10… 20… 40!?

10 – Taking my first 10mg of Fluoxetine (aka Prozac), was… uneventful.  Yes, I know, I know, I wasn’t supposed to expect the Limitless Pill (see previous post) experiencing, but a tiny part of me thought I’d feel some neurons firing!  Silly, I know.  By the end of the first week, the only side effects I really felt were a little bit of nausea and a little bit of light headedness about an hour or so after taking the pill.  Those feelings did not last very long, but they were noticeable.  In terms of my mood and anxiety, I felt… no significant change. Fairly pleasant mood.  The physical symptoms of my anxiety still transpired.  I was still feeling worried and overwhelmed about a few things.  After about a week and a half on 10mg, I bumped up to 20!  (I think I forgot to mention, the doc prescribed both the 10 and 20 with the initial prescription.)

20 – The same side effects presented, but I did notice some up and down moods, and brief periods of being stoic.  However, some of my physical symptoms started to subside.  The racing heart, accelerated breathing, and chest pressure didn’t seem as prevalent during moments of nervousness.  I say moments of nervousness, because even with that I started to notice I wasn’t dwelling and overthinking myself into panic, like I’d used to do.  Upon follow-up with my Psychiatrist, we discussed, and he suggested upping me to 40mg.  At first, I was thinking “Woah, wait?! How did we skip 25-35?”. Plus, I was not aware dosage could go up to 80mg depending on the severity of the anxiety and depression.  I left that appointment with a prescription for 40mg and that is where I am currently at in my dosage of Prozac!

More on my experience at 40mg later… Stay tuned!

SSRI What? SSRI Who?

So where were we? Ahh, yes, leaving my therapist appointment on 11/23/2019, with a referral to a Psychiatrist. Well… 12/19/2019, was my first time stepping foot inside a Psychiatrist’s office. Between the appointments I was doing too much Googling and watching YouTuber’s discuss their experiences on medications for mental health. So much, that it peaked my anxiety and became overwhelmed. Some Youtuber’s praised them and loved how much their medications helped them, while some others stopped using theirs noting they couldn’t take the side effects, or how they didn’t feel right. I remember when I went to my first therapy appointment, I stated I feared having to go on medication, thinking that meant I was “weak” and not able to “beat” my mental angst on my own. However, after settling down and rationalizing things, the continued cycle I had been used to needed to be broken!

The initial consult with the Psychiatrist went well.  I told him my story, gave some examples in which anxiety and depression get the best of me, discussed some of the sources and causes, and of course we discussed the medication options.  Specifically, we talked about the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’s (SSRI’s), Zoloft and Prozac.  Obviously, I expressed my concerns and asked what I should expect.  Side effects can range from nausea to libido changes (WTF), and weight gain.  In my initial thinking, I was wondering if it was going to be like the Limitless pill, where I “unlock” and utilize additional parts of brain, becoming this energetic “superhuman” that can conquer anything. However, the doc quickly assured me I shouldn’t expect to suddenly become the “life of the party” or “mister talkative, with the bubbly personality”, but the medications should ease my symptoms and get me out of my head so much. Plus, it would assist in executing my cognitive-behavioral practices from therapy.

I decided to move forward with adding this form of treatment to assistant in my mental health progression. Prozac was the drug decided upon. Before leaving the appointment, the prescription was sent to my neighborhood Walgreens.  About 2 hours after, I received the text saying my prescription was ready.  I picked it up at 7:00pm that same evening.  And on the morning of 12/20/2019, I took my first 10mg of Prozac.

What’s The Haps?

Let’s get into present day happenings with my journey. I have been seeing a therapist for two years now. Treatment has consisted primarily of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). What’s that you ask? To put it simply, it focuses on practices to help you change your thinking and behavior, as well as giving you guidance on managing your emotions. From breathing techniques, to exercises, and “homework” assignments, this type of therapy takes work!

CBT has certainly been beneficial to me. The exercises and tips have provided help in managing my anxiety and depression, but I still struggle and get to points where everything I have learned, gets “forgotten” and I “fall”; it’s a vicious cycle. Anxiety is tough and takes me out sometimes. The overwhelming state of worry takes over and I become stuck. I get bogged down, my focus gets thrown off, and I become avoidant of responsibilities. It also gets to the point where the mental anguish manifests in physical form as consistent tightness in my chest (like an elephant is sitting on me), headaches, shortness of breath, and sweating (even if I’m sitting still, not doing a thing). All of this ultimately leads to me feeling down, depressed, and even upset with myself for letting things get to this point. From the outside, most folks would not know, I still appear as “cool, calm, collected” Gilly on the outside, while literally dreading life on the inside; it’s terrible.

On 11/23/2019, I had a therapy session. During this session, we discussed the possibility of adding medication to my treatment plan, in addition to the CBT techniques. The suggestion itself made my anxiety peak, as I never thought medication would be something I’d need. However, when you are tired of the norm and really want to see some different results, it makes you consider the possibilities. I left the session with a referral to a psychiatrist and a lot to consider about what was next in my mental health process.

Hate to do it, but I’m going to hit you all with the “to be continued” line. Be sure to check back!

Nice To Meet You

Oh, hey! Come on in! Get comfortable while we get uncomfortable going through this journey called life. I’m Gil a.k.a. Gilly, a 38 year old black man, born, raised, and still living in the Chicago area. I love to travel, I’m a foodie, I enjoy visual and performing arts, lover of music and movies, a personal cheerleader to friends and family, and a financial well-being advocate. I do all these things and more, while living with and managing anxiety and depression.

Why do this? A few reasons:

  • Mental health is a growing concern for black men. We’re often told to sweep our feelings and emotions under the rug, while putting on a strong front, though we’re dying inside
  • Sharing my story will let others know they are not alone. So many people experience these conditions, but are afraid to speak up and feel alone in the journey; they are not
  • Additionally, writing will help me as well. It allows me to think things through, get the thoughts out, and provides relief

I will try to post once a week. Posts will vary in length depending on the topic. I will share personal stories, achievements, and disappointments. I hope this connects with many people, but like I noted above, especially my fellow black men. Please feel free to comment on my posts (keep it cute though lol) and be sure to share with others who may benefit from reading this.

As Tisha Campbell sang, “It’s the journey”… Let’s push though!!