Adventures in Therapy: Hulk SMASH

As you recall, I decided to try adding Wellbutrin to my brain meds to see if I could deal with some increased depression I had been experiencing.  The first couple of days were me being kind of high and feeling a little jumpy.  Then I stopped feeling those ways and waited for the actual effects of the drug to take place.

After a few weeks, I wasn’t really feeling any better but was still giving it a shot thinking that  it might change OR that the dose I was on was too low and that I would get it increased this week.  However, on Friday night I decided that I was going to stop taking the Wellbutrin because I finally noticed an important correlation between taking the drug and getting pissed off all the time.

See, I noticed that I not only felt a little more depressed, but also that the depression was now combined with simmering frustration and anger.  This is a pretty nasty combo because if it is due to meds, it could be lying and this combo tends to make you really question your life decisions.  The depression makes you feel despair and the anger makes you want to rashly do something about it, regardless of the facts.

At least, this has been my experience.  I know I’ve said this a bunch of times, but it bears repeating: mental disorders like depression lie because the chemicals in your brain change your perception of reality.  Medications change the cocktail in the brain.  If you get the right thing, it raises or lowers the offending chemical to improve your outlook and ability to cope.  If you get the wrong thing, it can drive you further into the hole.  Depression lies and medication can lie too.

As I’ve mentioned, it helps me a great deal to think about my mental health in terms of chemistry and this has been no different.  But I don’t always notice the overall trend right away.  After two weeks of being on Wellbutrin, I found myself getting really frustrated over small things.  There were then enough small things that I concocted an entire tale of woe that was about how I’m in the wrong job, wrong house, and wrong part of the country.  I was constantly screaming in my head that SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!  I would stomp around about trashcans being left out after trash day.  I would be fine and then would become frustrated for no real reason.

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At some point I started communicating out loud that I was frustrated or angry and that it wasn’t making sense to me.  While out with Wes and Amber on Friday night, I said a few times, “Ugh, I’m just angry all the time.”  Wes said I was like Bruce Banner in The Avengers when he was like, “my secret is that I’m angry all of the time.”  It was relevant because despite being generally more angry and short tempered than usual, I was doing a relatively good job not taking it out on everyone, except when I failed to do that.  I was isolating myself more and was thinking that becoming a hermit in the woods was once again a good plan for me. By the time I got home that night, I was smoldering over nothing and finally remembered some of the message boards I read when deciding to try out Wellbutrin.  A lot of people said it was great but a significant number of people reported having trouble with rage while on it.  Finally this thought crept into my mind and I put it together.

After reading about how best to decrease the dose, I saw that generally a doctor will have you decrease it 100-150 mg a week.  Since I was only at 150 mg, I figured it would be safe to just stop taking it.

The difference after a couple of days of not taking it has been impressive.  That smoldering rage has left and little things haven’t been getting to me.  Our bodies are so whacky and fascinating!

I’m happy that it didn’t get worse and that I didn’t do anything rash like quitting my job, moving out and revisiting my old barista career.  I’m glad I have patient people around me who trust me to get through these strange changes in my mental weather and support me in trying to get down to the bottom of what’s going on with me and help me figure out what’s internal and what’s external.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.  After stopping the Wellbutrin, I feel better than I did before I began.  It still might be time to up my dose of Zoloft to get the best benefits, but I’m not super worried anymore.  Keep moving forward, right?  Right.

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