Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Drug-free since 2006! Um...not so fast... We have to talk about this...

I would appreciate a lot of comments on this. I am NOT asking you all to solve my problems, or help me decide what to do with my little mental health issues, but I do want to get this talked about. I have to decide, soon, what I'm going to do about this nagging depression. If you saw me, you might not be able to tell. I'm getting through life, I can smile and look okay, but people, GETTING THROUGH IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Life is to be lived, not endured. And my endurance is wearing thin.

When I started blogging, my anti-depressants were making me miserable. Back then, I couldn't tell people in person about this. It was easier to tell people I'd never met. Now I don't give a shit. I'll tell anybody who'll listen that I've got this thing to deal with. I've discovered that there is a whole mess of us with this burden. I don't know why and don't think anybody does, but right now I'm facing the fact that I'm struggling here, worse than I have in a long time, and I have to let it out. Maybe you know how I feel, maybe you don't, but I won't keep it quiet. Please let me hear you.

If I look at it from my doctor’s point of view, it makes perfect sense.

His patient is a woman who has a prior history of depression and anxiety; she tells him that she made the appointment because she is miserable.

Can’t concentrate.
Crying too much.
Feels sick to her stomach every day.
More frequent panic attacks.
Not sleeping well at all, waking up feeling tired.
No ambition.
Her appetite is erratic and she’s not eating well.

He asks if she’s getting any enjoyment out of life.

She sighs and tells him that she can still have a good laugh but it takes longer and afterwards she’s tired.

She says those weird pains in her wrists and knees and ankles are back.

She says she feels like all she wants to do is stare at the wall.

She says she wishes sometimes she could just close her eyes and not breathe anymore. That would be easiest.

Imagine being my doctor. Wouldn’t you be alarmed?

He has to take me seriously. I’m the one who made the appointment, I’m the one who knew this has gotten too bad and can’t continue. I told him that over the last few years, I’ve really worked on this. I’ve come up with healthy coping strategies, I’ve changed some negative thinking patterns, I’ve faced depression and told it where to go. More often than not, I win. But for the last two months it has been getting harder and harder and I’m exhausted. I can’t fight anymore.

He asked if I had thought about suicide. I said, not really. I can’t be bothered to do anything about it. I just kinda wanna stop, stop moving, stop blinking, stop thinking, stop breathing.

Listen, I don’t really want to die. I have wanted that, in the past, many times. It goes back twenty-five years. (Yes, add it up: I first thought of it when I was twelve.) I honestly do want to live, but there are times when these thoughts creep into my head, these thoughts that I just can’t live anymore. I don’t plan it, I just think about being blank and formless and how comforting it could be. So much easier than dealing with the mood swings and despair and all the questions about why on earth I’d be so damn miserable.

I know I’m not going to do it but the desire to permanently quit pops into my head before I can stop it. I can tell myself all I want that I am not suicidal but there it is, in my head, out of my mouth.

And there’s my doctor reaching for the prescription pad.

He wants to put me on drugs again. And if there’s one thing that scares me more than my screwed up brain, it’s drugs.

It took me almost half a year to get free of the meds last time and I vowed I’d never, ever, go on antidepressants again. Maybe it saved my life, by leveling my emotions, but it leveled me off too low. I felt disconnected and numb for a year. I gained weight- when you start off at 110lbs, an extra 10 matters- and I felt dizzy, sleepy, and uninterested. I was horrified that a pill to make you less depressed listed “suicidal thoughts” as a side effect. I hated knowing that in this inexact science, the only way to know if you’ll have side effects is to take the damn pills and wait to see what happens.

I took the prescription note. I weakly protested that I hated being medicated. He’s been my doctor for ten years. “I know you’re very sensitive to medications,” he said, “so I’m putting you on the lowest starting dose for a month. Normally I raise the dosage after two weeks. I’ll start you off very slowly.”

I nodded and crushed down the tears.

“I’ll also contact the clinic and send your information, then you can call and arrange for counseling again.”

All I was thinking was that this isn’t what I wanted when I made this appointment, but I damn well knew this is what I’d get.

