Talk about Your Medicines Month

medicines

I was invited by the American Recall Center to blog about my medicines in October, and I agreed– there is still such a stigma attached to taking medication for mental illness (and to mental illness itself!), and I think that talking about things reduces stigma.

I started my search for a medication for my OCD as soon as I was diagnosed, which was back in 2003 or 2004.  It took five years before I ended up with the right “cocktail.”

The five years included:
* 3 psychiatrists
* 1 physician’s assistant
* SSRIs
* SNRIs
* TCAs
* a beta-blocker that I was allergic to (which almost killed me)
* tremors
blocking/stuttering
* jello-legs
* drymouth
* lethargy
* vision blackouts
* rapid weight gain
* & a year in the middle when I avoided all medication due to the above.

But when I started meeting with my former psychiatrist (the now-retired OCD expert Dr. Suck Won Kim), he got me onto the right medication almost immediately. These days, I take a combination of Prozac (SSRI), Effexor XR (SNRI), and a teensy dose of Risperidone (an anti-psychotic).

Am I ashamed?

HA!

NO.

Am I grateful?

YES.

Do I rock the boat?

Not usually. Though my current psychiatrist (also a lovely, amazing man) helps me to feel confident in making slight changes to my regime as needed. For example, I now take Ativan for panic as needed.

Do I think medication is the right choice for all people with OCD?

No. It varies from person to person, and in EVERY case, I would recommend ERP as the first/best treatment. If I had to choose between my medication or my twelve weeks of ERP, ERP would win every time.

But isn’t taking medication like saying I don’t trust God to heal me?

What if medication is part of how God is healing me? Let me tell you a story about three boats

Want to join the discussion? Comment below about your medicines (or mine!).

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13 thoughts on “Talk about Your Medicines Month

  1. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for years, but nothing could have prepared me for the hell that would come with postpartum depression. I have two beautiful girls and this has happened to me twice. Each time I felt anxiety, panic, obsessions, like I have never felt before. This time (almost 1 year ago) it turned into insomnia. All this, while trying to be a mommy. I prayed and prayed and what I realized was this: 1. I am wired this way 2. It is OK 3. It’s always Ok to ask for help. 4. Therapy is ALWAYS a good thing 5. God has been with me all the way through, placing doctors, friends, medicine at the right time in the right place.
    I am on Celexa for the anxiety and depression and for awhile I was taking Remeron for the insomnia.
    There is no shame in this. Not.one.bit. It is the Grace of God.
    Thanks for sharing your heart Jackie. I feel too that knowing these feelings and experiencing these struggles has made me a more sympathetic/empathic person; it has truly shown me God’s grace and mercy.

  2. No shame here, either. I thank God for the people who figured out the medications that help us. I’m on Lexapro and Wellbutrin. I got back on Wellbutrin a short time ago after going off of it over a year ago. It has helped TREMENDOUSLY in energy and motivation. My medication now is mostly for depression. When I was first diagnosed with OCD and depression in 1990, I was prescribed Anafranil, the first medication approved by the FDA for OCD. It had just gotten final approval in December 1989. In February 1990, my doc called the local pharmacy to see if they had Anafranil in stock They did. So I was the first person for whom my doctor wrote a prescription for Anafranil. The medication helped me a lot, but I gained a lot of weight. I found over the years that other meds helped me more.

    • Luvox helped me a lot but stole all my energy and made me gain a ton of weight. Finding meds is such a battle. I wish there was a way for doctors to KNOW BEFORE they give you the prescription what the result will be. It was hard for me to feel like a lab rat.

  3. Hi Jackie,
    Currently I don’t take medication for my ocd but I am doing ERP. I’m going into my 6th week and it has not been an easy journey to say the least. I came across your blog and just wanted to say thank you for sharing your success story and giving me hope. I have been feeling hope less lately and I really needed to see that this monster can be beat. Thanks again & I look forward to reading your blog, I wish you continued success and happiness!! Xox

      • Thank you for the encouragement. It’s very difficult for me right now to keep pushing through. I feel like ocd is taking more of my life all the time. I am doing the ERP and I do feel it is working a bit but not as much as I would like. Doing it is exhausting 😦
        If you have any words of encouragement I will gladly take them. Xox

      • For me, ERP got worse and worse and worse and then BAM– there was light and joy and realizations and goodness. And I’m now on year six of the freedom and joy. KEEP GOING. Do the hard thing now so that you can enjoy YEARS of freedom later. The return on investment is … unspeakable. You get your LIFE back.

      • Wow, thank you for taking the time to tell me that. It really hit home and I will continue to fight in my journey. Thank you again Jackie. I feel blessed to have come across your blog. Your words mean a lot. Xox

  4. Good on you, Jackie. Your “break the stigma” attitude have really inspired me to speak out more with the people in my own life to try and break down some of these walls.

    I don’t have the OCD perspective, but I’ve had serious bouts with anxiety and depression starting in 2000 when I was in a suicidal state, nearly dropped out of college completely, and pretty much turned into a hermit for over a year. I was in such a fog for that period I can’t even recall all the different medications I tried, but know they included Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and several others. I’m now on Zoloft daily and Xanax as needed for panic attacks. I also want to comment how critical it is to find the RIGHT therapist – even as a psych major I had a tainted attitude toward therapy for a long time because I didn’t have the right connection with the first few therapists I’ve tried. Sometimes you need to play around with finding the right fit there just as much as you do with medication.

  5. I’m so glad I found this post, especially after I had just talked with you about things! I’ve had Ativan for as needed anxiety since my concussion and now that things have been getting worse I’m back taking that and also am suppose to be starting Lexapro, but I have to admit I’m really scared to take it. It seems like such a bit commitment, but yet I know it is something I need. Just hoping God will somehow through all of this give me strength and healing even though I know I need to be patient and not expect an instant fix.

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