Posts Tagged ‘side effects’

“So we quite enjoyed your manuscript. Do you happen to look angsty in coffee shops? …Oh. Maybe next year.”

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

So I was thinking about flags the other day.  Specifically about how there are all sorts of crazy rules about things you can and can’t do with the American Flag, and what happens when they get worn out.  Isn’t there a commune somewhere or something where old flags go to retire?  Anyway, then I got thinking about religious items.  What happens to tapestries of Jesus when they get too ratty?  Could one throw a figurine of the Lord in the trash?  Burn him in effigy?  How does one dispose of religious items if one is a very religious person?

(…Unlike me, who doesn’t to my knowledge own anything I wouldn’t toss into the regular trash can.  Maybe the compost if it’s special.  In a baggie if it’s liquidy and thinking about escaping.  But that’s about as far as I go.)

Today, I’ve been realizing that weight is a very relative thing.   …And not in that “drop a feather and a brick” kind of way, but more in the sort of way of “drop me, and then a previous version of me.”  This time last year I was at my lowest adult weight.  …Which probably shouldn’t be an achievement, but I’m as much a victim of social pressures as anyone, and so it was.  It was exciting to be down that low.  It was a triumph over all the years of struggle and distortion and foolish undereducated attempts to kick those extra pounds in ways that actually made things worse.  It was a nice “up yours” to all of the stupid unnecessary stress since my beanpole frame tripled somewhere in my early high school years.

I’m not sure why the weight loss was so much easier this time, except that I stopped trying to be so crazy extreme about it.  I removed the immediate timelines and made it my goal to get there eventually.  However long that took.  I stopped making any changes that I didn’t think I could live with forever as a permanent lifestyle change.  I learned roughly how many calories are in the things I eat, but didn’t set any crazy low temporary targets like I have in the past.  I started eating a lot more during the day.  A lot more.  But that meant that I no longer got those cravings in the evening so bad that it was either find a piece of cake NOW, or gnaw off my hand.  I stopped keeping sweets and treats and indulgence foods in the house, because I discovered that if they’re there my brain CANNOT stop thinking about them.  And constant thoughts of chocolate don’t do much for staying away from it.  Before any indulgence, I weighed whether I really wanted it, and stopped beating myself up so much for it if I decided I did.  …Although I also corrected my tendency to think that somehow once I had crossed the line of unhealthy eating, it didn’t matter how much I did on the other side and might as well get my money’s worth while I was over there (Dang.  Shouldn’t have eaten that cookie. …Well, this day’s ruined.  Might as well have the whole bag now.  Why did that ever make sense??).  I learned that my body really does get sincerely addicted to certain foods, and that sometimes I needed to hold out long enough to detox.  I came to terms with the fact that I loathe intense exercise, and while I really do want to get my heart rate going eventually for long term health benefit, I was unlikely to stick to any sudden and intense workout plan for more than a month.  But I don’t mind walking.  So I walked most days.

I also started originally with the knowledge that I was getting married in a year.  And of thinking when I first tried on the dress I had purchased that I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not I fit into it.  That’s one heck of a motivator.

And who knew?  Being consistent with the little changes really did add up for me.  It was…completely surprising (I really had struggled for the fifteen previous years).   But nice.  …Except for the wedding dress part, which as it turns out when I was done needed to be altered smaller to within an inch of its life.

I say all of this because I need to remind myself of it.  See, coming off of most of my medications triggered cravings like you wouldn’t believe.  And when the only thing that brings any relief from one’s constant nausea is eating, one tends to eat rather continuously.  And apparently sleeping away several months of one’s life (except for mealtimes!), isn’t the greatest way to tone and condition.  Who knew?  At any rate, over the course of the past year I have lost almost all of the progress it took me the two previous years to gain. …Or technically gained what it took me two years to lose.  You get the point.  I am back where I started again.  And that sucks.

I’m not a big girl.  I have, at times, been a bit on the curvier side, but I don’t think people would have ever described me as a large person.  My body mass index is sometimes towards overweight, but that’s partly because I’m short and am carrying half my body weight in arm and leg muscles (I have no idea how that happened, by the way.  They’ve always been like that.  Clearly I missed a calling somewhere.  In…lifting things, I guess.  Should’ve been a Thing Lifter).  The battles I’ve had with weight have mostly been with the same 15 – 30 pounds.  But they’re my 15 pounds, and they make a big difference to me.