What else would he do? He’s my doctor. He will take care of me to the best of his ability and knowledge.

I haven’t done anything about the prescription yet. It's been in my wallet for two days. I’m trying not to think about it. That may not be the greatest plan. Maybe I’ll call my counselor first. I don’t know.

I don’t want to be on drugs again. I want to feel like me. But being me is feeling pretty bad right now and I really do want to live. I want the living part of me to win. I hate the thought of only being able to do that with the help of a little white pill. But if that’s what it takes?

There really is only one sensible solution: Take the damn pills. Get fixed up. It’s not forever and eventually I can go off them again. I wish I was better at being a sensible person.


Heidi the Hick said...

Man, I am sorry... I don't want to alarm anybody or bring anybody down... but I'm very serious about not keeping this quiet.

We're doing a family day trip (Wednesday) and I won't be checking in. I want to just spend time with my husband and kids.

But I do want to hear everybody's thoughts and opinions on this. I might be opening myself up to some debate that I can hardly handle but it's worth it if we can drag depression out of the dark.

Anita said...

I wish I had some answers... Or knew of something better... Surely if there is a different treatment for depression your doctor would know about it?

All I can say is you have to look at all the options, and decide which is the best... even if none of them are good... You're in my prayers...

Balloon Pirate said...

Is this the same medication as last time, or a different one? Is there a different med that he hasn't tried?

Have you tried any alternative healing practices? Massage therapy? Acupunture? How much sugar and carbohydrates are there in your diet?

Even if you don't take the meds, certainly go to counseling.

I'm pulling for you. Love from below the pond!


Heidi the Hick said...

Hi- we haven't left on our day trip yet because Big Daddy didn't get home til almost 4 am.

Yes, I'm thinking of options.

I want to call my naturopath, and will, but right now I can't manage the 100+ dollars for each visit. I am not even sure how I'm going to manage the cost of the anti-depressants. Being self employed means no drug plan.

This is a different drug. Last time I was on Celexa. My pshrink tried to put my on Wellbutrin but my eyeballs went all prickly and my skin tried to pull off my flesh. It was not good. This time it's Effexor and I have one friend who says it's worked wonders for her.

I tried acupuncture three times and got a panic attack from it every treatment. I haven't had a massage in a while but I could use one- I usually feel better after getting all the knots out of my muscles. My diet has been awful lately because of my queasiness/ appetite problems... vicious cycle. All I can get down is starchy foods which is not what's best for me right now.

Anyways, the kids are almost packed up and Jethro's getting dressed, so I'll check in later. Anita and BP, thanks for your encouragement and love and prayers. It means a lot to me.

Dr. Medusa said...

Oh Heidi, I am so sorry. I have been in and out of depression for years, and my mother has been dealing with it all of her life. Right now she is on a low dose of Effexor, and it's been really good for her, without the dopey, trancey side effects.

I so understand your fears about going back on drugs. The side effects are a bitch, almost always. On the other hand, at least in my case, these drugs can without a doubt save your life. I am off of them now, but I had amazing results with a couple (prozac, zoloft) in the past.

Have you considered going on a low dosage of something, maybe Effexor is appropriate, just during the winter? My ex-shrink told me that many people do this and that it is very effective. From what you have described, your depression is seasonal so this might be worth researching and/or asking some docs about.

Another option might be just treating the anxiety. I have begun to think that my primary problem is perhaps not depression but anxiety. Doctors are reluctant to put patients on anti-anxiety drugs like lorazepam because they are "addictive." Whatever. Tell me Zoloft is not addictive. Anyone who has ever tried to get off of it knows differently.

Anyway, for me a very low dose (1 mg) of lorazepam nightly was enough to keep anxiety *and* depression at bay. I was taking it for insomnia, and my depression disappeared completely. And I didn't have to keep raising the amount or take it all day, which is the concern.

My doctor was pretty amazed but said it made sense, since depression and anxiety are obviously related. She also said she had recently read something about how lorazepam and drugs like it would have been called not anti-anxiety drugs but more properly anti-depressants not so long ago.

