Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE DRUGS????

Are you ready for a rant???

Here's the history:

In late 2004 I had a little bit of a mental breakdown. Just lost my grip on reality, and believe me, that grip was loose on any given day. In early 2005 I headed over to the doctor's office and spilled the whole story, cried, and walked out with a prescription slip.

This started my year on Celexa.

It didn't really agree with me, but it stopped my desire to close my eyes and stop breathing. I may not have been reliably happy on this stuff, but at least I was somewhat functioning. It leveled me out... but leveled me out too low. It's unrealistic to expect to be happy 100% of the time, and no drug should do that. But it isn't right either to be numb.

On top of that, I gained about 10lbs. This isn't a huge amount of weight, but when you're 5'1" tall (short) and start off at 110lbs, this is a lot. I didn't feel like myself. I knew that I didn't have that superhot metabolism that burned everything off me in my teenage years. I couldn't shovel down the food like I did back then, and really, a woman in her 30s does not need to eat like a teenager. This was different though; I felt bloated and disjointed. I kept saying that I felt like I was wearing someone else's body.

You know the expression, "I'm comfortable in my own skin"? I hate that. Hate it.

I did not feel comfortable in my skin or for that matter, in whoever's skin I was borrowing.

Crawling, hypersensitive, twitchy.

In that time, we decided to try something else. Wellbutrin made it all worse. I felt like my eyeballs were prickly. We went back to crappy ol Celexa again.

That summer, in 2005, I didn't ride either of my horses. I couldn't even be bothered to saddle them up for the kids, so I didn't... instead I slipped the bridles on the horses' heads, stuck helmets on the kids, boosted them up on to their backs, and sat on the cement foundation leaning on the barn wall. I rested my dizzy nauseous self on the weathered wooden planks and just felt the relief that at least the kids could enjoy this. It was actually good for the kids to ride bareback, and I think the horses enjoyed it too. It was fun and casual. I was so sad though. This was one thing that made my life special and I couldn't get into it.

One of the questions asked me in determining my depression was, "Are you finding you're not getting as much satisfaction out of activities you used to enjoy?" The answer was YES because I wasn't enjoying anything at that point. Now there I was, medicated, and still not getting the enjoyment.

I wasn't suicidal anymore. I was just low-grade miserable.

So what was the point? I discussed it with my doctor and got the go ahead to wean off of it.

Well. After SIX MONTHS of AGONY I was free of the drug. My god. It was awful. I swore I'd never go on this crap again, just so that I'd never have to do the withdrawal. Suddenly I could see why junkies need another fix. They're trying to avoid this comedown torture. I weaned off even slower than most people do -- I'm so sensitive to medication of any kind. I hid in my house. I pulled at all my clothes in irritation. Everything rubbed my skin the wrong way. The light bothered me. My eyes hurt. My eyelids were coated in sandpaper that rubbed my eyeballs raw. Every step I took sent shooting pains up my back and into my head. My hands shook. I was lightheaded and dizzy. The misery lessened gradually but it took months and months to get my own self back.

I was convinced that I was free. Not cured; I knew that I'd actually been battling depression and anxiety for decades, without knowing it, and that I'd always have to deal with it. I had learned new coping strategies though. I had tools to fix problems. Most of all, I knew the beast I faced. I knew that I had survived it and that I could survive it again. I knew I didn't have to be defeated.

This is what has kept me going since then.

However, at the end of this winter, when my obsessive thoughts turned again to death and escape, I knew I'd hit the wall again. Those great coping tools weren't working. Things were slowly breaking down and crumbling. I was tired, sad, and sick to my stomach. I wanted to die. I really did. Uh oh. Back to the nice Dr I went.

And in March, just two months ago, I walked into the drugstore with a prescription for Effexor. I didn't want to do it, but I felt like I had no choice. I couldn't go on like that.

The thing about meds is that what works for one person will behave totally differently for another. And you don't know what it'll do for you until you try it.

I had been told that this stuff can cause nausea.

Holy crap. I thought I felt wretched before I started back on the pills.

I didn't eat for a week. I dropped 5 lbs. I was weak and shaky and useless.

