Brain Meds

I’ve always said I wouldn’t take any sort of medicine to regulate emotions or brain chemicals. I’m of the opinion that this is my brain and I am the boss of it. I should just take control and make it do what I want. And most of the time this works. If I am feeling depressed I force myself, sometimes in tears, to do tasks. If I am feeling anxiety I try to hide it. If I am frightened I tell myself to deal with it.

However, over the last few years the anxiety has been getting worse and worse. I don’t have a job now, because I just can’t deal with being away from my home every day. I’m afraid to finish my novel. I’m afraid to send in the several short stories I have ready for submission, because I can’t deal with the rejection. I went from having a large social network to feeling alienated from almost everyone. I tried to join a new social group recently; people I should have fit in with perfectly, mostly geeks, gamers, hippies and music people, but had to give up after a few months when I realized it just wasn’t working.

It is so bad that my garden is suffering because I sometimes have too much anxiety to even go into the yard.

Several months ago a friend gave me a few Xanax and for the first time in years the anxiety stopped, if only for a few hours. It was pretty amazing. I used them from time to tim, for social events to make it easier, but then I ran out. At this point I decided to go to a psychiatrist, mostly just to get more Xanax.

I’m not sure why Xanax did not seem to break my rule. I guess there are a lot of reasons. First of all it was given to me by a friend, not forced on me by a doctor so it felt different, like how some people have a beer after work to unwind. Almost recreational, like my brain was taking a nice relaxing bubble bath. Also it was not every day, not even every week. It was only when I needed it so I didn’t feel chained to it. It made me feel better, but nothing bad happened if I didn’t have it.

Yesterday was my first appointment with the psychiatrist. We talked about the anxiety and what might be causing it, touching on childhood head injuries, abuse, and family history. She feels that I could get addicted to Xanax, and to be honest I agree. Almost everyone in my family has a chemical dependency problem; I’m amazed I have gotten this far without developing one. The doctor wants me to start taking Zoloft, she says it should help decrease my over all anxiety making everything easier. She also gave me some Xanax to take only for social situations.

Here is a neat catch 22. I told her the idea of taking the Zoloft freaked me out and she said of course it does – anyone with my type of anxiety would be freaked out by taking a new medication. This is something I have thought about before, how much of what I do is caused by my anxiety or other issues. How about my feelings about my issues? I have had to be rather strong and develop all sorts of tricks and skills to deal with being the person I am, useful skills that I am glad I have. But this is too much to get into now, maybe a later blog post about it.

Long story short, I took the first dose last night of Zoloft last night. I am feeling very conflicted and confused about this decision. By taking it does that mean I have given up control of myself? Have I decided that I am not good enough the way I am? Am I going to change, and in what way? Is this going to impact my writing and other creative pursuits negatively?

I know this medication takes weeks before it does anything, but for the sake of good record keeping I am going to try to keep track of my mood. Today my anxiety is higher than normal. I have low self-confidence but I seem to be highly motivated, having already completed several tasks. I am also a little more emotional in general. I kind of want to get back in bed and cry for a bit.

2 thoughts on “Brain Meds

  1. I said in your FB query that I didn’t have any side-effects to speak of, but since you’ve narrowed down to Zoloft, I can elaborate. The first week of taking it, I had some jittery, anxious feelings and behaviors, sort of like “coming up” on a recreational drug. Talking loud and fast, breathing more rapid, being very self-conscious, thinking all the time, “Is this because of what I took”, etc. It was only bothersome when I was out in public, or when Joshua would give me a patronizing look. It faded after just a few days. After that, for the short period that Zoloft seemed to “work”, it really fucking WORKED. Like, it was truly amazing to see the difference in my thoughts and experience profound relief from some of my problems. Unfortunately, that faded for me, but I am really hopeful that you experience long-lasting relief.

    It is helpful to me to think of brain meds as medicine, as solutions to physical problems. If you broke your arm, would you think you were the boss of it and should be able to just make it do what you want? Do you wear glasses? Would you take blood pressure medication if you needed it? Would you get treatment if you had a chronic pain condition? Another thing I think is that you deserve to have and do the things that are pleasing and enjoyable to you. You don’t have to eat bland food because it’s just as nutritious as some delicious choice. You don’t have to buy uncomfortable furniture because it’s somehow “better”, and you don’t have to eschew brain meds because they are somehow less “pure”. For me, the judgement of them rises and falls with “do they enhance my life or not”?

    For me, they did for awhile, and I was happy to be taking them. Then they weren’t, and I was happy to stop. I wish you well in figuring out which way you want to go and finding peace in one path or another.


  2. I am feeling a little jittery and over excited today. After I did yoga I felt almost exactly like I do on a recreational drug I have taken in the past. It only lasted a minute or two then I felt mostly normal. I am going to keep a log of what everyday is like for now, going to once a week later. I had a weird headache last night and this morning, but it went away. I don’t normally get headaches and if I do they don’t last long, so this was outside the norm, but not out of the question to just be a random thing.

    I think part of the reason brain meds strike me as weak and I have always feared them is because of my family history. They all had chemical dependency problems and were rather abusive people. Part of me being the person I am today is because I tried to be nothing like them. I saw their need for drugs and alcohol as weakness. Now as an adult who knows more about mental illness and chemical dependency those feeling of my childhood are cruel. But they don’t just fade away because I know that logically.

    When something is hard for me to do, for emotional reasons I hear 8 year old me thinking “Just do it, don’t be so weak”. This is something I need to work on, 8 year old me was vicious.


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