I started a new anxiety and depression medication last month, and let me just say, there are reasons why most people, myself included, go out of their way to not change medications. It sucks, bad. But the thing was, I’d been on the same prescription for close to 10 years, and my anxiety was getting bad and my depression even worse. Add to that everything going on in 2020, and I had to make a change.
One afternoon, a couple days into the change, I got blindingly mad at Excel — and when I look back on that moment, getting that mad over Excel might be a new low. I mean, come on: Excel really shouldn’t dictate emotions. I was still working from home because of the pandemic, so I went downstairs to calm down, which led to me finding a bag of cooked bacon in the freezer. I ate it. All of it. I don’t know how much bacon it was, probably less than a pound, but far more than a serving. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten frozen cooked bacon straight from the freezer before; perhaps this is a normal thing people do, but somehow I doubt it. In that moment, as I shoved strips of rock hard freezing cold bacon in my mouth, it just felt so right. It was probably the best bacon I’d ever eaten, and I totally forgot about my computer rage.
I suppose the ironic part was that this medication was supposed to help me, and yet I was acting a little more bonkers than usual. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t depressed. Honestly, how depressed can you be while eating bacon? I wasn’t anxious, either. I was sleepy and hungry — and did I mention I’m a vegetarian?
None of this made sense, and yet it all seemed so right, and I didn’t realize how odd I was acting until I was halfway through the last strip of frozen bacon that I realized my wife was sitting at the kitchen table and had been watching me the whole time. “Why are you eating frozen bacon?” she asked.
“And why were you screaming at your computer?”
I turned around, my eyes a little foggy, and explained that this new medication was making me feel moody and hungry, and now all I wanted was to eat and sleep and be left alone. I explained how every time I change medications something like this happens until my body gets used to it, and every time it feels worse than the last time, and this time in particular felt like I was going through man-opause.
“Maybe you should call the doctor,” she said.
I shrugged as I finished off the last of the bacon and said, “Probably.”
Then I went upstairs and took a nap instead of going back to work.
I went through almost a month of days exactly like the above, unable to explain my emotions, trying desperately to keep them in check, but failing. Most of my actions didn’t make logical sense to anyone but me. I ate too much every day, and I ate food I normally don’t, and all of it tasted better than the food I usually eat. And I know, the bacon eating really shouldn’t be on the list of grievances, but like I said above, I’m a vegetarian, and well… bacon really shouldn’t be on the menu. But bacon is still really good. I want you to know that, but at the same time, I want you to realize that I wasn’t myself.
Changing medications is like a test of yourself. It’s a test of your ability to be nuttier than usual and still maintain enough of your faculties to not get fired, divorced, arrested, or something worse.
Anyway, most of that emotional, irritable, eating phase has passed. I’ll be living with the bacon weight for a while, I’m sure. But on the positive, I want you to realize that I just said “on the positive.” That’s a big deal for me. I mean, honestly… I had a depressive episode when Coke Zero changed their formula, so yeah… I’m easily triggered.
I’m feeling more optimistic. I’m not sitting around focusing on my failures. I’m not thinking about how it all isn’t working out, and I’m not nervous for the sake of being nervous.
So yes, the last month has not been good. Not at all. And if you are going through a medication change in the middle of a pandemic, I understand your struggle. I want you to know that everyone who has ever switched medication does. But I can also say, now that I’m on the other end of it, now that I’ve made it through the fire, that I’m smiling a little more.
I am by no means out of the woods, but with mental illness, you never really are. But I’m seeing a little more sunlight each day, and as someone who has spent years living with depression and anxiety, that’s pretty awesome.