Saturday, December 27, 2014

Starting Wellbutrin for Bipolar Depression

Winter has hit and so has my oldest son’s depression. It seems to peek up it’s ugly head every winter. This time, we decided to do something about it and take our psychiatrist’s recommendation to start Wellbutrin.

Of course I have my reservations. I hate that he has to go on another medication, but I couldn’t ignore my son’s pleas for help. Every winter we notice a change in him that immediately effects his school performance. Classes that he once had all A’s in, start to show a series of F’s. And soon he’s failing the class. It’s disturbing to see the drastic change, I’m talking about going from all A’s to all F’s, it’s like his brain has turned off. He can no longer take notes, his test scores drop to a dead “0”. When I ask him if the class is getting harder for him, he admits that it's not getting harder but rather he just can’t keep up, it all becomes overwhelming.

He then starts to feel isolated at school and he talks a lot about bullying, but he can't give any specific examples. He tells me that he has noticed that he once looked forward to seeing his friends at school, but now he just prefers to be alone, and he hates this. He also shared that he no longer enjoys the things that he once did.

He is overwhelmed with depressed thoughts and can’t see a positive future for himself, instead he talks about wanting to drop out of school and at his worst he talks about not wanting to live.

A week before Christmas he was overwhelmed about school and started to beg me to allow him to take Melatonin after school so he could go to sleep and escape all his bad feelings. I found this to be very concerning. Of course I denied his request and tried to offer other methods of coping, but I couldn’t escape that sick feeling in my stomach that one day he may resort to this type of escapism and serious harm himself. Or worse.

Then there was my son’s request for a medication that can help him with his depression. “I’m worried that my depression will come back strong during Christmas vacation, as it does every year.”

So after much prayer, discussion and torment, we started him on Wellbutrin the first day of Christmas vacation.

So far, we’re cautiously monitoring him.

It’s so difficult to make these decisions as a parent. I feel the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders. I want only what’s best for my son, yet I know that choosing the wrong treatment can have severe consequences. It stirs up anxiety. These decisions wear me down. I am so tired.

You would think that it gets easier over the years, especially with two kids on medication, but it doesn’t. I still read the list of side effects with dread and research our choices before making an educated decision. If anything, I think I just get better at worrying. I’m more aware of what can go wrong. I’m aware from past experience that doctors can give bad advice and that meds can make things worse.

At the same time, I know that we’ve seen the most improvement from medication. That my oldest son, for the most part, is living a very fulfilling life. He’s been experiencing meaningful friendships and has felt teen crushes. He’s more plugged into our family and experiences joy. We have medication to thank for that. I think the hardest part to accept is that my son’s mood disorder will forever require medication adjustments. There will always be ups and downs. We have not cured him, but have only made his illness manageable.

This will need to be done for the rest of his life.

This is bipolar disorder.