So it’s been kind of demoralizing to have lost so much ground.  More so because last year when my new weight seemed surprisingly stable, I intentionally shrunk all my clothes.  Seriously.  The only clothing I have that fits me now came with an elastic waistband.  Plus, since the medications make my stomach inflate like a balloon after eating (and they really do – I look at least seven months pregnant after meals), I’m limited in shirts to the couple of things I purchased in that year in which all new clothing looked like maternity wear.   I’ve had to pick up a couple of extra things to get me through, but we don’t have the budget for a whole new wardrobe, especially when I would ideally like this to be temporary.  So I have a few shorts, and a few shirts, and they all look pretty much as cheap as they were.

It’s tough feeling good when on some level my clothing now sends me the message that I’m not worth anything better (and even though rationally I know that’s not the reason, I think I’ve underestimated how much that’s seeping through).  It’s challenging to maintain a positive physical image of myself when every few weeks I pull out something I’m in need of to see if it fits yet and can’t get it past mid thigh.  I don’t think I would even mind so much being this size if I had clothing that fit me, but having a whole wardrobe of clothes that I’m too fat for just seems cruel.  Thankfully I couldn’t shrink my formal dresses, so in case of a black tie event I’m good to go.  Just don’t ask me to come to a barbeque.

Anyway, I am attempting today to recognize that it’s really only the comparison to how I was a year ago that’s getting me so down about my weight.  There is nothing really wrong with the way I am right now (aside from the sometimes-inflated stomach, but there’s nothing I can do about that).  If I had never been thinner, it wouldn’t be so bad.  So yes, I would like to get back there eventually, but I’m going to try not to torture myself so much.  I rearranged my closet today so that the things I can actually fit into are separate from the rest.  I debated packing away anything I can’t wear right now, but I think it would just look too sad.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.  And if I’m still this size in a couple months, I’ve decided that I can accept that and invest in some more permanent clothes.  This is a change, but not a failure.

And at least for today, I actually believe that.

Also, I’ve discovered that sitting with my laptop and a mug of tea makes me feel like a writer.  That seems like the sort of writery thing writers do.  That, and look angsty in coffee shops or sit on porches tucked into the forest.  I guess that’s why I haven’t written any books yet.   I’m sure publishers ask about that sort of thing before they’ll take you on anyway.

Vroom

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I am internally curled up in a little ball of anticipation.  And attempts to quell my anticipation.  And then more anticipation again.  But I think the Wellbutrin might be working.  Shhhh.  Don’t scare it.

In worth-it-anyway-if-it-actually-makes-me-feel-better news, I am also doing the bright-eyed 4am Wellbutrin Wake-Up again.  I was up for over two hours this morning, between 4 and around 6:30, at which point I promptly fell into a shake-me-at-your-own-peril, drooling sleep of death between snoozes on the alarm clock (which was set to go of at 6:20).

The interesting thing about the early morning thinkfests is how vividly different they are from any of my usual bouts of occasional insomnia.  Generally if I have difficulty sleeping it’s because I’m having trouble shutting my brain down.  So I’m thinking too much, or planning too much, or worrying too much, but I’m tired.  And the longer it goes on, the more I’m desperately wanting to JUST BE ASLEEP ALREADY.

With the Wellbutrin in my system, I do have difficulty stopping my brain from thinking, but that’s because it is POWERED WITH MAGIC.  And puppies.  And maybe a Kenyan.  It is this, in my brain, all night long.  I do some amazingly clear thinking at those times, though.  For some reason my mind works twenty times better in those hours than it ever has in my daylight life (This is a factor of the Wellbutrin, not the time of day.  I have been awake previously at 4am.  It was not productive.).  I easily manipulate information in these hours, and see the essence of problems, and have a vast pool of creativity, with extra creativity dripping out the edges because that’s JUST HOW CREATIVE I AM.

I make plans in these hours while I’m lying there in bed, and make peace with my whole life, and appreciate others, and solve the world’s problems (and sometimes I blog).  And in the most amazing of amazing twists, it all still makes sense in the morning (except that I have more difficulty grasping it all at once)!  Unlike the stuff I usually scrawl down on the paper beside my bed while in a sleepy haze.  Have you ever had one of those moments where you think you’ve just come up with something totally fantastic, and then wake up the next morning to find out that it involved elephants.  And pastry.  And that you were probably still a little asleep?  I have.

