To Medicate - or Not.

I hope my story & experience can help someone else that is struggling with Anxiety and Depression and is worried about taking medication.

I think I have always known since I was younger I was not "Like everyone else". Not in some dramatic soul tormenting kind of way, just a little different. It always seemed like it was so easy for everyone around me to be happy and carefree. And while I had moments of happiness I never really felt complete. When I was younger I told my mom I thought I was depressed, and that I wanted to try medication. She brushed it off telling me it was just hormones etc and I didn't need any medication - it was normal. Later, when I was about 16 the issue came up about it again and she outright told me she would not put me on medication. While I am sure she believed she was doing what was best for me - inadvertently she made me feel ashamed and embarrassed that I might need medication. So for the next 7 years I tried to handle it on my own. It limited my social interactions, my group of friends, affected my romantic relationships, and my jobs. Understandably the last thing I wanted to do was resort to medication as most of my life I have struggled through my sister's various life threatening drug addictions. That is another story - but it probably contributed to a lot of my anxiety and depression.
Anyways - my inability to be happy and not wound up and anxious (and lets just admit it - bitchy) all the time led to my constant pursuit of happiness. I kept thinking the things around me were not what they were supposed to be - and that was why i wasn't happy. I thought if i could control the things around me - i had a chance at happiness. After a horribly failed relationship and a job that of course, was not fulfilling to me, I had an opportunity to leave it all and run away and start over - so I did it. Well.. that was a disaster. After a few months away when reality hit and I realized I was still anxious, not sleeping, and depressed I was devastated. Still, the option of medication never occurred to me. It was oddly enough at my Womens Clinic for a checkup that my Dr. noticed my obvious anxiety.
She questioned why my leg was moving and my hands were clenched. The physical reactions of Anxiety were so normal to me I didnt even notice I was doing it. She had me take a test in the office for Anxiety/Depression. I scored higher than I would have thought - and I am pretty sure I subconsciously lied on some of them to make it sound better than it was. Pretty much the only signs i didn't have were the thoughts of suicide. She explained to me how Anxiety and Depression can impact your life and I was forced to hold back tears. It was like this huge weight was lifted from me to hear I wasn't just a defective human being. She prescribed me Lexapro and after researching the hell out of it I decided to just go for it - the side effects couldn't be worse than being miserable every day.
I remember the first few weeks not being able to sleep well on it, but eventually it evened out. I didnt feel anxious/sad anymore.. the problem was I did not feel much of anything. After taking Lexapro for about 6 months I landed an amazing job. At 23 I became the VP of Business Development for a wonderful company. However, thats when i started to realize how tired I was at work and unable to focus. The new high stress job I was in demanded total focus so I decided to go off Lexapro- cold turkey. While I didnt die from it - let me warn you this is not for the faint of heart. Imagine having a hangover for about a week and a half- where your brain occasionally feels like its being electrocuted (they call them brain zaps). It was miserable, but I didnt have any other options. I could not wean myself off the medication because of my new job.
I did okay off the medication for the first few months. I contribute most of that to meeting the love of my life. I was very productive at work, not experiencing any serious lows, and life was alright. That was until one day I woke up- and it just wasnt anymore. I believe it was about 7 months after going off the Lexapro. The sudden rise in stress at my job and my sisters relapse/incarceration spiraled me into a really dark place. Suddenly I could not get up for work in the morning. If I went in at all it was late and I hardly did any work regardless of consequences. I was crying all the time. I felt hopeless and just so sad and alone. I was horrible to my boyfriend - changing between being spaced out and sad to being a major *****. I knew i was being crazy, but i felt like I had no control of my own mind. That is a terrifying feeling. Things got to the point where I realized I absolutely can not let things continue like this or I will lose the man I love, and my job.
Back to the Dr. I went. Because I went off the Lexapro cold turkey, I had not seen her since. I explained the negative experience I had with the Lexapro, but that I needed to try something - anything again. She told me that everyone has different reactions to the drugs because of whatever imbalance is making us unhappy. She said had i come to her before going off lexapro we could have changed me over to something else. Lesson learned. She recommend something that was on the opposite side of the spectrum for anti anxiety & anti depression drugs. It was called Welbutrin. I left with my perscription in hand and a mission to find out everything I could about this drug.
After about two weeks of research and putting off getting the prescription filled - I had a horrible fight with my boyfriend. He just looked so sad and he told me the last few weeks I have not been the same person. That was heartbreaking. Even though i knew it was true, hearing him say that to me is what made me realize how deeply my anxiety and depression was affecting my actions. I filled the prescription the next morning.
That was about three weeks ago. Initially I was prescribed 150mg of the extended release Wellbutrin. For the first two weeks I cut the pills in half to let my body adjust to the medication and try to avoid the onslaught of side effects. It is not recommended that you ever cut extended release pills, however I didnt know that until after. The first few days I had what felt like Migraines, but nothing some Advil didnt clear up. By the second week I realized when i was sad, it wasnt lasting as long as it used to. I was also able to get up earlier for work in the mornings and focus. On day 14 I started taking the full dose of 150mg. That is when i noticed a real change. I just felt happier. Not like crazy euphoric happy, more like my whole life isn't meaningless anymore happy. I wasn't agitated as easily, and i felt alot more carefree. My boyfriend even said that this is the first time he has seen me "be silly" in a long time.
It is slowly getting easier to focus at work and manage my staff. Every day in general is getting easier for me. I am not depending on medication alone however. I am trying really hard to focus on "Living in the moment" and not stressing out about every little thing. Next week I start Yoga which will be about 3(x) a week to help me learn alternative ways to combat my Anxiety and Depression. Upon a friends suggestion I ordered 3 books - Buddah Bootcamp, **** It: The ultimate spiritual way, and **** It Therapy. They should be here within a few days. Most importantly I have an appointment next week with a therapist. I am trying to attack this thing at all angles, not just rely on medicine. I have been this way for 24 years, so i figured its time to learn how to change, medication is just the first step.

