Normally I would be injecting Humira tonight. But no more. I have done my 12 weeks, and have felt no benefit for at least the last six of those. And the side effects, particularly the depression and anxiety, are not worth it.
In truth, I can’t believe I managed to stick it out this long. I see rheumy next week, and I don’t believe she will be pleased, because we are almost out of options. But I do believe she will understand. She is a caring doctor.
To everyone experiencing depression, my thoughts are with you.
It’s hard to get up (or not) every day and fight RA, lupus, MCTD, PsA, Ank Spond, IBD…the myriad of autoimmune diseases we deal with.
Depression and/or anxiety make fighting impossible. Depression will take away your motivation. It will take about your will. It will tell you that you need to stay here, in this spot and not move. Make a nest and stay in it. Protect yourself. Don’t risk more pain.
And some days that’s all very true, and exactly what you need to do. But depression tells you to do that every day. And pretty soon you have no life left.
Anxiety will tell you to do the same things, but for different reasons. Anxiety tells you that the sky will fall if you leave your safe place. Something terrible will happen. What? You don’t know. But it WILL happen. So you have to keep yourself safe. And keep everyone safe that you care about. You can’t go anywhere or do anything.
And again, you have no life. No fight.
I experienced depression in my early 20s. There were reasons. I worked through them, with help. And I recovered. I learned a lot of techniques to deal with depression. And they have served me well through stressful periods in my life since then. No one is ‘depression proof’ but there are mind sets and habits that are protective.
I do not pretend to understand how or why, but some medications bring out the depressive tendencies of my nature. I believe it is part of me, because I don’t believe that medications can ‘create’ feelings. But they can amplify them. The things that I feel when I am depressed or anxious on a medication are things that I feel when I am not on these medications. It’s just that I manage these feelings. I don’t let them take control. I can keep them in perspective.
On some medications, there is no perspective. There is no control. There is only a slow slide into emotional turmoil that is difficult to understand, and to arrest. Adding depression to chronic pain and disability is not a good thing.
I am lucky, because I can get rid of the depression by stopping the medication. Methotrexate is the worst, but Humira is a close second. The two drugs have nothing in common. Completely different classes of medications. Methotrexate is a DMARD, low dose chemotherapy. Humira is a TNF blocker, a biological DMARD. And Enbrel, a TNF blocker like Humira, did not cause depression nor any other emotional side effects.
So it’s impossible to predict. I just have to take that chance when I start a new medication. And when a medication is a monthly dose, if the side effects are bad, you know they are going to last for at least a month.
Methotrexate takes a week for the worst to be over. In two weeks I feel like myself again.
Humira takes a week to feel improvement. After two weeks I can feel myself returning. Another week I hope, and I will feel normal again.
The next drug on the agenda is Actemra. It is a monthly infusion.
I am not prepared to risk it right now. I will see rheumy next Tuesday – the 11th of February. I am going to tell her that I can no longer tolerate Humira. And that I need a break from medication. I need a wash out period. I need to feel like myself again for a while. I need to regroup. I need to regather myself and get stronger.
Because I am fighting a tough battle, and I need every ounce of my emotional strength to get through the levels of pain I am experiencing every day now. I need my mind, my emotions, within my control again.
I hope she understands. I believe she will. Inflammatory arthritis is breaking down my body. I cannot allow the treatments to break down my mind. As the saying goes, where your mind goes, the body follows.