Pro Lexapro

lexa

About a year ago, I remember searching the internet left and right for individuals’ personal accounts on their experience with taking Lexapro. I remember feeling like no amount of information was enough to tell me with absolute certainty whether I should start to take this antidepressant or not. While some people rate it with 5 stars, others give it a 1. I knew that I wasn’t happy. I knew that I experienced what appeared to be an abnormal amount of anxiety. I knew that day-to-day life shouldn’t be as difficult as it was. But who was to say whether Lexapro would help, or alternatively make things worse? Apparently, it was a risk that I was willing to take at the time.

Today, I wonder where I’d be without my daily dose of Lexapro. Would I still be crying every day on my drive to work? Would I still be angry, and lash out at people who said the wrong thing, and got on my nerves? Would I still feel hopeless, and wonder whether I would ever be able to find positivity again in my life? I may never know. But one thing I do know for sure is that my 5mg dose of this antidepressant has completely changed my life.

While I’m not usually an advocate of medication, I am an advocate of taking medication when you truly need it, and have no other options that you feel will suffice. I am writing this post on my experience with Lexapro because there are so many people that suffer with depression, but refuse to try taking medication for fear of a dependency on it, or the negative stigma that is unfortunately associated with these types of mental health pills. I remember having the same fears. I remember wanting to feel better ASAP so that I could stop taking them immediately and resume with my medication-free, ‘normal’ life. However, today I feel 100% stable and happy, and I can’t imagine ever getting back off. Life is different now. Life is better. I can breathe again, and not be bogged down by the occasional sadness and disappointments that are an inherent part of being human.

Lexapro has changed my outlook on everything. I am positive. I am optimistic. I see the good in even the bad situations. I am finally who I was meant to be. I am reaching my potential. It is amazing how effortless life begins to be, when you get rid of the constant cloud that is burdening and weighing you down in everything you do. I feel like I am finally on the same playing field as those around me. I feel that my emotions are not as charged, or volatile.

If you ever got to know me in real life, you would never guess that I’m on Lexapro. You would never guess that I was once depressed. I am normal on medication, and a little less normal not on medication. I have learned to accept that I am better with the help of this pill, and that therefore I need it. I am learning to accept that I have depression, and that my brain chemicals may very well be naturally ‘off’. That’s okay. I am happy to be who I am, as I feel that I can appreciate a happy life so much more now that I’ve experienced the darkness.

I often write about my experience with Lexapro, as I still have trouble believing that such a little dose of this pill can have such an incredible, long-lasting effect on my life. I feel grateful every day that I have given it a chance to help me.

If you think you may be struggling with depression, it might be worth it to visit your health professional. Changing your life is a function of your willingness to take control of your life, rather than letting it take control of you.

xx allie

P.S. –Please remember that this is my personal experience on Lexapro. Lexapro may not work for everyone, and may not be right for you. Consult with your physician before attempting to take any antidepressant for the first time. Often medication is recommended with therapy. I have been seeing a therapist regularly, which helps in tandem with the medication.  Please do your research before deciding to make any significant changes to your life, in this respect.

“13 Reasons Why” Review (Mild Spoiler Alert)

hannah baker

I honestly don’t even know how to begin this post. This series had a lot of shock-value, but the strange thing is, it was wildly realistic. The series starts off with a recording of a young high school girl, Hannah Baker, explaining that by the time anyone hears the recording, she will have already killed herself. She then proceeds to explain how she’s recorded 13 different tapes, outlining the 13 reasons that led up to, and caused her suicide. She has requested that 13 people (all who contributed to her suicide in some way) listen to the tapes and pass them along to the next one on the list after finishing.

If you aren’t a fan of dark shows, then you probably won’t like this one. However, I couldn’t help but be drawn in as I witnessed a likeable and charismatic young girl suffer from the constant bashing and bullying of nearly everyone around her. And while she isn’t always the target of the antagonists, she unfortunately must bear witness to some of the awful things that occur behind the scenes of the high school setting.

She quickly learns that her peers only care to look out for themselves, and will easily throw her under the bus to avoid criticism or confrontation from others. She learns that making friends is not an easy task, and that even the people she considers friends at one point or another, make poor decisions and betray her in the end. She is objectified by the students, and has to endure unwanted attention towards her body, and inappropriate ass-slaps by boys in public settings. She has loving parents, but they are constantly swept up in their business, getting by from paycheck to paycheck and in turn paying little attention to their daughter, who is clearly not okay.

