More Than You See 3.10 - Medication and Mental Health - A conversation with Shannon Corbeil
8:01PM Jan 24, 2022
Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode of the More Than You See podcast hosted by me, actor, filmmaker mental health advocate Deborah Lee Smith. Every Monday, I come to you to share some resources, have a conversation, and generally just dive into all sorts of topics around mental health. I am not a licensed practitioner or therapist, but just a woman exploring my own mental health journey, and sharing it with you, my listeners. My hope is that this podcast brings you some joy, some understanding, and some tools so that you can build your own mental health toolbox.
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to season three of the podcast. This is the final episode in our three part series all about mental health treatments.
Two episodes ago, I talked about some innovative groundbreaking mental health treatments and specifically shared a listener story about TMS, which is transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy. And that was a really incredible episode. And then last week, I went into how sleep or lack of sleep, meditation and nutrition affect our mental health, and how all of those things can of course, both help us in positive and negative ways or affect us in positive and negative ways. And then today, we are going to be having two little mini conversations and I'm really excited.
The first conversation is with my dear friend Shannon, and Shannon has recently gone on medication for her depression. And I wanted to share this episode with everyone or share this conversation with everyone, because I have not had any experience taking medication to help with my depression or anxiety. And I wanted to share a personal story from someone. And I think that this conversation is really going to maybe answer some questions that you may have or give some enlightening ideas around medication and how it can potentially help someone who is struggling with different mental health disorders. So without further ado, let's dive into the conversation with Shannon. And then I'm going to share a very quick update from a friend who is on medication for OCD. So stay tuned.
Hi, Shannon, thank you so much for being here today. I'm really excited to have you.
Thank you so much for having me.
Of course. So you are a very special wonderful friend of mine. But so do you want to just introduce yourself very quickly as far as who you are, what you do, what makes you happy?
I am Shannon Corbeil. I am an actor and a writer. And doing those things make makes Yep, correct. I speak English. It's my native tongue primarily. And I really like being in nature. I have a new puppy. She still feels new, I've had her for a year now. We found each other a year ago. And I think she's why you and I became close friends. We've bonded through our dogs, which is nice.
It's true. Yeah, they're happy too. I know. They're BFFs and it's wonderful. Um, so the reason why I'm having you a part of this three part series, all about mental health treatments is that you shared with me that you are on a new course of medication. And I really wanted to talk to you because that's not something that I have personally experienced. And I really wanted to be able to open up this discussion to someone who has experienced that. So if you want to give me a rundown as far as like, you don't necessarily need to say exactly what the medication is because obviously neither of us are medical professionals, although we hope to play them one day on TV. So if you just want to give us, yeah, a little information about you know, what you are taking and how it is helping you and just dive in?
Yes, I am excited to. So I have been seeing a therapist pretty consistently for a few years. And something that I've been noticing during the pandemic and then especially recently in the in the past few months, was that I just am I really white knuckling my way through life. And I think of myself as a positive person. I think of myself as an optimistic person, but I did not have the energy or motivation to get out of bed. And I was seeking answers. I did the the science of wellbeing course, which is a free online Yale course, which is really interesting. You take a few assessments at the beginning. And then you take them at the end, and you compare them, you know, and each week it teaches you about something and then gives you an activity to do you know. One week might be gratitude practice, and you learn about how gratitude affects our well being and stuff. And one of the biggest takeaways that I got from that was that I didn't have very much zest, and my resilience was really low. So it took me so much energy and willpower to accomplish anything, even the things that I was really excited to do. It took me so long, so much energy to do it. And any failure, even a small one, just set me back and just, it felt like it just knocked me back down to the bottom of the hill, you know.
So I asked my therapist, if I should just try meds or something, you know, like what's going on? And she recommended that I do an official mental health assessment. And that was, you know, through my doctor, and the list of questions. And through that I was given an actual depression diagnosis. And through talking with a psychiatrist, they and I had said, like, I'm interested, it doesn't feel like things should feel as bad as they do. So that leads me to believe that there's a chemical thing going on in me. Since it doesn't, it's not an external. And so she decided to put me on Zoloft, the lowest prescription dose. And I was warned that when trying medications, it could take trying a different number of combinations can take six to eight weeks to even start feeling the benefits. I was also warned that Zoloft in particular in the beginning can cause nausea and fatigue.
So I bunkered down with ginger ales and soups and ice creams and stuff. And I started the first week with 25 milligrams, and then went up to 50 milligrams, which is my prescription dose. And definitely the first week I was pretty nauseous and tired. And then I started to feel better by day six, seven, and then I bumped it up to 50. And, and again for about two weeks, I was pretty nauseous and tired. And then it felt like the clouds parted and the sun started shining through. And I took off a weight. I feel so lucky because it worked very quickly for me, and seems to be just the perfect dose of I wake up and I'm like, oh, I think I'm just gonna get out of bed and start my day. And I just think, is this how other people feel when they're getting things done. They just feel like getting up and accomplishing things, right? It's just how I'm supposed to be functioning. I wish that I had done this four years ago, right. And so I mean, I don't, I don't feel euphoric. I don't feel, you know, like high, it doesn't feel like my mood is elevated. It just feels like there's nothing weighing me down anymore, is how I would describe it.
