I don’t disagree with the consensus that doctors are overprescribing medications for mental disorders, but I’m not sure I’d be where I am without them.
My first prescription was for Zoloft six years ago. It took the “edge” off of my life, but also made me super lethargic and tired.
When I told my psychiatrist this, he prescribed me Adderall. Never having taken it, I trusted him that it was the right medication. Sure, it kept me awake and helped me focus more, but it was basically speed. The day after taking an Adderall is like having a hangover.
Luckily I had Zoloft to help with that, so I kept popping the Adderall like candy. I would take it to stay up on the weekends and before working out. I assumed it was a miracle drug and I never planned on stopping taking it.
As with any drug, your tolerance builds up, so I was taking higher dosages. The after-effects became worse, and I was getting extremely irritable. I didn’t eat as much food because I wasn’t hungry, so on top of depleting dopamine from my brain, I wasn’t getting proper nutrients. Sooner or later, I was bound to fall into a really dark place.
A year after my first prescription, I decided to stop taking it. I also decided to stop taking Zoloft, too. I only felt numbness and sadness. The initial happiness wore off and my brain needed a rest. I didn’t taper off the pills. I just stopped one day. It was a really dumb idea.
I didn’t feel the effects until 48 hours after. You get these things called brain zaps after stopping anti-depressants. Your brain feels like it’s getting tased for half a second. Combined with Adderall withdrawals, I wanted to die.
So I decided to watch “The Bridge” on Netflix. It’s a documentary about people committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. LIFE TIP: Don’t watch movies about suicide when you’re depressed.
The scariest part of watching that movie was I felt like I understood why those people didn’t want to live anymore. If I think back to the worst I’ve ever felt, I always think of that day. I Googled “easiest way to kill yourself” like some kind of goth high school girl. I ended up calling my boyfriend at the time and he came over to talk. I don’t know how he put up with me for an entire year, but I guess that’s what happens when you love someone.
The next few weeks were miserable. I slept as much as possible. I couldn’t wait for days to end so I could just go on with my life. Nothing made me smile. It felt like I was just waiting for the day when I had enough courage to jump off that bridge.
So I did what any sane 24-year-old woman would do and got a kitten! The minute I had her in my apartment my life changed. I finally had a reason to be happy. I was so in love with Kazimir Funk. She was my first pet. I couldn’t wait to get home to see her and play with her. She slept with me every night.
Almost two years after I quit Zoloft and Adderall, I met a guy at SXSW who was from Vancouver. We ended up dating for a few months and I would fly up to Canada a few times a month. I would leave Kaz at home and have friends stay at my place or come over to check on her.
Well, I think you know where this is heading. One weekend I came home and she was not at the front door meowing and rubbing herself on my legs. I immediately panicked and spent hours looking for her. I lived in a quiet neighborhood on the side of a hill, so I would let her roam around outside for a few hours each day. The person watching my house said she never came back.
I spent the next month hanging up signs and looking for her constantly. I would walk around crying with a backpack full of missing cat signs and a staple gun. It was like if Wes Anderson made a drama. I was devastated. She was my best friend and I never even got to say goodbye. I still have no idea what happened to her.
Soon after, I fell into another horrible depression and decided to get back on Zoloft because I was too tired to leave my house or talk to anyone. It helped eventually, and I stayed on it for a year.
During October of 2012, I found myself feeling sad for no reason. I would sleep until noon when I could. I missed auditions and cried every day. I did everything I could to fix it. I worked out and ate healthier, but nothing worked. I was miserable even when I booked my first commercial. Any other human would be ecstatic. I smiled for maybe a minute then went back into feeling worthless.
I started taking Lexapro and Wellbutrin. Within a week I was already feeling better. I couldn’t believe the difference. I stopped being furious over things like the grocery store being out of organic kale (monsters, right?). When I was feeling down it was infinitely easier to get myself out of a dark hole. I was feeling like I reached a level of normalcy. Not higher than anyone else, just equal.
I felt so great that I decided to stop taking Lexapro a few weeks ago. I don’t want to be on pills anymore. If I’m going to have joyous thoughts of murdering people, they should at least be natural and not chemical.
I slowly started tapering off it the first week of January, and was completely off of it last week. I quickly turned into an irritable monster. I had no patience for anything. I would get upset at ridiculous things, like Rite Aid remodeled their store and everything was all moved around and I was so pissed it took me longer to find toothpaste. I also yelled “SCREW YOU!” at Microsoft Word because it told me I spelled “popsicles” wrong. Totally normal, right?!?!
I was losing control of my temper and hated everything. I felt really insecure and worthless which were beginning signs of depression. I gave in and started back on Lexapro. I felt better two days later. I no longer wanted to sleep 20 hours a day and I would actually laugh at things.
I’m worried that I won’t ever be able to get off pills. My normal self is such a disaster. I don’t know how much yoga, meditation, and beet juice it takes to fix someone, but I’m definitely trying.
I read an interview with Sarah Silverman about how she can’t function without Zoloft. She’s been on it for over 10 years. I consider her a very successful and hilarious woman, so maybe I shouldn’t feel so ashamed of needing Lexapro?
Can we just go ahead and add anti-depressants and birth control pills to the food pyramid?