The romance in the story is sweet and promising, but unfortunately Hannah pushes away even the boy she secretly loves due to her fear of being used and hurt yet again. She loses trust for everyone around her, and ultimately feels alone and empty. She makes efforts to participate in school activities, like the “Dollar Valentine” or the poetry club, but even those backfire and she’s left in despair. Hannah stands up for herself in many occasions, and faces the criticism head-on, but towards the end she loses the battle and ceases to care about anything. After trying so desperately to get through the drama that has become her life, she comes to believe that the world would be better off without her in it. She cries for help, and even visits the school counselor as a last ditch attempt to save her life, only to be disappointed one final time by his lack of support and professionalism.

Hannah Baker, although not a real student in the real world, has a story that is shared by many. Many students feel afraid to go to school because of the extreme peer pressure and disparagement that exists. And while students should be supporting one another and lifting each other’s spirits, it is exactly the opposite in too many cases. Although one bad-mannered comment may not mean much to the person who says it, it could potentially be the comment that causes someone to pull the trigger. We can’t pretend that we understand what others might be going through. Everybody has their own story, their own past, or their own family issues. There is more to life than meets the eye, and kindness and compassion can mean all of the difference to someone who is struggling with the will to stay alive. This show truly mastered the dangers of teenage life, and the everyday challenges that so many kids must face. While it is a difficult show to watch, the message is quite profound. The show encourages parents and schools to pay better attention to those children who may be struggling. It encourages children to be kinder to one another, and more accepting. It is a devastating portrayal of the sorrows of life growing up, but the sad part is that it’s hardly an exaggeration.

The show concludes with a lot of questions unanswered, making me squirm with anticipation for the second season. Although the ending is sad, as you are made aware from the very beginning, there is still hope for justice to Hannah’s family and a sense of humanity for those people who come forward to make things right for all of those involved. Nothing but amazing things to say about this show and its impact on me, and hopefully on others. Take a chance & give it a watch. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

xx allie

Update: 10 Months on Lexapro

allie

It’s been 10 months that I’ve been on Lexapro now, and let me tell ya, time flies when you’re happy.

Lexapro has undoubtedly changed my life. On only 5 mg, I am a different person. I am finally me. The effects of lexapro were, and continue to be, astounding for me. I see the world through rose colored glasses, and glean positivity from most all scenarios. Things that would normally bother me, still do, but I no longer ruminate on them and allow them to ruin my day. Small problems stay just that…small. Things no longer escalate into catastrophic emotional turmoil or a downward spiral with no end. Responsibilities no longer feel  daunting, overwhelming, or impossible. I welcome my responsibilities more readily, and do not feel angry or resentful to have them. I am more confident, as my self-esteem has greatly increased. Make no mistake…it is not inflated, but it is finally normal and exists! My irritability and anger has subsided, making my interactions with others much more pleasant than before. I am no longer guilty for carrying so much negativity around everywhere I went.

Lexapro is like a magic wand. It’s science, but it feels like magic. I didn’t doubt it’s ability to help me get through my depression, but I never imagined how drastically different I would feel in my day-to-day life. A good day before Lexapro, is a mediocre day on Lexapro. The bad is never as bad as the good is good. I still get sad. I still cry. I still care about all of the same things I used to. But now, things don’t seem as drastic. If something upsetting happens, it’s not the end of the world. I am more equipped to handle disappointment. I am more motivated to finish tasks I’m not excited to begin.

The positive effects of Lexapro last over time. I have been on 5mg from the very beginning, and have never felt a reason to increase my dose. My body does not get used to it, and then need more to get the same effects. The right dose is the right dose, period. (Or at least in my own experience).

Lasting side effects:

When you’re depressed, you often lose your appetite. Food isn’t appetizing, and it doesn’t taste nearly as satisfying either. As the lexapro kicks in and diminishes the depression, your appetite comes back. Food becomes enjoyable again. To me, this was a good thing. I had lost about 20 pounds while depressed (mostly because I was eating 1/3 to 1/2 of my normal portions). In the last 10 months, I’ve gained about 10 pounds back. I feel that I am at my healthy weight now. Do I think the Lexapro caused me to gain weight? No. I think getting my appetite back caused me eat regularly again. My body restored healthy weight back to my body. I’ve also been more motivated to work out lately, meaning muscle weight is most likely included. Lexapro didn’t cause me to gain weight. Lexapro restored my appetite.

