I think I am going to try antidepressants again.
I’ve been mulling this over for a good while now. The last time I tried antidepressants was about six years ago; I tried Pristiq, Paxil, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin, and stopped trying after none of them seemed to have any effect outside of side effects. Looking back, however, I’m not sure if I gave all of them enough of a shot, time-wise, and I’ve been thinking it might be a good idea to try again, with one or two of those or with different ones.
I’ve talked to the therapist I’ve been seeing a few times about medication, and she has generally taken the position that meds are an option that wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to try, but has left the decision about whether or not to try them up to me.
There are a few different things that have led to my decision to take a stab at meds again. The first one was reading Greta Christina’s post about being on antidepressants indefinitely, and, in particular, learning this bit:
“Apparently, if someone’s had three or more serious depressive episodes in their life, the current standard of care (as my psychiatrist understands and interprets them, anyway) is for them to stay on anti-depressants. If someone has had three or more serious depressive episodes, the chances are very high that they’re going to have another one — and when that happens, it’s better, for a zillion reasons, to already be on medication.”
Second, also via Greta Christina, was this analogy she quoted in a subsequent post:
“Maybe instead of diabetes as your go-to simile, try using asthma.
I’ve had asthma for as long as I can remember. I’ve been on maintenance medication for it since I was in junior high. When I’m on the meds, I can run, exercise, do all the things that normal people do. When I’m not on the meds, running might put me in the hospital.
When I was diagnosed with chronic depression, I was thrilled. I was doing something about the thing that was holding me back from being the me I wanted to be. As far as I am concerned, it is just like getting on asthma meds. I fully expect to be on them the rest of my life, and I’m happy to do so.
I think the “chronic” part of “chronic depression” might be what is throwing you for a loop. It doesn’t mean you’re constantly depressed. It just means that you’re at an elevated *risk* of having an attack of depression. I.e., it isn’t the episodes of depression itself that the “chronic” is referring to. It is the elevated risk. In that way it’s a lot more like asthma. And just like my asthma medications help me be the person I want to be who can run and exercise and stay in shape, the medication for depression helps me be the version of me who has motivation, loves a challenge, loves to learn new things, and has decently high creative output.”
I love this analogy for depression. I think it is spot on, and it has changed the perspective that I take on my own depression symptoms. More than anything else, it is the effect that this analogy has had on how I perceive my depression symptoms that has pushed me over the edge into considering medication again. I have had a few moments lately where I felt either socially overwhelmed or incredibly lonely and ended up feeling immensely, viscerally awful about myself as a result. Having the experience that I have and the perspective I have on that experience, I am able to look at those and say “This is not a normal or useful response to what is going on right now.”.
It doesn’t necessarily make me feel better at the time, but it does make me want to do something about it. The last few times this has happened, I have looked at it and said “This is the emotional equivalent of an asthma attack; there is no good reason to be experiencing this, and I might be able to avoid experiencing it by being on medication.”.
In certain ways, my life is also not in a state of significant change at the moment, which means it is not a bad time to experiment with medication again.
This is a thing I think I’m going to try.