It's been two months and I still have very little appetite. My eating habits are not good now. My usual grocery store phobia has gone ridiculously nuts. I have to bring the kids with me because I have no idea what to get unless they tell me. I forget to eat. I forget that they need to eat. I feel hunger and wonder why I feel so crappy.

So... other than that, is this stuff working????

I have to ask my husband. Before every doctor appointment, I ask him how I'm doing. I can't tell.

He says I seem to be generally more cheerful, more optimistic. I have a little more ambition, if not necessarily more energy. This is good! I'm not crying all the time like I was.

We don't think I'm any more clear headed or less forgetful. And I could sleep all damn day. Of course, this eating problem isn't good.

I've been dealing, because dammit, that's what I have to do. I've convinced myself that I won't actually bring up, regardless of whether or not I eat. I accept the nausea and tell myself that I have to just get on with it.

I've managed to pass the theory course needed to get my Riding Instructor's certificate. This is a huge relief. Also, right now, somewhere in the city of Toronto, my big yellow envelope containing the query and sample chapters of my novel, sits on a literary agent's desk. I am trying not to obsess about this. The point is, I've reached some goals despite -- in spite of-- the depression and the drugs.

I'm friggin exhausted. Willpower takes a lot out of me.

There is one more good thing in the middle of all this.

My Wrangler jeans, and my beloved brown suede chaps. They fit again.

Losing weight because you can't eat is not cool. This isn't how I wanted it to go. I wanted to work it off, become more fit, more healthy... but I'll take it. I love my chaps. They were a gift on my 18th birthday (or was it my 18th Christmas?) from my boyfriend. I pretty much had decided by that time that I would marry him, but that kind of sealed it. I mean, he went to a tack shop and picked up a pair of chaps and bought them for me. And they fit me. He's amazing.

Those chaps fit me after both my kids were born, and I had it in my head that they'd always fit me, even after I hit age 30 and my metabolism slowed with a thud. I wasn't ready to accept that I was now way past what I'd always considered my real weight, and that 125 was my new normal. I wanted my real body back. I BLAMED THE DRUGS.

So I'm back down to that weight and sadly, I CAN STILL BLAME THE DRUGS.

Weight is such a stupid thing to obsess over. I don't care about the numbers. It wasn't about that. It was about how I felt! (And about my chaps.)

How do I feel? Here's the kicker: I look in the mirror and I'm not sure who I'm looking at. I'm not very muscular. Isn't the real me a lean mean little machine, or did I just imagine that? I'm not bumping into walls anymore, and I'm pleased that my clothes aren't uncomfortably tight, but I'm not sure what's going on with the queasy stomach. I don't know how I feel. Am I happier? I think so. Am I dealing with life better? Yes and no. Depends when I'm asked.

Is the cost of the side effects worth the benefits of the drug?

I wish I could answer that.

(This week I'm going to start working on the Level 4 pattern. Nausea be damned. If I feel dizzy and pukey, I'll get the steadiest horse in the herd and walk the damn pattern.)


coffeypot said...

Sadly there is nothing I can say or do that will make you 'normal.' All I can say is "I love you and your family.' You don't have the perfect life, but if is a pretty good one. Great kids, a loving husband, horses... I wish I could just place my hand on your head and yell, "Be Healed!" and it would work. But only you can battle your demons with the support of Jethro and the kids. You are in my prayers (which pretty much guarantees you will he hit by lightning. Stay inside for a day or two, okay?)

CindyDianne said...

Well, I know the meds aren't perfect, or even great, or even good really. But, a little happier? A little more optimistic? That sounds as if they are working - a little.

What do they say about the nausea getting better?

Look at you! Level 4 patterns!

Heidi the Hick said...

I can always count on blogbuddies to remind me what's important...

Coffeypot, You're right. Nothing can make me feel "normal" and you know, who the hell even knows what normal is? I have a very skewed idea of normal.

I totally agree with you: my life isn't perfect, but it's really very good! This is one of the hardest things to remember when struggling with the demons. Which, yup, only I can banish.

I'm lucky to have the support that I do. And I'm grateful.

