Sunday, June 16, 2013

over (being) medicated

A couple months ago I began to question if I was being over-medicated. And even more than that, I was just over being medicated...

It had been years since experiencing life unaltered.

And thank God for it.

I'm a bit melancholy by nature, but I do occasionally hit particularly low points, the most recent one beginning around October '12. My usual sense of mild self-doubt can exacerbate to a more crippling sense of worthlessness. Every moment during these times just hurts. When I cry out to God He responds, crossing my path with some wonderful physicians to aid me in my battle with depression. But the Novocain has to wear off at some point, right? I needed to be numbed for a bit, but I'm not sure thats how I'm meant to live my whole life.

When I approached my psychiatrist that November in response to the depressive episode that began the previous month, I had already been seeing him for about a year and was currently medicated. So my medicinal regimen was tweaked a little, increasing the dosage of my medications and adding a new one to the cocktail.

It did the trick. Everything in my mind began to ease a little.

But I eventually began to feel emotionally restricted, unable to experience anything beyond cognitive observations about life and its' happenings around me. I was losing myself to ambivalence, and the things I once valued most became unimportant. My emotions ranged from nothing to feeling overwhelmed, with little between the two. I could feel something build up within me at times, but it felt more like pressure than anything else, which is why I began associating that feeling with being overwhelmed instead of other specific emotions.

So I began preparing myself for another visit with the psychiatrist, and I intended on telling him I was over being medicated... but that appointment didn't go quite as planned. Although I did feel some disappointment, I saw the wisdom in his advise and I determined I would follow his suggestion to slowly taper off only one of my medications while remaining on the other two.

A few weeks had passed and after following his directions to a "t," I had finally weened myself down from three medications daily to just two.

But there was a problem. Apparently, I'm a tricky nut to crack. I had ended up on those three medications (Lamitcal, Wellbtrin, and Zoloft) after years of trial and error, and was taking each particular drug to address specific symptoms. Not only did the medications work well with my unique chemistry, they were also prescribed with mindfulness of the how they would interact with one another.   Without the structure of that perfect triad, the whole treatment regimen began to fall apart. Symptoms resurfaced and the side-effects of the Wellbutrin were felt at full force without the Zoloft there as a buffer.

Once again, I was a hot mess. And I felt defeated, like I was moving in the wrong direction. Tired, I decided to go against my doctor's recommendations and stop taking all psychotropic medications about twelve days ago, unsure of what to expect. I've made video-journal entries almost daily since, wanting to carefully document the process and track my progress or regression accurately. Maybe it'll help me gain more insight, and maybe I'll edit it to share one day to possibly help someone else, at least to have somebody in a similar circumstance to relate to.

Its almost embarrassing to reflect on; the drama. If I were to give a detailed tracking of my mood and thought patterns over the past week and a half, you'd probably think it described a much longer timeframe due to all the variances it would reflect. With that said, it honestly hasn't been too bad. Of course, I understand that this is only the beginning. I know that if and when another depressive episode hits with absolutely no buffer of pharmaceuticals, its going to hurt. Bad.

In the meantime, I don't know... one day I'm hopeful, then next I'm discouraged.

One might tell me not to worry, that I'll be fine without the meds because I don't really need them, which sounds a lot like invalidating the serious struggle I face daily. This is a real, clinically diagnosed disorder, very different from sadness. One might also tell me to just stay on the meds and not worry about it, which sounds a lot like invalidating the serious struggle it'll be to work full-time to maintain insurance in order to pay for the medications while also completing ten months of practicum work beginning August, not to mention dashing the hopes that things might actually get better one day. Oh, and those pesky side-effects of the medications like, say, feeling nothing. Thats what all that sounds like. I know, I know. I'm reading messages between the lines that might not even be there. Its self-sabotaging, maybe even the re-emergence of old symptoms. That's just where I'm at.

So there it is; I'm over being medicated. But that doesn't mean I'm done with it. Only time will tell, as with all things. Always a process. Always.

Today is a good day. Tomorrow? Who knows.

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