My brain just plain works better in those hours.  Someday I should get out of bed and take an I.Q. test, just to see…  I seriously think it could be many points higher.  Or maybe it’s just a right-brain thing and I’d bomb the test, but either way it would be interesting to see.

At the moment, I am going to get an extra cup of caffeine.  Because as much as coming up with practical ways to eliminate the concept of “mistakes” from my life is useful and all, those extra two hours of sleep would have been handy too.

In Which I Use Several Links and Some Pudding

Monday, March 15th, 2010

So I experienced the first of the return of the Luvox-related fatigue and excessive sleeping yesterday afternoon.  The dream it inspired involved a can of white pudding under my mother’s Christmas tree with a big label across the front that said “YOUR GAY.”  Yes.  Spelled just like that.

Despite its promising beginnings, the end of yesterday was not so much worthy/vital/take-on-the-world as it was zappy/queasy/fall-to-pieces.  I’ll try taking my Luvox chunks in the mornings instead of in the evenings in case it’s working its way out of my system too quickly and that was part of the problem.  There’s definitely something off with my metabolism rate.

Got the last of this round of self-help books in the mail yesterday.  Won’t likely get to it for a while, but I cheated and flipped ahead to the bullet points.  It says that the brain needs sunlight to trigger serotonin production.  Who knew?  This could also explain my grumpy husband with the vitamin D deficiency.  May begin briefly walking together in the mornings once the skies are less grey.  Will definitely try to baste myself with sunlight whenever possible.  At the very least I figure I can roll myself outside and be miserable there.

My family doctor did recommend light therapy at my last appointment.  It’s mostly for seasonal depressives, but it seems to be some help for us regular tenacious year-round saddies as well.  They make special medically-approved light boxes designed to help regulate mood when you sit close to them for 30 minutes to an hour a day.  So far it seems that the only products that aren’t super scamy (there are some guidelines that the things need to meet in order to actually be helpful, and holy crap was there a lot out there that didn’t fit them at all) run around $239 – $269, which is enough that I can’t make a snap decision on it.  Does seem like a very passive way to get better, though.  …Once you discount the minimal risk of  “headaches, eye irritation (itching or stinging), skin irritation, and nausea.”  But hey, nobody’s perfect, and as far as I know at least this one doesn’t come with MISFIRES IN MY BRAIN.  Not that I feel strongly about that or anything.

In conclusion, light good, husband grumpy, pudding may or may not be sexually ambiguous.

Is that the gentle tapping of a well-placed kick to my prone form? I thought so.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Just realized that if I take Prozac it means that I will have to give up caffeine and alcohol again.  I feel like running down the hall towards the coffee maker in slow-motion…

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

To Whom It May Concern

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Dear Body,

Click, click, click, click.  I get it.  We are strange, and you hate medications.  You make noises when I blink.  Message received.  Please stop now.

I am so screwed

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Just had a CRAZY severe intense pain in a band across my abdomen, sort of at waist level, just above my lowest ribs.  I’ve been having this “mild temporary band of pain” thing every now and then for the last month or so, but to be honest I have so many mild temporary pains these days that unless something really jumps up and shakes me I largely ignore it.  If it crops up frequently enough I may bother to write it down.  You know, just in case I keel over one day and someone thinks to look in that green notebook because CLEARLY THAT WILL HOLD THE ANSWERS TO WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER.

(Note to readers:  If you meet me in person and I keel over, please refer to green notebook)

At any rate, this pain was intense enough and lasted long enough that I was crying out to my husband, begging for help, and am now really, really unnerved.  It has officially moved up the list from pains that are inconvenient to pains that concern me greatly.  And I’m smart enough now to know that I should pay attention to those pains (The last time that happened I waited for over a year before finding out that my potassium was low.  You know what happens when your potassium gets too low?  You DIE.).

Unfortunately I’m so hyped up with side effects and withdrawal effects and depression effects and special effects and mundane effects and various other effects that it seems extremely unlikely that my poor doctor is going to have any real chance of figuring out what’s causing this particular problem.  A quick Google search tells me that “abdominal pain” (which as a side note they quite literally describe as “one of the most common complaints in all of medicine”) could be numerous things depending on which other symptoms come along with it.