As for the lightning... I'll keep an eye on the sky...

Cindy, I don't think any meds are perfect. But we do have to take any improvement. A little more optimistic is better than totally pessimistic.

My doctor says the nausea will get better once I get up to the full therapeutic dose. I'm skeptical but like I said, there's only one way to find out, y'know?

(Level 4 pattern!!!!! I can do it right? Yeah. I can do it.)

Smartypants said...

You really probably need to titrate up to the therapeutic dose. There's a common misconception for a number of meds that a smaller dose means smaller side effects. However, if you aren't saturating the receptors, you could be in limbo, biochemically speaking.

Also, if those are all of the meds you've tried (which ain't much), you have many more you can try to search for the one that provides the most efficacy with the least amount of side effects.

One more thing, I'm not trying to downplay your side effects but study after study after study has shown placebo effects are amazingly strong. If you have any preconceived notion at all you might have a side effect(s), there's a strong possibility you will. Not saying that's what it is but something to keep in mind since you have very strong feelings about meds.

I'm still around...life is moving at a quick pace...I don't have much time to write...I miss you. = )

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh Smartypants, I'm so glad you came by to weight in on this!

I have thought of it so many times that I might hate the drugs because I expected to hate the drugs. I'm giving it a chance though... I often want to say SCREW IT and stop this therapy but I'm still giving it a try.

The placebo effect is a real head-spinner. If it was that easy, would I be able to just pop a vitamin C every day and be done with it? Or would I be able to believe that the meds will work and they'll work? Or have Coffeypot bop me on the head and be cured? I just don't know.

My doctor tells me that once I get up to the real therapeutic dose, I'll feel better and the stomach queasiness will ease up. I have one friend who assues me that this is the case.

Anyways, good to hear from you Miss Smartypants. Proving your name right once again!

rain said...

Hey~ emailed my two cents. :9)

LadyBronco said...

Heidi ~

I remember being on one for my depression when I was younger (can't think of what the heck it was) and I broke out in freakin' PIMPLES.

(yes - everywhere)

That wasn't even one of the damn side-effects listed. Talk about reacting differently to a drug! :0)

Tod said...

Having a love hate relationship with medication is difficult. Mine are to provide anti-inflammatory and pain relief. I only take them when I am in a lot of pain as they can also ulcerate the stomach.

So like you I don't particularly want to take my pills and yet I am stuck with them. What can you do.

JKB said...

Heidi, I don't have much experience with medicine like this, but I worked in a pharmacy for a long long time. I think your friend and doctor are correct...that once you're up tot he right amount and your body has accustomed itself to it, you will do better.

And well do I know the folly of attempting to force yourself into normal. Don't do it. Remember, everybody looks normal on the outside...er...that just sounded so stupid.

You are normal to me and a very dear person. Keep your chin up. And hug the horses. ;)

billie said...

Sending good thoughts - and I agree with everyone that hanging in there until you get to the tx dosage is a good plan. If it doesn't get better, you can assess where to go next, but at least you'll know Effexor got its fair shot at helping.

And I do think that getting your novel out AND passing your instructor exam are both milestones that something is shifting. Congratulations!

FOOLS GOLD said...

I am so sorry for your pain and suffering, I am struggling with my friends son at the moment she is at her ends wit, he is 23 and has tried to kill himself several times. He split up with his x and misses his child.
I hope things get better for you, and wish you well.

Heidi the Hick said...

Good thoughts, good thoughts.

Thanks for all your opinions! It's helpful to hear, believe it or not.

I'm outta here for the day... cold and rain whatevs, I'm going out to the barn. I've got work to do.

(It's good.)

Lynn Sinclair said...

Every step you take is an accomplishment -- and you've taken some very big steps, Heidi. Keep going, you're going to make it.

Biddie said...

