****This is a personal account. Please seek the advice from a professional or your doctor before starting, ending, or switching medications. Not all medications work the same for everyone. Talk to your doctor to find the right one for you****
Okay. Let’s talk about my new medication. I switched from paroxetine (SSRI) and now am taking venlafaxine (SNRI). After months of putting it off, I took the plunge and called my doctor. I wasn’t nervous about switching; I knew I needed something new. I was nervous for the transition period. With any prescription medication, doctor recommendations are vital. Do not go this route alone. With switching or going off an antidepressant. Why? Because the body doesn’t do well with the shock of going cold turkey. It is brutal.
The transition period for me was two weeks where I took a lower dose of paroxetine while taking a low dose of the new medication, venlafaxine. After two weeks, I stopped the old and upped the dosage of the new. Why did I do this? It takes around two weeks for venlafaxine to start working and full effectiveness takes around eight weeks. Also paroxetine takes around the same time length to be completely out of my system.
Those first two weeks I knew to be gentle on myself. I felt high. Note: I do not actually know what being high feels like but I am guessing this is what it is like. I was in a fog. I couldn’t focus. Dazed and confused. Tired. And the exhaustion hit hard. If allowed, I could have stared at the wall for hours straight. Most likely I had too much serotonin in my system. These side effects went away once I stopped the paroxetine and was just on the venlafaxine.
The new meds were working. The darkness was lifting. I jetted off to Mexico for a week. Just what I needed. I came home expecting the rest and relaxation to stay with me. I was going to be this re-energized person. Then BAM! Life happens. Real life. Not vacation life. My youngest was sick. I had no PTO left. Thank goodness my mom was able to help. Off and running again it seems. Reality. My oldest got sick. School was finishing up and BAM! All of a sudden I am hit with a wave of grief and emotions. Divorce was hitting me hard. Hard. Knock me down and steal my breath hard.
Where was this coming from? Why was I feeling this way? But I just had the most wonderful vacation and my new meds are working. How is this happening? I beat myself up for not having the glow of Mexico any longer. I was on the floor crying, not understanding why this was happening right now. Are the new meds not working? Is there something wrong with me? Do I need to do something different?
Here is where I went wrong. I expected Mexico to just fix everything. I was placing high expectations on my new medication. Now I see where I went wrong. Vacations are not going to magically fix problems and heal me. An antidepressant doesn’t magically cure depression. They are helpful tools in recharging oneself to keep going.
Paroxetine is know for numbing emotions. Keeping them at bay for a time to let a person get through. Without this medication, a flood of grief, anger, and pain escaped out of me. But I can’t hide from these any longer. I need to face them and go through them. That is the only way I am going to heal. My current medication is allowing me to do this. It is not going to cure my disease. However, my little white pill removes the darkest of the dark so I can get up out of bed every morning. My antidepressant works so I can live. I am able to do all the other things that are vital for my survival. Therapy. Exercise. Eating. Loving. Laughing. Working. Mothering. Reading. Changing. Healing.
The heavy weight of depression is not present today. I feel lighter and brighter. I am not watching the clock to see if I can get through the next five minutes. I am not scared of what the day might bring. Do I still have depression? Yes. Do I still need to work constantly at keeping the demons of this disease at bay? Yes. Am I still grieving my divorce? Yes. Am I still healing? Yes. Do I still need to try different techniques and tools when my anxiety sneaks up? Yes. Do I still wake up with gratitude on my lips to my Lord? Yes.
For me, I know that I would never be able to do all that I do in a day without taking a medication for depression. I know that I would not be where I am today without the help of an antidepressant. I thank God repeatedly for giving me what I need to get through. He provides. He is providing me with the right tools along with strength to utilize them correctly.
The possibility that I may have to adjust dosage or change medications again is good. I am okay with that. I know that my body and brain are constantly changing. My life circumstances are constantly changing. My depression is constantly changing. But that is life. Right now, my antidepressant is working. I am okay with that too.