It's been one month since I've been on antidepressants. Now if you know me, or read my article on medication (see below for it), you would know that I have always had a fear of taking any form of medication. Fear of how it might change me, how I would feel afterwards, and how I would act once I started taking them. But I had to accept what was and that was this: I couldn't control the chemical imbalance in my brain. I couldn't control the fact that there were things I wanted to accomplish in life and I felt like my body simply didn't live up to my mind's capacity. I couldn't control the days where I was feeling super low and the other days where I was erratically high and moving at all speeds. It was all very inconsistent and super depressing, so I caved. Or so it felt that way.
I cried when I went to the psychiatrist. This wasn't my first visit to a psych doctor and every time I ever visited one, the outcome has always been that I was a normal 20 something year old woman dealing with and battling life stressors that were normal and didn't need or want medication.
This visit was different. I was honest about my moods, how uncontrollable and sudden they had become and how they were getting in the way of my productivity. There's so much I want to do in life and I've been feeling stuck all year, or so it seems. Yes, I have things going for me, like a big movie I'm currently filming, but in between projects, life seemed like a drag. Financially, I was drowning, and I was tired of it. My anxiety would go through the roof every now and then and my therapist believes I'm bipolar. In the past I have tried meditation, yoga, and hanging with friends but I could never be consistent about it. So I got help because I was tired of living this way and needed to take control of my mental health.
Fast forward five weeks and here I am. I've been taking Paxil, killing two birds with one stone as it treats depression and anxiety. The medication does come with a few side effects. At first I was breaking out, but I'm not anymore. I get brief nausea in the mornings but drowsiness is the biggest one. I instantly fell asleep within 30 minutes of taking it on day one. So I take it at night. If you consume alcohol or smoke marijuana while you take it, the drowsiness will be intensified. I've experienced it for myself.
I went to a barbeque around Labor Day Weekend and was enjoying myself with a few friends, helping the chef, socializing, and I had a few beers and smoked a bit; nothing crazy. I turned down shots during the first few rounds shots went around, because I was trying to remain responsible. When 10 rolled around I had taken one shot of tequila and within the next half hour, another. Then I remembered I didn't take my medication, and because I had been so consistent with taking it between 9:30 and 10:30 PM, I took it. That was the dumbest thing I ever did, ha! At 11:30 I just remember saying I needed to go home, called an Uber and I don't remember the rest. I blacked out, but I was safe and I was home by 11:40 PM. The combination of alcohol and the antidepressants were a bad combination and my body was limp. I was upset at myself because it was very irresponsible to have done that. I asked myself, "I don't want to not have a social life, but I want to continue taking my meds regularly because they work, so what do I do?" My sister and doctor recommended that I don't take them while I'm out, and if I'm out all night, which isn't a common thing, simply don't take them. Just don't make a habit out of it otherwise they won't work.
So I tried that. I went out to a housewarming party and had a great time! I drank a little bit of champagne and one beer and smoked a little bit and went home early enough to do my adult nightly skincare routine and wake up on time for work the next morning. I didn't take my medication that night. But the next night, I noticed a shift in my mood when I briefly got upset and I didn't like it. It was 10 PM, and I still hadn't taken my medication so I took it and went home. Then I was thinking back to a conversation at the party about how one of my friends had witnessed her friend go off her medication. It was like suicide. I am terrified of what can happen to my mood, or myself in general if I stop taking them. My doctor says your meds should be your companion, not something you are babysitting. And right now, they are a companion. They just come with a little more responsibility. I was already practicing self awareness and control and now I feel like I should be hyper aware, especially when I am socializing or out having a good time.
But does the sun feel different on my skin? No it does not. Is my creativity affected? No it isn't. All the fears I had prior to trying antidepressants seem so foolish now. These days, I walk 20-30 miles a week as a dog walker, I work out 6-7 hours a week in the gym focusing on strength training, my spirit has been lifted, I feel motivated, I'm productive, and I'm filming a feature film. I still go to therapy bi-weekly. I am socializing more whereas I felt like I was in a hole at home not able to share my energy with my friends. I'm pushing myself and I feel like things are finally falling into place. I haven't had a super low day all month, and I think that's a blessing.
If you're struggling with depression, anxiety, or any form of mental illness, I advise you to seek help. Be honest with yourself and your doctors. Don't limit yourself but do what's best for you. I have experienced and witnessed how these mental illnesses can negatively affect you and if you want to live a happy and healthy life, you just have to choose to do so and make the right and responsible decisions for yourself. And know, you're not alone. You're never alone.