I don’t actually know where to begin, but I am going to try to begin right here.
My personal experience is medication on and off since I was in my early 20’s. Prozac first, followed by a descent into worse symptoms followed by a diagnosis of bi polar 2 followed by medication and being under psychiatric care for about 3/4 years followed by withdrawing self from that care, going into ‘remission’ and remaining on anti depressants -citalopram- for many years until two years ago when I still felt ill and stopped taking them, bam. And now a slow/ fast back and forth descent into further misery and a feeling that the bipolar is returning due to unstable moods in short spaces of time; debilitating depression; health anxiety -or hypochondria and a number of other uncomfortable habits including increasingly bad anxiety.
Trouble is, I have some citalopram again which I simply can’t bring myself to take and I just don’t know why since I feel so unwell.
I think it’s partly due to fear of bi polar symptoms returning more fully plus living in a kind of heightened bubble but not confronting real problems I have due to the anxiety it provokes.
From time to time I trawl the internet for positive anti depressant success stories but more often than not I find a million reasons not to take them.
Possibly a symptom of depression…I am finding decision making impossible- little decisions like what to feed my children send me into agonizing torrents of anxiety and indecision and big decisions like my life just don’t get a look in. I am frozen and unable to know my own mind. Making any kind of decision sends me into a spiral of fear, guilt, self loathing and regret. It’s truly horrible. I feel like a mouse on a wheel which would be fine if I were a mouse because it might be quite fun but i’m not, i’m a human being trapped on a mouse wheel except if it was just a wheel it’d be easy but it’s not, it’s my head, going round and round and round in circles with no end in sight.
Because my moods are so changeable and go from desolate and depressed to coping and ok in unpredictable swings, the temptation on ok days/hours is to keep on going through the mire of the bad days/hours, in the hope that eventually my brain will self heal like a self cleaning oven. Things will click into place and wellness will prevail. On the bad desolate days I am starting to feel utterly broken; a lost cause and irrevocably damaged goods.
Why don’t I just take the pills?
I think it’s because I’ve tried to get better on my own and it hasn’t worked in a sustainable way and the sense of personal failure is so big and personal.
Also there’s so much conflicting information about how brain drugs are bad with terrible side effects, how you stay on them for years with little input from your doctor except another prescription; how the secret is in the gut, and if you try, then you can eat, think and meditate your way out of whatever illness you have.
So when you fail to do this- by not eating the right foods 24/7 or being unable to exercise mindfulness in moments or days of crisis, the sense of failure is compounded and you beat yourself up for not eating enough lentils, coconut oil or avocados and loganberry smoothies and so on and you think, if you just healed your gut, you’d be fine.
Occasionally a voice of reason steps in regarding Meds and says – Look, yes, the gut thing is probably right and if you had a doctor that specialized in gut healing and prescribed you a diet of food and supplements to heal it then maybe you’d get better that way, but after spending small fortunes on hundreds of different supplements from amazon and even being tempted to drink turpentine (Jennifer Daniels) to destroy bad stuff in the gut and thus kill the depression, your voice of reason (who you can’t trust by this time) says- so yes, that gut stuff could work in fifty years maybe when the medical system has become enlightened but right now in your lifetime the only thing offered to help this is medication that works on the brain. So, honey, bite the bullet and take what’s offered.
And I suppose what comes with this is just a deep sense of existential frustration that you are unable to beat this illness and the system essentially, which says the only help available should you wish to take it, are drugs that act on the brain. And compounded with this is a feeling that these medications are just modern straight jackets which pacify and shut up the patient who has a deeply unhappy set of life circumstances; a descicrated gut (lol, weep) and a self opinion found on the bottom of a wellington boot in a pig farm on a wet rainy day, which, one feels under the circumstances, no amount of medication will be able to help.
For some people slayed by mental health problems, there is a fear also of how the brain acting drugs will change them. They may work to some extent but they will have side effects also not to mention the fact they won’t solve the trillion practical problems you face including gut failure. Then the voice of reason says- Yes but if you are less unwell, the decision making process will be easier and you may be able to confront the decsions you feel unable to make- like extricating yourself from a deeply unhappy relationship for example. And you know, that if you had some substantial money in the bank, that would help better, but there isn’t any and the more unwell you become the less likely there is to be some, or enough at least to give you movability and a sense of agency.
‘Its all part of the process, we all love looking down all we need is some success but the chance is never around’ Morcheeba
As a songwriter/poet and singer and very unconfident writer who is crippled by mental health problems it’s even more utterly soul destroying. Having a talent and ability that is unemployed due to lack of recognition/ success and then by crippling low confidence and self esteem hurts like billyo. You know how it is: getting paid; getting a lovely invitation; a great job offer or a happy letter or a phone call offering you a job ….success, acknowledgement and movement of steps forward act like a natural anti depressant whereas a feeling of constant failure, silent phones except for life insurance offers (wail) creates a vicious cycle of misery and a sense of personal failure and self recrimination for not having it in you to make something of your self or worse confirms that you are in reality totally talentless and crap all round. And again the frustration of taking a tablet to pacify any/all of that is humiliating.
Well yet again, I have taken a single tablet of anti depressant today, just now before I sat down to seek clarity and understanding here (I occasionally do bite the bullet, take one, then decide I will keep on going without them but the roller coaster just keeps on going faster and faster) and I will see if I can take them daily to see what happens. Most probably I will not continue and the hellish question of what to do will remain, a brick in my chest.
Any one reading this, if you can offer any word of comfort or reassurance I’d be most grateful.
Have you had a similar experience?
Are anti depressants modern straight jackets?
Is there a glimmer of hope?
Is there a magical cure?