My Experiences w/ Antidepressants: Special Needs Parents Sometimes Need Help & That’s OK
December 28, 2011
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Now Reading: My Experiences w/ Antidepressants: Special Needs Parents Sometimes Need Help & That’s OK
December 28, 2011
(originally written and published on December 28, 2011)
As parents of kids with autism it’s easy for us to get stressed & depressed and it’s often hard to put yourself first and admit you need help and to seek that help out. It was definitely hard for me, but a few years back I made a move that changed my life for the better… This is my story… 🙂
It was December 28, 2009 that I had enough and worked up the nerve to call my doctor and admit that I needed an antidepressant . My main symptom? I was tired all the time…
I didn’t think I was depressed, but I was TIRED ALL THE TIME. I was always negotiating with the wife for naps…
I would go to my yearly checkups the previous few years saying why am I always tired and the dr would say, there’s nothing physically wrong with you. You are healthy. But he would always say “how are you guys doing? I know you are dealing with alot with your son’s autism & all. Let me know if you ever want to try anything.”. And I’d always say “I’m fine… just always tired…”
But thinking back I was more than just tired. I was in a funk quite often. I would come home from work most days in a good mood and would say to myself, no matter what happens stay in this good mood. Then I open the door, see the wife yelling at the kiddo and/or cleaning up a mess he made and I’d be right back in my funk.
So during the Christmas week of 2009 after begging my wife for an afternoon nap I started researching antidepressants. I went on websites like crazymeds.com and askapatient.com and found out that almost all antidepressants have sleepiness / drowsiness as a side effect and lack of sex drive. I was tired enough already. I couldn’t have lethargy and decreased libido on top of it.
The only antidepressant that didn’t was bupropion, brand name Wellbutrin. It was the only one that had energy and increased libido as a “side effect.”. That sounded great to me! On these patient review sites people also claimed it made them more organized and helped them concentrate better. Of course if you read enough, there was plenty of negative reviews / comments, but less than many of the other antidepressants I researched….
I never had any fear or shame about taking antidepressants. The hardest part for me was making the call to my doctor. My general practitioner is the coolest. I called him on 12/28/09 and told him exactly what I wanted to try and with no hesitation he wrote out the prescription for bupropion. No visit to a shrink or a psychopharmacologist… I don’t need to talk to anyone. I know why I’m depressed. My only kid has severe autism, my dad has Parkinson’s and it runs in my family, and so it may be coming my way… I could go on, but that’s enough to write out the prescription right? 🙂
I started taking small does the next day and slowly gradually worked my way up to the full dose. And it did, for me, exactly what I needed it to do. It gave me more energy, more patience, and let me roll with the punches better. I am still me, but a calmer, less intense, slightly more organized me. Plus it increased my sex drive… 🙂
For the first few weeks, I gotta admit, I felt like SUPERMAN! Maybe I wanted it to work so much that I willed it to work cuz it’s not supposed to work that fast… But a few months in I leveled off from Superman to a much happier Clark Kent…
One of the things it helped me with is thinking about why I’m doing something. Unbeknownst to me before going on the drugs I was notorious for dragging the wife down into my funk.
Perfect example… If I drove the king to school in the morning and hit alot of traffic, without even thinking I would call the wife as I was driving to work after and BITCH and MOAN about the f–king traffic! Why would I do that? Why did I need to drag her down into my shitty morning?
Another example is, I would always encourage her to have nights out with her friends but while she was out I would shoot her a text complaining that he’s not asleep yet…or bitching about something he did? Why would I do that? Why would I ruin her night out?Being on the drugs helped me take a step back and see what a jerk I was being.
A few months after being on the Wellbutrin my wife was out with some mommy friends and my son puked everywhere! My first instinct was to text the wife to inform her. The I thought, why? So I cleaned it up as best I could and when she texted later to check in I lied and said everything was fine… Why ruin her night? She’ll find out when she gets home…give her that extra 90 minutes of bliss…
Same thing with the king. I would get crazy at night if the king wouldn’t fall asleep on my timetable. Lots of yelling and stress by me. Now while on the drugs, I just think “he can’t help it that he’s not tired… That’s not his fault…”
Also after being on the drugs for a few months I realized how lazy I had become and how much of a procrastinator I’d become in EVERY aspect of my life. My wife would ask me to get his toothbrush and my brain would automatically calculate how difficult that would be. In my brain I’d be thinking “I have to go upstairs!? and then rummage thru the medicine cabinet?! Ugh!” My brain did that for almost everything! Changing a light bulb was an ordeal… WTF?! That’s no way to go thru life!!
The other thing I realized after being on the drugs for a few months is how much I used to dread the weekend activities the wife had planned for the king. He’s our only child so it’s fair and reasonable that both mom and dad could/ should be there most of the time for his special needs gym, swim, music, etc on the weekends, but I would do everything in my power to get out of it….and if I was there, I was tired….and moaning… And the wife would want throw another activity or two on top of these activities and i would always complain.” You want to go shoe shipping for him after we’ve been out for 3 hours already… ok, but I’m gonna need a nap when i get home…”
These are just a few random examples of how the drugs helped me… But there are tons more…
Now I know you’re all thinking that I sounded like a complete jerk before the drugs…but I wasn’t… I’m still me… Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve always felt that I’m better than most dads and ALOT better than most asd dads…even before the drugs…. As I said before, once i got out of the “I feel like superman” phase the Wellbutrin really just helped level me out….opened my eyes to some jerky things I was doing…. And made me a better me…
Most people besides my wife probably wouldn’t even notice the slightest difference… but the difference in my mind is profound…. And it has helped me immensely… I mean I still get depressed and I get in funks, but they are not as deep and don’t last as long…which is good cuz we’ve been thru alot this year…
Anyway that’s my little white pill story… I’m hoping that a post like this might help take some of the stigma and embarrassment and nervousness with trying an antidepressant away for some of you… And I’m not saying that bupropion/Wellbutrin is exactly what you need or will do for you what it did for me…. But do your own research on crazymeds.com & askapatient.com and see what you think will work for you…and then work up the neve to ask your doctor…
Most of us autism parents are in this for the long haul so ANYTHING that can make it easier/ better in important in my book!
Written byFrank Campagna
I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).