I have just over a week to decide whether or not I will choose to trial an SSRI. I am still very much undecided. As if the decision wasn’t already tough enough to make, there are some complicating factors which make it even harder.
As pharmacy students, we are taught that when we are out practicing in the real world, we should take the time to counsel patients on the medication they are taking. I assume this too would apply to doctors. A good psychiatrist should take the time to explain to the patient the medication that they want to prescribe. I was given the most minimal amount of information by Dr T. Perhaps she assumes I already know about SSRIs, due to my previous psychiatrist wanting to prescribe them to me, and the fact that I am a pharmacy student? She asks what I already know about them from studying pharmacy. I tell her we have not learnt much about SSRIs in first year. She then asks why I chose to take the pills that I took, when I took the overdose a couple of months ago. I say that I knew they would knock me out. To this she replies, ‘Well you obviously knew enough about them.’ There are no further attempts to explain SSRIs to me. I do not expect her to go to the levels that my previous psychiatrist did, in informing me that SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor. That, I know. What I do expect is to be clearly told why she wants to prescribe medication, what does she aim to achieve in prescribing medication and what are the possible adverse affects.
I have my appointment with her five days before my first exam. These end of semester exams determine whether we pass the unit or not, and more importantly for me, whether I’ll be terminated from my course, as it is my second time repeating this unit. The cynical part of me is thinking that if she does prescribe me medication, it’s part of a plot to get me terminated from pharmacy. There is the risk of falling ill from the side effects and I’m hardly going to be able to study if I am feeling ill, I’m having a hard enough time trying to study now. When I saw my previous psychiatrist in Year 12, he wanted to prescribe me an SSRI. It was a couple of weeks before my final exams, he didn’t realise this. Upon finding out, he told me he would see me again after my exams, to talk more about going on medication. Dr T has already expressed her extreme disapproval of stealing pills from my workplace and her lack of confidence in my ability to become a pharmacist. I’d be very suspicious indeed, if she suggests it’s a good idea to start on medication five days before my exams…
Considering she’s told me she thinks I’m simply unhappy because of school and Uni related issues, it’s left me doubting whether going on medication is really necessary for me. And I told her this. I said, ‘I’m not sure whether I really need to go on medication.’ She gave me some answer I can’t remember, that left me wondering whether she’s aiming to encourage or discourage me from taking an SSRI. I suppose I should be grateful she’s not pushing medication on me, like I felt my previous psychiatrist was. Some guidance would still be nice though. I am absolutely confused by this woman, no other mental health professional has baffled me as much as she does. She is the one that’s suggested I try out an SSRI. Yet, my interpretation of what she said is that she thinks I am using mental illness as an excuse and I don’t have depression after all, I’ve just employed some unhealthy coping skills in dealing with the everyday woes of life. Thus, if I go back to her willing to try the antidepressants, I will feel like I am looking for a quick fix, so I can blame all my failings on mental illness. She did however, ask me whether I’m hesitant about going on medication because it would mean admitting to myself that something is wrong, which again is a contradiction.
She tells me she doesn’t want to prescribe me medication if I’m just going to not take them or even worse, overdose on them. Huh. If I wanted to overdose on something, I would not choose an SSRI…
After that initial consultation, I’ve decided that I don’t like her very much. I very almost cried during the appointment. I succumbed to tears after the appointment. All weekend I have felt awful as a result of this appointment. And even putting that aside, I expect basic mannerisms to be adhered to, something as simple as a ‘How are you?’ at the beginning of the session and a ‘Thank you’ at the end of the session. I’ve been accustomed to getting that from every other mental health professional I’ve seen, and I didn’t get even that from her. Hmph. If I do decide to go on medication, it’ll mean I’d have to continue seeing her to monitor how I am going with the medication, for my prescriptions etc. The thought of going in to see her more than I have to absolutely terrifies me. The anxiety it brings may be more than it’s worth. Like I have the money to spend on multiple appointments with her anyway.
If I put aside all the above mentioned factors, well, I still don’t know.
I am afraid of side effects. Superficial as I feel saying this, I fear the potential side effect of weight gain. I am reluctant to consult Dr T about this particular issue though, after she condemned being an anorexic pharmacist and dealt with my eating issues in what I thought was an insensitive manner.
I am apprehensive about going on long-term medication, that once I start taking an SSRI, I will be in it for the long haul. I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of being reliant on a pill taken everyday to make me feel okay.
I am doubting the necessity of going on a psychotropic medication, especially after talking to Dr T, I feel like I don’t even have a real mental illness.
There are also those horror stories that you hear of people who started taking antidepressants. The ones who experience all these horrible side effects, the ones who become addicted to the meds and can’t come off them without experiencing severe withdrawals, the ones who become increasingly suicidal and commit suicide whilst on the medication.
I feel like I am choosing to take the easy way out by taking antidepressants.
That being said, I’ve tried the counselling route. I went to the counselling sessions with my school counsellor in Year 12, I had the eleven sessions of therapy that I did with my previous clinical psychologist. I’m no better than when I started. Though, that could be a lack of effort to change on my part, or a lack of skill on the professionals’ part, or both.
Maybe medication is what I require? By declining them, I could be denying myself the chance to get better.
I’ve been depressed for years, I started cutting myself since I was twelve. Isn’t that long enough to have suffered? I’ve already waited this long to try medication, maybe it’s finally time.
The majority of people who really know what I’m going through and the struggles that I’ve had in the past, think that it’s a good idea.
Medication has also helped loads of people with their mental health problems.
I haven’t yet made a decision. I have more than a week, in my mind, that’s plenty of time. However, that’s my attitude to everything, including Uni, and it’s that attitude that has landed me in so much trouble with being able to successfully plan my time and study for tests and exams. I need to come to a decision soon, a week will well and truly creep up on me and before I know it, I will be heading off to my appointment of doom.
I suspect I’m overthinking it all. It probably shouldn’t be this difficult a decision to make. Yet, going on long-term medication seems a huge deal to me. The only prescription medication I ever remember taking are antibiotics and a flu medication.
It’s interesting to note that when I flick back to my diary entries from May 2009, I am in almost the exact same position. I had come back from an appointment with my previous psychiatrist, where he was being, in his words, ‘…a bit stern with you today,’ because I had taken an overdose. He was pushing medication on me as a result, and used the OD as proof I needed medication to get better. I only didn’t end up trying the meds because my parents declined them for me. Shows how far I’ve come in a year…haha. Only difference is that this year my parents don’t get a say in the matter of medication, the decision rests solely on me. In fact, I haven’t even told them about the possibility of going on medication and I don’t plan to either. I’m not sure how easy or difficult it would be to hide the fact I’m on medication from them, if I do decide to trial an SSRI however…
The last time a psychiatrist wanted to prescribe me an SSRI, he wanted to prescribe me sertraline (Zoloft). I’m unsure which SSRI this new psychiatrist has in mind.
If anyone is willing to share their thoughts on this and/or their experiences with SSRIs, that would be much appreciated. Thanks 🙂