It’s a relatively cool Sunday morning in Oregon. The sun is up, Tibo Bat is on the patio with the birds, and I’m thinking about how Wellbutrin has impacted my life over the past two months.
CONCERNS ABOUT PSYCHIATRIC MEDS
There is a great deal of stigma attached to taking these types of medications, which is a big reason for me to write this. If someone sees this and is motivated to help themselves, then it was worth it.
The idea is that you’re weak if you take these medications. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was by far weaker when my Major Depressive Disorder [MDD] was sitting on my back. And with Autism, the effects of things like depression and pain get magnified many times over.
One of my concerns was that it would impact my creativity. This concern quickly went away when I realized that I wasn’t even picking up my instruments to engage creativity, thanks to MDD.
My MDD was blocking me anyway, so I had nothing to lose in this regard when I started taking Wellbutrin. Two weeks and four days ago, I felt like learning four new songs, and then recording and publishing videos. You can read about that here.
Before this, I might make a video, but it wouldn’t be as good and the performances were lacking. In this regard, I feel that Wellbutrin improved my creativity, or at least my interest in music. There was nothing more weird to me than having my instruments around and not even wanting to pick them up to play for a few minutes.
It is very difficult to compare medications. I’ve only taken one medication previously, Prozac 10mg, so this is the only comparison I can make. Of course, my comparisons should be considered a baseline for a discussion with your doctor. You might not experience the same side-effects.
To give you an idea of what is being compared, I had previously taken Prozac 10mg [generic]. Now I am taking Wellbutrin 150mg [generic], which is roughly equivalent to Prozac 20mg.
For me, the side-effects in all cases involved things that happened during the first 2-4 weeks of taking the medication.
Search online if you are curious about the individual medication side-effects. They generally include things like anxiety, lack of sleep, too much sleep, aggression, changes to eating habits, and more.
The side-effect that I experienced with Prozac was a persistent coating of sweat all over me. Think about that time where you sweat more than anything else. I would take a shower, and I could feel the coating of sweat while still in the shower. The second I turned off the water, I felt like I had just worked in a field all day long. That lasted for about two weeks, and was the first two weeks.
The side-effect that I experienced with Wellbutrin was anger and aggression, one time about 3-4 weeks into it. I got upset about something and verbally cut loose as I flung my arms around. It didn’t last long, and really came off almost exactly like this:
I have no memory of what had gotten me upset. After it happened, I paused and said to myself, “Ah, that must have been one of the side-effects.” It did not happen again, and has not happened since.
Of course, in both cases one is capable of having more than one side-effect at any given time. Keep that in mind.
WHAT I DID NOT WANT
I had stopped taking my Prozac sometime in mid-2020. Smack dab in the middle of a pandemic isn’t really the time to quit meds like this. But I did, and had felt that my life was going in a positive direction.
The problem was that I “felt” it was going in a positive direction, and had no idea that traveling that direction involved a major lie that someone near to me at the time was pushing. When that relationship fell apart, I spent a handful of months just dealing with my MDD alone, and was hesitant to go back to Prozac.
The way I saw it, I suspected that the Prozac put me in a state where I wasn’t caring so much about things that were happening, and that this left me open for exploitation. The reality of it all was that it was the re-kindled relationship that had me feeling more pumped than usual, and it was that prospect that left me open to exploitation.
Wimminz folx BE GONE!!! [as the kids might say]
So the discussion came up in therapy, complete with encouragement to talk with my doctor about it. I remember exactly what I said.
“I don’t want to take anything that leaves me feeling like everything is alright while the world burns down around me.”
The thing about that is the world was burning down around me, to a degree, and I was viewing the fire as being way bigger than it actually might have been.
I gave it a try, and found out that I can still see the fires. I can still feel the heat. It’s all there. It’s just not keeping me from moving forward. That’s the thing.
You ever hear that it’s okay to get knocked down 100 times, so long as you get up 101 times? With the combo of Autism and MDD, when you get knocked down, you STAY knocked down, for years and sometimes decades.
WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE WITHOUT THE MEDS
Imagine your worst year of high school. First, think of the shit players in the game, such as most of the jocks and cheerleaders, the rich kids who are full of themselves, the bullies, the horrible teachers, and other shit stains of the day. Next, imagine the worst day possible.
Then, live in a world where that day never ends. Every single day that you wake up is the same shit day. It’s all coated in hopelessness.
It’s the ONLY thing worse than high school, and that is eternal repetition of the same worst day, over and over and over again, for the majority of your life.
Every morning, you wake up and your first thought is, “Awww, shit! I’m still alive.” What a way to start your morning. This sets the tone for the entire day.
Maybe the worst thing that was happening before the meds was persistent, perpetual, invasive rumination. Scenes would play out over and over again in my head. That time at college orientation in 1983 that went really, really bad? Here, let’s re-live that shit every single day of your life.
There was no such thing as a day off.
This encourages bad habits, like not bathing as often as needed. I’d force myself to shower every other day.
And there was the whole hating life and wishing I were dead part.
The entire experience was ugly.