Okay so- sorry for my huge story but this is what I have come away with from my experience and I want to share with others.
-Do not be ashamed if you need help.
-Being sad and anxious all the time is not good for you or those you love.
-There are real chemical imbalances that cause Anxiety and Depression - you are not "crazy".
-If you had an ulcer in your stomach you would go to the Dr. and get medicine - why wouldnt you do the same for your Anxiety/Depression.
-Not every medication will work for you - you have to work with your doctor so you can ditch the ones that dont and keep trying until you find whats right for you.
-Some medicines take a month or more to work and dont always have the best side effects. Trust me, stick it out.
-If you dont have to - dont patch your Anxiety/depression with drugs like xanex or paxil. They do not alter the chemistry of your brain they are only an immediate fix. There are extenuating circumstances these drugs work for people but for most they are just a bandaid.
-Address your anxiety and depression from all angles. We are extremely complex beings and medication alone will not allow us to heal what is broken. Change your eating habits so you are eating healthier (LOTS of fruit and veggies). Take vitamins. Drink lots of water (especially when you are on medication - you want to flush as much toxins as you can). Find a way to "be present".. I chose yoga because of the combination of physical and mental healing it promotes - but i know others who volunteer, exercise, etc. You have to find what makes you happy. Even if it means focusing on being happy 5 minutes at a time at first.
-There is no magic drug that is going to just fix you. It takes hard work, but the medicine makes it easier to actually try.

I hope this helps someone .. Wellbutrin has allowed me to start making the changes I need to find happiness in my life. I do not "rely" or "depend" on drugs. I am certainly not ashamed that I need a little help - after all this is MY life and I am the only person responsible for my happiness.
ALynn007 ALynn007
26-30, F
2 Responses Aug 18, 2014

This really hits home for me. I haven't found a medicine that works for me and have been sticking with a medicine thinking that it would eventually get better. I should also probably eat healthier and drink more water.

I am so happy for you that you are getting the help you need. All the boyfriends I had befoe I met my husband were very anti-med. They didn't want to think they could ever get to a place where they couldn't control their emotions. I am doing pretty well on Lexapro myself.

Yeah my boyfriend initially was against them. However after explaining to him how intense the lows get and after seeing the difference in me he understands now. Its difficult to have someone in your life who doesnt support you.