(Re-post from my fannish tumblr)
Up-front disclaimer— I don’t recommend just discontinuing your meds to anyone who’s bipolar and having escalating mood regulation problems.
That being said, I went off my wellbutrin (100 mg) last night, because I’ve been feeling more and more like crawling under a rock, quitting my job, and/or running out into traffic, plus everything, everything hurts. (Anyone who tells you depression is all in your head is a steaming sack of dog shit.)
I’ve been diagnosed bipolar since 2005. I’ve blogged off and on about it as a way to get the thoughts out of my head and maybe because it’ll be helpful to someone else to know they’re not the only one feeling nuts and still getting on with their life. It hasn’t been easy; I’ve had some real setbacks, including starting over in a new career path after I self-sabotaged my old one during a bad depressed phase, plus realizing I needed to end my marriage because my husband (who had his own problems) couldn’t deal with being supportive when I was being crazy.
But since 2009 I’ve been on a drug cocktail that has more or less worked well enough to give me good insight into escalating mood problems— not in a *ooh, lightbulb* kind of way, but at least in a *oh, I’ve been working myself into a lather and I’ve been crying a lot and I hate everyone and I’m really angry and I don’t want to go in to the job that I love and I just want to sleep* kind of way that takes me only a few weeks to see, rather than months. Having a therapist who asks if it’s time to adjust my meds rather than tell me it’s all Freudian shit (fuck you, last therapist, for undermining the fact that I do have a neurotransmitter disorder as well as a fucked up family life, you can’t just turn off the biological disorder like that) helps, too. Plus, there’s that whole blinding headache all the time thing, kind of a clue.
Accordingly, I’ve discontinued the wellbutrin, because the mixed states I’ve had before have always resolved when I’ve gone off the SSRI* for a few weeks & then either reintroduced it or switched out that med, while increasing by 25 mg. the anticonvulsant (topamax) I take and bringing more of the benzo-class drug that I take (klonopin, 1 mg nightly) with me for day time anxiety swings, .5 mg prn,2 mg. max. daily.
I feel better this morning already, with the crushing headache absent and the body aches mostly gone. SSRIs* are controversial for bipolars and bipolar IIs (my particular diagnosis) because a little can maybe help but it builds up and then you get depressed— and me, I get depressed and angry and despairing and— hate everything, including myself. But up until they don’t work, they do.* It’s a catch 22.
We’ll see how the mood is affected tomorrow when I go into work and all those situational stressors reassert themselves. I did leave a voice mail for my shrink (it’s the weekend) of what I was planning to do. I did tell my dad, who I live with, how I was feeling and what I was doing, but that I was basically ok if he just gave me some real quiet time this weekend.
It’s a rollercoaster and a ferris wheel— because it’s both up and down, but also it’s a slow cycle around. I’ve been here before, in this crushing, aching, self-hating place, and I have to take a step back and give myself perspective even as I employ all my coping skills. I have to be my own best cheerleader and say— you’ve deployed your support system, you’ve let people know you might need time off, you’ve been proactive, you’re taking time to yourself, you’re balancing quiet time and coping mechanisms like reading fanfic and listening to music with normal adulting stuff like doing laundry and taxes. I have to remind myself that yes, it’s up and down, yet again, but the relative volatility isn’t as much, and if I was a jerk to someone at work, I did apologize right away and tell them they weren’t at fault— and they accepted that apology and let me be human, which is also a credit to me because this time, this career change that was a little more voluntary, a little less self-destruct, I chose a workplace where, for all there is too much work, at least I am allowed to be human.
Maybe this time, out of the crush, there’ll be some wine to drink— not just me, feeling like pulp.
*I have been on two other SSRIs from 2009-present before switching to wellbutrin in 2011-ish, and my shrink has always called wellbutrin an SSRI. The wise ladyofthelog has noted, however, that wellbutrin is actually a DNRI, which I did not know until today, and which may well explain why I’ve been on it more or less steadily with two or three two-week-breaks, maintaining a pretty good mood state at low dosages (100 mg combined with the rest of my cocktail) for the last three years, when most of my other SSRIs usually only work for a year & a half at most. Thanks, verity! ❤