Wellbutrin and Smart Restless Legs

My saga balancing my overall mental health and restless legs syndrome is that, after realizing my SSRI was increasing my RLS symptoms and keeping me from getting a good night’s rest, I weaned off, felt every human emotion in an hour, and went on Wellbutrin (bupropion). Right away, the lack of an SSRI improved my RLS.

Now, I’ve been on bupropion for a few months and I continue to see fewer symptoms than when I was on the SSRI. My legs rarely chat with me once I’ve gone to bed, which is a huge win.

Regardless of the reasons, I'm feeling better

My prescriber told me I’m on a low enough dose of bupropion that it’s either doing what it’s supposed to be doing and I feel — emotionally at least — normal, or it’s not working and I’m feeling better because of coping mechanisms, therapy, and the passage of time.

Either way, it’s working okay. I was worried bupropion would make me irritable, a common side effect, but I seem irritable to an appropriate degree for someone parenting young children at the end of the world.

How I'm coping with my RLS while on bupropion

In terms of my legs, I also feel like the bupropion isn’t helping or hurting. My main restless legs coping mechanisms are gentle movement and exercise like walking and pilates, stretching, and getting enough sleep.

I also take magnesium gummies, which do make a difference, and I have a prescription for klonopin which helps both the anxiety and legs when absolutely necessary. These interventions are still in place and still helping me keep the restlessness to a minimum.

Stress is an unavoidable trigger

Sometimes all the coping mechanisms in the world can’t compete with stress, though.

I had a stressful week. I had to pay thousands of dollars to get a new transmission in my car, my kids were having a hard time, and I had some behind the scenes drama I don’t need to get into.

As I lay on the couch at 8:30 PM, exhausted from an anxiety and activity-filled day, my legs started their night-time dance. They asked, not very politely, for me to remove my pants. They kicked the dog by accident, and they more or less told me it was bedtime, now.

Bupropion seems to help me as much as I need it to

I complied. I slept for eleven hours and woke up feeling drunk with sleep. My legs felt awesome. I was energized, emotionally regulated, and ready to get stuff done. I was able to handle a kid meltdown and pay off my credit card without becoming a puddle of sadness and overwhelm.

So, all in all, bupropion is not a "make it or break it" drug for me. It seems to help me as much as I need it to. I still have anxiety and depression and children and a pandemic to contend with, but my legs have a way of telling me to slow down and smell my pillow before my brain can get the memo.

Thank you, restless legs, for helping me get the restorative rest I didn’t even realize I needed. How ironic that you helped me, and how grateful I am that you did.

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