Medication: A Love/Hate Relationship

When I was 15, my therapist wanted me to try Prozac. The thought of taking medication for my mental illness terrified me.  My family members with mental illnesses had either refused to take medication or were numb. So I skipped it. Five years later and I was ready to try something to get rid of the depression. I was put on 20 mg of Prozac.  So started my relationship with meds. It has not been easy. I have suffered through some nasty side effects, felt zombi-fied, lost my libido and been unable to concentrate.

This last Tuesday at group therapy, I described my mood to the group telling them that I was anxious again. They were all very supportive and kind. The therapist asked me a question that comes up a lot. He asked if I ever wondered if the medications are doing any good. Without hesitation I answered, “Of course I wonder if taking all these meds helps. But I have chosen to put my faith in medication.” I understand that getting the right meds on board is like trying to nail jello to a tree. But I still chase that elusive state of being where the meds are right and so am I. I have found that balance several times in my life. Unfortunately, now is not one of those times. I’m hoping that the most recent med changes (increase in Lithium and Seroquel) will help soothe the anxiety and depression that I feel.

It is very difficult to parse out which medications are doing what if anything. I know the klonopin works because I feel more calm after I take it. But there are several meds that I take that have me wondering if they are part of the fight or just bystanders. My med list has gotten quite impressive between having diabetes and bipolar disorder II. I take Lithium, Prozac, Neurontin, Metropolol, Klonopin, Zyprexa, Seroquel and Vyvanse plus estrogen, insulin, Victoza and Metformin. I can’t help but think that this soup of drugs isn’t doing me any favors.

How do you feel about taking medications? Do you trust in your doctor and your meds or are there times you feel you should stop taking a med?

I read about people who have stopped taking all their medications. To be truthful, my response is usually, “You’re going to regret that.” I’m not saying you can’t manage your illness without medication, but there will likely come a time when you are symptomatic and really need a med to help you navigate back to normal. I hope that isn’t the case. I am your biggest cheerleader if you’re trying to make a go of things in a way that makes you feel safe.

In the absence of medication, one must look to other therapies such as individual and/or group therapy. Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) is very helpful because it helps you change the way you think and provides positive support. For example, if you wake up feeling depressed, you can do some journaling about your symptoms, how you feel and what you can do to cheer yourself up. CBT isn’t always easy, but it certainly can help you through a bad day.

So tell me how you feel about meds. Have you taken them for a long time? What do you take? Have you ever felt like getting rid of all of it?

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