Before my next Great Bear Rainforest post, an antidepressant update is in order. See my last update here. I know, I know. Not nearly as exciting as whales (and what else I have in store for you). But it’s an extremely popular (and thus I assume, helpful) topic.
I’ve been on a cocktail of antidepressants since giving the midget musician the boot. It seems silly in hindsight that something that inconsequential was the catalyst to my most recent foray into the world of antidepressant medications. Looking back, I most certainly was in a deep dark pit, but I don’t know that being in that pit was abnormal. Or that it needed medicating. Or that the medication even did anything to get me out of the pit. Perhaps my successful clambering out of the pit was from seeing a therapist regularly. Or maybe it was a placebo effect from the drugs. Or maybe it was just the passage of time.
Backing up, I began taking Wellbutrin and Deplin back in the fall of 2011. I started off with Wellbutrin, and the doctor added Abilify shortly thereafter. Abilify is not an antidepressant. It’s an antipsychotic, which the doctor prescribed for depression–an “off-label” use of the medication. It was horribly nasty, toxic crap. I felt awful and my hair fell out in chunks. It has since grown back. In fact, it’s looking pretty fabulous these days, a year later.
After I ditched the Abilify (without consulting the doc first), he added Viibryd. To his mind, something new and exciting. Here I was, wanting to get off the drugs, but he’s adding something more to the mix. I complied. I complied because he’s the doctor and he knows best. (I knew this was bullshit at the time. I feel more confident in that assessment, now.) So I took the Viibryd and the Wellbutrin, and since my hair stopped falling out, I kept taking it. I kept taking it despite the horrible nightmares and the constipation. I kept taking it despite my worries of liver damage and weight gain. I kept taking it. And to be honest, I felt better. I thought maybe that had something to do with the drug.
And then everyone started dying, and I didn’t dare stop taking it. I figured it was the only thing keeping me afloat. But a few months after my brother died, I started thinking about the chemo for mouth cancer giving him the leukemia that killed him, and I wondered whether the antidepressants were frying my liver or my kidneys or my brain. I don’t like taking Advil. What was I doing on Wellbutrin and Deplin and Viibryd? So I quit the Viibryd nearly cold turkey without first consulting with my doctor. In fact, I’ve not consulted with him since. Instead, shortly after quitting the Viibryd (which turned out to be fairly easy), I quit the Deplin. I felt no different. Why in the hell had I been spending hundreds of dollars on prescriptions that weren’t doing anything? Except giving me terrible nightmares and making me forget words. Lots of words. “Laundry basket” for fuck’s sake. (I often feared those days that I had early onset Alzheimer’s. My dad had it, so why not?) Even though the side effects from the Viibryd and Abilify had been intolerable, I stayed on the Wellbutrin. My safety net. Just in case.
When I got back from my trip to the Great Bear Rainforest (more posts coming soon, including some phenomenal wildlife sightings!), I was feeling pretty good. Rejuvenated. More alive than I have felt in some time. The shrink had called when I was gone telling me I needed to come in before he’d call in another refill for my Wellbutrin. So I made the appointment. On the morning of the appointment, I wondered why I was paying him a buck twenty-five to write me a prescription for a drug I didn’t want to be on. A drug that had me downing Miralax like it was nectar of the gods. (And still I was backed up.) So I called and canceled, mumbling that I’d call back later to reschedule. I didn’t call. And I didn’t take Wellbutrin that night. Or any night since. I had no withdrawals. None. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t doing anything other than making me severely constipated. And sucking money from my bank account.
So I’m drug free. I even quit taking the Toviaz (overactive bladder) last week. It had stopped helping. The urologist recommended Botox instead. My insurance company (Aetna is crap) won’t pay for it. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s forcing me to try natural remedies. None of them are as simple as popping a pill. But I vow to not hand over my body to a drug company out of laziness. (Any more.)
Look at all the writing I’ve done and avoided the bigger topic at hand. (Which I’ve succeeded in doing all week.) Yesterday a year ago, my dad died. October 18, 2012 at 6:00 a.m. sharp, as the hospice nurse and I held his hand. Yesterday, I had a crazy day at work, running to court to fill in for another lawyer whose flight was canceled. I was so focused on the crisis at hand, I didn’t realize it was October 18th until I got home from work last evening. I pushed it away again, thawed two pieces of pizza frozen months ago, drank two glasses of wine, cuddled with the cats, and went to bed.
I could not ignore it this morning, however, as I’d made plans with friends to do the Alzheimer’s walk. One girlfriend who joined me (who also did the walk with me last year, mere days after my father died), lost her dad weeks ago, in part to Alzheimer’s. So we walked. And remembered our dads. And cried some. And hugged. We then went to brunch. Something I hadn’t done in ages. Real brunch. With mimosas and bloody Marys. After brunch, I came home, got in bed for just a little rest (I never take naps), and the next thing I knew I’d awakened at 6:00 p.m. in the nick of time to get ready to join a friend for sushi. Two social outings in one day.
Yes, after many, many dark months, I’m coming back to life. Without antidepressants.