Finding the Right Medication

In my last post I talked about the fact that I get physically ill from my anxiety. I also mentioned that I had a bumpy ride finding the right medication for me and I wanted to touch on that a bit.

When I first decided to get on anxiety medication I decided to talk to my gynecologist about it. You may be thinking “a gynecologist, really?” Turns out, most women don’t have a primary care doctor and just see their gynecologist yearly. Because of this, gynecologists are prepared to handle most primary care issues as well. I freaking love my gynecologist so I am so thankful for this. I have seen her since I was 16. Her name is Doctor Scalf but I just call her Kris. I’ve come to learn that most of my friends actually see Kris as well - she’s very popular in STL. She is so down to earth, easy-going, and understanding. When I was coming out, I hesitated before saying I was seeing women and her first reaction was “that’s great - less chance for STDs!” She makes you feel incredibly comfortable - like you can talk to her about anything - which I do. Anyway, when it came to the end of my yearly appointment, she asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about or if I had any questions. I stumbled over my words and was like “uhm, I think I have anxiety.” In her super sweet voice she said “Okay! How can I help?” She then proceeded to ask if I wanted the name of a therapist or if I wanted medication, or both. I said both. She told me which types of medication she likes to begin with and then proceeded to ask me more specific questions about my anxiety. She decided Zoloft might be best for me. She wrote me a low-dose prescription to start out, gave me directions on how to ease into it, and told me to keep her updated on how I felt. She also wrote down the name of a practice she liked for me to talk to someone.

I started Zoloft later that week. She had me cut them in half for the first week, taking half each day until I worked my way up to a full dose. I didn’t immediately notice a difference. I do remember having stomach aches and a little nausea. After a few weeks on this, I began to lose my sex drive completely. My girlfriend at the time was on Lexapro and had the same side effect. We both began researching other medications that didn’t have this side effect. We came across one that I figured I may try. I called Kris. She mentioned this was more for depression than anxiety but if I thought it would help and wanted to try it, she’d write me a prescription. I began easing off the Zoloft in preparation for a new medication (I apologize I can’t remember the name). As I was easing off the Zoloft, the anxiety came back but worse than I could remember. I was crying about everything and nothing all at the same time. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Doing the smallest things, like cleaning, made me upset. I was a complete mess. I tried the new medication but this didn’t get any better. It seemed to make me depressed and wasn’t helping my anxiety at all. I once again called Kris. She decided to have me try Lexapro. I was on that for a few weeks but it didn’t seem to help my anxiety like the Zoloft did. I ultimately called Kris again and went back to Zoloft. Over the course of the next few months, we upped my dose a few times as my body adjusted - ultimately landing on a dose that worked for me.

Zoloft was a life saver for me, honestly. I stopped getting sick constantly. I stopped getting worked up over the smallest things. I stopped having that sinking feeling in my stomach every time I said something wrong or made a mistake. My sex drive came back with exercise and eating healthy. I became a much happier, enjoyable person to be around (well, in my opinion that is).

My journey with anxiety medication started around November of 2018. By March of 2019 I had settled on Zoloft as the right medication for me. From February to May of 2019, I did some fitness challenges that encouraged healthy eating, counting macros, and working out daily. I got in the best shape of my life. Eating healthy and working out is supposed to make you a happy person. I was happy with the way I looked but I hated depriving myself of foods I loved. I hated being in the gym every day (I hate working out). I ultimately quit the programs I was on. From there, over the course of the next year, I gained all the weight I had lost and then some. I was now 10 pounds heavier than when I started my diet and exercise. I began to wonder if the medication I was on (both Zoloft and birth control) was contributing to my weight gain. I used to get sick all the time before I was on anxiety medication - that had to have kept my weight down a bit. I’ve also heard that birth control can make you gain weight, but I had also been on that since I was 16. In March of this year (2020) I decided I would come off both medications in an effort to help my weight. I thought maybe my birth control played in to my emotions and that going off that might help my anxiety a bit as well.

Coming off both was not difficult for me. However, what I didn’t realize is that the Zoloft was built up in my system pretty well for having taken it daily for a year. At first, I didn’t notice a huge difference. About two months without either medication, I began to notice a change. I suddenly had all these emotions that I didn’t know what to do with. I forgot what it was like to tear up/cry over everything. Not to mention, we were now in a pandemic, Kate and I were living together, and I was about to be furloughed. Kate used to comment that she never knew what I was thinking because I didn’t express a lot of emotion. I’m coming to realize part of that was the Zoloft. With the Zoloft out of my system and us now living together, I think she started to see the emotions come out. I’m back to taking everything personally and getting upset easily. It’s not always a bad thing, but I do wish I could just learn to let some things go and not spew over them for hours or days. I wish when Kate said something that has nothing to do with me (like “I wish I hadn’t bought and wasted those peppers”) that I didn’t take it personally (thinking I should have suggested we eat the peppers or suggested a meal where we ate the peppers because now suddenly I felt it was my fault). I’m learning though. I’m learning to understand when things aren’t personal or have nothing to do with me. I’m learning that I should let things go or sometimes things aren’t as big of a deal as I think. The only problem is, I haven’t yet learned how to cope. I will say though, with some exercise and eating a little healthier than I was before, I am down 10 pounds. I do think coming off the medication helped with this.

I typed this several weeks ago but never wound up publishing it until now. In those few weeks, I have once again decided to try medication again. With moving to a new place where I know no one, being furloughed, trying to figure out what’s next for my life, etc., I’ve become more and more anxious. I’m having trouble falling asleep due to racing thoughts. I’m getting sick more often. I’m crying all the time. I reached out to my doctor and told her that I wanted to go back on medication but maybe a medication that wouldn’t cause me to gain weight like the Zoloft did. She suggested Buspar. I’m curious to see how this medication helps and will definitely be posting information about it as I go!

Anyway, this was a long, all over the place post. I just wanted to share my journey with medication - how it helped me, how it didn’t help, and where I’m at now. If you think you have anxiety you should definitely talk to your doctor. If you do get on medication and it’s not working for you - talk to your doctor and try something else. It’s important you find what’s best for you and what makes you happy. You can always switch back to one you’ve already tried or come off of it completely (with a doctor’s assistance) if you feel you need to. It’s a journey and a process - nothing is so simple. But, it will be okay!

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