Would you say like, have you had any of those things that would have caused a depressive state before as far as like, you know, like, and how has your reaction been to those now?
Yeah, yeah, for example, I had an audition and I felt really good about it. I felt really proud of myself. I loved how I styled it. I loved how it looked. I loved how I looked. I was like, I'm feeling good about this. And I haven't heard from them so I can only assume that they went another way. And something like that. First of all, I would have felt really nervous thinking about it kind of like tension in my chest and in my heart space. You know, just like really heavy nerves waiting to hear. And then realizing I didn't get it might have made me feel pretty low. Like I don't feel like doing the next thing you know, and I was just sort of like, Oh, I feel really excited about how well I put that one together. I feel like more are coming. How great.
Yeah. So it caused like a mindset shift.
It really did it. It really felt like I had been just carrying a very heavy, heavy backpack. Where I'm like, oh, here we go put the backpack on. Okay. Set up my self tape kit while carrying this 100 pound backpack. That sounds terrible. And now it's just like, oh, I guess I'll just set up myself tape kit, it's only gonna take 15 minutes, right? Not a big deal. And then I'll and then I'll put it away when I'm done with this update. Cool.
Yeah, same thing. You know, I just got a rejection notice from a screenwriting competition, and I would have been like, Damn, why? What happened? What was wrong, that you kind of fixate on it? And then now I'm just sort of like, okay, what have we learned from this? Go forth and write the next thing. And yeah, it's interesting that there are a couple of things that that have started to become clear, the way that I was coping would be avoidance. So getting into bed and watching a TV show that I have watched 800,000 times before. And I would just stay in bed, it was sort of like, well, I just woke up, and I don't really feel like writing. So I'll just watch an episode of TV until I'm a little more awake and feel like writing. And then it'd be like, well, it's it's three o'clock now. And the day is done. So tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll totally feel like writing. And today, I just may as well watch more Fringe. And now, I wake up and I'm like, well, I feel like yeah, I think I think I think we'll get started. I think all right, you know, and maybe it'll be like, well, I do need... I do want to tidy up and I've got to cook and stuff. So I'll put on an episode while I do that. And then I'm like, well, okay, did that I'm gonna turn it off. It just I don't know, it doesn't hold my interest as much.
And another one. This one has been very interesting. And this could go back to, again, you and I talked about this, how we're not doctors or scientists. One of the doctors that was telling me about Zoloft said that serotonin has a lot to do with your stomach and your gut. And as I understand, so Zoloft is a selective...selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which means that, as I understand it, I, my brain has access to the serotonin that I produce for longer. Or my or my body does, right? You know, and she said, like, serotonin has a lot to do with your stomach and your gut. And that's why you can feel nauseous at first when you start taking this particular medication. And I had been talking to a doctor about how, like, all I wanted to do was get in bed and watch TV and eat comforting foods, you know, and she was like, well, you know, our bodies try to take care of us. Our brains are problem solvers. It's trying to take care of you. Your brain knows that when you eat comforting foods, you're going to get a dopamine rush, right? And so, like your craving, it wants you to feel better. So it's like, well, here's one way you know, and and I just, I haven't been having food cravings. I feel like my eating feels so much more intuitive right now. I'm just like, Oh, I'm hungry. I guess I'll eat. Yeah, I'm cool. I guess I'll stop. Which was never the case. There was always like, need the craziest foods, you know? And now I'm just like, oh, actually a simple meal. Sounds nice. It not like, I better order takeout have the most flavorful packed combination of foods I can get.
Yeah, that's really amazing. So it's really like impacting multiple levels of your life. And so, you know, obviously, like going forward. Is this something where or do you know, is this something where your dosage will have to continue to be increased as your body becomes used to it? Or is it just kind of a?
This is one where it's like, since I've responded to this dose, yes, it's probably just going to stay my dose. For some people, this dose might not have been enough and so they might need more and so what can start happening, you know, depending on how severe the depression is, or, you know, whatever other symptoms and diagnosis are going on, is that it can really flatten you out, you know, so that you really don't start to feel those higher emotions and stuff. And so it seems like so far, you know, so good. And I'm continuing to do weekly therapy, and then I check in with the psychiatrist every few months now. And so then it's just, you know, it's a constant check in and it also doesn't mean that I will always need to be on this, you know, right, I've realized that it's really sort of a dabbling science where it's like, okay, we're gonna try something, right, you have to give it some time to be patient during that time. And then we may have to try something else, you know, and that can be really frustrating when you're already feeling really low. I know that just from like, physical injuries that I've had, where it's like, I'm already down. And now we just wasted six months trying this thing and it didn't work. And then we just start from the beginning and you know, can be really exhausting. Which is why it's helpful to have the expectation going into it might make you nauseous, this might, this might not work. This might take two months to even work. You just have to start trying things.
