Boy oh boy, well looky here, Jess is writing again.
I know, I haven’t written since like…Apruary of 1856. Pretty close.
Unless your name is Patrick and you live at the bottom of the ocean under a rock, you might know there’s a global pandemic taking place amidst national protests fighting for justice for the Black community. Oh, and it’s an election year. What a friggen nightmare. My heart ACHES for humanity.
We have the whole world at our fingertips (example: you’re reading this from your smart phone or laptop…) to seek information that will help us learn, grow, and contribute to a better future. I’ve been soaking up a TON of resources (a few linked on my recent Insta post here) and figuring out how I can take the right steps for a safe, healthy, equal America. #WearAMask #BLM #DontBeAnA$$hole
Continuing on the note of important topics, I want to talk about mental health today. Lord knows we’ve all been ordering boat loads of serotonin on Amazon Prime. I wish it was as easy as 2-day shipping amiriiiight?
I was looking at some site stats over here and some of my most-read bloggies are about mental health—specifically my experience with Lexapro, or escitalopram, if we’re rollin’ the generic route. I think the last time I wrote solely about antidepressants was about three years ago. We’re due, aren’t we? Did you even want an update? Too late. You’ve already got me going. See? See how I’m fired up?
So listen, I’ve been on antidepressants for nearly four years now. You couldn’t pay me to go back. Sleepless nights, pounding heartbeat, shaking, nausea, headaches, loss of appetite, fear of going anywhere outside of my home, you name it. (You can read more about my mental health experiences here, and about my first few months on Lexapro here and here).
If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I transferred universities TWICE and didn’t have a very traditional college experience because of my mental health. It wasn’t until my junior year of college when I considered medication. It always kinda scared me, because a big part of any sort of hidden illness is the trial and error that comes along with treatment. As a full-time college student, I was already too drained to even think about putting another obstacle on my plate, but at that point, I’d do EVERYTHING to feel better, even if I might end up going back and forth, over and over to find something that worked for me.
Making the appointment with my doctor was scary in itself. It felt embarrassing and shameful. I’m not even sure exactly why. Probably because there’s still such a stigma surrounding mental health…ya know…how it’s kinda frowned upon to call in sick to work when you need a day to catch up with yourself, or the fact that therapy is still financially inaccessible for many and is just a teeny tiny section on most insurance plans, or how “toughing it out” makes you a “sTrOnGeR pErSoN” than actually helping yourself, or how it’s easier to tell a friend you have a dentist appointment than a therapy appointment? Oh thaaat stigma.
Once I got into my doctor’s office and opened up about the way I was feeling, my doctor shared some options for medication and offered recommendations for additional ways to help me feel my best. From there, the games began. I was pretty nervous to take the first dose, because I didn’t want it to completely change my personality or totally vegetate me, but Lexapro was the right start for me. I began taking just 5mg for about 7 days and then went up to 10mg daily, as instructed by my doc. Today, I’m still on the same dose, and I always have the option to increase or decrease my dose with the help of my doctor.
Most of the comments received on past posts went a little like this: “HELP I’ve been on Lexapro for a couple weeks now and I still don’t feel a difference! SOS.”
First and foremost, I am super sorry that I’m not licensed to give medical advice. I can only speak from personal experience, so think of this as more of a friendly support group. Welcome to the club! We have cute buttons and refreshments.
So…because I don’t want to get arrested for impersonating a doctor, I’ll say that it took me a handful of weeks before noticing any significant change in the way I felt on a daily basis. Like, 4-6 weeks, even two months maybe. It’s not going to happen right away with an SSRI (Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft, etc) like it might with benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, etc). If you’re looking for all the answers online (10/10 would not recommend, but I know we’ve all gotten stuck on WebMD), you may find that many people have had vastly different experiences with medications depending on the severity and symptoms that come along with their anxiety or depression.
That said, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS consult your doctor if you’re considering starting, weaning off, or switching medications, or if you have questions about what you’re experiencing. Lean on your friends and family, and use available resources (heyyy therapy, how you doin’ *wink*) for support as you adjust to a different medication. It might take a little bit of patience and some time for your body to acclimate, so PLEASE don’t make quick changes on your own. That could do some harm and I love ya too much for anything scary to happen.
If you know me, you’re aware I’m also a huge advocate for self care, whatever that looks like for you. I love painting, writing, being outside, reading, yoga, and I’ve recently gotten into running. Incorporate different activities that make YOU feel taken care of to help you through your mental health journey.
Three years after beginning Lexapro–aaaand finding a good therapist–I still haven’t overcome my anxiety. That isn’t a fail, it’s just a fact of life. Sure, I still feel anxious sometimes; my medication won’t cure me entirely and a therapy appointment won’t magically fix the way I feel. Therapy and medication are simply a couple of my handy dandy tools, but it’s up to ME to do the extra work. In these three years, I’ve done A LOT of practice to handle my anxiety much better than before. I’m still practicing and always will.
Before I sign off, if you’re considering therapy (highly recommend, obviously) here’s $200 off your first month. That’s allllllmost a whole month of daily therapy totally free. Treat yo’self.