Those Fucking Little Pills

I’ve battled with depression and anxiety for over half of my life, and I have been writing about it off and on throughout my old blogs. One of the struggles and frustrations that has been constant throughout my life with depression as well as in my writing in my old blogs is the big M word: Medication. Or we can use my personal term for them, those Fucking Little Pills.

Psychiatric medications and antidepressants carry with them a huge stigma for many people. They certainly did for me, and it took me many years to be able to agree to try them.  I did not accept that I needed a pill in order to be normal. Especially not a pill that could make me nauseated 24/7 but still gain weight, or lose my sex drive (which, honestly, didn’t really apply to me at the time I started taking meds, but that’s because of different reasons), or take them for weeks before I know if they’re even going to work. Mostly I didn’t accept that I needed to take a medication that would make me think and feel differently. I may have been out of control, my mood and emotions unpredictable, but at least everything was clear and everything was real, right?

You are probably expecting a big “WRONG!” or for me to say something like, “Well, I don’t know why I waited so long to start taking the meds. They’re totally worth all the side effects, and I can’t believe there was ever a time when I wasn’t on them! We should all take medication!!” I’m not going to say anything like that. This post is not an endorsement for or against antidepressant medication, it is simply an honest look at my own complicated relationship with those Fucking Little Pills over the past 13 years.

Once I finally agreed to give the medications a try and take them for a full 6 weeks before judging whether or not to stay on them, change them, or say fuck them, I was on a medication, Celexa, that did not work well for me at all. I felt like I was going to puke all the time, my brain was like a TV with terrible reception – thoughts were there but unclear, often unintelligible – though my mood swings weren’t a problem anymore because I had no mood whatsoever.

The doc added something else to the Celexa that I can’t remember, but didn’t offer much relief or improvement. Every single day I resented taking those Fucking Little Pills that made me feel sick on top of hopelessly depressed and anxious. I had agreed to do it, so I did it (I stay true to my word, dammit), but I resented the feeling of simply being muted rather than being able to live and feel my disastrous feelings. So over another few weeks I weaned off that drug cocktail and started another one.

I don’t even remember what the meds were at that time, but I do remember the very day, several weeks after I started taking the new meds, when I woke up and realized that I could think again. Not only that, but the thoughts I was having were not thoughts about hurting myself, or feeling worthless, or feeling anxious. They were my actual thoughts, and they were clear, and I had missed them so much!

I woke up that day feeling a purpose I hadn’t felt in years. I felt for the first time that even though my life was in chaos, I could get through it somehow. I’m a fairly optimistic person naturally, so these were not “happy thoughts” coming from “happy pills.” My brain was simply working like it was supposed to for the first time in years (if it ever had initially). Over the next several weeks, the anxiety was still there, but I was able to figure out more productive ways to cope with it. The depression was still there, but it no longer controlled me.

The meds did not cure me, I still have to pull my weight with the psychological part of things through therapy and writing and consciously choosing to live a productive life. I’ve been on a few different medications over the years as my needs change, and while they keep my brain chemicals travelling where they need to travel, being on medication is not without consequences. The following is a quote from an old blog post that I wrote July 27, 2006:

I’ve been taking antidepressant medication[, Fucking Little Pills,] for the past 4 years or so.  I’ve had my frustrations with them, but for the most part they have helped me a lot.  I’m taking a new medication, as of about 5 or 6 months ago.  It’s worked fairly well up until the past month or so, when my moods have been swinging a lot and I’ve felt really out of control.  My dr raised my doseage about a week ago.  The good news is that my mood has stabalized.

The bad news is that I can’t sleep anymore and I spend my days in a fairly catatonic state.  Everything seems really far away and nothing means anything anymore.  I keep doing normal life things but I have no idea why I do them, I just know I have to keep doing them.  I feel really alone, but even that doesn’t mean anything to me right now.

It seems like there is a perpetual positive and a negative spin on being on medication, and the two of them chase each other’s tails. For all the good that my Fucking Little Pills have done for me, there are negative consequences. Such as: I have no sex drive. This is tragic, but I suppose better than cutting myself and wanting to kill myself all the time? I am gaining weight at a startling rate, which makes me feel very bitter. I am stepping up my exercise and diet when I’m able, but I was not expecting to face such a ruthless weight gain battle. Also I just love root beer so much! I see it as a challenge, though, not a reason to stop taking my meds. I’ve stopped my meds before against medical advice, tried to control the depression/anxiety on my own, but not much good came from that experience.