For me, I get so anxious that I become paralyzed and then depressed. Just knowing that the anxiety is a kind of whirlwind I am apt to get sucked into has helped me enormously, because now I know how not to get caught up in it and dragged down into an ugly depression.

Having said that, if I were to get dragged down into that place again, I would absolutely go back on drugs. That kind of darkness is not something you can struggle through on your own, especially when you are that locked into it and that exhausted.

I think you should give yourself permission to take care of yourself in this way right now. You do not have to be on the drugs forever. When you have more energy, you can keep working to find the best way for you to fight this thing.

I hope this helps. I am thinking of you and sending you all good thoughts and wishes.

Biddie said...

I was on Effexor for YEARS. It didn't do a darn thing for me...Wellbutrin seems to be leveling out now, but I am still struggling, too...
I found that for me, I need my meds. Well, I really do because I am bi polar, too, but for years I tried to solve this on my own. It just doesn't work.
You are doing the right thing. You are talking to your doc, and going back to counselling. Maybe these mes will work better for you. (It affected my sex drive,and that was something that I could not live with). It is different for everyone, though....
I say do whatever it takes to make you smile again. A day trip with the family is a step in the right direction...

Tod said...

A day trip will with the family will do you good. As for the meds? Well personally I would take them and like a previous poster said, maybe it is just seasonal and you can come off them pretty soon.

I hope you feel better soon Heidi.

The Adult in Question said...

I think you should try the pills and definately see a counselor. Sometimes it helps to talk to a third party who knows nothing about you because you can vent and you can say things that you wouldn't normally say and after you feel relieved. If you don't take the pills at least talk to the counselor. I hope this helps.

coffeypot said...

Lord, Heidi, if I had all the answers y’all could be worshiping me on Sundays. Well, now that I think about that, that sounds like a good idea, but that’s for another time. The very important part of all this is that you know and recognize what is going on. You are not in a denial state. You are more of in a ‘don’t won’t too’ state. That sounds good to me.

I can tell you that when I am in what I call “the dark” that the only thing that makes me feel better is movement. The hardest thing is getting up. But I get pissed off at myself for letting the dark get to me like this and I force myself up and start moving. Going outside and walking, driving or just taking deep breaths makes me feel better.

The only real time I ever considered suicide was when I was on meds. So I don’t take them for the dark. But depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain and, although you seem to be more sensitive to the meds than most people, you might need to try them on the lower dosage. You don’t need to feel manic. Just closer to normal - what ever that is. Hell, none of us want to be on pills. I have to take them for my diabetes and my prostate and stuff. That’s seven different pills each night. It takes a lot to keep me this sexy. But, then, again, you don’t need pills to make you sexy. Just a flannel shirt – and nothing else.

Keep the conversation open, too. There are a lot more smarter people out there than me. And thanks for asking for our opinions. I told you that you were strong and responsible.

Now, about that worshiping me on Sundays…

captain corky said...

I agree with everyone. Try the pills for a while and see if you can join some kind of support group. That might help a bit.

I've gone through bouts with depression myself. Hopefully it will pass soon, Heidi.

dilling said...

I like Dr. Medusa's comment...if you can feel rested, then some of the other symptoms lessen, don't they? I mean, sleep deprivation IS used in torture and in mind-washing...once you are sleep deprived, the rest of the anxiety and other stuff just keeps on building on that until it is a horrific circle. Maybe it is something that can be seasonably treatable by starting here and now. I don't know how to advise you on drugs. They have tried to prescribe them to me a few times and I refuse...due to my own sordid background with drugs, I don't want to use any now...so I just muddle through it...and yes, this year seems particularly rough...doesn't everyone? I have had a harder time muddling through than I have had the past few years. Does Valerian work to help you sleep? If so, try taking it every night an hour or so before bedtime...maybe just getting your sleep cycle regular again is your first step.
I have lived on macaroni and cheese for weeks now! Starchy goodness. I make it for breakfast nearly every morning!

Olly said...

