My journey with anti-depressants and anxiety medications has been a long one.
During my freshman year of college, I finally bit the bullet and talked to my doctor about some of the issues I was having with my mental health.
He sent me to a therapist and put me on a low dose of medicine #1.
Everything went well for the first few months, but around month four I starting having some pretty bad side effects (blurred vision, memory loss, etc.).
I ended up changing medications and having success with medicine #2 for close to a year. I didn’t encounter any side effects, but it just wasn’t doing the job for me anymore.
Medicine #3 worked, but it only lasted in the body for 24 hours. And because it had to be taken in the morning (and I am NOT a morning person), I’d miss that 24 hour period and get really sick about twice a week.
Mind you, during these first three medications, I was pretty private about my mental health.
So, when I was switching medications, nobody really knew.
The Struggles of Changing Medication
Now, the reason this is a big deal is that coming off of some medications, especially anti-depressants, can literally send your body through withdrawals.
Some people get really tired and run down.
Some people get really sick.
The process is different for everyone, but for some, it’s not a very good time.
I was one of those people.
Luckily, by the time I was moving on the medicine #4 I was much more open about my mental health. I felt far more comfortable telling others what I was going through.
The switch to medicine #4 required two weeks off of #3 and a month of stair-stepping to the dose I needed for the new medicine.
I knew that this was going to be tough, so I reached out to my professors and I let them know that I would be missing class.
I was nervous about what they would say, but I knew it was what was best for me.
I was surprised by the response I got:
Who would have thought?
My professors were actually understanding and didn’t hold anything against me?
It turns out, a lot of the time, people actually are understanding!
Tips for Navigating Life While Going Through a Med Change
Like I said early, the change from med #3 to #4 was the first time I was open about what I was going through.
I wish it hadn’t been.
My life would have been much easier.
1. Be Open With Those Around You
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone and their mother needs to know what you are going through.
However, the people you interact with on a daily basis should get a heads up – if you can give them one.
Not only will this allow them to understand why you may be a bit more anxious or sensitive to certain things, but it also allows them to be on the lookout for any sort of negative effects as you’re getting on your new meds.
I would highly suggest telling family members, partners, and co-workers, if you feel comfortable doing so.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
Medicine #1 was the hardest for me.
Losing my memory made me feel like a bad student, a bad friend, and a bad partner.
It was clearly stated as a side effect, but I still felt like I should have remembered things like birthdays and plans.
Our brains are full of chemicals and the meds we are given are chemicals as well.
They’re constantly interacting with each other and sometimes chemicals just don’t get along!
And if they don’t IT’S. NOT. YOUR. FAULT.
Talk to your doctors and they will get you fixed up.
I always like to tell people to talk to themselves and give themselves the same benefit of the doubt they would give their best friend.
It really makes a difference.
3. Be Patient
I get it – this process can be a tough and timely one, but I promise it is worth it.
I cannot explain the relief I feel knowing that I may have a bad day, but that it’s not going to lead to a month of me not wanting to leave my room.
And nothing beats feeling joy. When you’ve gone so long feeling numb or just joyless, the feeling of pure joy is one that is almost euphoric.
All of this is to say trust the process. It may be hard, but it’s so worth it.
If you need an ear, I’m always here, and so many others will be too if you give them the chance. You’ve got this!