Sleep: I have not had one night of bad sleep since I’ve started taking lexapro.  Sleep was never an issue for me even before taking the Lexapro, but it’s drastically improved nonetheless. I sleep very soundly throughout the night, and hardly ever stir. I struggled with crazy bad dreams up until lately, but they’ve slowly settled down and become less frequent. Night sweats were also relatively frequent after starting the Lexapro, but those too have become less frequent with time.

That’s about it. Lexapro has provided me with so many amazing benefits, and next to no long-term side effects. If you are struggling with depression, and have been thinking about trying an antidepressant, I would highly recommend trying Lexapro. One of the best parts about this pill is that it’s also an anti-anxiety pill. My anxiety has decreased substantially, and no longer gets in the way of my life. I am now living without any unnecessary or crippling constraints. Lexapro has given me the freedom to live my life happily.

xx allie

 

not so anti-antidepressants

*Pre-curser: Before publishing this post, I was hesitant. Do I really want to publicize this aspect of myself? To refrain would be dishonest. This is who I am, and therefore there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Growing up, I was always a happy and cheerful child. Jubilant, energetic, positive, and lively. Making friends was easy, and keeping them was even easier. Most things just seemed simple.

As I got older, I started to notice a gradual decline in my mental well-being. In college, I experienced a typical amount of work-load stress, roommate tiffs, and boy drama. Normally I was resilient to minor drawbacks. However, at the age of 20, I experienced my first bout of depression.

Kick started by rejection and cheating from my supposed boyfriend at the time, suddenly I was not myself. My personality changed. I could not find happiness in the things that would normally give me so much. I could not wholeheartedly laugh at jokes that normally I’d find funny. I was overwhelmed by the start of every day, and could barely find the will to get out of bed in the morning. When I’d return from school in the afternoon, I’d crawl back into bed, throw the blankets over my head, and wish that the day would hurry up and end so that I could fall into a deep sleep and forget about my responsibilities.  I started to avoid people. People that I cared about and loved. Mostly because I could not find the strength to carry out conversations with them, but also because I could not handle the stress and guilt of bringing my sadness around other happy, unaffected individuals. I would cry a few times a day, lost my appetite, and also any motivation that I was ever lucky enough to have in the first place. This lasted a good 6-8 weeks. Slowly, things got better and I was cured. I returned to my normal self.

Again I was afflicted by depression at the age of 22. I had just graduated from college, a time of my life that I was expecting to be incredibly fulfilling. Instead, I had never felt so lost and empty in my life. Like many, I had a post-college crisis. Suddenly I knew nothing…about who I was, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do with my life. I delve into a state of depression yet again. I started to avoid people, snap at them, cry more frequently, and spiral into what seemed like a never-ending pit of negativity. Although this episode lasted for less time than the last, it was still bad enough to have thoughts of slamming my car into walls and trees on my way to and from work. Again, this passed and I returned to my normal self.

Most recently, I experienced depression for the third time (at the age of 23). Unlike the prior times, there were no breakups or crazy life transitions to account for my sudden onset of depression. In fact, everything in my life was seamless. I had a loving, caring boyfriend. A good job with friendly co-workers, a supportive family, and amazing friends. I had everything I wanted. Before I knew it, depression crept in. Suddenly every day seemed like a marathon. Every morning I would cry before going in to work. I just didn’t want to go, and couldn’t handle the overwhelming feelings that it entailed. On Fridays, I was already worried about the anxiety I would inevitably feel on Sundays, for the Monday that would ensue shortly thereafter. I enjoyed Sundays less than Mondays, because at least when Monday was over then Tuesday would come and we’d be one step closer to another weekend. The crying continued, and the irritability was almost intolerable. I would feel myself getting angry any time someone tried to speak to me, or reach me on the phone. Not just angry, but enraged. I took routes that would mean avoiding others. I would take everything personally, and could not, for the life of me, find an inkling of positivity in anything. I lost my appetite entirely, causing me to lose almost 20 pounds in the span of only a few months. I hit a low. I felt dangerous to myself and all of those around me. When I finally had the opportunity to see my general doctor, it was in just the nick of time. He prescribed me a low dose of Lexapro (5mg), an SSRI that is intended to help with anxiety and depression.

