I had been terrified of taking medication for my anxiety, panic, and OCD. I knew friends and family who'd been helped by medication for mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety. But my illness had me thinking that the medication would harm me. It didn't matter that I am a physician. When I was sickest, I could not think rationally. Evidence didn't matter. When I was hospitalized in 2002, I made a decision to surrender to the professionals who were trying to help me. I also could not stand my brain any longer. The pain had reached a level of horror. I was getting ready to end it. I am mother, and I had at times, had joy in my life. I didn't want to die. So I tried medication.
Everyday on the psychiatric ward, we started with "Community Meeting" where we stated our goals for the day. Every morning, I stated my one goal for the day, "to take my medicine". It was the hardest thing I had to do. When I was safe enough and well enough to go home, I struggled there, but I took it. I had all kinds of obsessions about the medicine. I used to call the pharmacy to check that they had not given me the wrong one.
I've tried various cocktails. I have found several that have worked. Initially I took Zyprexa and Paxil. It gave me my first experience of "well-being" since I was ten years old (not including being drunk). I gained a lot of weight, but I needed the reprieve from my brain's distorted and tortured thinking. I eventually got off them and onto other cocktails with less side effects. I'd love to be off medication completely. But when I taper below my current dose my OCD symptoms come back with a ferocity that I do not want to live with. I have choices, and I choose minimal medication and a high quality of life.
For Parents of Children with Mental Illness:
My childhood was shaped by my fear, anxiety, panic, and OCD. It was extremely difficult. I knew I didn't think right, and I always felt like a freak. I was full of shame and secrets. If I could have lessened the pain, and experienced some easier thinking through medication, I would have had a different life.
Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors
My current medications:
Citalopram (Celexa) 20 mg (down from 30 on 9/28/10)
Trazodone 50 mg
What the Experts Recommend:
Treatment for OCD: Consensus Guidelines