On the Meds

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I gave in. I’m on the meds.

I tried taking St. John’s Wort for a while as a natural remedy to ward off anxiety. It seemed to be working, but I found out that it can reverse the effects of birth control, and nothing would add to my anxiety like having a baby, so I decided to stop using it. My doctor has been recommending Wellbutrin as a depression remedy for a while now, so I finally decided to give it a go. The pharmacist explained that it works to rebalance the chemicals in the brain: If you’re up it’ll bring you back down, and if you’re down it’ll bring you back up. An added bonus is that it doesn’t interfere with birth control, and it supposedly takes the pleasure out of smoking which helps smokers who are trying to quit (which I am). I’ve only been taking it for two days now so I haven’t had enough time to notice the effects yet, but I’m hopeful that it will help get my mind and body back to a healthy, balanced state.

I’ve always had something against prescription medications, partially because so many of them are largely untested when they get put on the market because profit is more important than public health to most major drug companies. I’m making an exception for Wellbutrin because I’ve heard good things. One of my friends began taking the pills after a family tragedy pushed her into a state of depression. She told me it’s helped to even her out and that she’s stopped crying everyday. As a pack-a-day smoker, she also noticed that four days had gone by and she hadn’t had a cigarette…and without even trying! My doctor’s assured me that there are very few -if any- side effects other than potential drowsiness or insomnia, depending. I’ve been exhausted the past two days, but I’ve also just started a new job and have had minimal sleep, so before I blame it on the drug, I’m going to try to get some rest.

As I said last week, I’m doing remarkably better than I was a few months ago, but the fight is not over. I know that depression can return at any moment which is why I’ve decided to start taking medication to hopefully prevent a future depressive episode. The downside to Wellbutrin (if you consider this a downside) is that it works on an ongoing basis, which means that it is not a permanent fix, which in turn means that it is only effective if taken everyday…for the rest of my life. I’m hoping my body will naturally re-balance itself within the next few years and then I can stop relying on medication and therapy, but either way, I know this problem won’t just disappear overnight. I’m in it for the long haul no matter how you look at it.

And so I continue to take things one day at a time. I’ve been keeping busy with school, work and writing, and having a focus has helped take my mind off the anxiety to some degree. I still have panicky moments where I get scared and start hyperventilating for no apparent reason, but I try to refocus my attention on something else when that happens until the feeling passes or diminishes. It’s sort of the same as quitting smoking that way: When you feel like a cigarette, instead of focusing on not smoking, try to focus on something else entirely. The craving will usually only last a few minutes, so if you can focus on something else until it passes, you will have avoided a moment of temptation. But if you focus on not smoking, you’re actually thinking about the act of smoking, which can actually tempt you to smoke even more. Likewise, when I’ve had moments of anxiety lately I’ve just tried to refocus my attention onto something completely different like homework or cooking. Before, I used to focus on the anxiety and how much I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling, and the anxiety would only get worse until it threw me into full on depression.

I’m learning ways to cope and things are working out so far. I’ll be upping my dosage of Wellbutrin from one pill a day to two within the next few days, so hopefully I’ll have good news to report next week. Until then, keep on keepin’ on and so will I.

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