I thought I would share my experience with psychiatric medications. I had been in and out talk therapy for about 5 years before I finally decided to try psychiatric medications. The stigma I had for myself for even thinking of trying medication was a struggle. One thing I will start off by saying is, I definitely would’ve started sooner had I known.
One of my worries for taking medications was that it felt as though I failed. I really wanted to try and “deal with my mental health without needing medications.” I thought if I could accomplish dealing with my anxiety and depression without medications then I won the battle with them. Whatever that means. 🙄
I was wrong. It was the
opposite. Finally taking medication and having that extra support to be able to handle everyday life was amazing.
Two weeks into taking medication I walked into my therapist office and said, “I don’t know if this is the placebo effect or what – but I feel great. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner!”
Right before I decided to get on medications I had some pretty intense situations happening in my life. I felt defeated by my OCD and anxiety. I just couldn’t stop my thoughts and fears. Everything felt 100 times stronger. I felt scared all the time and would hyperventilate when thinking about my life and future. I wasn’t getting any sleep and I don’t even remember eating much. I was on autopilot. I was able to continue to do my responsibilities in life but I was not present when doing so. I felt defeated by my mental illness’ but I knew I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to do something about it to get me out of the dark cloud I was in. Medication was just that for me.
With medications, I felt this calm that felt foreign. I didn’t have 100 thoughts racing in my mind one after another and another with no connection. I didn’t have this constant fear horrible things happening. IT.WAS.WEIRD.
But it felt great! I was happy to be able to just let go of small issues/disagreements. I felt confident in the decisions I was making in life. I felt like everything will be okay.
Of course, with any medications there are side effects. I was put on 2 medications. First one was to treat my OCD diagnosis while the second one was to curb the side effects of the first one. Weight gain was the first side effect I noticed. While there were other ones, at this time I don’t feel comfortable sharing them.
After about a month on the medications my “OCD” thoughts and fears started rushing back in my mind. I remember thinking, “Uh Oh!” I felt scared. Immediately I started noticing this intense dark cloud wanting to take over. I felt hopeless that the thoughts were never going to leave.
See my “OCD thoughts” are never going to leave. I can’t stop myself from thinking. But I learned that it is all about how I react to my thoughts.
- Do I let them take over and effect my entire mood, day, or weeks?
- Do I give them so much power that I start believing the thoughts rather than the truth?
- Do I repeat the thoughts over and over even though they are giving me a visceral effect?
I have learned that I have to acknowledge the thoughts. I can acknowledge the thought and counter it with the truth. I have learned to recognize how am I physically reacting to the thoughts. Maybe I need to take a deep breath and look around and notice where I am. Relax my shoulders and tell myself I’m safe this is just a thought it’s not real.
Learning to do this was not and is not easy. I still struggle with my thoughts, however, I am proud to say that I have seen progress. After all, if we ALL reflect we can all see where we have grown and shown progress in different areas of our lives.
Fortunately, I was able to safely wean off the medication with the support of my psychiatrist and psychologist, when we thought I was ready. My journey on medication was for about a year. Throughout the time, the dosage to my medications were adjusted a few times to meet my needs. Medication isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to dosage and time frame.
Patience is essential in this whole mental health journey.