“I’d like to increase your dosage,” my psychiatrist said.
“Again?” I asked.
I was already on 300mg of Lamictal and 20mg of Lexapro. These past few months the doctor has steadily increased the dosage - I started out with 75mg Lamictal and 15g Lexapro. Before this, I was taking Valdoxan, and before it, Lithium.
I made my way to the chemist. My insurance doesn’t cover medication, so I scrabbled for 1 million rupiahs ($100AUD) to afford a month’s worth of 300mg Lamictal per day.
After a few weeks of taking it, I was having even more suicidal thoughts. It made me so depressed that I stayed home for two weeks, hiding under my sheets. I lost so much weight and was not going to classes. I could feel my body deteriorate as I ignore calls from my worried friends. My pillow soaked in tears every single night and everything just seemed hazy
One of my worried friends eventually knocked on my door, forcing me out of bed. Although at the time I wished she would just let me lay there longer, I knew she was doing what was right for me. But after she left, I would remain in bed all day. The only difference is that I would come out only to binge eat, trying to make up for all the days I didn’t eat.
I wasn’t very open to my psychiatrist about my side effects and made him believe that his drug was working. Looking back, he wasn’t a stubborn psychiatrist or too paternal, it was just me who was scared of being open to him. It was also sad and weird because my psychiatrist swore by Lamotrigine. Honestly, I wanted it to work as well as he believed the drug would but all it was doing was make everything worst. There were nights of reckless drinking and standing on cliff tops, vomiting and self-harming, and contemplating whether or not to end it all.
When I do walk into the psychiatrist’s office, I just sit there because I do not want to offend him by saying his ‘miracle’ drug did not work. I did not want him to up my dosage again. A part of me also didn’t want to change drugs again. With medication, you can only see if it works after two weeks or more. You don’t usually see a direct difference - just like every other drug I’ve taken, assuming it actually worked. Because if you find that it doesn’t work, then there you suffer through the side effects.
I guess what I want you to take out of this post is to let everyone know that treatment for mental health conditions is not a one-size-fits-all. Meaning, it depends on who you are and what you like—it depends on what works for you.
I find it extremely helpful to write about my feelings and journal every day, even though I know it could be triggering to a few. I find mindfulness and daily meditation quite useless, when plenty find it life changing. Although I exercise, it does not make me feel as good as what my psychologist expects, while it is scientifically proven that it does help with depression. I know that it might not help many to join support groups, but it is what keeps me going. It took me awhile to find my current psychologist and though the current combination of medication isn’t perfect, it is better than what used to be prescribed.
"I guess what I want you to take out of this post is to let everyone know that treatment for mental health conditions is not a one-size-fits-all. Meaning, it depends on who you are and what you like—it depends on what works for you."
It is also very important to work with your psychiatrist on the right medication. Be open to them regarding the side-effects you are feeling and just pour out what is in your mind. It does not mean that you are helpless if what a psychiatrist prescribes you and does not work.
Look at it this way, if the current drug does not work, then it is one drug closer to the right treatment.
I just wish I knew when I was getting help that just because it did not work with that psychologist, or that high dosage Lamotrigine, does not mean that I am helpless.
It took me years to finally find the right psychologist, psychiatrist, combination of medication and a great support group to be standing where I am today. Just know to you strugglers out there, that it is a journey to get the right kind of help and really, just hold on long enough to see it get better.
And promise me that you’ll be honest with yourself on what’s working and what’s not.
Learn more about depression and bipolar at Seribu Tujuan