Autism, Depression

Changing my Brain Chemistry……..

Having completed 6 months of talking therapy I felt that I’d made sufficient progress that I could try and reduce my antidepressant dosage. I’ve been on antidepressants pretty much continuously since I was 16 (the only breaks were during pregnancy). I’ve long accepted that I will need to take medication for the rest of my life. I switched to my current medication of duloxetine back in late 2017. Initially I was put on 60mg a day and this worked well for about a year. In early 2019 I had to increase the dose to the maximum of 120mg a day due to the stress of life. Although this eased the symptoms of my depression it made my emotional range very narrow. Despite feeling most emotions none of these were very intense e.g. I was moved by my daughter writing me a poem for my birthday but I didn’t tear up like I thought I should.

Two weeks ago I started the process of reducing my dose of duloxetine back down to 60mg. I did one week of 90mg and then reduced it the final dose of 60mg. It took about a week for me to feel the difference and the first sign was that I got extremely peed off with my husband when he was complaining about a video I was watching on YouTube (I realised 20 minutes later and apologised!). 

I am now coping with the effect of less serotonin in my brain. My mental state feels a little unstable and my mood can change rapidly. It took a while but I recognise that this feeling is completely normal and it is what it’s like for most people that are not numbed by antidepressants. I’m learning to cope with feeling more. The therapy has really helped me cope with my current life situation, I recognise that I have limits in what I can do daily and that it doesn’t make me a bad person if I make time for myself. 

As well as the negative emotions I have also been able to feel more happiness. I reread my daughter’s poem and teared up even though it was about the fiftieth time I’d read it. I have also noticed that I get more enjoyment from my autistic special interests/fixations. I am able to get a thrill of achievement when I finally play ‘that section’ of a piano piece without a mistake. I have also become completely obsessed with the anime series ‘Attack on Titan’. I’ve mentioned this series before and if I let myself I could write an essay on how I feel about it. From the writing and the character development to the soundtrack it is truly a masterpiece. For the first time I’m even indulging in cosplay! I’m very aware that autistic people can talk for hours about their special interests and bore the pants off neurotypicals so I came up with a cunning plan. When I’m out I wear a very recognisable artefact from the series (a key) that any fan would recognise. If they then mention the series I know it’s ok for me to talk about it. I feel I must mention here that if anyone reading this decides to watch ‘Attack on Titan’, it is very definitely not suitable for children. 

I think on the whole I am better on the lower dose of duloxetine. It is still early days and I know that there are trying times ahead but I have amazing support in my family and I know I can do this!

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