The decision to start taking antidepressants is huge (it shouldn’t be, but that’s a rant for another day) so it’s kind of funny that the decision to CHANGE your meds routine is sometimes even more monumental. Like, didn’t you already take the big step?
The thing is, you wonder if a change might make things worse. You’ve seen the (ugly) “before,” and what if you’re sent back there? What if you’re zoomed to a dimension that’s even worse? Maybe you should leave well enough alone, or … yeah. It’s weird.
My foray into the world of antidepressants has been pretty basic. I get a lot of private messages about what I’m on and how much I’m taking, so let’s spell it all out here in case someone is too shy to ask. Hooray for TALKING ABOUT IT AND/OR READING ABOUT IT!
When I first made the decision to start them, it was the summer of 2015. (Can’t remember if it was July or August — I know there was T-ball because I remember being especially miserable at the T-ball field.)
My family doctor suggested sertraline and it sounded good to me. Gentle! Popular! It’s what little kids can take!
I started taking 25mg (one yellow pill) each day, and then added a second 25mg after a month. I think I stuck with three pills (total of 75mg) for a while, and at some point I/he/we decided to up it to a full 100mg — replacing my three yellow 25mg pills with one big fatty orange (100ml) pill.
And that’s exactly where I stayed for a long time.
Over the past few months, however, I’ve had the urge to change things up. It’s not that my orange pill *wasn’t* working. It was just that … I was foggy.
It sounds strange, I know, that after taking the same dosage for ages, it could suddenly start feeling WRONG. But it did.
And so, after talking with my (really wonderful) family doctor, I/he/we decided to scale down a little bit. Instead of one big orange pill (100mg), I now take three yellow 25mg pills. It’s like dropping from a dollar to 75 cents, at least for now. Yes, the answer was taking LESS medication — you didn’t see that one coming, did you?
He said to stay at this dosage for at least a month, and then I can decide if I want to only take two pills (50mg total) or stay where I am, or go back up to 100mg, or switch to a new antidepressant entirely! Who knows? I have no idea what I’ll do, but it feels nice to have options. It feels good to *DO* something — to TRY something — instead of sticking with the status quo because it’s what I know.
I lay in bed the other night trying to come up with a metaphor for all of this. It’s a hard thing to describe.
“… What I learned was that I wasn’t in a fog or under water. I was clinging to the edge of a shore — just my head and shoulders in the heat of the sand, and freezing water rushing over the rest of my body. Taking antidepressants has allowed more of my body to crawl up onto the sand. To feel the warmth of the sun. To feel like myself again.The icy water is always going to be there, washing over my feet. But I’ve gotten hold of a sturdy rock and wrapped my arms around it. I’m happy and grateful to be living life on the shore, and I’m kicking as hard as I can to keep that tide from dragging me back under.”
I’m walking on the beach, too, but I’m closer to the shore — the icy cold water is washing over my feet — and I’m bundled up in layers of puffy life jackets. I can’t really feel the heat of the sun because the life jackets are blocking it. I’m not sure this is the best beachwear for me. It’s a little suffocating to be wearing all these layers, but I *am* warm, at least. It’s certainly better than flailing around in the freezing ocean, struggling to breathe. Of course, it’s not as pleasant as it must be to stroll freely along in the sand — enjoying the feeling of the sun on your shoulders.
I’ll probably never stop wearing life jackets entirely — after all, I’m a terrible swimmer — but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to find the best ones for myself. Maybe if I find the right combination of life jackets, or even a new brand of life jacket (an ultra-deluxe model with bright pink zippers and a cute whistle?!) I’ll get to a point where I’m really comfortable walking on the beach, with the sun toasting my shoulders and the cold waves barely lapping at my toes.