My two week wait is almost over. Well that's what I've called it anyway. This wait doesn't culminate in peeing on a stick, it's to insure that I don't develop Serotonin Syndrome while switching medications. You have to do this when switching from an MAOI to an SSRI or vice versa. Two whole weeks without anti-depressants is really difficult, especially when you're going through withdrawals.
I did this back in January and although the withdrawals were harder physically, I had a lot more hope regarding the change. I did so well the first time I took Parnate (the MAOI) that I had really convinced myself it was my savior medication. When it didn't work the way I had thought it would it only made my depression worse.
I told myself I'd never take an SSRI again after getting off Lexapro and now here I am with a prescription for Prozac in hand. It's almost funny to me that it's taken so long for me to try what is probably the quintessential anti-depressant. I've been trying psychiatric medications for more than a decade now and have tried more meds than I can count on both hands, and maybe both feet.
Something I really despise is the attitude that medication is a "quick fix" or "easy way out" when it comes to psychiatric illnesses. Those people often tout diet, excercise, supplements, and talk therapy- all of which can be beneficial, but none of which will cure a true psychiatric illness. I'm not going to say psychiatric medications aren't overprescribed, they are, but that doesn't mean there aren't people who truly need them.
Taking psychiatric medication is hard. It's really fucking hard. First of all there are side-effects to every medication, and every medication effects every individual differently. It's very rare to be on a medication and feel no side-effects, it's always a delicately tipping scale of pros and cons. When I was on the medication Effexor a few years I gained over 50lbs and completely lost my libido, but I felt so good emotionally I decided to stay on it. Of course it stopped working after a few years, but that's another issue. (Yup, the meds can just stop working for no reason and completely out of the blue.)
There's also the issue of time. It takes weeks to see the full effects of a medication, especially if you have to build up to a certain dose. Building up itself takes weeks. And then getting off? More weeks. And there's always the threat of withdrawals- both emotional and physical. And when things don't work out you've just wasted weeks and months and maybe years.
And you're back where you started.
This is all compounded when you need to be on more than one psychiatric medication. Most people with Bipolar Disorder need to be on both an anti-depressant and a mood stabilizer (to prevent mania.) Finding the perfect cocktail can be like finding a needle in a haystack. It's complicated and oftentimes frustrating. I've lucky in the fact that I've been on the mood stabilizer Lamictal for many years and it works very well for what it is. The price is a different story.
Monday starts another long journey for me. I'm trying to have hope but it's hard and I'm jaded. But I'm not going to give up just yet.