Getting Fresh Air: Oxygen Doesn’t Fix My Brain, Venlafaxine Does.

I actually hate medication. I hate the concept of it, I hate taking it. I hate brain meds.

Now before you start wondering if I’ve actually taken my daily pill, let me backtrack a little.

I was finally put on medication last year, and of all the millions of cocktails I could have potentially been stuck on, I was put on Venlafaxine or as it is more commonly known, Effexor. I can barely remember to take my wallet with me when I leave the house of a morning, and now I was expected to take this pill on a daily basis to stop me from going batshit crazy.

This was going to work so well.

Complicating the matter further, Effexor happens to have a very short half-life. Which means that if I forget to take it at a regularly scheduled time, it takes less than a few hours before I start experiencing the joyous symptoms of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. These include blinding headaches, vertigo, nausea; and in the cases where due to financial restraints I have gone more than two days without the medication, slurred speech, “brain zaps” (electric-shock type of feeling hooray), insomnia, and just all out manic crazy.

So why would I willingly subject myself to this daily ritual? Simple, because I wanted to have a normal life.

In a previous rant, I outlined all the other options I did to attempt to avoid going on medication, and guess what- they didn’t work for me. I know what I am like without it, so I shut up and swallow the damn pill because the alternative is so much worse.

When I look at people who share photos on social media like this delightful gem:anti-depressant-meme

I just want to pat them on their feeble little heads until it less resembles a light tap on their crown and more a bludgeoning into oblivion.

One of my favourite places to go is the forest. I will go and stand in the middle of it and just open my senses up to take it all in. See what I can smell, try to figure out how far off into the distance I can hear. It is something that quietens my mind and achieves a meditative state.

The only reason I am able to enjoy that is because I am medicated.

When I wasn’t, no amount of getting out in nature was going to stop the fact that I was constantly numb to the experience. The voices that said I was worthless and shit and should just kill myself didn’t just up and vanish in the presence of the forest before me. Being out amongst the trees and stillness of the world didn’t stop those wandering eyes looking for the nearest cliff to throw myself off so I could just be done with it all.

Heading out into the great wild world and experiencing nature may work for some. It could be great to recharge. Some people need to just go and blow shit up on the Playstation and they overcome their stress. Some people just need to light a candle and sit in the bath while reading their favourite book. Yoga works for some, meditation for others.

BUT SOMETIMES, PEOPLE NEED MEDICATION TO FUNCTION AND TO SHAME THEM AND HUMILIATE THEM FOR IT MAKES YOU A FUCKING ASSHOLE.

Image result for patrick shocked face meme

Yeah. You. An asshole.

I have bills to pay. Mouths to feed. Responsibilities to myself, my partner, my pets, my family, my friends, my job. I don’t have time to wade through the constant gnawing that hollows out my chest when I am not medicated. I have to go to work. I don’t have time to breathe and meditate to get through the crippling desire to never get out of bed. I have a partner I want to spend my life with.

I wasted a decade of my life trying to not be on medication and doing all the things that stupid meme said and I got nowhere, accomplished nothing and destroyed almost every last one of my relationships and friendships. While I’m not entirely happy to be on medication in the first place, it is as much the same as taking medication for blood pressure, an aspirin for a headache, insulin for a diabetic.

I don’t. Have. Time. To not. Be. Functional.

If getting out into the wilderness works for curing your blues, a round of applause for finding something that works for *you*. Whatever you find that works for you to get you out of bed and into the wide world around you on a daily basis; it is treasured and I am happy for you. But for some it’s not just a case of “just perk up” or “just go for a walk you’ll be fine”. Leave those alone who have to take medication in order to show up for life every day. Nature is not a stand in for medication, nor should you be pushing or shaming people into moving away from medication.

When I was living south of Sydney, there was this beautiful lake set in the foreground of a mountain range. On a clear and quiet day you would feel like you were living in a painting. It was far enough away from the main roads that you wouldn’t hear any traffic, and if you positioned yourself just right along the path you could pretend you were thousands of miles away from civilisation. The water was a deep blue, gentle waves lapping at the shoreline that became the sound of the lake’s heartbeat. Occasional seagull calls would echo across the water, and there was always the slightest of breezes that would gently caress your skin like a skilled lover.

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Look at this picturesque motherfucker

I would often take a detour and walk past it on my way home, just because why wouldn’t you when you lived next door to all of that? I would sit on a bench looking over the sheer natural beauty of it all, take a deep breath in, and as I would exhale slowly with a gentle smile on my face I would quietly say;

“God I wish I wasn’t here anymore.”

Fresh air will not cure my mental illness.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Getting Fresh Air: Oxygen Doesn’t Fix My Brain, Venlafaxine Does.

  1. Holy shit but you are brilliant. Thank you for this. I have bipolar II (among other things) and when people tell me to snap out of it, I tell them they should try saying that to the next quadriplegic they encounter (imagine telling someone “You just need to think positive and you’ll be able to walk again”) and get back to me on how it works out for them. Fuckers.

    FYI, I found you through a link on FB page Insufferably Intolerant Science Nerd, which also linked to your FB and I’ve followed that, too.

    Anyway, cheers from a new fan.

  2. Thank you so much for this. I’ve forwarded it to my daughter. Her boyfriend is very much against “big pharma” and not taking medicine. That’s great if it works for him but I want my daughter to deal with her anxiety in whatever way is most effective for HER. I have dealt with depression by multiple means for 22 years and without my medication I CANNOT find the motivation and energy to do yoga, meditate, eat right, exercise, etc. So, again. Thank you for this. Tired of fuckers trying to tell me how to best deal with my mental illness.

  3. I shared this meme and I will keep on sharing this meme!
    I’m glad you’ve found a medication that works for you!
    Generally being outside lifts everyone’s moods… and that’s what this meme is!
    A generalisation, NOT for you to get all bent out of shape about!
    And certainly not to shame you or anyone else…

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