Up until this point, I had always been anti-medication. If I had a headache, I’d let it pass. If I had cramps, those could pass too. A cold? Flu? Nothing was too impossible for my good ol’ body to fight off. This time was different though. Try as I might, I did not have any control over the depression. When it gets you, it gets you good. You succumb to all that it is. Begrudgingly, I accepted the medication. I figured I did not have much to lose, but I could potentially have everything to gain. I could have my life back. If I didn’t like it, I promised myself that I could simply stop taking it. I wondered how it might alter my brain. I wondered if I would feel like myself, or if I would feel like a prisoner to the substance. I wondered if my reactions to everyday events would feel unnatural, and un-me. I was fearful. Had it really come to this? Was I really going to be someone on anti-depressants? Was I psychotic? Why couldn’t I just shake it all off, and be stronger than the ‘sickness’?—for lack of a better term.

Taking antidepressants was even more difficult to me, as I aspire to be a counseling psychologist and wondered if this drawback meant that the field of psychology was not for me. Since I need medication, do I really have the right to counsel others on how to be happy and live a fulfilling life? What would make me an expert if I can’t even be medication-free?

It was at this point in my life that I had to make a choice. I could continue to feel lifeless and depressed, or give the antidepressants a chance to help me. Pushing all of my pride aside, I allowed the medication to work its magic.

Initial Symptoms

The first 2-3 days felt odd. I experienced a dream-like, hazy state for most of the day. I felt drugged, and even a little emotionless. I was extremely tired, and lackadaisical.  However, I did not feel angry, sad, or even irritable. I was too busy being tired.

As the days went on, the sleepiness wore off. I started to feel normal throughout the day. I avoided people less, had an increased level of patience for things, developed an appetite again, gained motivation to do the things I enjoy, and felt a great deal less anxiety. Negative thoughts vanished. It was amazing. Suddenly all of the negativity was just gone. Positivity came into the picture for the first time in forever. I started to actually look forward to work! Everything was easier, and I was able to enjoy things again. I cannot say enough how truly magnificent this little pill worked for me. I am myself again, and I’ve never felt better.

Aside from vivid, mostly bad dreams and night sweats, I have no more symptoms from the pill. It’s been five months now, and I’ve gained less than 5 pounds since being on the pill, which was to be expected since I was eating next to nothing while depressed.

For the level of improvement I’ve experience, the side effects feel almost non-existent.

Self-Work

Although I don’t doubt that the antidepressants aided in my recovery immensely, I have also done a lot of self-work that coincided with the effects of the medication. I have been seeing a therapist regularly, which has been a major help to me. The therapist helps me to see things in different ways, and gives me strategies for dealing with things that are troubling. It feels extremely comforting to have a contact that I know is on my ‘team’, so to speak. She is someone who is here to help me find strength within myself. She has been facilitating my personal transformation.

I have also been reading a number of self-help books. I believe that the more you immerse yourself in positivity, the more your mind will naturally tend to think in those ways. Soon, the habits that I am trying to create for myself will be effortless and natural.

Here is my reading list:

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky

Next on the list:

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and in business by Charles Duhigg

The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

Lastly, I have done a great deal of self-reflection and journaling in the last few months. I have been very mindful of my personal setbacks, weaknesses, and habits. When I catch myself being a certain way that I no longer endorse, I try my best to reset my thinking and behave accordingly. Through writing and reflection, I have gained a great deal of insight. I am not the same person that I was 6 months ago. I am mentally stronger. I have a greater love for myself. I have a greater appreciation for what I’ve been through and how far I’ve come.

I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now, antidepressants and all. Sometimes, whether we like it or not, we need a little outside help. I am no less of a person now because I am on medication. In fact, I’m the greatest version of myself up to date. I do not feel that I’ve taken the easy way out, because I’ve been doing my fair share of self-work…more than a lot of people might ever do in their lifetime. And that’s a lot to be proud of.

If you’re experiencing depression and aren’t quite sure where to turn, you are welcome to contact me or someone you trust and can confide in. Medication (and therapy) might be the key to your recovery. Remember to be gentle with yourself. You are human, and feelings are a part of being alive. In spite of all you might be feeling right now, one thing is for sure, you are not alone. Happiness is right around the corner.