The Rx Allergy Med Episode


NOTE: This post discusses self-harm. If that’s a trigger for you, then please discontinue reading this post.

Last April or May, I saw my primary care physician for a dry cough that wouldn’t go away. He attributed this to allergies, and prescribed the oral (as opposed to inhaler) version of an allergy medication.

I took the first dose on Saturday night, and felt inexplicably moody the next day — like I was PMSing, but I wasn’t. I took a second dose Sunday night, and by Monday I was a mess. I felt depressed and had suicidal thoughts. Sounds like a description of side effects, doesn’t it? That’s because they are! My suicidal thoughts, I knew, weren’t “real” as opposed to “induced,” because I didn’t really want to kill myself. I didn’t want to die. But I wanted to self-harm…I couldn’t get away from it.

I hadn’t self-harmed in months, and before that, in years. But this time the pull was incredibly strong. When I’ve self-harmed in the past, it was because I had so much emotional pain that I felt the only way to release it was to cut myself, make myself bleed. I was, in my opinion, transferring the emotional pain to physical pain because physical wounds heal. Guess what? It doesn’t work.

This time, I did it for an entirely new reason: I felt that I should be punished for being depressed. Instead of cutting, I scratched at my wrist until the top layer of skin was gone. Then I felt that I should be punished for having self-harmed, but I stopped scratching.

I called my doctor Monday morning, before the self-harm happened, but he was on vacation. Of course. So I talked to a nurse practitioner who told me to stop taking the medication immediately, which I would have done anyway. Still, it triggered a depressive episode that lasted about 3 weeks. I saw my psychiatrist immediately. He increased the dosage on one of my antidepressants, which helped. Fortunately, hospitalization or ECT wasn’t required.

Photo credit: Charles Williams via Visual hunt / CC BY

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