I know I’ve already discussed the fact that mental health medication isn’t necessarily designed to be an end-all solution. Although wouldn’t that be nice?
While I still stand behind that mentality, that we don’t have to be helpless to mental illness and be a slave to the potential benefits of a pill, that doesn’t mean I’m not considering something more. By that, I mean finding an additional medication into the mix. A cocktail, if you will.
I’ve seen an amazing difference from first starting an antidepressant. I now can’t picture my life without it. Slightly scary when combined with the fact I have a very addictive personality. And if I was ever without it, who knows what I’d be like. But that doesn’t mean I think I’m missing out a little bit. Like my medication could go a step further for me and make things a little easier.
Honestly, just admitting that I still need help is slightly uncomfortable for me. I was hesitant enough starting medication, and now I want to avoid thinking that I’m still not all together. It’s like that same hesitancy all over again. The drive to want to take care of myself and be the strong one, but I can’t do it alone, or even just one mode of therapy.
The fact is, most people are in my same shoes. People might talk about first going on an antidepressant, but all too often, it’s not enough. A combination of different methods is the key to long-term relief from symptoms that hinder everyday life.
And this combination is different for everybody. Some people just need cognitive behavior therapy or a single medication and they’re good to go. Others need those two working together. Now I’ve enjoyed the progress I’ve made in past experiences in therapy, but with everything else going on in my life, antidepressants provide much more convenient and immediate relief.
Another reason I hesitate when thinking of adding another prescription to my plate is the potential experimentation involved to find the right combination for me. I was lucky enough to look at family history the first time to know what first works for me, but now it feels like a free-for-all. The long lists of side effects alone are frightening. But if it’s something I need to do to obtain my optimal self, I just have to bite the bullet and try.
As with any journey in life, the journey to find health and happiness is not an easy one. You face obstacles like this one where you wish it was just easy and straightforward, but you know you deserve better. You have no reason to settle. If there’s that chance for something more, go for it. I know this situation is one I’m choosing for myself. At this point on my one antidepressant, I’m feeling fine, but things are still hard. And I don’t want to hold myself back if adding a pill every morning will make a world of difference.
I think things can still go back to the central misunderstanding and vagueness surrounding mental illness. Unlike more visible conditions, the solution is fairly simple: start a certain medication, you’ll be good in a few days. Or just let the virus pass and you’ll be better soon. With mental illness, you are truly going blind. One wrong medication can result in a multitude of unpleasant side effects, even make you suicidal. It can be a lengthy process to go through weeks of trying different pills, turning yourself into an experimental guinea pig.
But once you find the right medication or combination, the results are astonishing. You can get out of bed in the morning. There’s actual color in the world. You have energy to take on the day and then some, and go to bed maintaining healthy sleep patterns. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but for me first recognizing my mental illness and treating it properly, that’s truly what I felt like. Like anything else, however, the full effects have already kicked in and it’s feeling lackluster. Again, I have an addictive personality, so I’m not surprised that it seems to be a tolerance built up for these effects and continually wanting more. I have to curb myself and be careful, but with the right combination, I feel like I can make the best of my situation.
So if you’ve made that first effort to start therapy or go on medication, kudos to you. But if you now feel like you regularly have symptoms and discomfort, don’t think of yourself as weak or a failure for going to try something else or augment your therapy. In reality, we should encourage people to come back and keep trying to find the optimal treatment because it is so hard to figure it out on the first try. Success rates for treatment increase exponentially after second and third tries at certain treatments, and if that’s what it takes, there is no reason to feel guilty for that. It’s normal. It’s okay.
Admittedly, it’s scary to go back in with results that aren’t completely satisfying. Nobody is at fault. It’s just time for a Plan B. Or C. Or whatever letter of the alphabet it takes. You are worthy of genuine, complete wellness.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie