it’s a brain thing

Lately, I’ve been reminded that a lot of my psychiatric illnesses are largely due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. My psychiatrist and I have been messing around with my medications for the past two months or so after taking me off one that was causing more side effects than it was worth and it has been causing havoc with my life, messing with my anxiety and depression. After four plus years of treatment I’ve gotten pretty good at using coping skills. And I have been using coping skills out my ears but nothing was touching the level of anxiety I was having. Nothing. This caused me to be starkly reminded that while there are some things I can do to effect my mental illness there are times when sometimes I can’t because when it comes right down to it – it’s just that an illness. A biological illness similar to diabetes or cancer except this illness originates in the brain.

This has become more and more apparent as we try and find the right combination of meds for me. It’s a balancing act as we try to find meds that stop nightmares, help with sleep, catch my anxiety and combat my depression. And part of this balancing act is sometimes stays in the psychiatric hospital. I had a short stay right after Thanksgiving where we made some changes to my meds. These changes unfortunately resulted in me being extremely sedated and sleeping for 16-17 hours a day. Not good. And didn’t help my depression at all. In fact it made it worse. Therefore, resulting in a second stay last week lasting until Christmas Eve.

I am blessed to have access to a good facility about 40 minutes away. And I am lucky that my regular psychiatrist (who is a genius with medication) was the doctor on call. During this second stay I stayed longer while we messed with my medication and I dealt with some side effects. And there are usually side effects to medication. Some more benign than others. I was relieved that this time the side effects weren’t so great as to pull me off the new medication. It seems to be helping. *crossing my fingers*

So back to the beginning of the post – my depression and anxiety is at least partly chemical. Honestly, this scares me more than if it was simply attributed to my trauma. If it was only due to trauma I could “get over it” but a biological basis? Well, I can’t control my brain anymore than someone can control their blood sugars or the number of cancer cells in their body. I’m having to surrender my control. Take each day as it comes and hope and pray that this medication change is at least a temporary fix.

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4 Comments

Filed under anxiety, coping skills, depression, life events

4 responses to “it’s a brain thing

  1. I will be crossing my fingers for you, as well. Good luck and God bless you.

  2. I am hopeful that this new med change will be enough to settle you back into the happy lifestyle you were writing about before things go out of whack. Also, hi – I have been reading your blog for a long time but rarely comment, though today I feel I need to.
    I have been told many, many times that I should be on medication (by friends and family) but I refuse to do so because while yes, depression is an illness of the brain the same way cancer or kidney disease or anything else would be medicated and controlled, my brain is what makes me who I am. My body doesn’t change who I am, but my brain is by definition who I am. If I start medicating and screwing with brain chemistry, who’s to say that’s not changing who I am? I’d rather be my truest self, happy or not.
    I’m not saying that no one should be medicated. I think there are some people who need it (including you). Would you be willing at all to comment on this conundrum I have? On how you feel about messing with brain chemistry?
    I look forward to hearing from you and hope 2014 finds you well. 🙂

    • Hi,
      I’m glad you commented and thanks for reading. I have felt the same way you have in the past and for many years I resisted medication. Since being on medication I have learned that it does not change the fundamentals of who I am. It’s not capable of doing that. The only way I learned this though was to give the meds a chance. They aren’t permanent, they don’t cause any damage so if you do decide to give them a try you absolutely don’t have anything to loose. You can always stop them (although make sure you do that under a dr.’s supervision. I’ve done it without and that is unpleasant not to mention dangerous).

      The way I look at meds is this: medication gives me the tools to give the world my best self. It allows my brain to fight through the chemical misfires, the depression and anxiety and put my coping skills to work. It gives it a little boost and I do the rest. Meds aren’t powerful enough to fix my problem and therefore they aren’t powerful enough to change my personality. Especially not drugs for basic psychiatric illnesses. I hope this helps and good luck in deciding what to do. Like I said you can always try medication and if it’s not for you back off or lower your dose.

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