The Trintellix Experiment

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So after taking some time, I decided to be a guinea pig for the research into how Trintellix effects cognitive problems associated with depression. When the psychiatrist first told me I should be on antidepressants, I left his office feeling weirdly defeated. I think it’s because it feels like giving up on myself when I know full well that others would say it’s the opposite of that. Still, I can’t help but feel disappointed that I couldn’t just fix me without any drugs.

Before that appointment, I was told I most likely have had Attention Deficit Disorder most or all of my life. It really helped to explain a few things and I wasn’t all that surprised to be honest. At first I was resistant to the idea of treating it with drugs, but I slowly came to accept it. I’m not sure why it bothered me less than the idea of going back on antidepressants. I think it’s because I was told you could take it for times when you feel you need it (like work days) and not at other times. I’m not sure if this is at all true, but regardless I had hoped that I would be prescribed meds for ADD and not depression.

Maybe it was my way of trying to maintain a sense of control over the situation. And I think I just figured out why I felt so bad after leaving the psychiatrist’s office: it no longer seemed within my control (as crazy as this sounds). Logically, I know I have a choice. But for some reason it doesn’t feel that way. Relying on antidepressants that I will have to take every single day for the next year, and possibly for forever makes me feel like I don’t have control over my own life, my own self. And maybe too it’s partly the commitment, as I’ve agreed to do this for a year.

I thought being on ADD meds might allow me to live up to my potential; I would finally have the energy and the focus to become a healthy, happy person sort of on my own.

All this is mute anyway, as the psychiatrist convinced me it was better to try Trintellix. So I’m officially a guinea pig. I’ve been taking it for a week now. I will try and keep this blog updated on the effects in case anyone’s looking for a subjective account of what it’s like. So far I haven’t noticed any major changes, granted it’s only been a week and they are starting me on just 10 mg once in the morning.

I will have follow-up appointments about once a month, where they have me filling out ridiculously long questionnaires in addition to an odd cognitive test. The only side effect I’ve noticed so far is some minor nausea. I definitely need to take it with food, and if I don’t have enough food, it’s much worse.

Today was a bad day, though I can’t say if it has anything at all to do with the drug. I’ve been feeling sad and hopeless, super self-conscious, very anxious in public, and kind of emotional, meaning I cried easily. It’s not like these things never happen though, so I will have to wait and see.

In other related news, I can’t decide if my therapy sessions are helping at all. I feel like I’m just not committed enough to working on my issues. I do good for a little while, but soon I’m back to my old habits. Because of this, when I go in to my appointments I always feel unprepared, like I’ve been caught in class without having done my homework (which was a pretty regular occurrence in high school if I remember correctly).

I wonder if therapists have changed a lot since I last saw one in university. I hate to say it, but my therapist seems like kind of a flake. I think she’s mostly good at her job, but she has a tendency to get all excited about something and then bites off more than she can chew. She always tells me to contact her outside of work so we can hang out (free of charge) as kind of an extension of our therapy sessions. But it often doesn’t work out and she changes plans at the last minute. After today’s fiasco with her I decided I wouldn’t do it anymore. I’m starting to feel like that unwanted friend or something, and I’m not sure it’s good for the therapy sessions. But then I think about the fact that whatever else, she did get me out of the house today, and she did give me a reason to get some exercise in the great outdoors (we went for a long, brisk walk). So I’m undecided. I will most likely continue to give it another chance, and another…. It’s on her own time afterall…

So that’s where I’m at: still feeling like I’m spiralling, but in slow motion. I’m hoping the benefits of therapy and the Trintellix will kick in soon and give me something to hold on to, change the trajectory I’m on, but still not feeling very hopeful.

Just Be.

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In February of this year I found a therapist. The last time I went to therapy was with a counsellor at the university (and I don’t even want to think about how many years ago that was). I’m not sure yet if the therapy is making a real difference, and I’ve had to downgrade the frequency of our appointments due to using up my insurance coverage.

But, since starting therapy I have been trying to be more active again by getting outside for walks, and buying a yoga pass. I even bought a bike which is something I’ve been putting off for years, (in part because it all felt so pointless and in part because my anxiety makes shopping for a bike a nightmare). But I did it, and it’s locked up outside my door, just waiting to be used.

If nothing else, meeting with my therapist has given me a reason to get out of the house on the weekends, when I’d really rather play hermit and watch Netflix. Once I’m out of the house, I try to take advantage of it. I usually end up at a coffee shop with a book or my work-in-progress. I’m trying to be okay with just being there, among the humans, without getting too frustrated that I can’t concentrate in public. My therapist has pointed out that I tend to think and do in extremes: it’s all or nothing. And most of the time I choose nothing because I’m somewhat of a “perfectionist”.

So I’m trying to just be –outside, in public, visible.

My therapist also pointed out to me that I might have ADD. I never really thought of my symptoms as ADD but she’s right. She asked me to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist to get an official diagnosis. Two months later, the appointment is over. Yes I do have ADD but “let’s treat the depression”.

Because I’m not too keen on starting antidepressants again (last time I took them was in 2005), my psychologist thought treating the ADD would help me get back on track, give me the focus and energy to make positive changes in my life which would then help my depression. I made peace with taking something like Adderall. However, I got to the psychiatrist and he agreed that I have ADD but wasn’t at all interested in focusing on that.

He’s quite convinced that I need meds for depression, and wants me to start with a newer drug called Trintellix because it might also help with the cognitive symptoms I experience, like problems with memory, focus, attention-span, executive functioning of the brain. I remember the long list of side effects of antidepressants and the severe discontinuation symptoms that lasted two weeks or more when I very responsibly weaned myself off of them. I remember the vertigo if I forgot to take one pill. I remember feeling that the minimal improvement to my mood wasn’t worth it.

I left his office feeling defeated. I didn’t agree to anything. I can still call him back and say no, I want ADD meds only, or I can go the Trintellix route. I can also be a part of his research for this drug which would at least mean more follow-up. He also told me about ECT treatment, which I was interested in, but apparently it means two months in a hospital, so that’s probably out.

I don’t know what to do. And I need to decide soon.

My therapist suggested I start a chronology of childhood memories, because mine seem to be so scattered and hard to reach. This seemed a daunting task. But I’ve been working on it. I’m going to post some of them here in hopes that it will motivate me to continue with it.

In the meantime, just trying not to spiral too fast so I can get my footing again.