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!).

Just One Dose

I had such a hard day recently– my anxiety levels were higher than usual (“usual” being not too bad for the last four years– thanks, ERP!).  I felt this strange depression, a strong desire to sleep, and a hovering sadness that wouldn’t lift.  My blood pressure felt through the roof, and the stress took a very physical toll on my body: by the time I crawled into bed for the night, my shoulders felt like cement blocks and my arms were throbbing with pain.

I realized that– while racing out the door that morning– I had not taken my Effexor XR or my Prozac.

Just one dose missed, and it was so terribly evident.

I have acknowledged that I may be on medication for the rest of my life, and I’m okay with it.  In fact, I’m quite protective over my right to take medication.

I read this awesome related post on the OCD Foundation’s blog recently.  And it turned out that Alison, the blogger, lives in Minneapolis … so we got coffee.*  Love my OCD community!

* And since then, we’ve accepted new roles at the Twin Cities affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (I’ll be the communications director)  … and have an event planned in Minneapolis for OCD awareness week!  Exciting!

prozac morning

5 Easy (ha!) Steps to Finding a Medication

Congratulations on your recent diagnosis of mental illness!  You’ve just won a brand-new prescription!  Here are five easy steps to claiming your prize:

1. Overcome the negative attitude of everyone around you toward taking medication!  (Oh, goodie!)

2. Vanquish the stigma-induced fear in yourself that pills are going to steal your personality or somehow make your world into a playground made of rainbows.

3. Begin an awesome trial-and-error experience that could take years and years!

4. Battle against those pesky side effects that make you sweat, tremble, gain weight/lose weight, feel lethargic, cause drymouth, make you dizzy, impair your vision, induce muscle spasms, and– in some special cases– almost kill you.

5. Persist.  Because it really is worth it.*

 

*At least it was for me.  It was worth years of failed experiments and horrendous side effects– which are over– and years of shaming from others– which are not.  I am unashamed to take Prozac and Effexor XR every single morning and Risperdal every single night.  I don’t think meds are the “right” or “only” answer, but I do think they are a valid option, one that makes a difference in my daily life.

 

prozac2