So sorry to hear you are struggling with this. Personally the SSRI class of antidepressant scare me. Weird side effects and hard to discontinue. I have never taken them myself, but am going on what I've heard from others.

I stick with an old standby, surmontil, which has always worked for me at a very low dose. It is a tricyclant(sp) class of antidepressant with some sedating properties. The initial few days you will feel a little tired, but the anxiety goes immediately and the sleep is wonderful. Stomach problems vanish, too. I don't notice any tiredness after the first few days, but the downside? Count on gaining 10 pounds. That part really sucks and is the biggest dilemma when relenting to going back on this Rx. Going off them is easy - I've never suffered any ill effects.

Oh yeah - surmontil is really inexpensive, too.

Hope this helps.

millhousethecat said...

Gotta say, Heidi, although we've never met, the depression is what is telling you not to try to drugs. And as much as we all hate the idea of being dependent on drugs, they can work.

As the daughter of a woman who refused to take drugs and then made my childhood a living hell (not saying you're doing that to your kids, you seem like a real stand up mom), I speak from experience.

No one wants to be dependent on anyone or anything, buy your life is worth living, and if this can help, you should do it.

I'm thinking of you and wishing you the best. You can do it. I know you can. Take it out of the wallet and down to the pharmacy. Give it a shot.

Really, what have you got to lose?

dilling said...

oooh, Olly has something there...I may have to remember that one for after I have health here in canada...easy to come off of, AND if you know you are going to gain weight, you can change your diet accordingly....nice.

Heidi the Hick said...

I'm back from the ski hill... no I didn't ski, we only spent enough money to throw the kids down the hill. But we watched them go and they are magnificent!

I just want to thank you all for your comments.

You have given me some forehead slapping moments.


But this is good, this is why I wanted all that feedback from you. I forget stuff because I'm stuck in this bad spot. My brain's all clouded up. But you've reminded me of a few things that I need to work on.

Thank you.

Let's keep talking about this because holy crap there are a lot of us who know what we're talking about with this.

Heidi said...

I wish I could say something of some importance, but all I can really add is that you are most definitely in my prayers. I don't know the answers. I don't even know the options.

I know what it is like to want to close your eyes and want the world to just go away. To go to sleep and not wake up.... at least until you feel normal again.

I know that suicide is a habit. The idea of it becomes just another option in any situation, without you even wanting it to be there. Like a limb, or sense, or religion. Pick A, B, or C. It is there, lurking.

But I don't know what to do about it. I never took pills, but I know the gravity of them, so I can't in good conscience advise one way or another.

But I can pray. So I will do that. You can count on me for that.

Astaryth said...

I would probably try the drug (especially since the Dr. said it was the lowest dose) and see how it goes. As a couple of others have said, it seems that the disorder is partially seasonal. Maybe a few pills during these months each year might be all you need?? It's a thought, and at least worth a try.

Sitting here and pondering how I would feel and what I would want to try... I find myself thinking that although I would probably try the drugs, I'm leaning towards also I would want to try some alternative things also....

{{{{Hugs}}} I'm sure you will do what is best for -you-, and that is the important thing!!!!

Marni said...

I don't have any answers for ya, honey. But you ARE going to do the right thing... that's just how you are.

All I can do is give you hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

Why? said...

Don't be so hard on yourself...Humans have only been around for 10 thousand years...That much time in evolutionary terms has not prepared us for the pressures of modern day life, and there are a lot of pressures these days. I don't know if we will ever catch up enough to deal with the trials of modern day life.
Try the meds. You need to find the right combo of meds and counselling. So many people that appear to be 'in control' are not. You are not alone. Lean on your family and friends. We will be there for you. (Shawn)

Heidi the Hick said...

First of all, let me say that I have awesome readers.

I am thankful that such a sensitive funny caring and intelligent bunch of people drop by here. And I thank you for all your comments.

I'm going to get the prescription. I still hate drugs (of all kinds) and not convinced that it's the only answer, but it comes down to this:

I gotta get this taken care of.

Not dick around with it anymore.

When all the little coping techniques break down, it's time to get help, so I'm going to do what the doctor ordered.

