This post will be the first in a series I will do in relation to my medication change. I hope it will provide insight into my decision making process and better facilitate your pursuit of mental stability.
Just a few days ago I realized that I was missing out on a pretty good opportunity to provide you all with some insight on medication changes. I’ve been on varying dosages of a few different medications since my diagnosis. Antidepressants are the sticking point. None of the antidepressants that I have tried have even scratched the surface except for name brand Wellbutrin. That was several years ago when I talked to my doctor about depression and far before my Bipolar diagnosis. I felt pretty good for about a week on my way into one of the worst hypomanic periods that I have had. My rage was so extreme that I almost destroyed my refrigerator door because the milk was holding it open.
Today, I take lithium to prevent me from escalating. I have not had an escalation in probably two years now. While I would love to put Wellbutrin to the test now, I have no prescription coverage. I have only been taking generic equivalents to ensure that I keep my cost of long-term treatment down just in case I come unhinged or life sets me back in the future (Which is a strategy I advocate in my Medication Strategy). Wellbutrin does have a generic equivalent that is supposed to be chemically identical to the name brand. Surfing around the internet uncovers a much different story. There are pages upon pages of complaints, requests for the FDA to investigate, and a drastic disconnect from the name brand to the generic. The primary complaints about the generic are severe weight gain, amplified depression, and stronger suicidal impulses. That is not quite what I’m looking for out of an antidepressant. The chatter is too prevalent for me to think it is just standard internet bitching.
Just a few weeks ago I ended my fluoxetine (prozac) regimen and asked my doctor for an antidepressant from the same “family” as Wellbutrin. Prozac is an SSRI whereas Wellbutrin is an SNRI. What’s the difference? They stimulate different chemical processes in the mind. Taking the prozac worked about as well as taking sugar pills. Thus I decided I wanted to try something from the SNRI family which was sort of “successful” before. The medication of choice this time around is Venlafaxine Hydrochloride Extended Release, better known as Effexor.
I have already gotten off to a bad start. I have procrastinated and put off getting my bloodwork done for my lithium level testing. I ended up stretching my initial dosage of Effexor longer because I was trying to force myself to face my social anxieties and go get the shit done at the hospital instead of a remote clinic where I normally have my appointments. That already put me slightly off balance, though I know I am and have been taking active steps to keep myself in as well of a state as I can manage.
Moral of the story? Even though I’ve written hundreds of pages on mental health, finding wellness, and so forth; I still screw up in major ways sometimes. That is exactly why I never say that “my way is the only way”. My goal is to give readers a wider understanding, more options, and hope for something better. Why even bring it up? Because every person needs to know that they will screw up, give up, or lose hope eventually. You will have to do the same thing I do; push yourself to your feet and keep going.