Anxiety · Depression · Mental health · University

Drug lottery

It felt like I lost the week to a haze of sleep.

After my last GP appointment, the doctor and I decided that it might be beneficial to increase the dose of the antidepressants that I was on. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the experience. The fatigue, drowsiness and nausea that I experienced when I started taking them didn’t exactly recommend it. Despite the dose being the lowest possible I could have got prescribed, I’d stumbled around lectures and group work at university, barely able to take in the seemingly incessant flow of information thrown at us. I’d drag myself home after the few contact hours that we had each day to flop on my bed, napping for a half hour to get myself through the rest of the day. I’d lost my appetite and dropped four kilos in a week.

Still, I got used to the drug. I stopped experiencing the side effects, which doesn’t sound as bad as they could have been, anyway. My mood lifted, my friends noticed the change. It seemed to be a good thing, in the long run.

When the GP suggested that I upped my dose, I hesitated a little. We’re on the cusp of the exam season and having a scattered concentration and feeling generally tired isn’t what I’d call ideal at this time of year. I’m already losing hope of passing the end of semester assessments after the couple of weeks where I handled being diagnosed as depressed with ineptitude.

But I agreed to give it a try. A new prescription in my hand, I went home with the feeling of uncertainty just before a change.

The first couple of days on the new dose was anticlimactic, to say the least. Then the dreaded side effects came, and it was much the same as last time. My sleeping schedule became an inside joke in the house. Mercifully, the nausea held off this time around and I ate normally (or as normally as someone eating five meals a day can get, anyway). The chances of me passing the year became slightly slimmer.

But the ill effects abated fast. I surprised and amused my flatmate in equal measure the first time I got through one weekday without a top-up power nap. My normally erratic anxiety levels settled. I felt almost normal again.

Like a friend said, getting antidepressants right is almost like a drug lottery. It’s frustrating that it takes so long for the effects to show up, making it a pretty long process. That’s not to mention playing around with the dose and figuring out which one someone’s body gets on with. All things considering, feeling almost like myself on the first antidepressant drug I’ve tried and on the first dosage change, it feels like I got incredibly lucky in this lottery.

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