Part 2 – Medication
woman with pill in mouth

Part 2 – Medication

I woke up this morning thinking about my meds and how they have helped me until they didn’t. I also thought about how I am sharing my experience with full disclosure, and it’s important to me to remove the stigma of mental illness in general and taking anti-depressants specifically. So here goes…

I was first diagnosed with depression April 1996. I scored 10 out of 10 on my doctors assessment scale. This was my normal. He was alarmed. My doctor prescribed Zoloft. It was a miracle. Over the next few years (maybe 5–7?)there was an occasional dose increase, but it continued to work well for me. Until it didn’t. And my dose was maxed out.

I don’t remember what came next. Brain fog and forgetfulness are side effects, btw. (Weight gain too, so it’s clearly the meds fault for that. I stand by that, and you can’t budge me. Probably because of the excess lbs…)

Currently I am taking the highest dose of Pristiq, with the addition of Wellbutrin as of a couple years ago. I started Pristiq about 6 years ago. This was the first time I struggled with switching meds. It. Was. Rough.

I was shaking. I was inexplicably emotional. Like, the world is ending panic emotional. I couldn’t stop crying. I called my Pharmacist.

Important Note!!! If you have questions or concerns about your meds, or they are not working the way they should, don’t call your doctor.

CALL YOUR PHARMACIST!!

Develop a working relationship with your pharmacist. They know everything there is to know about your meds, and if they don’t, they know exactly how and where to find that information immediately. Your pharmacist is a SPECIALIST on prescriptions. Their advice is GOLD, and you would do well to follow it to the letter. Ok then. Thanks for listening. Back to me & my pills.

After a few years of upping my Pristiq until I reached the max, my doctor added Wellbutrin as a “booster”. This is a good combo for me. It worked really well for a few years. And then it didn’t.

I feel compelled to mention that I have never relied on medication alone to treat my depression. No pill can fix what is wrong with my brain on its own. Specialized therapy is incredibly important and helpful. Healthy lifestyle choices like eating well, exercising, getting enough rest, and regular spiritual practices make all the difference to successful management of mental health.

Late 2019 I felt a mental health breakdown coming for me. I asked my doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist for a comprehensive mental health assessment, because I hadn’t been assessed since 1996. (If you struggle with mental health in any way and have never been assessed by a licensed psychiatrist, ask your doctor for a referral! Go. Do it now. I’ll wait.) Clearly my doctor had never been asked for this before. Once he stopped blinking and “uh, umm-ing”, he agreed. He warned me it may take several weeks to get in. I was sitting in front of said psychiatrist in two weeks. Thank you Jesus!

After a two hour comprehensive assessment, the psychiatrist recommended I call CCASA (Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse) and get on their waiting list. I called, completed their intake, and was placed on the list. I was told to expect a wait of 4–5 months before I get in. If things worsen, I can call back any time for re-assessment to see if I can get bumped up on the list. OK. I can tough it our that long. Because once I get in, I will be matched with a specialist and receive 18 free sessions. That’s definitely worth waiting for. That was this time last year.

Enter COVID.

I did, in fact, call for reassessment after a 10 month wait. No bump up for me. Keep waiting. No, they don’t know how long it will take. So sorry.

SO many more people needing help. Mental health professionals unable to keep up with demand. Some of them quitting because they can’t handle the strain. Understandably. But I can’t get out of bed today.

I fell through the cracks. I’m hanging in there. Barely. Largely because of friends who get it, and understand how to lift me up when I’m sinking. Because of my husband and family, who love and support me and allow me to be who I am on any given day, and allow me to not get up if I can’t. And crawl under the covers with me if I need them to.

Fast forward to now. Can’t access therapy. Depression and PTSD are becoming med-resistant. Enter brain science. Wahoo!

Tomorrow I get to see my brain! How cool is that!!

I just got a call from Neurvana Health. Dr. Corey wants me to re-take the eye test. I think I forgot to talk about that one yesterday. Not your average optometrist test. Sit in front of the computer, cover one eye, click on the matching image. Cover other eye, repeat.

So I will arrive 15 minutes early tomorrow to re-take the eye test. At the time, I was mildly alarmed at how poor my right eye performed. Maybe I’m headed to my optometrist next. I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, I am trying to access my photos so I can show you pics of the snazzy brain map cap, and maybe even a pic of my brain, doctor allowed. Clearly I need a 12 yr old to run my technology. My brilliant (adult) daughter is setting time aside for me tomorrow to screen share and help me with this drop box problem. These are words that I recognize yet don’t know what they mean. Pray for me. Better yet, pray for her patience with me.

Until next time, be safe. Be as healthy as you can be. If you are wrestling with this mental health beast, you are not alone. I know you hear this all the time, but I really mean it. I’m right there with you. Reach out. Let’s talk.

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