to meds or not to meds

I don’t usually write about taking medication because I feel like people judge me for it. I know that’s all in my head (or is it? I don’t know!). I used to be super anti-medication. I took meds for many years and still felt depressed for all of those years, so I sort of stopped believing in them. But, then my lifestyle changed. I got clean, I started taking care of my body, I started living my life in a more honest way.

So, let me fast forward to today, 4 years of consistent medication, and I still get depressed sometimes. I feel angry when that happens.

A few days ago I had a little crying fit to my fiance because I was so angry. I do yoga, I meditate, I write everyday, I take my meds, I share my life with other people, I eat regularly, so why was I still feeling depressed? I’m pretty sure I said the words, “it’s just not fair.” (totally okay that I felt that way, just sort of funny to me looking back on it because there is much more injustice than that going on today).

I don’t think it matters what medications I take or how much of them I take, so I’ll just say that on June 17th (I just looked in my calendar), I upped my meds a tiny bit because I am currently in the throws of a huge life transition and a lot of things are happening and in the past that has lead right into year-long depressions. I felt the depression seeping in, sort of like I could feel myself going a little bit numb. So, as a preventative measure, my psychiatrist and I decided to increase my meds by one notch.

Until I looked in my calendar 30 seconds ago, I was under the impression that I increased my meds forever ago and why the hell aren’t they working? It was four weeks ago, almost to the day. Six weeks is when I usually feel completely back to my normal self, so I’m right on track.

Yesterday, I had a long to-do list that all needed to be done by 3:00 because that has been the point of the day when I am done lately. I’m working on my endurance for being on-task and focused, but 3:00 is the cut-off right now.

After Little Compton I wrote this post about urgency, and I said I was going to try to take each moment at a time while living my life in reality.  I’ve been trying to do that. Every morning when I write in my journal I remind myself of that goal, and I really try to get in that mindset. I’ve still been easily overwhelmed and ready to shut down in the blink of an eye. Until yesterday. Yesterday, I had this long to-do list, most of which I did not want to do. When I was writing about it in the morning, I wrote that I wanted to be peaceful and ready, and I felt it happen. And the whole day was just fine. I didn’t give up, I didn’t get back in bed until around 10:30 pm, and I got the work done that I needed to get done.

This morning has been the same way. And that is the part that I thank the meds for. I need to do the footwork – therapy, exercise, talk, write, eat. When I am doing all of those things, allowing myself to feel how I need to feel, holding on to my lifelines, sweating, and I still feel like shit, the meds come in and get me the 3% further that I need to get.

And every time I start to feel better, I am full of gratitude. I usually don’t write about it because the first few days of my meds working are sort of silly. I feel things pretty intensely, I get really excited, one cup of coffee gets me through the morning, I get out of bed before my alarm clock, showers don’t feel like a terrible chore, and then it sort of evens out when I realize, “oh, this is just me feeling (in every sense of the word) like a human again.” I get a tiny bit bummed out when I realize that, and then things go back to real life and I feel good when I’m happy and I feel shitty when I’m sad.

My psychiatrist and I toggle between two modes of my meds: notch 1, and notch 2 (that’s how I think of them). The giant events of this year end with the grand finale that is my wedding and we’ll probably transition back to notch 1 around then. So, while I’m in notch 2, we don’t up my meds if I get depressed. I increase other things in my life, I add a day of working out, I increase therapy, I go to more meetings. In four years, I haven’t had to go above notch 2 (not that I am against that happening if it comes to it, I’m just saying that I recognize that meds don’t cure everything).

I don’t feel like I need to explain myself any further, but just for the inner-critic that is yapping away in my head telling me that meds are a lie fed to me by commercials and doctors* who pretend that they mean well: if it’s a placebo affect, I’ll take it over suicide any day, motherfucker**.

(*get a psychiatrist that you trust. Tell your psychiatrist you’re in addict (if that’s the case) and don’t agree to take meds if you aren’t ready to commit to them)

(**I usually don’t call my inner-critic a motherfucker. I usually say, “thank you for your concern about my well-being, I will take that into consideration,” so I call it a motherfucker today in the most compassionate way possible)

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