Yeah. That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for you know, sharing your experience. I think that in the first season when I talked about medication, you know, Zachary Levi mentioned on a podcast how he felt like when he finally went on medication after years and years of resisting it, that he felt like he was standing on a chair, and all the lights went on, and you could finally like actually see his problems. He was like, like, stumbling around in the dark feeling that things were wrong. But I had no idea like, what the heck this thing was. And then I was finally able to be like, well, this is depression. This is it. This is this other thing. And now I can actually deal with what's going on.
So yeah, I've been experiencing something similar. When you first start going on Zoloft in particular, and other antidepressants and stuff that I've that I've heard of other medications, I should say, is there like... and it could give you suicidal ideations, so please let us know. And so it's very alarming that something that is supposed to make you feel better could make you feel possibly suicidal or have suicidal ideations, these, you know, the darker thoughts. But what I noticed was I was having for about for about three weeks, I had dreams full of stressful content, right? Which would normally be nightmares, right? But I didn't have my normal stress response to them. And it felt to me, like my brain was like, Okay, we've got serotonin. Now, you didn't have that before. Let's go back and review some of those things that were upsetting you, right. Now you've got the tools to feel better as we go through them, you know, like, is this as bad as it felt at the time? And does it still need to be poisoning you now? Let's debate. And that's something that now I've I've just started EMDR therapy to go through, like previous traumas and stuff. And I'm like, oh, and I'm doing that with some armor, I guess, you know, some protection or that resilience that I was missing before. And it felt like just even conjuring things that really upset me before. I'm like, Well, I'm not really feeling upset talking about them, you know? I, I wish that I had started so much sooner.
That's really cool. Well, I'm really glad that you came and talk to us. And is there anything that you want to leave everyone with? And if anyone wants to reach out to you or follow you, because you are also an incredible badass lady that everyone should follow? Do you want to just give yourself a little plug?
Yeah, the the last thing I'll say, you know, I was in the military and I know firsthand the mindset of not wanting to be weak or vulnerable. And I really, and this is something you're doing. I encourage people to rethink mental health as not something that is like wrong with you, but just something that needs balancing, you know, and, and so it's not a weakness to seek aids to help you with that. Whether it's therapy or different self care or medication or something, you know, it's these are all meant to increase wellness. And and so I just Yeah, I encourage people to, to do that for themselves and to explore those things, whatever the avenue might be. And anybody has questions or wants to talk about it. I'm Shannon Corbeil, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter, at ShannonCorbeil. And Corbeil is C as in Charlie, O R, B as in Bravo, E I L as in Lima.
Yay. Thank you so much. And I appreciate it.
Thanks for having me. And thanks for everything you do. Deb, you're awesome.
Again, I am so grateful for Shannon for being a part of this conversation. And I am going to share the course that she mentioned in the podcast as well as all of her social handles in the episode shownotes. So make sure you check those out and make sure that you follow her. As she mentioned, she is a military vet. And she is vegan. She's a dog mom, she's an actor and a writer. And I think that there is some real, you know, value in connecting to other members of our community. So feel free to reach out to her and connect with her. And then the final piece that I'm going to leave everyone with today is a short voicemail update from my friend Helenna. Helenna shared in a previous episode, that she was on medication for OCD. And she has had a lot of things happen since the time that she shared that first update. And so I wanted to bring her back in order to have her explain how this medication has helped her throughout the past year. So let's listen to this update from Helenna about her experience with OCD medication.
Hey, everybody. So Deb asked for a bit of an update as far as how my OCD medication is going. And as some of you know, I started a medication in the new year. And I have had OCD my whole life just never had taken medication for it. And it was something that I felt like at this point in my life was a good idea. And I wanted to try it out on the lowest dose. And so I did. And I was very lucky because a lot of people end up having to try different medications before they find something that works or is good with their body. But luckily, mine was the first medication that I tried, and it's been a year now on this medication, I'm still taking the lowest dose. And it has completely shifted things for me. I don't really know how I be without it right now, the number of things that I dealt with in this past year and the things that are coming up in my life that are difficult. I feel like if I didn't have the medication right now, I don't know how I'd be dealing with things, how I'd be handling them. I mean, I've gone my whole life doing a pretty decent job, I think a pretty good job actually, of managing my OCD on my own. But having the medication is just like this incredible buffer where everything seems a little bit easier, simpler. I'm not completely bogged down by the things that used to get me worried and in a loop all of the time. So for me it is really helped my anxiety, and a lot of the different OCD symptoms that I was dealing with. So for me, it's been a great, great thing. And I'm really glad that I made the decision to go on medication when I did, it was the right time. And it's turned out really well.
Again, thank you so much Helenna for sharing your update with our community. And if you want to listen to the original episode with Helenna it is episode number 11 from March 22 of 2021. So go ahead and check that out. It's called the roller coaster of our brain chemistry. And she guesses some different things that you might consider if you're considering medication.
This was a very long episode. I appreciate everyone for holding on with us to the end. I really hope that both of these stories provides you some insight into your own mental health journey and may potentially encourage you to talk to a therapist or a psychiatrist about getting some more clarity when it comes to mental health medication.
Please remember to be kind to yourself this week. You and everyone around you is more than you see. Thank you so much for listening. And I will catch you guys again Next week three more episodes of this season so stay tuned.