I hear you when it comes to the meds. I have been on so many over the years...Celexa, Effexor, Immovane (for my insomnia),Topamx, Seroquel, and now, Wellbutrin.
I would feel better, then go off my meds, b/c I DID feel better..Then, very shortly there after, I would bottom out.
I may not like it. I NEED my meds. It took me along time to realize that, and accept it.
The side effects suck big time. I never gained weight (thank God!) but I had so many others. When I first started on the Wellbutrin, I was getting mad dizzy spells...Scared the heck outta me.
And the whole leveling off, but at the bottom? Me too. yeah, ok, I wasn't crying all of the time, but I never laughed, either..Like you, I was just kinda numb..
I'm sure that there is the right medication/dose out there for you. You just have to find it, and in the meantime, hold on tight for the bumpy ride.
Hugs xx

Heidi the Hick said...

Ah, the bumpy ride! Ain't that the truth!

I was thinking more about placebos today. If I truly believe that the meds will work, and therefore they do work, couldn't I transfer that belief to, say, vitamin C or chamomile tea or a slap on the forehead from Coffeypot?

Or maybe not.

So much to think about.

Or not.

Heidi the Hick said...

Lynn, sometimes I think I'm not taking any steps... then I have to look back and realize that I have taken all these tiny steps, and maybe it all went slower, but this is how far I've gotten.

It equals up to big steps, doesn't it?

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, Heidi, what a trial you've been through. And such a clear and honest post about it.

I'm sure you'll get through this and good for you for still pressing forward for your goals.

Nicole said...

So, not trying to blow smoke up anyone's kiester or anything, Heidi, but the fact that you're out there writing, riding, shopping that MS to dream agents? That's GOOD stuff, and you might want to give yourself a big ol' hug/pat on the back for simply pushing through. As we'd say about a good performance mare: She's got a lot of try. Which, of course, means everything.

Heidi the Hick said...

oh man, I sounded so whiny in that post!

I do have to give myself a break... thank you for reminding me.

I tend to be very critical of myself (me and everybody else, right?) and I have not reached my goals like I've wanted to. Not fast enough.

Well geez, where's the fire, right? These are smaller steps than I wanted to take, but when I look back, it's the same distance, isn't it?

(hey that's pretty good. I should remember that.)

Anyways, speaking of having a lot of try?

I wouldn't get mad at my horse for learning in such small steps. I would reward for every tiny step.

Seems there's a lesson to be learned there.

Lynn Sinclair said...

"It equals up to big steps, doesn't it?"

It sure does.

straightaawy said...

If you really hate drugs then you will love the annonymous underground group of law enforcement (retired and otherwise) that involves the users family and friends and childhood friends to SCARE the USER CLEAN OF ALL TOXINS.

These individuals use horrifiic brain washing and mind fuck games like they use on war soldiers to make the user feel like he/she is losing there mind.
(They do tamper with drug distribution)

By getting the whole family and anyone that person comes into contact with, the games begin.

Tampering with the drugs watching and recording and getting the user waisted is the beginning of the program. Purpose to document behavior. Lots of seduction and coersion involved.

Seems to be a lifetime involuntary outpatient program that is growing bigger and stronger. All data collected is used against the user after the individual is sober. Humiliation, Harrassment is a daily ritual to keep the person in submissive behavior! Make them feel incompetent. The user has a 10 year build trust period where no money can be made. They will only allow remedial employment i.e. Good will Target or Walmart and then from there you can pick your industry but everyone in the industry gets informed of all past activities that the group has recorded.

How do I know? My sister thru recovery introduced me and my family to the program. Worst part is all trust from family friends business relations is permanently broken by ratting out the users private everything.

Where the users live: the neighbors have an opportunity to get involved, earn money and receive perks by either moving out of there home or allowing drug enforcement people to use as a home base for survelliance purposes to record audio and video. Need to be inconspicuous.

Problem is it is never ending and worse then going to jail doing time for the crime and moving on with your life. Apparently you are marked for life like a petafiler. I would not be surprised if they are working on a database for users.

Watch Out. Lots of methods implemented are illegal, a crime but family and friends deny knowing about it.

straightaawy said...

OOh to add to my last comment. If family and friends think you are in a really bad way and they have control over decisions for your health care then without the users permission implants will be put into your body and used for your recovery. i.e. under crowns, in open wounds, even in your private parts. I do not know how they are negotiating with the medical professionals to get them to do this but they are. Very Scary.