You've given me great opinions and encouragement. And lots to think about too. I've been thinking a lot about the scary frequency of depression- it's so... dare I say, normal to have this. Has it always been that way, and we were just labeled as lazy or possessed?? Is our fast paced modern world wearing us down? Have we simply not kept up biologically with the pace we're created???

Well I would really not like to lie awake at night pondering.

I'll write about it though.

I'll never run out of stuff to write about.

So I'm hoping these meds work for me, and I'll hate passing up all that damn free beer at the Junos. (It'll be worth it if I can eat and sleep and not cry so much.)

Thank you for all the invisible hugs and good thoughts and prayers and advice and sharing and general goodness. Yes, you.


Being alive means you've won. Trust me I'm from Oldham ;-)

Got the t-shirt. Doesn't mean I understand your head - don't even understand my head - but you stay alive and you win.

Everything else is a bonus.

If you don't live you miss out on the sunrise tomorrow or the sunset the day after. You miss out on walking through meadows with dragonflys buzzing about (do they buzz? I forget)

Even when you're down there will be an up again and, if you let the down swallow you up forever you never see the up again.

No matter how bad it gets there is always a day when it isn't and you're glad to be alive.

Every time you get to one of the good days you've won.

Always win. You owe that to you x

billie said...

Heidi, one thing you might consider, in addition to your MD and counselor, not instead of though, is to find a classical homeopath and get a full work-up and perhaps constitutional treatment.

My system is incredibly sensitive to all medications, and frequently in my younger years I had very bizarre reactions to things prescribed.

I've found that homeopathy works very very well for me, and has helped with some mild cyclothymia in addition to assorted and sundry medical issues over the past 12 years.

I'm a psychotherapist so not at all biased towards psychotropic meds - but sometimes other things can be very useful in combination with and perhaps even instead of the psychotropics. It's another path to explore.

Take care - hope things get leveled out very soon!

Bucky the Nerd said...

Billie, yes. I do intend to get going on that again. I have been seeing a naturopath regularly and really appreciated her support. Right now I can't afford her fee, though. We're in a serious financial bind. Huh... just one more thing to exacerbate the depression eh? Dang.

I've been taking vitamin B12 too. I hope it'll help.

The Zoo Keeper said...

Oh, Heidi. I've been lurking around in here, but haven't left any comment. I just want to say that I understand what you are going through. I understand from my own personal experience. I have completely given up on any medications myself. They didn't help and very often made things worse or created new problems. I have the same aversion to the idea of being drugged that you do. I know why now (and mind you - this is just ME and I'm not trying to pretend I know everything about YOU). I was averse to medication because I somehow knew deep down, that their real purpose was just to 'shut me up' inside.

I had real issues; real reasons to be afraid and they stemmed mostly from my childhood. Unfortunately, the only thing that is finally helping me is to face the truth of those problems and where they came from. It's not easy. I'm still working on it, but at least I don't feel afraid all the time anymore. Sometimes I feel like I haven't made any practical progress, but my husband has been reminding me that things used to be A LOT worse. He's right.

For me, no cognitive types of therapies, no positive thinking, drugs or even spirituality could begin to help me. In hindsight, I think those things might have contributed to shoving down the reality of my past and made it that much harder for me in the long run.

Just my 2 cents.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the very best. Please know that you are not at all crazy and you are not alone. :-)

ratrod said...

Hi Heidi,
Stumbled across your site today. Wonderful writing!
Give the Effexor a chance. Was on it in the past for situational depression x 3 years and then taken off appropriately by my doctor.
As for the cost of medications. See if your doctor will give you samples. Just haave to ask. If they don't have enough. Ask him/her to write a letter on your behalf to their drug rep requesting inkind donation of mediactions for you. I have never heard of these being refused. These drug reps give so much away already $$ food and other perks for docs to push their meds. A simple request to help one of their patients is a no brainer.
5 years later mild bouts of light "normal" duldrum kinda depression usually gone within a day or two.
Keep active and keep this writing!
Love your Blog!