem getting up in the dark to get things done before I started the rest of my day at the gym and work. For the past month or so, I’ve been finding it hard to get up some mornings, I wasn’t as motivated to get stuff done and get my workout in. And this past week, as I thought about my ex-boyfriend, I started thinking of why he broke up with me. And without going into details, I will just say that the thoughts that came into my head do not make rational sense, and I know it.
So, I’ve decided to go back to the 100 mg extended release medication. I started up again with that two days ago, and I can feel the difference. The difference is subtle, but it’s there. I should mention here that Wellbutrin is a medication that doesn’t have a long half-life, meaning it doesn’t stay in your system for very long, unlike Prozac which has a half life of about 5 weeks (that’s why you have to really wean yourself off of it slowly.) So I don’t think this is a placebo effect I’m feeling right now. Yesterday and today, I have woken up feeling more like “ok, let’s do this!” type of thing.
You might be wondering why I thought I should wean myself off of the medication. Well, stupidly or not, I was trying to save money, to prepare myself for next year when I know my salary will be much less, and I will be switching to health insurance that is probably not going to be as good as what I have now. (My employer may be a lot of things, but I can say that the health insurance and other benefits we are offered, are very good.) I also thought it was just time to make the change. But I realize I was wrong.
So, here’s what I have decided. I know I may have talked about this in the past, but this time, I really mean it. My antidepressants are going to be taken like maintenance medication. With it, I feel like things are stable. I feel like things in the world are positive. I feel like this is the “real me” I’m feeling right now. Do I wish it could be without medication? Sure. Do some people wish that they didn’t have to take medication for something like blood pressure or whatever every day? Sure they do. But some things you just need to accept as a part of life and move on. This is me.
I admit, part of me is afraid of publishing this post, even now. But sometimes I feel the need to write out my thoughts and share them with others. If even just one person out there reads this, and it helps them, then I feel l like it’s been the right thing to do. If that’s you, just know you are not alone.
Life is so short. Do what makes you happy, today. Be around creatures and people you love, today.
If you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or leave me a comment below. Thank you for reading.