WHAT LIFE IS LIKE WITH THE MEDS
I wake up without any negative thoughts. I will shower if I need it, or at least every other day, without negotiating with myself about doing it later. This negotiation also does not exist with regard to taking out the trash, checking the mail, or going to the grocery store.
Instead of getting overwhelmed at the idea of learning to do something new, I will jump and start doing while I am learning. I had some chicken and found a new recipe and tried it out for the first time. This is something I never would have done without the meds.
The intrusive and persistent rumination no longer happens, and I think this is the biggest thing. Right now, I probably couldn’t ruminate even if I tried. Rumination of the past destroys both the present and the future.
I look forward to writing here, as I look forward to picking up an instrument, or running an errand, or just about anything else.
I have the capacity to appreciate the few good things in life, without letting the overwhelming number of bad things get in the way.
WHAT THE MEDS DO NOT DO, AND A TEST
Yes, this medication helps with my MDD, it helps me get out of bed, and it helps me live the life that I need to live.
There are a few things that this medication does not do. One of those things involves my opinions and thoughts on life. I still have a negative opinion of humans in general, contempt for the suffering we have to endure via systemic abuse and horrific leadership.
I used to let these things weigh me down. Now I acknowledge them before moving on.
But the big thing is that this medication does not inhibit or otherwise fix my Autism. It does help with some of the anxiety, but it doesn’t really stop me from being me, which is unfortunate in some situations.
I tested it out the other day by going out to a little shop in town, because I know the little old lady who runs it. I know a handful of business owners in town and stop in to talk with them, for the social practice.
This little old lady had three other little old ladies with her. They invited me to sit down. One of them had heard that I was a musician, so we started talking about that.
Then, for some reason, they changed the discussion to politics, and they ended up saying some rather ridiculous and stupid things.
“My friend had a bad COVID vaccine reaction and wrote about it on Facebook, but they took it down. CENSORSHIP!!! FIRST AMENDMENT! And did you hear what Biden is doing? He’s bringing in the ILLEGALS by the busloads. One million so far, and he’s spreading them all over the country! So much for the border.”
Now, if I were neurotypical, I might hear this and view it as an opportunity to politely excuse myself and leave. But, of course, I did NOT do that. Unfortunately for me, I got comfortable with the conversation, so I threw in my two cents.
“None of that is really happening.”
Oh boy, if you’ve never had four little old ladies get aggressive with you, then you haven’t experienced life. These people are so full of anger, fear, and hatred that it is unsettling to experience in-person.
I did get up and excuse myself before leaving.
This is where things got tricky. There is another issue of mine and that is called catastrophizing. In this case, it sounded like this.
“Oh no. I’ve screwed up! These little old ladies know who I am, and now they have a good reason to hate me. After all, this is a small town with more churches per square mile than anywhere else in the country. They’re going to go home and tell their Trumper husbands all about me, and they’ll be looking for me with their side-arms at the ready. I’m a dead man. Better figure out how I can move. Or maybe just stay home all the time. Or maybe I need to just kill myself, since I’ve essentially ruined my life.”
Now, to me, this is still a very plausible possibility. These people aren’t thinkers, and they have no human empathy or feelings. They also view people like me as an un-American who is trying to destroy the country. If people like this are willing to storm the Federal building to try to overthrow the government, then they’ll not have a problem with shooting me in the back at the grocery store, or even finding out where I live and do the job.
As I was thinking this, there was a hard knock on the door. The knock was so hard that I figured it was either a cop or an angry Trumper ready to kill me. I didn’t freak out.
It was an old lady who was looking for someone and was at the wrong building. She asked me how long I lived here, and I kindly told her to get lost.
If I were not on medication, then I would be in fear still, and this fear would continue until I physically moved to a new location. This is because I am not allowed to make a mistake. So when I screw up, I have to leave. That’s just how my life is. I even almost quit marching band because of someone else’s mistake that impacted me and gave the appearance that I made a mistake. Mistakes are simply NOT ALLOWED in my life.
But thanks to my meds, it is easier for me to find alternative outcomes, where they just talk shit and forget about me. That’s also possible.
But yea, I don’t really fit in with small towns and the small minds that inhabit these places. My biggest mistake was moving here, instead of somewhere else. To be fair, I have no idea where I could live where I would fit in.
I have considered getting myself a red MAGA hat so that I can wear it in town, but I’m not quite at the point of THAT level of masking. In fact, I’d rather avoid masking.
As a result, I am trying to learn how to forgive myself for mistakes, and then move on. It’s something that I have never done before, but it feels possible with this medication.
IN THE END
I’ll always be Autistic. That’s a given. The medication that I have been taking helps with the MDD, as well as some of the anxiety that accompanies every single aspect of my life.
One thing the medication did not change was my opinions on things, including life and death. I’m still okay with dying, and still have concerns about HOW I get there. Part of me wants to pick the least painful way to do it and go for it. Another part of me wonders what will happen next.
It’s a case of me wanting to control how I die, so that there is no suffering or extreme terror involved.
I’m not suicidal. Just interested in dying. At the same time, I’m also interested in living. There is a philosophical complexity to this.
“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”-Søren Kierkegaard
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