Medication is only another step in the journey

I’ve been anxious my whole life. Literally. I used to get sick every morning before school and for years, my social anxiety drove me to be patently horrible to other people. As I got older, I became more introspective (through self discovery and therapy). But my anxiety and depression remained.

8 years after I first sought treatment, I decided to try medication. That was more than a year ago. My regimen still isn’t settled and some days I worry it will never be. I started with Zoloft and the occasional beta blocker (and Xanax if things got really bad). I had side-effects on Zoloft and switched to Wellbutrin plus Buspirone. Some days I feel OK. Others I feel almost manic.

Even though I told myself it wouldn’t be the case, I hoped that medication would finally “fix” me. That I would finally be able to join the ranks of the rest of the world, and go a day without dwelling on the thoughts in my head that make me so removed from everything and everyone else. I have a fiance I love so much, and it takes an incredible amount of concentration to look past my anxieties and see into what is happening in her life.

It’s beginning to feel like I can’t sort out what’s going on in my head. What’s caused by the medication? What’s the result of being over-worked, or stuck in a job I don’t find fulfilling anymore?

I’m sorry this post isn’t tying up into a nice bow. Though it is nice to have a place to say this, some place that might have a deeper understanding based on our commonalities.

Man, I’m so sorry that the meds haven’t been helping as much as you hoped. It takes a lot to amp yourself up to make the jump to getting on them, and it’s got to be so disappointing when it doesn’t work.

For what it’s worth, I take Lamictal for my bipolar. Doesn’t sound like that’s what you’ve got, but it might be worth asking your doctor about it if you feel like you’ve gone through mania. I’ve heard of people with bipolar being DXed as unipolar depression and struggling with standard anti-depressants.

It has taken me nearly 10 years to find the right combination of medications. I have more diagnoses than I would care to admit, so my list of meds is quite extensive, but I will say that being patient and continuing to work with my doctor to tweak types and dosages has really paid off. (I take Wellbutrin, Abilify and Zoloft for anxiety and depression.)

I also highly recommend taking vitamins. Check with your doctor, of course, but some ideas (these are what I take): a multi, b-complex, d, folic acid, iron, omega-3 and calcium.

The idea that meds would “fix me” has followed me around for years and I finally decided to accept that they are only one tool in my toolbox. I can’t rely on them alone, just like I can’t build a house with just a hammer. Other tools in my toolbox: exercise, better attention to nutrition, making things with my hands, chilling with my dog and cat, meditation and writing.

I used to spend a lot of time thinking about side-effects and what meds are doing what, and how they interact, and whether it is the meds or something else causing problems. I have given up on that, sometimes the side-effects really suck (excessive sweating, bleh), but overall I feel so much better that I just take them as part of being me. I still dwell on it from time to time, but as soon as I said “fuck it, I am done obsessing over this,” I started to focus on other things… like finding more tools.

Not sure if any of that helps. I wish you luck with “project meds.” Keep at it, I never thought I’d find the right combo, but I did. Have hope! =)

Out of curiosity, was there any method to the madness of finding the right meds? My faith in the doctors, and their seemingly unscientific approach, is pretty low. I never get the feeling they know what they are doing or have a plan.

I understand that everyone is different, but there should be a systematic approach.

Going to start w/ the vitamins again and try some meditation/writing. Right now, I’m on a single med, but it appears to have stopped working and need to take additional steps, starting with making another doctor appt.

Best of luck,


Yes, finding the right doctor. And doing a lot of research myself, which meant we worked together to find the right meds instead of just being told what to try next.

Good luck finding the magic combination, it took me a while so don’t get too discouraged. But yeah, make sure your think your doctor is awesome, not just okay.



@kevin - For many of these meds it’s “We know this works, but we don’t know why,” so it’s often diagnosis by prescription. For many mental illnesses, we create labels like “Bipolar” to describe a collection of symptoms, but there’s not a diagnostic tool where we can, say, do a biopsy and definitively state “you have cancer.”

So sometimes the best method we have to diagnose is “Take this and see if it helps.” And while the prescription method seems unscientific, keep in mind that the process required for a drug to get to market is very scientific, perhaps more so than any other consumer product.

Also keep in mind that most of these meds don’t have long lasting effects. It’s not going to screw you up permanently if you don’t react well - you’ll go off of them, and after a week or two things return to where you were before. The deal I made with myself before I went on stimulants was “I’ll try these for 30 days and if life gets better, I’ll stay on them. If life gets worse, I’ll go off.”

It was an experiment. And while it wasn’t ideal, I got to the point where the cost of experimenting was less than the cost of the status quo.