Medication and Emotion

I started Wellbutrin last Wednesday. I intended to write about it before I got derailed, but I suppose it's better a little late than never.

I felt intensely nervous before my first appointment with the psychiatrist, partly because my experience with the guy who prescribed me Adderall pretty much consisted of "How's it going with the drugs? Good? Here's another prescription. That'll be 65 dollars." I was worried that my new doctor would be as brusque and clinical, and my depression is so much more of a tender subject than my mild ADHD.

Fortunately, he was kind and asked lots of questions, talking to me for about 45 minutes before writing me a prescription. He didn't seem to mind that I'd done a little research ahead of time and he addressed my concerns calmly. Which was definitely a relief.

That said, my feelings about this whole drug thing are a lot more complicated than nervousness over how my doctor will behave. I've been working and working and working to overcome this mood issue for years. It's a struggle that's just a part of my daily reality, that's built into my routines and my self care and my relationships. It's hard to imagine my life without it, or even just with it alleviated a little.

The whole process seems so strange. My doctor explained that after two weeks or so I should physically start to feel better, that my energy will improve and it'll be easier to do things. Then after about a month, my mood should be better, the drug will be in my system and in effect. It's just odd to think of the way I feel emotionally as a symptom that a daily pill can address. It feels like something that's a part of me, and altering it with something I can just swallow is a bit disconcerting.

I'm also terrified to get my hopes up over what's going to happen here. I know that pills are not a complete fix for anything, and I don't really know how I'm going to respond to them. The idea that my friends and sister have given me that it'll be "easier to be okay" sounds unbelievably appealing, but I'm a little afraid to let myself hope. What if it doesn't work? What, then, will I be left with? I know myself and that I'd just move on and try something else, but I've delayed this option for so long, held it in my mind as a fallback, that I know it'll be really hard if it doesn't help me.

I suppose it's ultimately a question of venturing into an unknown. I've always chafed particularly at the beginnings of journeys, the feeling of uncertainty and the knowledge that I'm a novice, as green and fragile as can be. I think one of my biggest challenges as a human being is to embrace that feeling and learn to love not knowing. Moving forward and trying things even though they're scary is a part of that. So onward and upward, and I'll keep y'all filled in on how things progress.


Unknown said...

As someone who has dealt with depression and SSRIs before, my take on things is as follows: the meds open the door to health; it's up to you to walk through it. The pills put the neurotransmitters in proper alignment, permitting you to feel well, if you can; but it also takes an effort of will to function optimally. Of course, some times it requires almost no effort all; at other times, it's all effort regardless of the presence of meds.

This is not say that it's Your Fault if things don't work out. On the contrary, plenty can go wrong. A specific medication can work against you rather than for you, INTENSIFYING your symptoms instead of alleviating them (this happened to a friend of mine). Or you might find meds that make you feel like a zombie, neither sick nor well, usually indicating that it's not the right medication for you.

Even if you find meds that work for you, the dosage might be too high or too low. Your issues with depression might be habitually cognitive-behavioral (what might be casually described as "habitually looking at things in such a way that you become depressed") as much as biochemical.

What it all boils down to is that neurology is a crapshoot and neurochemistry is unpredictable. Trial and error is par for the course, and finding the right combination of will and medication is what's important. In a way, this is the ultimate proof that each person is different, the fact that no method of therapy is universal.

My only advice is as follows: listen to your heart and acknowledge what you feel, but question it at the same time (WITHOUT crossing that invisible line into rote interrogation) to make sure you're not being limited by your emotions. If you need to talk to someone, be prepared to search for a psychologist with whom you are compatible, who is capable of understanding your world and explaining things the way you need to hear them. If the meds don't work, be prepared to alter the dosage and even the meds themselves if you feel nothing different, or if you feel worse.

Good luck, and I wish you a full and speedy return to health and contentment.

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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