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.)