I'm Jules, a 23 year old recent college graduate, currently working and applying for grad school. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when I was 14. I'm 100% committed to recovery because I know how amazing it can be. This blog is about my journey and any help and inspiration I can offer others on their own journeys.
I tag all my personal pics "julespic" so that you can block the tag if you find them triggering. I also tag all photos of food with the "food" tag in case they are triggering to you.
"hello! i am here and i want you to know that even though i'm a lil anon, you are important and awesome! :) your 'about me' says you went back to college--whatcha study? :) i hope your day/week goes uphill!" With love, Anonymous.
Thanks so much hon. My anons may be sometimes small in size, but never small in spirit ;) I studied biology/pre-med in college. I mainly focused on human and cell biology. I certainly hope my week does too! It’s starting to look up a little as some plans work out. I was just so distraught and hopeless. I had to cut my depression/bipolar med dose in half for the week to avoid an interaction with my birth control, so I feel so out of control emotionally. It’s rough to be back in this place so suddenly. I’m hoping that when I go back up to my normal dose today, things will start to normalize. I can’t cope with how unbearable everything has felt.
I feel like my life was a table with full place settings, all the different spoons and little plates, but I hated the way that it was set and wanted something entirely different so I swept all the dishes off the table with wide arms and sent everything crashing to the floor. And then when I went to set the table the way I wanted, I couldn’t make it right because everything had already been broken apart.
"Hi! I'm super sorry if you've already answered this but I was wondering at what dose you started to feel positive changes on the lamictal/after how many weeks? I think I might be feeling a tiny bit different but I don't know!" With love, Anonymous.
My doctor told me that the therapeutic dose level, which is the level at which something starts to have an effect to treat what it’s supposed to treat, was around 100 mg. Since it interacts with hormonal contraceptives, she Aldo said that my dose might need to be a bit higher. I started at 25 mg and I think I noticed an effect at around 75 mg, but its so hard to tell with these medications because there’s always so much other stuff going on in someone’s life. That was also the point at which people close to me said that they saw a marked shift in how I seemed to be. Everyone is different , so that’s just my experience. Things continued to become more noticeable, in terms of improvement. This is probably the only medication that I’ve been on where I can really feel the difference every time my dose goes up.
In therapy I’m working on figuring out what specific things or ways of being treated make me feel loved and cared for. I thought I needed to work on figuring out what was wrong with me that I kept asking over and over to be feel loved by my parents and significant others, and never feeling like it was right or enough. I feel like that’s part of the problem but that I shouldn’t put all of the blame on my brain for this. Everyone has different ways of feeling loved and cared for. Mine might be different than other peoples’ and they might be more difficult for me to figure out. I have a lot of pain from growing up unable to communicate what I needed from my parents in order to feel comforted. I need to forgive myself for not “being normal” and focus on identifying and communicating what does make me feel loved and cared for.
"I've been diagnosed w/ bpII after initially being diagnosed with depression all these years. Currently I am coming off my antidepressant (cold turkey) while starting my mood stabilizer & I'm not that great. Today my older sister yelled at me. Told me what the doctors are feeding me is crap and I'm just a lab rat. The drugs are the problem. She told me I should be sorry because I am selfish and weak. She says it's all untrue & I need to be stronger. I am starting to believe her. I can't do this" With love, Anonymous.
Those things are all very untrue. People who care about you sometimes say things that are really hurtful because they see you hurting and just want it to stop. Many people also don’t understand mental illness. Medications for mental illness are no different from other medications. Depression and bipolar disorder can be debilitating and potentially fatal, just like some physical illnesses. You’re not a lab rat— these medications have been actually tested by real doctors and scientists and used by many other people. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you wouldn’t have tried medication if there was nothing wrong and the medication was the problem— the problem pre-dates the medication. It’s normal to have side effects when weaning off of an anti-depressant and it’s also normal side effects when starting a new medication. I assume you are doing this all with a doctor? Side effects are one of the top reasons that people stop taking a medication. You can give it some time to see if you start feeling better and things start evening out. Be sure to be in contact with your doctor about how you’re feeling to make sure that you’re safe and that your side effects are being managed, as well as to track whether the medication is starting to work. A lot of drugs can take 3 weeks or more for people to feel a difference, and this is especially true for a lot of mood stabilizers that you have to increase slowly to get up to a therapeutic dose. I’m really sorry that your sister said these things that made you doubt yourself. Your pain is important <3
Another Wednesday, another 2 hour bus adventure to get to therapy and back. Sometimes I get there and I’m in an ok mood and honestly I don’t want to talk about all of the things that have upset me because I don’t want to get upset by them again. It seems emotionally tiresome to recount these events. Maybe you aren’t over things if you can’t talk about them without getting emotional again, but maybe some things you have processed and just need to let sit for a while without re-processing. I didn’t use behaviors. Sometimes I want to be allowed to have feelings on my own as long as I’m dealing with them healthily.
