Yesterday I did the big scary thing and met with a psychiatric nurse practitioner to explore antidepressants.
I’ve known I had an anxiety disorder since at least puberty before I knew about psychology diagnoses and medication. In my early 20’s it was clear that depression was part of that mix. I show signs of adult ADD and OCD as well but to what degree those are independent of the rest, I don’t know. For a sense of what that is like for me, see my previous post.
Despite knowing all that, I have avoided even thinking about medication for years. My mom has always tended towards naturopathy and pharmacophobia even though she shares the same mental health issues I do. I think because of that I have been scared to approach a medication that would put me in any kind of dependency even after I’ve seen how much it has benefited her to be on SSRIs. I guess it felt like admitting defeat to use a “crutch” like meds. I’d rather keep battling through on my own and try to find coping mechanisms.
But it has become clear recently that I’m not doing myself or the people around me any favors by holding out. It takes so much energy just to get through the day trying to be myself that I often don’t have the stamina to do the relationship building and activism that I want. And I have been around enough people who are on medications without shame now that I have broken down some of the phobias and misconceptions.
So today I took my first, very low-dose of Lexapro. It helped a lot to sit down and have a specialist really explain it all to me in a thoughtful way. The way he tells it, frequent depressive episodes train the brain pathways to be better at repeating that way of being and feeling, right down to modifying the epigenetic code. The reason antidepressants work is because they help you retrain those neurotransmitters into healthier patterns. It takes time but knowing that it doesn’t need to be permanent and there is actual hope for stopping someday really helps.
I was surprised that by the end of the conversation and even today as I took the first pill, I didn’t have fear around doing so. I’m actually rather excited about the possibility of feeling some relief and knowing for the first time that I can remember what it is like not to constantly fight my anxiety. We’ll see what happens now.