Many resist going on medication when they find out they have mental illness. The idea of being on an antidepressant for life can be frightening. Some medications also have a bad reputation. There are stories of people going on them and becoming like zombies. The person just sleeps, can’t function or even think. This scares people. They want to get better, not become a zombie. So many turn to alternatives like medicating with drugs and alcohol, natural remedies, or just go untreated.
Finding the right antidepressant that works for you is not an easy process. What works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. You have to keep trying different types until one works for you. Plus, antidepressants are not an automatic cure. You can’t take the medication and suddenly everything is better. It doesn’t work that way. An antidepressant treats symptoms of your illness, but the rest is hard work through therapy to undo years of misguided thinking and self-loathing. You have to change your way of thinking completely and that is not easy.
When I started on antidepressants for my mental illness, I wanted the medicine to take away all the bad thoughts, to make me love myself, and to make me feel like I was worth something. I wanted it to work right away. Unfortunately, they didn’t work that way. The psychiatrist told me it could take up to two weeks for my medication to start working, and if it wasn’t working in that time, he would try me on another one.
My first thoughts were: You mean I have to wait? It doesn’t work right away? I want to feel better now.
The psychiatrist just handed me a prescription and sent me on my way. Two weeks later I was feeling the same. The psychiatrist put me on another one. With the new one I was constantly tired. I needed lots of naps. I would go to college and fall asleep in class, and when I went home for the day all I could do was sleep. It seemed like I was spending lots of money on antidepressants that weren’t working. It seemed hopeless. Would I find any relief from my illness?
I told my therapist how hopeless it seemed and how expensive it was to keep buying medication that didn’t work. She helped me find programs to pay for the antidepressant and encouraged me not to give up. She told me to never take myself off an antidepressant. Why? Because automatically being taken off of antidepressants can cause withdrawal and other complications. She said if I was having any problems with my medication to call my psychiatrist right away.
A good psychiatrist knows medications well and knows that a person must be weaned off of an antidepressant before a new one is started. I had psychiatrists take me off medication without weaning. I had sweats, shaking, nausea, and sleeplessness and became very sick. I couldn’t eat for days. It was awful. After that I found a new psychiatrist. I went through several until I found Doctor Lance Besner and he knew his medications well. I will never leave him because he is the best psychiatrist I ever had.
Before I saw Doctor Besner, I was seeing a psychiatrist who had me on high doses of three antidepressants. After being on that much medication for several years, I began to lose my memory and I had a tremor. I couldn’t remember what day it was and the simplest things. I have a bad memory to begin with, but this was worse. I felt like I was losing my mind. On top of that I couldn’t even hold a pen without shaking. I couldn’t hold my hands still no matter what.
I told my psychiatrist and he sent me for neurological tests. When those came back normal, he took me off all my medication. I started making mistakes at work, I went days without sleep, I went from hot to cold within minutes, and I couldn’t eat. Just the thought of food made me sick. I got suspended from work for a mistake and my whole body began to shake. My husband took me to the emergency room. They said I was dehydrated and going through withdrawal.
A friend suggested I go see doctor Besner and I did. He started the game of trying to find what medication worked for me. It is a rough game, but this time he gave me samples of the antidepressants. That way I wasn’t losing a lot of money when the prescription didn’t work. When one antidepressant didn’t work, he cut the dosage while slowly starting me on a new one. Once I was completely off the old antidepressant, he increased the new one. He did this process until I found one that took away many of my symptoms. I could finally sleep, I had more energy, I could think more clearly, and my depression wasn’t so horrible. I took control of the rest of my depression by going to therapy and working hard to change my thought processes.
If your antidepressant isn’t working or you’re having bad side effects, tell your psychiatrist. Don’t take yourself off the medication on your own. Be patient; there is one that will work for you. Don’t expect the medicine to be an automatic fix. Remember, you have to put work into your recovery. You must go to therapy and do any homework the therapist gives you. Remember, it takes time for antidepressants to work, so don’t expect to feel relief right away.
I have found the right combination of medication that works for me. With medication and hard work I am enjoying the light of recovery.