February 16, 2012

Changing Meds Makes for Difficult Days

My patterns of depression are so familiar now, I may as well copy and paste my last blog post into this one.

Major Depression struck again a couple weeks ago. And it was pure hell. I missed one day's work and struggled like crazy to make myself keep moving for several days afterwards.

My doctor and I decided we needed to be aggressive in trying to stop it, so he changed my meds. I'm now taking Effexor along with Abilify.

The change from Cymbalta to Effexor proved to be a cautionary tale. I had been taking 60 mg of Cymbalta, which I had some success with after a mental health meltdown last summer. To transition to the new drug (Effexor), I was instructed to drop down to 30 mg of Cymbalta for three days before starting out on a small dose of Effexor. 

Only I didn't do that. My Cymbalta pills weren't the kind you can split in half, and I never got new 30 mg pills for the three-day transition period. So I just stopped the Cymbalta cold turkey. I won't do that again.

Wrenching anxiety, stomach aches and feelings of utter hopelessness soon came. 
It was a brutal stretch, probably ranking in my all-time Top 10 list of major depressive episodes.

I'm not exactly copacetic now, but I'm much better. The suicidal ideations that haunted me have subsided. I feel more hopeful than I did even a week ago.

I've now ramped up the dosage of Effexor as the doctor prescribed, and I think it's beginning to pay off.

Those who suffer from depression can relate to the difficulty of changing meds. We often get worse before we get better. And that's really frustrating.

I haven't figured this thing out yet, but I'm trying to remain optimistic about the future. It generally takes 2 to 4 weeks for a new antidepressant to really help. My doctor says it takes much longer—maybe six months—to get the full payoff.

So I wait patiently, doing the other things I know help (exercise, eating less junk, etc.)

I only wish Punxsutawney Phil hadn't seen his shadow. I hate darkness and winter and am ready for it to end.

My guess is many of my fellow depression sufferers feel the same way.

P.S. I hope the few of you who know me understand the difference between the sort of fleeting suicidal ideations I occasionally have and the more serious suicidal thoughts that others experience that involve plans, etc. I've never gotten that far before and don't plan to. I have too much to live for and a burning to desire to defeat depression. I share the brutal realities of depression only so others who feel them like I do don't feel so alone.