Switching Meds

I have been on antidepressants since I was 16 years old. My doctor at that time didn’t know whether I had GAD or OCD (plot twist: it’s both) so she put me on Zoloft, a medication used to treat both disorders.

Years later, I became very depressed, and the Zoloft wasn’t doing enough in that regard. At one point, I was on 250mg daily (the maximum dose is 200). During my second stay in the Day Hospital program, the psychiatrist switched me onto Effexor XR. I found the Effexor to be much more helpful with depression, but slightly less helpful with anxiety. But I would choose anxiety over depression any day, so that was a step in the right direction.

After I recovered from my eating disorder, I began feeling stuck. I had been eating properly for months; I was exercising; I was receiving individual and group counselling. I was doing all the right things, and while I felt much better than before, I wasn’t quite happy. My doctor and I discussed changing my medication, and first we tried adding things to supplement my Effexor. I began taking a small amount of Wellbutrin. At one point, I was on Lyrica for anxiety. I now take Seroquel at night. But I’m still not happy.

I have been wanting a bigger change for months now. I have brought it up multiple times with my doctor and my psychiatrist, only to be told it “wasn’t a good time” to make such a change. It was the middle of the school year, then it was Summer and I had a full-time job, then I was doing poorly and (correctly) wasn’t trusted to keep myself safe, then apparently things were “going well” and it would be a bad idea to rock the boat. Through most of this time, I was eating well, exercising regularly, and engaging in regular therapy. I was working SO hard to do whatever I could to improve my mood. But it wasn’t enough. I still felt shitty.

Finally, I felt semi-comfortable complaining to my doctor, and said I wanted to make this change over reading week when I wouldn’t need to worry about unpleasant symptoms interfering with school. My doctor surprisingly agreed, and consulted my psychiatrist to come up with a plan.

Today is day 1 of this transition. First, I need to slowly taper my Effexor, so I took 225mg today instead of 262.5. I will stay at this dose until I see my doctor next Tuesday, and we will go from there. Apparently, my psychiatrist has two ideas for what I can switch to. I don’t know what they are yet, but psychiatry is essentially reaching into a bag of pills and saying “I don’t know, try this one?”, so I don’t really care. Once my Effexor dose is a little lower, I can begin cross-titrating with the other medication. This is what I did when I switched from Zoloft- it involves slowly increasing the dose of the new drug while decreasing the dose of the other. It’s a complicated process, so usually a psychiatrist comes up with a specific schedule for dose changes.

I am pretty scared that this will be difficult. More likely than not, I will experience unpleasant side effects. But I don’t want to live the rest of my life at my current level of happiness. So if there’s a chance I could feel better on a different medication, I’m going to find out whether I do. I thought my roommate’s hospital stint would long be over by now and I would have someone to hang out with during this process, but whatever. I am growing increasingly resentful towards her, but that’s a whole other issue.

On the other hand, I am very excited about the prospect of feeling better. Medication changes always give me hope that things will improve. And I would really, really like that.

That’s all the information I have for now, but I will definitely update once things get going. I hope everyone is well!

Sarah

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