I’ve had depression all my life. Through my teens and twenties I would get sick for a few months at a time but most of the time I was okay. But as I got into my late twenties I really started losing it. I didn’t even realize it at the time. I had moved to a new city and started college and I thought it was those circumstances that I was struggling with. I was sick for six years. I coped with isolation, alcohol, and binge eating. I didn’t seek help because I didn’t know I was sick. I hid in my apartment and drank, unable to have relationships because I was so, so ashamed.
I never sought help until after my first baby was born. I couldn’t isolate myself and drink with a newborn, and I went totally off the rails. I couldn’t function, and I was terrified for my baby.
My first psychiatrist prescribed Lexapro. It literally changed me back into my old self overnight. I knew we planned to get pregnant again soonish, so I asked my doctor if the medication was safe during pregnancy, and did I need to wean off She said no, which I can tell you from personal experience is not the case. I got pregnant again, stopped the meds cold-turkey, and went completely bat shit in two days. I don’t know about you guys, but losing my mind scares the shit out of me. And though the experience turned me off to the drugs, I was wayy to freaked out to stop. So I started back up, and everything was awesome, until my daughter was born. I felt that numb disconnect creeping back in, and went back to the same doctor, who doubled my Lexapro and added Wellbutrin. It worked, but I had to wean my daughter from breastfeeding in one week because I was no longer taking a dose safe for infants. This upset me a lot, and I wondered if I could expect the medication to stop working again in the future. When I asked about it my doctor told me I needed to focus on getting better. Seriously.
So that’s what I did. I continued taking the pills and hoped for the best.
I believe SSRIs saved my life. But I’m also sickened by how easily they are prescribed, and how difficult they are to stop taking.
I did not intend to stop, ever. But after doing some reading, I learned that the effects of long-term use isn’t well documented, since the drugs themselves are too new. And I honestly felt like I had turned a corner in my life and was ready to try again, without drugs. So after 5 years on the drug I started a long and slow process of coming off Lexapro. I spoke to my doctor, who was totally supportive. The entire process took 3 months, I had very few side effects, and I’m honestly not sure if they were related to withdrawal or not. I read some horror stories about Lexapro withdrawal (brain zaps!?), which is why I chose such a gradual process. The two books I found most helpful were:
A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies and Reclaim Their Lives, by Kelly Brogan, MD.
The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and “Addiction” by Joesph Glenmullen, MD
Cannabis has been instrumental in this whole process. It helped me a stop drinking, which was certainly exacerbating my depression.
It makes me feel amazing; every speck of beauty in the world shines like a diamond. It helps me be more self-aware. I notice how my body feels. It gives me space with my feelings, so I can calmly deal when shit gets crazy. And finally, it has really enhanced my meditation practice. Or, more accurately, I meditate now because cannabis makes it easier. And that daily practice is rewiring my mind to be more peaceful and positive. I use this app. I love it.
Now I’m totally off Lexapro, and plan to start weaning off the Wellbutrin in a few weeks. I’ll keep you updated.
Also stay tuned for my Mama’s Guide to Microdosing which I’ll be giving away free to subscribers.
Have you found cannabis helpful for your depression?
Let me know about your experiences in the comments!
I am Jessica DaCosta, I'm a proud cannabis enthusiast, advocate, and mom of two.