Nearly 10 Percent of Canadians take anti-depressants.
When I first started my path with medication, there were a lot of unknowns. After, I tell my story I'd like to clear up some common misconceptions about meds because I don't want my medication story to impact the way you see them.
How Meds Impacted Me
Fast forward to the end of February, to my liking my roughly two-year-long journey with medication comes to end. How did it get to this point? Let me tell you...!
This all starts around the time of My Darkest Hour. (So go check that out if you haven't already.) Of course at the time no one knew besides my best friend what had happened. The aftermath of that night left me scared and uncertain. Recalling how down I was and how strong my emotions were affecting me, I had agreed with my mom and best friend that it was time to finally schedule that meeting with a psychiatrist.
It's important to note I was always against medication, not because I was ashamed or I feared I would be any less of a man, but because of the same reason I don't drink or do drugs. I was worried it would change the way I think and change who I was. Along with that, I was really against speaking to a psychiatrist just because having to retell my story to someone new each time was always annoying and difficult at the same time for me.
I've always struggled with actually wondering if I was depressed or if I was just too intelligent for my own good. Did I just think too much? Question too much... Nothing was ever simple to me. Eventually, that appointment happened, and after a long exasperatingly slow process of trials with different meds, whether that be Lexapro or Prozac, I eventually settled on Pregabalin commonly known as Lyrica and Venlafaxine known as Effexor.
In hindsight and even at the time I understood why the process is so long, our body can't just take insanely high doses or suddenly quit taking a med full-stop. We just couldn't handle it. The issue for me was at a time, where I never knew if there was going to be a tomorrow, slow wasn't exactly how I wished for it to go. After many months of trial and error, I was eventually taking 200mg of Lyrica three times a day which is the recommended max that you should take. That should give you a little sample of how bad my anxiety was. My anti-depressant, Effexor took an even longer time to eventually find the right dose for me.
Did they work?
The answer to this is quite simple yes and no... I can confidently say my anti-depressant Effexor had no positive impact on me. I never felt one ounce better. It's important to note meds don't just flick a switch in our brains and suddenly make us happy. Rather they enable our brain to get the proper transmitters it needs. For me I was the same depressed man, same highs and lows. There was virtually no change despite different pills and different doses. As for my Lyrica, that's where I was able to notice a change. I was worried that it would change me. What Lyrica did was enable me to do things I quite previously couldn't without feeling completely overwhelmed. It's important to note I've always been capable of doing these things but now I had that extra help in allowing me to push myself.
I was able to.
Wear scarves in public
Sign Up for dating apps
Go out in public without complete fear of seeing someone I knew
Join a soccer team/play hockey again
Those are just a few things that come to mind, I promise there was more. It is important to reiterate that stuff like grocery shopping and shopping, in general, I was capable of just always chose not to do.
Why Did I Stop?
I decided to stop Effexor because, well that's an obvious one... After talking with my psychiatrist we basically established that anti-depressants are much more beneficial to people who suffer from the physical side of depression ie; can't get out of bed in the morning or unmotivated to do anything. That was never the case for me. My depression always stemmed from the mental side. My mentality could not be assisted by any of the meds the way I needed it.
As for Lyrica, you may be wondering, why did I stop taking a pill that was helping me?
There were a bunch of different reasons,
I was curious if I was now capable of fighting my anxiety naturally since I know that I do have the strength to do the things I otherwise thought I couldn't. Lyrica proved to me I can. I wanted to prove to myself.
The side effects. This being one of the main reasons I didn't want to be on my meds anymore. From weight gain and dizziness to being unable to urinate in a football stadium for 30 minutes. I just couldn't handle mentally all the negatives that came with.
Along with the side-effects just feeling like shit, whether it was taking 16 pills a day or just that feeling of unease in the stomach. Overall I was feeling uncomfortable and wanted an out. I wanted my emotions back. I wanted to be me.
So as mentioned earlier I didn't just pull a 180 and stop taking them. After countless appointments with my psychiatrist, we slowly reduced both the Lyrica and Effexor week by week.
Nearly a month of no meds, I may not feel "better" but I certainly feel myself again. Whether it be crying during a sad scene in a movie or getting angry at a game. I feel my emotions flowing again. I missed that. I missed being me.
With all that being said, I want to clear a few misconceptions I had and I'm sure many people have about meds.
Meds will change me! My main fear when starting this journey. This is just false. You might feel a bit more 'numb'. Brandon was still Brandon on his meds. They are there to help you not change you.
Side Effects!! Side effects. There are definite side effects that come with medication, this isn't exclusive to anti-depressants. As bad as they were for me, not everyone experiences it so harshly. I wouldn't let the fear of having any sexual drive or a headache stop you from potentially improving your life.
They do not work. For me, this may be true but for many people I know personally they do work. I've been told, "I can't live without them". "They do wonders". There is no harm in trying. I was stubborn when it came to meds (and just about everything in life). Trust me when I say you are better off trying than not. Roughly 50% of people actually see their symptoms improve.
You are weak. The biggest bullshit response you can get. You aren't weak for taking medication in fact you should find strength in knowing you had the power and ability to be self-aware that you want to help yourself. Try your best to keep that toxic mindset out.
Overall I'm not here to recommend or not recommend meds to anyone. I'm no professional. I simply wanted to give my story with how they worked for me. I think for people like us it would be foolish to not try every single option available to us. I neglected meds for a long time but there was no way of knowing how they would've impacted me. For some, they don't work and for others, they can be a lifesaver. It may not be for everyone but you'll never know until you try. No harm no foul. Let me know down below if you've had any interactions with medication. Are you currently taking any? <3
Push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.
- Thinking Mans Thoughts
I've created a Patreon for anyone who wants to help and support this journey I'm on. This isn’t about money nor will it ever be. I plan to blog as long as I have thoughts running through my head and stories to tell, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t help me in my situation. All support is appreciated but not mandatory. It's very awkward 'asking' for money especially when I don’t want it to come across like that is my intention.
If you've read all of that and still choose to support me, I will forever appreciate it