Something I have learned is that I am in charge of my healthcare. I have had to learn how to speak up when I am uncomfortable with any of the care I am receiving. I first started taking my mental health more seriously a couple of years ago. However, it wasn’t until this past Fall that I finally took the long needed plunge of starting medication. I knew that I would need to be in charge of myself because no body can read my mind to know what I need.
When I first decided that I would be willing to give meds another try, I was still a bit anxious. This was because of the things I remembered when I tried them as a teenager. It was an awful experience and I had tried two separate medications before deciding that nothing would work for me. 13 years later, I had to convince myself that I wasn’t going to die from one pill. Luckily, I was right. I was on 10mg at the time and after the initial “zombie period” as I call it, I felt great! My OCD was hardly there at all and I felt so much more motivated every day. About a month or so later, during my followup, my psychiatrist decided that I should up my dosage to 20mg and she was also going to prescribe a mood stabilizer. I was incredibly nervous about the second medication. I just hate taking chemicals and then having to take multiple of them… YIKES! Luckily for me that prescription had to go through insurance first. [That became a serious battle and wound up being not approved 6 weeks after the fact. Figures.] While I was waiting for the approval, I was having a serious shift with doubling the dose of the anxiety medication.
I went from feeling so good (but still having some mood swings) to the “zombie period” again. I anticipated that it would pass, but it kept lasting. Not only was it lasting, but it was actually making me feel worse. I thought, surely 10mg should not have that much affect on me. At the same time, I should know by now that I am much more susceptible than the “average” person. I think that is because I don’t ever really take medicine, so I have no tolerance built up to any of it. Nonetheless, I wound up messaging my psychiatrist again and letting her know what was going on. I asked if we could move down to 15mg just to see if it helped at all or if I needed to switch meds entirely. Though, I was a bit skeptical because how much could 5mg really change? My psychiatrist was on board and I started the next day with the 15mg.
I didn’t really have the zombie period going down to 15mg, which I was grateful for. I slowly started feeling better again day by day. In fact, we decided that since I am doing much better where I am now, that I don’t need to start the mood stabilizer unless I felt I needed to.
“One size does not fit all.” Now, I don’t know where that quote came from originally, but it definitely holds true for medication. One med may work great for someone and another med could be awful for someone. The biggest piece of advice I could give to someone starting meds or changing meds, is to try and be self aware as best as you can. If you feel uneasy, speak up. If going up or down in a dose makes you feel worse, speak up. Only YOU can tell how you are feeling on the inside. You have to be able to voice that in order to find which one (or ones) work best for your situation.
I also think someone needs to tell people that you can be on medication and feel wonderful, but still have days where it feels out of control again. Usually it is not for long, a week maximum is my experience. If it continues further than that I would definitely recommend speaking up to your health care provider about it. Plus, something that no one really talks about is tolerance levels. Sometimes when your body becomes use to the medication you can start to feel like you did before being on medication. In that case, they may prescribe a dose increase, but be sure to keep daily notes on how you are doing/being affected by it. You can even go as far as asking a trusted person to observe your behavior to monitor from an outsiders view on how the change is affecting you.
Just remember that it can take time to find what works for you. Keep going until you find it!