Medication Diaries: Entry 1

A lot of people have asked me questions about my medications and what I’m on. I have no problem being transparent about my mental illness, because there’s a stigma around it and the only way to break it down is to talk about it and normalize it. It’s the same reason I’m so open about my sexual assaults and rape. Both of these are things that MANY people struggle with, yet few people talk about. It’s my hope that by sharing my experiences, I can help someone else.

Before I talk about my experience on my new medication, I’d like to talk about my experiences on the other meds I’ve been on. I’m diagnosed with ADHD, which has been medicated with Adderall for a year or so now, and Major Depression (recurrent), which I began taking meds for in early March. It’s important to know that I also suffer chronic fatigue as a result of hypothyroidism, because that affects how the medication affects me.

I was on 20 mg of Adderall for my ADHD, which had the added bonus of helping my fatigue some, as well, because it’s an amphetamine. I never had any problems with the Adderall, I just had to be aware of remembering to eat, since it’s an appetite suppressant.

I was diagnosed with ADHD late in life. It went undiagnosed as a kid, because I was really smart and didn’t need to study or even really pay attention to get good grades. I was always horribly unorganized, though. However, in college was when it really started to affect me. I would procrastinate to the point of missing deadlines, but because I was so smart and such a good student in class, I was able to lie my way out of penalties on my assignments, or convince them I’d actually emailed the paper, didn’t you get it? When I read about adult ADHD, everything made sense. The Adderall changed my life in a lot of ways, and I don’t know that I’d be as good of an employee as I am without it.

In March of this year, I finally asked my primary care doctor about antidepressants. I’ve struggled with dysthymia for years, but after I was raped last year, it seemed to trigger major depression. He put me on 10 mg of Lexapro, which is an SSRI. The adjustment was ROUGH. The first two days, I had headaches so severe that I couldn’t even look at my computer screen because it was too bright. I was also sleeping up to 20 hours a day, and physically couldn’t keep my eyes open, even if I forced myself. The fact that I was unemployed at this time was actually a blessing, because the medication made me non-functional.

I also began to binge eat like nothing you’ve ever seen. I gained about 10 pounds, which I needed, but this could be a really big concern for those that do not want to gain weight. I began cutting my 10 mg pills in half, which helped A LOT. But the fatigue and the sexual side effects (couldn’t orgasm, didn’t want sex, didn’t think about sex, didn’t masturbate) eventually led me to stop taking it.

And it was one of those things where you don’t notice it’s working until it’s not anymore. A month or so after going off the medication, my backwards slide began, and by early May, I was in a black hole that I couldn’t get out of. I was fully in a major depressive episode, and decided it was time to seek help. I began seeing a therapist and scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist, hoping that someone with more expertise in the field could help me find the right medication.

Entry 2 to come…

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  1. ideasoflightNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I’ve struggled with depression since I was 15 or so but finally, at 22, after a year that made my new therapist’s jaw drop (“how are you still functioning at all?”) and a spiral into the kind of depression where you wake up every morning and immediately start crying, I went on Zoloft. I didn’t feel sad anymore, or anything else, and I was tired all the time and my sex drive vanished instantly. Because of that I switched, briefly, to Wellbutrin, which made me batshit crazy (which I was afraid of, as someone who does poorly with some other stimulants). Then on to Celexa, which was slightly less sex-drive-destroying than the Zoloft but also slightly less effective. I’m in a pseudo-LTR and was seeing him at the end of the month, and I’d gotten a job and was doing better, so I said “fuck it” and went off the meds. It’s been 5 months, and I’m mostly okay, and trying to keep it under control, because I know that if I wind up in that hole again the only solution carries a pretty high price.

    /tldr, self-centered

    At any rate, I agree that it’s important to talk about these things, and I look forward to reading about your experiences. I hope you have better luck than I did.

  2. SaNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    thank you so much for talking about your depression. You’re right about the ridiculous stigma attached to it. Keep up the great work!

