Antidepressant Journey Paves Path Towards Mental Wellness in Palm Springs.


Five years ago, I inaugurated a unique inner journey towards reestablished mental health by responsibly embracing a prescribed antidepressant. It was the summer month of August in sunny California and I had chosen Palm Springs, for its stunning allure, to be the backdrop of my milestone moment. Ignoring my doctor’s caution that it may take weeks for the medicine to take effect, I hoped for an immediate change. I deeply yearned for any shift, however minute, towards an uplifted spirit given the heavy melancholy that had blanketed my recent months.

After settling in, it was as though I were embarking on an odd clandestine affair of sorts. Killing time ahead of the scheduled hour for taking my first pill proved a perplexing endeavor as my typical relaxation routine was tampered with. I had refrained from alcohol, which was usually part of my serenity-seeking rituals, given its tendency to lead to dizziness in combination with SSRIs. My heart pulsed in anxious anticipation and I was submerged in a sea of emotion.

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My enduring optimism had grown so much in magnitude that I was hoping for a miraculous transformation following my first 10mg dose. The subsequent days unfolded like any other. The normalcy of my routines combined with no perceivable changes raised doubts in me about the effectiveness of my medication. No drastic transformation occurred that I’d half-expected, lending to my burgeoning disappointment.

The first indicator of change sprung on me just over a week after the treatment began. A feeling of sensory overload permeated my body, sparking a spike in anxiety. There was an odd sense of relief for just being fully capable of experiencing something, anything other than tears. Upon consultation, my doctor assured that heightened anxiety was a common step in the body’s adaptation to the new regime. Sure enough, the buzzing anxiety ebbed after a few days, leaving me feeling a version of the ‘normal’ I was striving to regain.

Despite the initial noticeable change, I was still ensnared in doubts about the effectiveness of my medication. It wasn’t until the holiday season when the realization finally hit me. In the usual flurry of festivity and stress, I found I wasn’t immediately plunging into mental disarray. Instead, there was a brief pause granting me the opportunity to utilize the coping strategies learned in therapy. These small, precious pauses, though seemingly insignificant, led to significant improvements upon my life.

Everyone’s brains respond differently to medication, and several friends of mine reported varied experiences. From feeling refreshed after a sound sleep for the first time in months to having the “volume” of one’s inner critic mute down, the effects of mental health medication are indeed diverse. Perhaps the most stirring story shared was of a friend’s father who suddenly found himself humming as he walked out the door to work after starting on antidepressants.

If you’re wondering how to evaluate the effectiveness of your mental health medication, maintaining regular contact with your healthcare provider is crucial. They undoubtedly carry a wealth of experience and insightful guidance. A home-bound strategy could include tracking your mood shifts each day. Checklists, simple self-rating scales like Beck Depression Inventory, or even relating your mood to an emoji on your phone can be indicative of your progress.

Remember, you are the expert on yourself and it’s perfectly okay to rely on confidantes to notice shifts in your mood since you commenced medication. Your dedication to maintaining mental wellness is praiseworthy. Medication may not bring about an immediate, noticeable transformation, but with time, can equip you to make healthier life choices and manage the volume of self-critique within. Your pursuit of improved mental health might include a day where you, too, spontaneously find yourself humming a happy tune, and it’s essential to deeply cherish these moments of progress.