A Little Medicine Mishap

I’ve posted a blog about my medicine before and I’ve talked a lot about it on the podcast as well. Recently, someone asked me my opinion on prescription drugs for mental illness. Though I’m very loud and proud about how helpful prescription antidepressants have been here for me, that question made me realize that some people are either liking the medical treatment that they are receiving, or they’re struggling with the side effects or stigma of medicine.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a success story. Finding the right dosage and the right medicine has been a hell of a struggle, but I’m finally in a place where I’m comfortable with all of it. I truly know that I’m one of the lucky ones, as some people struggle with finding the right fit (or not finding one at all) for years and years longer than I did.

That’s not to say that I don’t have days or moments when I don’t wanna throw the whole bottle away. When I introduce new products, medications, or regiments, I have to be really really aware of my mood changes. In the past, when I’ve changed birth control methods, it drastically effected my mood the days immediately surrounding my period – like my antidepressants were just a wash. Most recently, I had a huge issue with migraines. Let me just tell you, finding a headache medicine that didn’t make me feel like either a Zombie or She-Hulk has been a hell of a time. I settled on a pretty big dosage of Topirimate.

Coincidentally, this medicine effects my current birth control method AND my hormones!!! So, I was sporting THIS for a good amount of time before I had enough:

I’m embarrassed that this pic is even going anywhere on the Internet. But, you guys follow me to be real with you! This painful cystic acne was a result of taking 100 mg just to not get a migraine every day for 10 days.

Grand scheme: this isn’t that big of a deal. I bought some expensive full coverage foundation and did some more cleansing face masks in an attempt to rectify. However, the medicine was working to quickly, and my skin & hair were NOT fans. Of course it’s TMI, but I also went from almost never having a regular period, to having one for 3 weeks straight. Hell. on. Earth.

Again, having a good relationship with medical personnel is always a benefit. I was able to shoot my primary care doctor and my psychiatrist about the problem. They advised to half the pills and see if the problems persisted… which puts us to right about now. I have gotten more headaches and migraines because of the lower dose. My skin, hair, and menstrual issues have cleared up though. So, it’s really weighing my evils at this point – deal with migraines as they come occasionally and experience a little pain before I can stop them OR going through puberty for what feels like the second time & be worried about my birth control being ineffective sometimes. I chose the former.

End of the day, even the people who have a good fit when it comes to one medicine, might find it really hard to ever take antibiotics or other prescription medications. I’ve dealt with the physical icky feeling, the absolutely impossible to deal with acne, weight gain, and changes in birth control because of the medicines that rectify one issue in my body. It’s so so so hard. It sucks. It also sucks that some people’s bodies need these little boosters in the form of pills while others don’t. It just further adds to the stigma that is mental illness medication. Sometimes, medicine isn’t the right path for you. Holistic approaches can also be really helpful for mental health specifically (I’ll do a blog about some that I’ve experimented with very soon!)

My face when I’m expected to act normally but the medicine that fixes one part of my being makes my skin hate me, my hair feel like straw, my sleep suck, and my period go haywire.

No matter what your path may be, stick with it. Work with the medical professionals in your life to find the right fit because I promise it does exist. Even people who are thriving at one end of the medicine spectrum might not be thriving at other parts of their medical well being. As much as it sucks, you are strong and you can persevere. You’ve gotten through all the moments to make you brave enough to reach out for medicine or make the professionals prescribe you with some. You deserve the feeling of finding a good fit for YOU and YOU only.

Next blog goes up on Tuesday! Anything specific you want to hear about? Hit me up on socials, slide into any of my inboxes, or email emydsaliby@gmail.com if you want to chat about anything going on in your life!

Wait, you take MEDS?

Yes. Yes, I do! Believe me, there wasn’t always a time when I would proudly proclaim that to the world & there’s still people in my life that think this skeleton should be shoved back in the closet. Nah. It’s out here, because taking medication is nothing to be ashamed of. When I tell people that I take Topirmate because I have chronic migraines, no one tells me to lower my voice. When I tell people that I have to take Zyrtec or Benadryl every day for like 6 months out of the year, they don’t look at me like I’m this incomplete human being or like I’m some kind of unstable addict just looking for a buzz. So, what’s the deal with medication that addresses mental illness? More importantly, what’s the deal with thinking that if we can’t see it on others, it’s not allowed to exist?