"I don't know if this is too personal but I need advice. I have tried numerous medications for depression all that have not worked out for me. How do you know if the diagnosis of depression is right or if it could be something else like bi polar? Have you ever been misdiagnosed? If so did the wrong medication effect you? Can I ask you what you take now and how you feel about it? I feel so hopeless right now. Everything they give me stimulates me. I can't sleep anymore. Is any of this even real" With love, Anonymous.
Everyone responds differently to medication, so people often have to try many things before they find something that works for them. I was diagnosed with depression for many years before they decided that bipolar 2 was a possibility, but my psychiatrist had explored the option of trying drugs for the depression part of bipolar even before we began to explore that. It’s still not an absolutely definitive diagnosis for me. These things are often really hard to tease out. If you think that your depression might be something else, bring it up with your psychiatrist. What tipped them off for me was that I had periods of very elevated mood, extreme agitation/frustration, and low levels of sleep that were markedly different from other parts of my experience in life. Again, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think there’s something else going on.
I’ve been on a lot of different medications over the years and I don’t want folks to think that just because something didn’t work for me or gave me side effects that it wouldn’t be perfect for them, but I’ll answer your question. I’ve been on every SSRI that’s currently on the market. I never really noticed a change in my mood while I was on them. They either made me really sleepy or have insomnia. According to my doctors at the time, there tends to be a spectrum of how sleepy to awake the different drugs make you feel. I don’t remember now which ones did which because it was a really long time ago. I think citalopram had the fewest side effects because I was on it for the longest. I was also on trazadone, which didn’t do much for me in terms of improving sleep, but this might have been because I was at a low weight when I was using it and nothing was making me sleep. I was on amytriptaline, which is a tricyclic antidepressant for about a year and a half. I think that it was improving my mood but it gave me side effects like tremors and increased my tachycardia, so we eventually transitioned off of that once I had something else that worked.
Currently I take lamotrogine (lamictal), which was originally designed as an anti-seizure medication and is used to treat the depression part of bipolar. I think that this is the medication that really helped turn things around for me and has helped the most out of all the antidepressants that I’ve tried. However, it comes with the risk of a very dangerous skin rash, especially if you try to increase the dosage too quickly. I never had a problem with that. It does make my dreams more vivid, which doesn’t seem to interfere with my sleep but can be upsetting. It interacts with birth control medications, which my psychiatrist didn’t know and luckily my PCP did. Basically, birth control increases the dose that you would need to take to get the same effect so when I do a placebo week, my dose spikes. I don’t do a placebo week anymore to avoid side effects. I also take propranolol, which is a beta blocker. I take this for my tachycardia but it’s also prescribed for anxiety. I LOVE this medication. I think it’s been fabulous for me because it helps control the physical effects associated with anxiety and then I can get the mental stuff more under control. I have never had side effects with this medication, although some people find that it interferes with sleep and that they may want to take it earlier in the day. I also take klonopin at bedtime. I was prescribed it for acute anxiety, but I find that I rarely need it during the day and end up taking the dose at night to help with sleep.
Again, just because I had something work for me or had side effects from something doesn’t mean that you’ll have a similar experience. I’m certainly not a doctor, so these are just my experiences and what I know about these medications. Even when things are working, sometimes you need to switch them up. For example, my lamictal was working for a really long time but recently my depression increased significantly so we upped my dose and we’re waiting to see if that helps. The next step would be trying seroquil if this doesn’t work out. There’s always hope and always new medications that your doctor can try. If your doctor isn’t willing to explore options with you, you can always get a second opinion. I have been trying medications for over 10 years and only recently started having success when my doctors started thinking outside the box a little. Best of luck with your medication. Don’t lose hope. I never thought I would find the right medication either. <3
"Jules I am the anon that wrote to you about my depression and medicine increase etc. I had a horrible night, completely paralyzed by my depression. I took anxiety medicine to calm me & it knocked me out so hard that I slept through my alarm & missed my final. This has forced me to be completely honest with my professors. 3/4 of my professors now know that I battle depression and am going through medication changes. I feel so embarrassed. They shouldn't know that I am weak. I feel unprofessional" With love, Anonymous.
I’m so sorry to hear that you had all the trouble with your final and that you’re still feeling very depressed. I can assure you that this is nothing that your professors haven’t heard before. It really happens all the time. Tons of people on here will tell you that they’ve had to disclose their mental illnesses to professors and schools. My mom is a university professor and she probably has at least one person every year who has to disclose their struggles to her and have accomodations. You aren’t weak for having to deal with something like this. If anything, you’re strong for going to school and working through this and facing up to things. In my experience, most professors are understanding about these things and those who aren’t are forced by the school to make accommodations. I know that it feels crappy, but I think that having your professors know could be a really good thing right now. Being unprofessional is hiding from the fact that you missed something and that you need help. Asking for what you need is self-advocacy and it is very commendable. I’m sure that there’s more going on for you than just finals, but finals can really cause depression to flare up for a lot of people because it really is an immense amount of pressure combined frequently with a change in schedule and social isolation. Let me know how things are going for you, okay? It sounds like you’re coming closer to getting through this. <3