A lifelong sufferer of depression, I want depressed people to get well however they can. I am not anti-med. But being on meds requires managing the side effects of those meds.
There is no medication without a side effect, and the trick is finding the side effects you can live with.
I spent 10 years on psychiatric meds, switching from one to another, finding one that worked well for years, and that was still working well when a dangerous rash developed on my hand and I was forced to titrate off.
One prescription caused restless leg syndrome, a feeling akin to having a thousand angry wolverines trying to bust out below my knees. Already “fluffy,” I refused to take drugs that caused weight gain. Most do.
Another drug seemed to stabilize me and make me thin ... but also stupid, hence it’s local nickname, the “Scottsdale drug.”
One little pill left me wracked with stomach cramps and a night of violent vomiting, when I thought with every heave, “Holy shit. I voluntarily poisoned myself.”
A blue capsule made my heart race, had among its possible side effects “sudden death,” and offered the bizarre side effect that if I fell asleep, I was home-free for eight hours, but if I happened to wake while drifting off — a dog barked, a car door slammed — I would be awake for the night.
Friends became alarmed when one med caused me to speak and move in slow motion. Mental dullness and forgetfulness were the side effects to which I finally acquiesced, and my time with the drug that caused them was the longest.
I’ve now been three years off meds. I still get depressed, but I got depressed on meds.
Suicidal thoughts creep in, but they did so on meds as well. Now I take my lifestyle habits extremely seriously.
When it comes to mental health, our habits matter.
Listen to your doctor. Take your meds. Don’t change your meds without medical supervision. But get your act together outside the doctor’s office as well.
All the meds in the world won’t help if your own thinking is against you. Cognitive therapy is based on the premise that our thinking affects our well-being.