The Experience of Taking Psychiatric Medications
There’s this crappy situation that I have to re-write this blog due to a mishap while switching to our new layout. But I think it’s okay, because when I first wrote the blog, I was afraid to post it. It sat in my drafts folder for way too long. The things I wrote about had changed by then. In the previous blog, I focused on how the medications made me feel more than anything. I guess, this time around I have more to talk about, but I’ll try to include the content I can remember from the last post. I don’t understand the stigma behind taking psychiatric medications. I used to be so ashamed to ask for help, let alone medications… But starting them, I’m happy (haaa…) to say that they are starting to work. It was a rough first time go around. I’ll be more open on what I was taking as well.
My own experience in taking medications
I was first started on Effexor where I worked my way up to 150 mg. I felt nothing but nausea the entire time. Going on car rides was the most painful thing because it just made me want to yak all over the windshield every time. I was weaned off of Effexor, and started on Mirtazapine. Mirtazapine is something I still take, and it makes me the groggiest person in the morning. I always feel super slow and super heavy when I wake up. Sometimes I feel like I’m coming out of sedation. It makes going through my work day really difficult, although I do get some pretty legit sleep out of it.
On top of Mirtazapine, I was started on a low dose of Propranolol. It’s typical use is for cardiac medications, but at low doses, can be used to treat generalized anxiety. So far, it’s been very helpful in keeping my anxiety attacks at a minimum, and I have less time spent trying to “catch up with my heart”.
As you may have read, I also hear voices. I have become open about having auditory hallucinations, and if you want to call me crazy, then do it. But fair warning, you should never mess with crazy people, especially the ones that hear voices, ;). So I was started on a low dose of Abilify. I was extremely hesitant to take this medication since it is an anti-psychotic. It made me feel like I had officially been diagnosed psycho - which wasn’t the case. There’s a lot of things that have happened in my life that have required me to push the emotions down into a deep, dark box… That box was let open little by little, and everything started to pour out of me. Abilify really helps keep these dark thoughts in check.
Be patient, they don’t work instantaneously
The side effects are what will make you want to stop in the beginning. They’re awful, I’m not going to sugar coat that. You get nauseous, you can’t sleep, you get night sweats, nightmares, etc. The thing is, I was already having all of these symptoms before I started medications, so it’s not like it was any different. It was just more persistent. Nightmares got really intense to the point where I’d act out. Sean won’t tell you, but I’ve punched him in my sleep before, and he couldn’t do anything about it. But once you get past all of that, it’ll stop being as often, and you’ll start feeling better.
Break through the stigma
We’re so quick to offer Tylenol for fevers, Ibuprofen for sore muscles, and Midol for menstrual cramps. As soon as someone has something going on in their head, something you can’t see, then a negative stigma rises around it. The mind is the strongest organ you have. It’s ability to connect, retain, and create information… You’d be a fool not to take care of it the way you take care of every other organ. Just think of it as putting neosporin on your brain cells. Those synapses need some love too.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for seeking out treatment. I’m a very functional human being. I’ve gotten through nursing school, I’m a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army, and I’m a successful person. Don’t ever think that taking medications for your mental health will set you back.
You aren’t a fool for seeking help. You’re smart - because you’re utilizing the resources given to you to get better.