  3. SaraidNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    !) We’re dysthymia sisters.
    2) I’m glad you’re writing this.

  4. Mr PuckNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    As much as I don’t want to hijack the comments of a fascinating post, I would like to make
    one small point. I wasn’t mocking your depression in as much as I was mocking what is in my opinion, your lack of suitability for the job of babysitting young children.

    When you tweet about being a regular cocaine user, and a heavy drinker that freely admits to driving while impaired your suitability to be tending to children should be questioned.

    Add that to the fact that you have said many times that you actually HATE children and any parent with any sense would have at the very least some pause. Even before we get to the unfortunate issue of your mental health you would think that you would dismiss yourself from that type of responsibility and allow someone better suited to care for them because frankly, children deserve no less.

    • Britni TheVadgeWigNo Gravatar
      Posted May 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Here’s the deal.

      My drinking/partying habits with my friends have no bearing on my ability to watch a child. I’m not doing these things while babysitting; they’re things I do on my own time. Just like you like to drink (which your tweets tell me) and you’re (I would assume) a suitable and able parent. My recreational activities do not affect my ability to perform daily tasks, such as holding a job or watching a child.

      Furthermore, just because I do not want kids of my own doesn’t mean that I cannot bond with and enjoy working with kids. You know how people say “I hate kids, but I love my own?” I get that. I nannied for over a year for a toddler and I adored her. Also, my resume? Is 50% child experience. I actually specialized in work with special needs kids for YEARS. Which I LOVED. Because I dislike children in general and would never want to be, say, a preschool teacher, doesn’t mean that I lack to ability to bond with, play with, and adequately monitor a child.

      You know how I like to say that you just get a glimpse of me? This is the perfect example. You don’t know me. So stop pretending you do.

      • alanaNo Gravatar
        Posted May 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        Great response Brit. I would have lost my shit.

        • twgNo Gravatar
          Posted June 1, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          I love how child care workers seem to be held to a way higher standard than parents sometimes. As though all the college students I worked with at the school-sponsored day care at my university weren’t coming in hung over ever, or smoking pot recreationally on weekends, and as though that affected anything.

          • MegskathyNo Gravatar
            Posted June 1, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            so true!! I teach an after school art program in elementary schools, and I work hard to dress and present myself professionally as I am coming from an outside organization and so each school can decide whether or not to continue participation based on their impressions of me.

            Some schools have kids who are already in after school YMCA programs, and so the YMCA chaperons sometimes attend my class.

            These people are really young, like high school age, and spend the entire class talking, gossiping, and joking with each other and playing on their phones. Last week a group of students came in, and when they were misbehaving the YMCA kids did nothing to help and instead were egging on the kids! Most of these daycare type positions seem to pay next to nothing, so I think pretty much anyone will be hired.
            That being said, there are also some high school age YMCA people and other after school teachers who appear young and inexperienced, but are really great with handling kids.

            It also depends on the parents-in low income areas, the parents are just grateful to have a place for their kids to be while they’re at work. In the private schools, the parents bitch and complain about everything you do, including things beyond your control.

    • Anothers MotherNo Gravatar
      Posted May 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Just because you drink &/or use drugs in your private life certainly doesn’t affect your ability to care for children responsibly whether it’s in a professional setting or not.

      I was diagnosed as manic depressive over 15 years ago, yet am a fully responsible single parent to a teenager. Out of the 13 years of his life I spent 8 of them on a methadone program for pain management. Neither my depression or the fact I was ‘on drugs’ for so long ever hampered my ability to care for my child.

      Brit isn’t mixing partying with childcare, and as for her not wanting children of her own pfftt! Just because you don’t want your own child doesn’t mean you can’t love and care for children of others.

  5. LilaNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your experience with mental illness and medication! I completely agree; there is an enormous stigma around the subject that can only be broken by talking openly and honestly about it. I have also been struggling with dysthemia for most of my life, and am on Prozac and Abilify to help me manage.

