My Journey with Medication

It has taken me a long time to get to the place I am right now. And I think it is important to share how I’ve gotten to this point. For people who don’t have mental health disorders, it can be hard to understand the struggles and journey to get to a place where you are healing and functioning as an “average” human. Some think that it is easy like curing the common cold. Go to a doctor, talk it out and just take it easy. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. So, I’m hoping if I share my journey so far, I can allow some insight into how difficult it can be to live healthy with mental health struggles and the process it takes to get there. So here we go.  Also, it may help to read my mental health story to fully understand everything and have a background into this.

So after tons of testing for my gastrointestinal issues, I was finally diagnosed with esophageal hypersensitivity. Basically, my nerves with extremely sensitive and triggered by my anxiety and depression. So, I was prescribed my first antidepressant, imipramine.  I thought that this was going to be amazing and the start of my new beginning. It would allow me to eat again as well as help me with my depression and anxiety. But unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened. This was the fall of 2014. In the beginning of the 2015, I was realizing that I was having more troubles than solutions. I was having a lot more problems with my depression and anger. I would get mad extremely easy. If I didn’t have food in my hand pretty much at all times, I was so angry. I basically could not be reasoned with or talked to until I had something to eat. Something wasn’t right but I didn’t understand what yet. I decided to go speak to a therapist. Honestly, it was time for me to start therapy and unpack what is going on in my brain. In my first session, she mentioned that my medication was probably at too high of a dosage. So basically, my brain does not have a healthy balance of neurotransmitters, so the medication increases the amount of neurotransmitters. However, it was overloading my brain and I didn’t know how to handle it. So I went back to my doctor and we lowered the dosage, which seemed to help a lot. Now, I was continuing therapy for about 5 months which helped me understand a lot about my depression and anxiety. As the school year ended, we both felt I was at a good point to not continue therapy with a different therapist while not in school.

Now, I went to my family doctor and discussed everything with her. She decided to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication called Citalopram (Celexa). This one is an SSRI, which basically produces more serotonin. So, I began to transition off of the imipramine onto the citalopram slowly so my brain could adjust to it. However, here’s the kicker. I was on my way to field school for bioarchaeology during this transition. This program is one of the most intense in the field. I was studying and in class for about 12 hours a day. I had a lot of learning to do and fast. Overall, it just wasn’t the environment for me to be able to transition onto this medication safely. I started having severe panic attacks about every day there and ended up leaving the program for medical reasons. It was embarrassing and I hated myself for it. But I did what I had to do. So I continued on the citalopram for about a year and it was working really well. But it started to wear off. After I graduated from my undergraduate, my life was all over the place and I had no idea what was going to happen. I needed more than help than I was getting from the medication. I was taking the same medication for the past 4 years and my anxiety and depression was at an all time high.

In 2018, I decided that it was time for me to discuss all of this with someone. I found a mental health center where I could talk to a doctor about my current regiment and how I can make changes. I made an appointment which I was really nervous about. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was worried about having to make weekly therapist appointments which are super expensive and I just didn’t have the time for. But it actually went really well. They asked me questions about my life and my mental health. We decided to transition onto new medication, Zoloft. I would also supplement with propanolol for when I need it. It has been pretty great so far. I am able to work with my doctor to adjust as my needs change and I don’t feel any shame or pressure.

So that’s where I am now. It’s been a long journey with many different medications and doctors and therapists. I know that there is a long road ahead but I’m ready for it. I hope reading this gives you a little sight into how difficult treating and handling mental health disorders is. So next time you think about saying “just get over it”, remember how hard that can actually be.

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