Another consequence is the anger I feel in general about having to take the Fucking Little Pills every day of my life, indefinitely. The nature of the beast is that I can’t just stop taking them, I can’t miss a dose, I can’t choose to stop them cold turkey because there are serious withdrawal symptoms. Most of the symptoms are neurological, go figure. If I miss a med dose I get frequent brain zaps, where it feels like my brain is being tazed, bro, periodically through the day. I get dizzy, my mouth is dry, seizures are possible but have fortunately never happened, my glucose readings go nuts. I am angry that I need to take them in order to help me bear the burden of the depression/anxiety beast that will never go away not matter what I do. Just pile it on top of that type 1 diabetes beast that will also never go away no matter what I do.

Those are just facts, whether I deny them, fight them, feel sorry for myself because of them, get tired of them, or somehow learn to love them. They are not going away. Yeah, sometimes I get pretty depressed about that, and yeah, the medication has greatly helped me deal with that. It doesn’t mean that I can’t build a meaningful life in spite of those things, though, and the medication helps keep those brain chemistry disorders in check so I can do that.

Four weeks ago I would not have been able to say that last sentence. If you had told me that a meaningful, productive life was possible on the other side of all of my anxiety, I would have told you to go fuck yourself. But now I’m telling you this: depression is a medical condition. It is not something we choose for ourselves, and we cannot choose to make it go away. The hardest part of depression and anxiety for me is that you can’t see it. I feel this deep, intense pain, and I have nothing to show for it. I can’t point to a broken arm and say, “This hurts, and that’s why I’m so miserable all the time.” If I could, people would understand; broken arms are universally understood to be painful, depression is universally understood to be…? There’s no universal agreement, and there might never be.

I have to take (Fucking Little) pills for my medical condition. It is a complicated relationship, as I have accepted that I need them, and I also hate that I have to take them, all at any given moment in time. My life is better because of being on medication. My sex life is worse. I still have life because of medications. I just now have a fat life. All I can do is stand by my choice and never stop looking for the beautiful things in life.

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About Allison Anarchy

I write because I have to
This entry was posted in anxiety/depression, reflections and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Those Fucking Little Pills

  1. FLPs – I love that!
    I can’t remember how I first felt about taking antidepressants, because it was so long ago. Perhaps it was because I’d ended up in hospital after a serious bit of damage *duh*>/i> of course that’s why I can’t remember how I felt! I was in serious trouble.
    I wish I could say you can’t see my depression and anxiety, but unfortunately I put on ~30kg last year due to my medications bloke mucking around with my FLPs (god I love that phrase!), so that, along with new-found hypertension and metabolic syndrome, is an “outward and visible sign” of my illness. I guess the scars are, too, but they’re not on public display.
    Having to take FLPs the rest of my life doesn’t worry me too much, provide the little fuckers work. Truth be told, I’ve had more trouble with the person prescribing them than the drugs themselves, lately.
    I guess the bottom line is I’d rather be fat than dead. (Though I would prefer to be neither.)

  2. laneydodson says:

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story! That’s an interesting way to look at being able to “see” your illness. I guess I have the weight gain and the awkward social habits that betray my depression and anxiety too.

  3. Linda S. Becker says:

    Ugh, yes. I was so deadened when I was on Effexor. I knew I felt better overall but it seemed like being at a constant 6 on the 10 point pain scale still wasn’t really normal but at least it was better. I also learned several years after it stopped working completely (thankfully) that there was such a thing as bad sex and that I had been a party to that happening. I really had no idea I was so out of it until my sweet husband clued me in several years after the fact. At the time, I was just so happy that I wasn’t in as much pain from the fibromyalgia.

    Switching to Wellbutrin has done wonders for me (and I lost 5 pounds when I went on that!), and other stuff I’m taking has helped more, but naturally I found out today that another med I’m taking causes weight gain, and I had to have that dose upped…. ugh. I have a complicated relationship with the FLPs too but it’s so great to read about your experiences with them. I’m glad I’m not alone with appreciating them but also resenting having to take them. Thanks Laney.

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