Friday, April 8, 2011

The Great Serotonin Crash of 2011

I've tried to be pretty open about my struggle with depression and anxiety over the last few years. It certainly hasn't been easy getting past the "I must be crazy" embarrassment that keeps most people from talking about their own issues, but I am so over that now. Mainly because admitting I was unhappy and then going out and getting help changed my life. Remarkably.
This is my brain.                              This is my brain on drugs.
Turns out, when I had to think about it, crippling anxiety had pervaded every corner of my life since childhood. Extreme perfectionism, social awkwardness, constant disappointment in myself, that painful nervous rumbling in my stomach. It held me back so much, making me too nervous to share my music and forcing me to pass up great opportunities. But it all changed dramatically with the help of a therapist and a shrink. It's really incredible how 20mg of this or 100mg of that can cure a chemical deficiency that is ruining your life. Tom Cruise be damned, it has really worked for me. My brain just naturally doesn't make enough happy juices on its own. Within six months I was playing songs I wrote in front of open mic crowds, getting paid for studio cello work, and working with about three different bands. All without having a nervous breakdown and feeling very positive about everything. Oh, I also fell in love and made some new friends, which ain't too shabby either. I don't think it is hyperbolic to say that a combination of therapy and antidepressants has saved my life.

However, it hasn't all been so simple. My insurance didn't cover most of the therapy nor the medicine I was prescribed that had no generic, and there have been a few annoying side effects. So a couple weeks ago my doc suggested I try a similar, but new and cheaper medicine. Which brings us to the Great Serotonin Crash of 2011. Psych drugs are complex in that you can't just start and stop them, any change requires weeks of tapering doses and some withdrawal. I've been a freaking wreck the last few weeks. Withdrawn, nervous, downright bitchy. But I think I'm starting to get over the hump. It's all made me even more appreciative of how far I've come and the resources and people that got me here. I am doing what I want now and really happy about it, no longer consumed with fear and regret. I think it goes without saying -- but this is the internet and people will freak out about anything -- that this is just my own personal experience. I don't think that drugs are a cure-all, and I certainly don't think they are right for everyone. I simply encourage people to open up and talk about this stuff so it is not so taboo and scary.

3 comments:

  1. : Whoa, I had no idea....
    I can relate and have been surfing a similar disorder since I was made aware (by osmosis and many years of loneliness) that my then recently deceased brother had sapped my parents of all empathy and energy to attend to the needs of their "other" son (me.)

    It hasn't been easy...I really don't want to expand here...though i feel it has played a huge part in a life-long struggle with my self image and trying to quit fighting inside over the opposing over the validity of my pursuit of music over security/pursuit of security over music...

    I have ears for you anytime you need to vent...

    Good Luck to you
    and break a leg on your tour!!

    Tom Susala

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  2. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it. And thanks for the well wishes on the tour, it's gonna rock!

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  3. I can very much relate, having anxiety and depression and being on two meds currently. Like you, therapy and medication have really saved me from the pit of despair. I still struggle with self-image but regularly see a therapist and psychiatrist, and couldn't have come the distance I have without a little help of extra brain juices, as you put it. :-) I'm glad to see you sharing this.

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