Trigger warning: This post includes mentions of suicide and suicide ideation.
Two final projects down, two to go. And then a final at 7:30 on Monday morning. (I’m so not looking forward to that one, especially since it’s for philosophy, my least favorite class this semester.)
I’ve written several thousand words these past few days, at least three thousand of which were produced today in a frantic effort to meet deadlines. I wrote so much today, in fact, that I feel if I were to set my hands down on any flat surface my fingers would immediately begin to move as if typing, rising and falling and stretching over an imaginary keyboard. That’s how much I’ve written.
On one hand, it’s late and I’m tired. On the other hand, I’m in a Writing Mood™ now and want to keep going, so that’s what I’ll do. I wanted to see if I could fit in a post tonight anyway, if I still had time left after writing a horrendously complicated final paper for Foundations of the First Amendment.
So tonight’s blog post is about to be about BRAIN THINGS because May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I’d been meaning to write about that here anyway. Specifically, this post is about meds.
I’m currently taking escitalopram, 20 mg daily. I’ve mentioned before that writing this blog is my alternative to keeping a physical diary, so I wanted to record my thoughts about where I’m at with this particular med now before any more time goes by and I end up forgetting.
SO. I started taking this med around the middle of February. Don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember that I increased my dosage from 5 mg to 10mg as my psychiatrist instructed me to the morning I left for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in Chicago along with other students from my school and proceeded to get absolutely no sleep for the next two nights at our hotel. (A not-so-fun side effect of escitalopram is insomnia.)
About a month after that, I had a follow-up appointment with the psychiatrist and we agreed to try increasing the dosage to 20 mg this time because the 10 mg didn’t seem to be having an effect. I was nervous about this because I LOVE SLEEPING AND AM CRANKY IF I DON’T GET ENOUGH REST, but my insomnia surprisingly wasn’t as bad the second time around.
And since then… well, it’s May now. Wow. How did that happen? Not only was the end of the semester here before I realized it, but so was the two-and-a-half-month mark with my meds. That may not seem long to you, but it is to me: It’s the longest I’ve ever taken an antidepressant, because I tried two others before and both gave me horrible side effects.
It’s a small milestone, but I’m pleased with it.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week.
In March I wrote that I thought my meds were giving me more energy. That’s definitely still the case. I still seem to tire out more easily than most, but I have way more energy to, you know, LIVE LIFE.
I also wrote that I wasn’t sure if the meds were making me any happier yet. That, too, is still true. I’m glad that I’ve been more productive, and productivity equals a less stressed college student, which is nice, so… I mean, in some ways, my mood is definitely better. But I don’t know that I’m any happier just yet.
Not that I expect to be wildly happy all the time. That would be unrealistic. That’s not how antidepressants work. They’re supposed to level out your mood, so that the lows you reach aren’t quite so low anymore. (And in the case of bipolar disorder, so that the highs you reach aren’t quite so high. Emotional stability and all that.) I feel like maybe my lows are a little less low than I’ve been used to these past few years, but they’re not quite where I’d like them to be yet.
That’s OK, though. Time will tell. Since the escitalopram isn’t giving me any weird side effects but does appear to give me more energy, I’m going to keep taking it.
And that brings me to the third thing I’ve been thinking about and wanted to discuss here, which is that I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in a very long time! I mean, there are definitely times when I have a lot of self-loathing, but it’s nowhere near as dark as before.
At a group therapy session a month or so ago, one of the other members mentioned that he’d been watching Thirteen Reasons Why and went into a pretty dark mental place as result of being faced with material that is triggering to him. My therapist agreed, saying that she’s had more conversations about that show than she can count in the last few weeks because it deals with the topic of teen suicide.
And it led into a discussion that I’m not going to repeat here because it would be revealing super personal details about the members of my therapy group and I’m not supposed to do that, but I will say that I realized then that I hadn’t had any thoughts like that in a long long time. Well, since late December or early January, which I again admit isn’t a very long time to most people. BUT IT IS TO ME. Because when you go from having those thoughts basically all the time, prompted by even the littlest things such as forgetting your dorm room key, to not having those thoughts at all, it makes a huge difference in your life. Because you actually want to have a life.
I’m still depressed. There’s still so much to fix. SO MUCH. And I’m not foolish enough to say or think that the suicidal thoughts will never come back, but it’s progress. It’s proof that my medication is working, must be doing something right. And I’m grateful for that.