Do I have…fatigue?  Yes.  Gas and bloating?  Yes.  Concentrated or discolored urine?  Yes.   Unusual stools?  Yes.  Sweating?  Yes.  Lightheadedness or dizziness?  Yes.  Skin rash?  Well, yes.  Bleeding issues?  Um…do crazy and uncharacteristic spontaneous nose bleeds count?

These are not symptoms of the same issue, but of many different potential issues – A lovely smorgasbord of red herrings, perhaps or perhaps not with some regular herring thrown in.  These are, as far as I can tell, all also symptoms of how medicated I am and de-medicated I am becoming.  I will mention them when next I see my doctor.  And then again when I see the other doctor (because the first doctor isn’t really great about that sort of thing, to be honest), but…um…good luck with that differential.

Green notebook says she’s screwed.  Move on, folks.

You. Got what I nee-eed.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Not sure why I’m feeling so unusually somber this evening. Maybe it’s reflecting on difficult times. Maybe it’s that I’m overdue for dinner, or that my husband’s later than usual tonight, or that I didn’t take the second Ritalin today and my natural dopamine reserves are too drained out to keep me going. Maybe it’s just the SSRI withdrawal rearing its head again.

I searched a bit more yesterday while in the process of compiling my Treatise on Antidepressant Medications (which is not in any way what I had originally intended to write, but is evidently what came out, and which I am sure I will post here eventually), and got a bit more information on the discontinuation syndrome common when trying to get off antidepressant meds. I spoke a bit too soon when last I mentioned having no physical symptoms this time around. The nausea came up again, and brought with it some crazy dizziness and that now-recognizable feeling that my head is shrunken. I haven’t let it get to the point it did last time. This time, I’m being sane, and tapering my dosage MUCH more slowly than I even thought I would. I’ve currently got it spread over about two more weeks, though we’ll see how it goes. I’ve also started spreading out my doses. I take a tiny portion of the day’s allotted pill at any time in the day that I start to feel the heavy physical side effects coming on. At the end of the night, at my usual dosing time, I take whatever’s left. Then I write really long paragraphs with way too many sentences strung together.

I’ve also been a little more forgiving with the rabid sugary/starchy food cravings I seem to get any time I reduce a dose. It makes a certain amount of sense, since my body is probably trying to synthesize more serotonin to make up the difference. Where do you get serotonin? Carbs, baby! According to the internet, I am not the only one who experiences this, so this time around I am treating it more as something natural and more often just going with it. Having a stomach full of potatoes also seems to take the edge off the nausea a little (which is weird, as when I’m queasy for any other reason the last thing I want is a stomach full of food). At any rate, it’s been working out well so far in preventing the horrors of last time, and apparently my body is adjusting a little better to the change.

Still, it’s not exactly smooth sailing. Listed in the common symptoms of Luvox withdrawal are dizziness, fatigue, indigestion, insomnia, lethargy, headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, and tingling sensations (my nose! Driving me crazy!), all of which I am having to one extent or another (many of which, admittedly, I barely notice anymore with all the physical ups and downs I’ve come to expect now as a part of my normal state). Also on that list were…ahem…irritability, anxiety, highly emotional behaviour, worsened depression, and “over-reacting to situations.” Which I’m sure my husband would be happy to inform you that I have been experiencing.

As a note, they also list “repetitive thoughts or songs.” …Songs?? Is that why I can’t get “But You Say He’s Just a Friend” out of my head. ‘Cause that’s just wrong.

I’m going to watch puppies now.

Hello Darkness, my old nemesis

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

4:50pm.  Half an hour ago, I was considering what else I wanted to do most today.  Doing didn’t seem difficult.  Now, I am exhausted, and activities no longer seem interesting.  Involved activities no longer seem possible.  Frustrating.  When the medication is in my system, I forget how much is truly sucks now when it’s not.  When it’s gone, I forget how truly possible things used to be, and I find myself just wanting time to pass me by so that I can try again tomorrow.

I can easily see why the dopamine reuptake inhibitors can become addictive.  I’m feeling pretty dependent already, and I haven’t even been taking them a week yet.

I think perhaps it is time for a sandwich.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

It is almost 2:30 in the afternoon, and I’m riding quite the high.  I have done more this morning than I have in the past month.  I am not sure whether this is a good thing, but I am enjoying it.

