I used to be one of those people that was very anti-psych-meds.
I grew up around an array of fabulously charismatic and complicated women, who seemed to pop a pill at the drop of a hat – and a glove, a scarf, a handbag, or a kid. Of course, oftentimes these mothers-little-helpers were often washed down with a bucket-sized glass of wine. I was the only kid in high school I knew that would invite her girlfriends over for an afterschool wine & cheese party and think nothing of it.
We were like a cross between Valley of the Dolls and Bev Hills 90210.
Anyway, even though I myself have also suffered from depression on and off for years (having two major depressive disorder episodes to boot), I was still staunchly anti-meds…afraid I was going to turn into one of the cast of characters, starring me as the neophyte of the serotonin-sauced, witchy women, family coven. I loved these women to pieces, but I was afraid that the drugs would cloud my judgements – make me put up with people and situations longer than I should. Always letting the good fight die for the sake of peace. So I resisted, and I suffered needlessly.
(A day in the life of the demons in my head)
But when my last episode almost led to the collapse of my marriage, I gave up the fight that didn’t seem to be doing anyone any good anymore. It took me a while to get it right too. I started off with Zoloft, and while it certainly worked well, I also gained close to twenty pounds while taking it (why do they even offer possible weight gaining drugs to women? Don’t we have enough to contend with??).
Then I tried Lexapro, which did absolutely nothing for me. Now, most would have given up by now, but I held on – largely because with a husband and two young daughters, I couldn’t afford NOT to find a solution. I didn’t want my girls growing up with a depressed and lacklustered mom as a role model. I didn’t want them programmed to think that life is something to be endured and survived. So onto med #3.
Meet my new best friend. Cymbalta.
It took a little while to kick in, but man…was it worth the wait. Unlike the others before her, Cymbalta increases levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine, which helps enhance my general feeling of well being, and even gives me an occasional sense of euphoria. I have a pretty good life, and that in and of itself contribute to these feelings, but I also notice that I’m able to let the little things go, and actually fight the big fights with a sense of optimism and hope instead of futility and rage. I used to ruminate the same idea in my head over and over and over, making myself batty in the process.
Now, I find if I can’t figure something out, or plans are not falling into place like I want, I have an extra layer of patience and fortitude I didn’t have before. Of course, some of that is maturity, but I can’t negate the positive chemical enhancement as well. Instead of masking my life, I’m actually able to see it – and the people I love within it – more clearly. By giving up the illusion of control I actually gained a better version of myself. Which is even better than control – it’s being on top of the world.
So, there’s that.