It’s been almost two years since starting antidepressants…
October of 2020, my world fell apart. It actually began November of 2019, the last day my dad walked. I’ve shared my story here before, so I won’t make you suffer through it again, but I’ll give you a “quick” recap.
November of 2019 my dad passed out at IHOP, and from that day, until the day he died, he never walked again. I was already the go-to for everything but after that day, my responsibilities increased significantly. Late nights, early mornings, doctors appointments, countless trips to Nations for pie and endless phone calls on top of 50-60 hour work weeks at the worst job ever! I ignored warning signs that my mind and body needed a break so in September of 2020, it happened.
I didn’t know it was a nervous breakdown when it first happened. I just knew I was super sick and totally convinced I was dying! But after a plethora of medical tests and scans that came back normal, a doctor asked me one simple question…”are you stressed?” My first response was, “I mean, I don’t think so.” Then he asked me to breakdown what was going on in my life, and as I began to list all of the things that had happened, he just stared. Then he said, your answer should have been yes. Well I’ll be! I sat there a little longer thinking, wow did you hear yourself?
Beyond stressful job…
Being (at the time) the main caregiver for both my parents well over a year…
Lost my job…
Mom diagnosed with Alzheimer’s…
Yes, YES I’m stressed!
It was at that moment that medication to address what was later diagnosed as depression and anxiety was suggested. I was NOT happy about it, but it had been several weeks that I was beyond nervous, fearful of everything, fatigued, headaches, crying bouts, heart palpitations and dizzy to the point that even using the restroom became nearly impossible. Not to mention countless trips to the ER!
I was angry at myself! Angry that I couldn’t handle everything I was going through (this is how I saw it). I was disappointed that now I couldn’t be there when my parents needed me, although I’d been there everyday from day one. Problem was I’ve always been the “I got it” person, to a fault.
October of 2020 I was put on Lexapro, a drug to treat depression and anxiety, but like any drug, there are side effects, one of which is insomnia. Insomnia! And guess what, I was already experiencing it, so guess how they remedy that? They give you another drug to help you sleep. Sheesh, the pharmaceutical industry is a trip! Now, I was familiar with Lexapro because I had taken it many years before. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety all of my adult life. Having to be put on medication AGAIN to regulate my mental health made me feel like I’d failed.
Thank God for my therapist at the time! She assured me that I had not failed, and was wise realizing that it was time to do something different. I started taking the medication and it took a minute but I could feel and see a difference. I started feeling more like myself. I actually wanted to get up in the morning. Going outside and hanging out sounded fun. Falling asleep became easier, but the side effects of taking this medication had began bothering me. Here are a few of them;
Headache, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, increased sweating, feeling nervous
In the beginning of this year, I decided that I’d had enough. Grateful for it helping when I needed it most, but I felt like I was ready to get off the medication and detox my body. I spoke with my psychiatrist and after a long session and several questions, she too felt like I was ready. Here’s the thing with this medication, there has to be a gradual come off process which consist of gradually decreasing the dosage. So the last few weeks I’ve been literally experiencing withdrawals…y’all, this has been serious!
I’ll list a few, (yes there’s more) from the list;
Appetite changes (generally, this will be opposite the appetite you experienced while on Lexapro).
“Brain zaps” (the sensation that small electrical shocks are running through one's brain).
Dizziness, fatigue, or confusion.
I’ve experienced a few, but I’m determined to get off. Why am I sharing? The same reason I’ve shared so much about my battle with depression and anxiety, to help someone who may also be struggling. If you feel like therapy isn’t cutting it, medication is okay! Let’s back up, if you feel like you can no longer cope on your own, therapy is okay! I come from a generation of folks who will try to convince you that all you need is Jesus, that you don’t need therapy, let alone medication, but do what’s best for you! Yes, prayer works, but sometimes you need therapy and meds in addition to. Below I’ve listed some awesome mental health resources. If no one told you today, you are not crazy, you will be okay, I love you and you got this!
Therapy for black girls
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Until next time…🦋