I also keep forgetting to eat.  Deep down, I’m sure this is likely not a good thing either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it too.  ;)

My husband likes these pills

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Well,…I have given the Ritalin a fair try now.  It isn’t really for depression per-say, but it does seem to be improving things dramatically for short periods of time.  I now have 2-3 (non-consecutive) hours per day where I feel almost capable of accomplishing something.  The rest of the time, I sort of feel like a frustrated, drained out husk.  They do make it in a more extended-release version.  It’s possible that would help.  Either way, I’m hopeful that this gives me new information; maybe some kind of clue as to what will be more reliably helpful.  I appear to still sound bitter though.  Sometimes I don’t pick up on things like that right away.

Each pill only lasts in the system for a maximum of four hours, they say.  I’m only supposed to take two per day, and they certainly don’t actually affect anything for the full four hours or anything close to it.   The times that my body is without the medication, or that I’m not yet feeling the effects kind of suck.  The periods of “high” aren’t precisely “normal” either, I would say.  At the moment, as on most days it seems, I feel a bit like my mind and body are in hyperdrive.  My heart seems to race a bit, I’m a bit jittery, and speak and act impulsively, and I feel the urge to run everywhere I go.  I don’t actually feel like I have any extra legitimate energy, though.  Just that my body is using it up at an incredible rate.  …Like I’m sort of concentrating my whole day’s energy into an hour or so, or running at full steam despite my batteries being already dry.  Probably shouldn’t surprise me then that once the high wears off, I feel like I’ve been beaten by a rabid sloth.  The major expenditures of energy, like…oh….breathing, and lifting one’s feet when one walks….seem like too much of an effort for the rest of the day.

Other times, though more rarely, I get totally and unexpectedly drunk off the stuff.  The kind of drunk where you’re sitting in a restaurant and laugh so loud that your husband gets a partly amazed, partly mortified look on his face.  The kind where it seems like it might just be a good idea to approach random people and go “WOO!”.  You know.  That kind.

The part that’s really been driving me crazy is that it’s unpredictable.  I can never be sure when I take that pill if I’ll get a period of lucidity at all, or how powerfully, or when it will happen.  Damn inconvenient for getting my hopes up.

I am hopeful, though.  Perhaps not that Ritalin is the answer (but again, Ritalin isn’t even actually an antidepressant), but that it might tell me what is.  Both Ritalin and Wellbutrin are the only things that have produced a significant positive change (and it is…shall we say…noticeable when it’s there).  Both affect dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain.  The serotonin stuff doesn’t seem to do anything but give me side effects and make me extra miserable.  Additionally, the serotonin and norepinephrine combo of Effexor made me want to lie down in a ball and cry my soul out my nose.  So…dopamine, maybe?  Worth investigation, I would think.  There are things I can do to my diet to try to raise those levels too.

Of course, on the other side, I could just be so high on the dopamine that I don’t notice that I would normally be horribly depressed.  It is, after all, the same thing that cocaine and methamphetamine do.  Seriously, reading down the list of side effects, who wouldn’t feel better on this stuff?

And I quote…

  • A general and subjective alteration in consciousness
  • Stimulation, arousal, and hyperactivity
  • Increased alertness, awareness, and wakefulness
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Enhanced attention, focus, and concentration
  • Increased desire, drive, and motivation
  • Improved cognition, memory, and learning
  • Goal-oriented thoughts or organized behavior
  • Rapid speech and/or racing thoughts
  • Antidepressant benefits or mood lift
  • Euphoria and/or rushes of pleasure
  • Anxiolysis and/or stress reduction
  • Sociability and/or talkativeness, as well as enhanced charisma and/or humor
  • Increased self-confidence, arrogance, and/or egotism
  • Feelings of power, grandiosity, and superiority
  • Irritability, aggression, anger and/or rage
  • Impulsivity or impetuousness
  • Hypersexuality and aphrodisiac effects

And the “down sides” include decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss.  Dude.  This pill is magic.

Compare, if you will, to the most common effects of the first serotonin-related antidepressant I took…

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Somnolence (i.e. falling randomly asleep)
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Weight Gain
  • Decreased Libido
  • Anorgasmia (i.e. complete inability to reach orgasm)

Hmmm…give me a moment to decide here…I’ll go with…um…gosh, this is hard.   Okay,…let’s do the stimulating, euphoric aphrodisiac that makes me more charismatic.

I do have to say that if this truly turns out to me my issue, I think I got the sweet end of that deal.