Mental Health: Struggling With Meds

Image credit: Jonathan Harris.
Image courtesy of Stockvault.

For the past several years, I’ve been on the same two medications at a stable dosage. They’ve worked in the sense that they take the edge off of severe depressive episodes and panic symptoms. They don’t work in the sense that they’ve affected my writing output for fiction and generally can’t end the racing thoughts in my mind. Lately they haven’t been working well, and early this month I stopped taking them. Don’t worry, it was at the advice of my doctor and therapist, so it’s not like I’m just running around off my meds.

Along with my old therapist getting a new job and leaving, I switched to a new medication earlier this month. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the side effects of head pills. Head pills (read: mental health medications in general) are pretty scary under normal circumstances. FFS, I’ve got anxiety, and they really have me convinced to take them seriously. One of the side effects is death or suicidal thoughts. Those are with most medications used to treat depression. Or maybe they’re just the ones getting thrown my way.

At any rate, I found out after switching to the max dose of this new medication that it is no bueno for me. Muscle aches and joint pain are not highly common, but they were listed as low-risk side effects. My arms and legs felt like I sprained them at alternating times, and I felt like I was high and sick with the flu too. It wasn’t fun. I’m not taking them anymore, although I haven’t told my doc yet about the decision.

One of the reasons I don’t want to take this medication is that it also wrecked my Nanowrimo attempt this month. I was able to have good output when I wasn’t on anything. Low dosage reduced my output accordingly. After medium dosage, I stopped being able to write. Of course, I’m at “correlation,” and it isn’t causation, but I’m at a loss to find other variables which could explain what’s going on.

Part of me is not wanting to take SSRI’s anymore. Yeah, it sucks when I get depressed, but I’m also able to actually do the shit I want to do to get me on my feet financially again. Plus, I don’t want to go on the roller coaster that is switching to new medications. It isn’t fun. Writing was a healthy outlet for me to channel my feelings into something productive.

Additionally, I’m not sure exactly what my mental state is right now since it takes time for medications to metabolize. Yes, the pains, aches, and general terrible feelings went away a day after I stopped taking the latest pills. But I’m also in a mental fog. That fog is messing with my ability to do things for myself.

I don’t know what I want from here.
I actually have evidence now that the medications I was on were messing with my ability to create, but it’s hard not to second-guess yourself and wonder if it’s just crazy talk. I think this is one of the awful things about getting a mental health diagnosis. It robs you of your trust in yourself. But when you’re in an appointment haggling over what treatment should be, that’s when you need it the most.

In a few days, I meet with my doc to discuss treatment. As of this writing, I’m not sure if I want to take any medication anymore. I know that my situation isn’t going to last forever, and I know that I wouldn’t want it to. Medication seems to be keeping me in it.

13 thoughts on “Mental Health: Struggling With Meds

  1. Maybe dump writing and take on a new challenge? Pottery, or something to expand your talents without having to worry. Oftentimes having something else leads to better writing anyway. And that sense of accomplishment can definitely promote a healthier you. You seem a little stuck in a rut. Sorry buddy. All the best to you. In my own experience, when stuck in the doldrums a little change can go along way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Writing is something that usually benefits me. I’ve just been in a really different headspace about it for the past several years now. Most of my problems with writing aren’t with writing, but with all the other bullshit I’ve convinced myself that goes with it.

      As far as pottery is concerned, I did actually do it once as a kid. I loved it, and want to try it again whenever I get the funds to go for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Death is a side effect of a bunch of different medications. Drug companies can advertise here in the States (I think New Zealand’s the only other country that does this). You’d be surprised how often that word pops up in drug commercials.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I sympathise SB. One of the other side effects of a number of antidepressant is a reduction in migraine attacks – in frequency and/or intensity. I’ve been prescribed these at various times in an attempt to treat my migraines. That one desired side effect never happened for me. However the other side effects such as the brain fog, loss of motivation, muscle pain, unusual mood swings, even hallucinations, did kick in. It felt like my “get up and go” had got up and gone. I can’t envision the side effects being helpful long term for someone recovering from a mental illness except short term, for as you have found, they dull the mind so that it is very difficult to get motivated about anything.

    One of my previous doctors once made the comment that all medicines are poison, but some have good side effects. That’s something I’ve kept in mind in the years since. I’ve noticed that death is quite often listed among the side effects for a number medicines I’ve taken for migraine, along with effects such as kidney failure, heart arrest, stroke and suicide.

    All the best in finding something that works for you.


  3. This is tough. As a scientist, I was brought to a position that medical staff know better but I am beginning to wonder. It seems American doctors are overly dependent upon the pharmacopia. Recently my partner began taking Zoloft because of mild symptoms of depression. After regulation of the drug it seemed to work but we both wondered why drugs were necessary to feel normal, so we went in a different direction. She went off of the drug and got a dog. Problem solved. Feedback from dog supplied what was missing.

    Similarly I was dutifully going to my doctor and being long of tooth I was being screened for every disease of age known to man. After having one colonoscopy, it was recommended that I have another after five years. I looked up the incidence of colon cancer in people who were observed to have “precancerous” polyps in their colon (whatever the heck that means) and the percent was really quite small. At that time I decided to not go through the colonoscopy because my life expectancy if I had colon cancer was about the same as it is without it, so why bother? I also started reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest book “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer” in which she makes the case that $4000 colonoscopies may not be all they are cracked up to be, along with the widespread medical screening of senior citizens. She points out that there is actually very little evidence that “early treatment” of the variety of “life threatening” disease we are prone to is all that effective or even warranted.

    So, I guess my message is that drugs are wonderful and not necessarily the answer to any particular health question. The problem is that there is so much bull shit being bandied about on these issues is that it is hard to figure out what to do. In my case, I like Ehrenreich’s point that she was “old enough to die” so what was she trying to do? I am also “old enough to die” having lived a good life and I think that being at peace and being happy is probably more palliative than $4000 colonoscopies. (Note: The $4000+ figure is what the suckers pay. Medicare paid $1400 and the doctor accepted that as payment in full … even though I had supplemental insurance (apparently the other $2600 wasn’t enough incentive to do the extra paperwork. The suckers have employer -paid plans and they just pay up.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Several (!) years ago, I went through a fairly severe bout of depression and was prescribed Prozac. After a period of time (can’t remember how long), I began to feel a bit more positive … so I stopped taking it. My decision. I suffered no after-effects and have never taken it again.

    I realize a “bout of depression” is considerably different than “thoughts of suicide” but at the same time, I do feel a person can get very dependent on this type of drugs. And as you have indicated, the accompanying side effects play their own role. I don’t in any way mean to discount or disregard your personal condition, but the fact that writing seems to help, it might be worth at least giving it a trial run.

    In any case, know this. Those of us that follow your blog and read about your struggles are pulling for you.


    • Thanks, Nan. One of the other things I didn’t get to mention about mental health medication is that one size cannot fit all. Everyone has a different, valid story regarding treatment. I’ve read people who found a medication and stayed with it happily for years. Others can’t be on it for a day. It’s the whole shot in the dark aspect that can get tiresome, sometimes.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I can relate! I had been on the same meds and dose for 13 years thinking I was doing ok. Well, I wasn’t and it continued to get worse until I finally found a new team. Have you looked into doing DNA testing? I am going to have it done through my doctor’s office who uses Genesight. It can make medications easier as it can provide info on how your body uses certain meds. It provides like green, yellow and red list. Might be worth looking into .


  6. You should have Genesite testing done it will help the provider and you determine what a good medication for your body would be. I am a psychiatric provider and I understand how certain medications can have side effects that are difficult to deal with.


Comments are closed.