Like many folks with recurring episodes of fairly severe depression, I rely on antidepressants to hold me aloft. I've been through quite a few of them, starting with Prozac in 1990. Taking Prozac made it impossible for me to pee comfortably, causing intense bladder spasms, so much so that I hardly cared that it also made it impossible for me to have orgasms.
So I was off and running through drugs, rebounding with side effects, and on to the next. If you've been down this road, you know the drill. Surprising side effects, like the flu-like symptoms I had with Effexor, and damaging effects, like the 60 pounds I gained on Zoloft.
I first tried Wellbutrin in 1998 and have stayed on it pretty much steadily since that time. It does have the tendency to raise my blood pressure, for which I also take three different medications, so I did try once or twice to wean from it. But that didn't work, I sunk into a very deep lethargic depressed state each time that didn't resolve over a period of several months, until I finally resumed taking it.
Then there was the time in 2003, that I became sluggishly depressed on Wellbutrin. After 3 months of descent, I noticed that actually I was no longer receiving the branded medication from the pharmacy, but instead a generic version. So I shelled out gratefully for the brand name drug, and felt better within a few weeks. That episode was not characterized so much by a depressed mood, rather a sort of inability to think or stay out of bed. The day it resolved was like a fog lifting.
I've moved about a good bit, and with every move or new job comes new doctors and new insurance. My current insurance is an HMO, which does not even stock or carry brand Wellbutrin. Fortunately, I found that I could order the drug from Canada and have been doing that successfully for the past 18 months.
Until last month, when the package did not arrive. By the time I realized there was a problem, I had been out of my medication for about 2 weeks and was beginning to suffer the exhaustion of neurotransmitter depletion. Again, not a mood descent, but exhaustion and fuzzy-brain.
The Canada Pharmacy told me this "happens sometimes", suggesting that the FDA sometimes seizes drugs at the border. WTF??? They kindly re-sent it and it arrived today, exactly a month since my last dose. Meanwhile I have been taking some old Lexipro that I happened to have, but not really feeling any rebound of energy.
I am happy to have my drug again, but furious that I even need it. I'm resigned to it, I can hardly drag myself out of bed without it, and would undoubtedly endure much worse if I don't continue to take it.
I wish I could connect this up some way to how totally fucked up the health care system is. But I don't even know where to start. Maybe I'll feel more like it in a few days.