  6. PhallicityNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only had one period in my life where I could say I was truly depressed. Not sad, not down, but utterly and morbidly depressed to the point where I thought I was losing my mind. My issue was triggered and resolved fairly quickly(about a week..), though I still battle with some of those memories today. I cannot imagine being in that state of mind for any lengthy period of time (weeks, months, years).

    It’s good you sought help. I hope you find a solution soon. That place is no place you wanna be. Ever.

  7. MegsKathyNo Gravatar
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you’re addressing this topic from a personal perspective (and that you used my formspring question as an intro!).

    Here’s my (long) story:
    I’ve been battling depression/suicidal thoughts for years-the earliest I remember was around 11 or 12 years old. I’ve been on numerous antidepressants, seen many, many doctors, therapists, hospitals stays, etc. When I was finally diagnosed as bipolar (around age 15), I took the medication (valproic acid aka depakote) for about a year. I even had to take capsules and dump the contents into my food or drinks because I was unable to swallow pills for months due to past suicide attempts. And then I got into that mindset that I’m ok, and stop taking medicine, seeing doctors, etc. And this little cycle happened every few years-see a dr, take some pills, feel better and stop treatment.

    Finally about a year ago I just broke down and couldn’t go on like that. I was missing work because I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to go to a hospital ER. Since then, I’ve been sticking to my medicine, seeing a therapist, and seeing a psychiatrist to monitor the medication. There have been a few times where I slip up and decide not to go to an appointment because I’m too depressed (good reason, I know), but even then my therapist will call to check on me.

    Additionally, I didn’t even start dealing with being sexually abused at age 9 until last year. I’d spent so many years burying it and never told my other doctors and kept it a secret from everyone but my boyfriend. Now I’m at the point where I can actually discuss it relatively openly. Just today I was able to actually say the words, “I was sexually abused” and it was the first time I can even remember actually saying that out loud in one sentence.

    Now I’m on a combo of Lamictal and Prozac. The prozac makes me super tired sometimes, though. I had it increased and I couldn’t even get out of bed all day, so I take a small dosage.

    I know this was long and boring, but I felt like I really had to weigh in. I read your blog all the time and never comment, but this was meaningful for me to read about. Even now I’m still not open about my depression. I would sometimes post about it on twitter, then go back and delete those “downer” entries. I was at a friend’s house the other night and two people were talking about a friend who had bipolar, and one said, “yeah, she seemed weird to me, so that makes sense.” There is definitely a stigma associated with any kind of mental disorder, so thank you for sharing your experiences, and thanks for letting me share my own story. I’ve never been this open about it, so thanks for the opportunity.


    • Britni TheVadgeWigNo Gravatar
      Posted May 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing this <3

  8. NelfyNo Gravatar
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting your story!! I am at the moment trying to figure out what exactly my girlfriend has – she is very reluctant to therapy/medication and have never even thought about ADHD, but she could definitely be a candidate for this. She has 7 out of the 9 symptoms on the list and some of them are very, very apparent. I am going to try and get her to read what you wrote, because I think it might help her.

    Obviously, I’m not a specialist, but in trying to deal with her issues it is helpful to know more about these disorders. Really, any information is helpful. If she does start theraphy I am going to ask about ADHD, just to make sure the doctor doesn’t miss this because the symptoms are similar to the anxiety disorder she has. She’s not aware of most of the symptoms, so that also probably makes it harder for her to be diagnosed properly.

  9. Teddy LangstonNo Gravatar
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    If I had a penny for each time I came here.. Incredible article!

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  1. By Medication Diaries: Entry 3 on June 6, 2010 at 12:02 am

    [...] I’m starting a new birth control this week, so it’s relevant. As I did in my first entry, I’m going to talk about the different pills that I’ve been on, and then in the next [...]

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