I put this picture on my Snapchat story a few weeks ago. Guess what, people’s first reaction wasn’t “OMG, you’re crazy” because they could SEE that something was wrong that the doctors were treating. For my mental health, though, the pain isn’t visible.

My parents getting me to talk to someone at age 16 was hard enough, getting me to take medicine? Virtually impossible. There was no way that I was taking a pill to “make me happier” in front of my friends. What would I say when they asked? When they asked me how it worked, how would I explain that I didn’t really see a difference yet? Nope. Not happening.

Here’s a good look at 16 year old Emily a couple months into taking an antidepressants. I wasn’t good at consistently taking them, nor was I really convinced that I actually needed them. I mean, I could smile….even if it didn’t feel right.

As first-born, my mom and dad didn’t really know how to “force” me to take the anti-depressants I desperately needed. This was like 2013, so it was way before the time of people posting their pills or talking about their dosage. Truthfully, I didn’t have any role models that I could turn to that were also in a position where they needed medication to jump start a mental health journey. Until one day, during musical practice, I saw my friend slip a tiny oval pill out of her bag and into her mouth. To anyone else, it was an antibiotic, a pain killer, irrelevant to their day to day life. To me, though, it was an indication that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone in my city, my school, even my friend group. I had no idea that she was taking pills either.

One day, I got up the courage to ask her. “Hey, um, I know this is weird, but are you on Sertraline…? I just got prescribed it, but I don’t know anything about it.” Her eyes lit up. You could tell she didn’t really talk about it either. Just like that… I had a person that took pills just like me.

Now, this isn’t where the story ends. I’ve been on a roller coaster with my meds for a long time. There have been times where I’ve just cut them out cold turkey because I start to freak out about the idea of taking them until I’m 80 years old. Let me just tell you, there’s reasons doctors don’t let you do that. I went She-Hulk on everyone around me. I’ve gained a bunch of weight on some types of medication. Some didn’t work during the cold seasons so I needed to up my dose.

My story with medication is not perfect AT ALL. Even today, I’m writing this blog as someone who has experienced a lot of medications that affect my mental illness. I’m on Fluoxetine now. 60 mg. It’s a decently high dosage, but it’s one that the professionals around me and I are super happy with at the moment. So, why am I writing this?

While my parents were desperately begging me to take my meds, I had no role models that were taking meds proudly that weren’t also in the peak of emotional turmoil. Well, babe, here I am. I can confidently say that I have hit rock bottom, bounced back, hit it again and grown to a point where I feel called to help people that are going through what I did.

I’m writing to say that the weight gain, nausea, stomach aches, and other symptoms are unfair coupled with what you’re already going through. But, you can’t let it deter you from the goal of finding the right fit. There WILL be some prescriptions that are perfect for some and NOT good for you. There will be some doses that actually help you and are WAY too high for others. In this sense, we need to start thinking about antidepressants and antipsychotics in the way their meant to be viewed: as medications. If you were ill and a certain prescription didn’t work, you wouldn’t just give up, getting sicker. No, you would work with your doctor for a new prescription!

I’m also writing to say that the relevance and awareness about these pills is much more real these days. Odds are someone in your life, whether you know it or not, is taking pills for mental health reasons on a daily basis. These days, doctors know more about the pills they prescribe and people know the point in which they need to ask for medical help.

Most importantly, I’m writing to tell you it’s all going to be okay. Taking medication doesn’t correlate with being crazy as I once really thought that it did. If these medications weren’t needed, they wouldn’t exist… it’s not like you can walk up to a dealer on the street and they’ll have a hefty supply of antidepressants on hand. Some professional, who took all the chemistry, psych, and biology classes, thinks this is the best thing for you… you’d trust them for anything else, what makes this different? Taking medicine means that you need help. Guess what, it is OKAY to need help.