So I started taking Wellbutrin: Depression, Menopause, Middle Age, and Other Stuff

I’m going to talk about some sensitive and possibly embarrassing things today, including my near nervous breakdown, lady parts problems, and my own vagina. If you feel uncomfortable reading things like that, I suggest you stop. I am not embarrassed by talking about these things, and I feel that women would have so much less stigma and fear, and be able to really advocate for themselves if they could put the shame aside and speak frankly about their bodies and their emotions.

I decided to ask my doctor for meds when I finally realized I was functioning at a minimal level. Showering, eating, going to work. Done. Nothing else was getting done, my house was a disaster, I had no sex drive, and I spent most of my free time in bed reading or watching TV. Mind you, it takes a certain amount of self-awareness to realize that your depression has reached a critical point, and I know there are people who aren’t able to function at even a base level, or recognize that it’s time to seek help. It’s akin to being a functional alcoholic – you do the things you have to, but the rest of your life is a complete cluster fuck.

My husband spoke up, but I already knew I was near the bottom. I was never suicidal, but I also knew things could be so much better. I’ve been dealing with depression on and off for the better part of twenty years. I don’t know how I made it through the early years of my daughter’s life. I’m almost certain I had severe PPD, and it just rolled right into regular old depression when she was about two (she’s almost 19). I didn’t have health insurance and had a minimum wage job, so seeking treatment really was not optional. I have tried two other medications within the last 10 years that made me feel worse. (Elavil, Celexa)

Fast forward to three weeks ago. I went for my annual check up and broke down in front of my doctor. That is uncomfortable enough with a virtual stranger, but when you’re wearing a thin, plastic-lined napkin, it’s ten times worse. I was already concerned that my vagina was trying to exit my body through my vagina, thus creating a rip in the time space continuum, heralding the destruction of all life on the Earth as we know it. I had a hysterectomy four years ago and have had bladder problems for the better part of ten years, so it wasn’t a completely unfounded fear. Though I didn’t get to SEE it, I’m pretty sure doc used a vag-o-meter to test my pelvic muscle function. Apparently my muscle strength is excellent, and prolapse is not an imminent danger.  The relief of knowing my vag wasn’t going to be the epicenter of the Earth’s destruction, coupled with the fear of finally talking to someone about my depression made the tears flow.

I’ve been on the Wellbutrin for two full weeks. To be honest, it has given me a ton of energy, but it feels fake like my emotions have been given a coat of stucco. The outside looks good, but underneath it’s all chicken wire and foam. I’m still emotionally and physically exhausted, but I can’t sit still and I’m not sleeping well. I don’t know that my depression is any better, but at least I’m not a complete couch potato. I guess the best way to describe how I feel right now is “shambling zombie.” I know I’m still dealing with some heavy emotional shit, but I just don’t care. And, hey! I shampooed the carpet Saturday.

I had doc test my hormone levels too, because I’ve had symptoms of peri-menopause for years – well before I had a hysterectomy. Even though I still have ovaries, I was worried that they were giving up the ghost. He said “You’re too young to be in menopause” but I made him do the test anyway. Forty-one is NOT too young, especially considering that women who have had their uterus removed can experience early menopause. If there’s a rare chance of a side effect happening, it usually happens to me. I’m just that damned lucky. I’m not going to lie, it pissed me off a little. I’m so sick of doctors brushing off women’s concerns about their own health. I’ve lived in this body for over forty years. I know something is wrong, and it’s the doctor’s fucking job to find out what. I’m hoping the drugs help. If they don’t, I’ll be going back for a full work up. Probably with a different doctor.

It’s still too early to tell what the long term benefits or effects of Wellbutrin will be. It’s only been two weeks, and I still have those days – probably half the time –  when I lie in bed and binge watch TV. It seems different, but not enough time has passed to establish a real pattern. I’ll keep you posted.

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