Do you work and struggle with depression? How do you handle your really low days? I'm finding it almost impossible to get through the day and feel like the world is caving in on you?
I'm getting lazy so I might stay with Typepad for a while. How I'll fund the $12/month crack habit is yet to be determined.
By the way, if you're receiving this via blog feed and haven't seen my actual photo yet, it's up now. If you're following me on Twitter or a Facebook friend (or know me in person!), it's nothing new.
People have been asking how my withdrawal has been going lately. Well, I’m not out of the woods yet.
I’m down to 25 mg and will probably be ultra-conservative and taper down to 12.5 mg. I might even be a real coward and do 10 mg for 2 weeks then 5 mg for 2 weeks.
Overall, I’ve been fatigued and I suffer from feeling slow and stupid. I guess that would be a lack of mental clarity. A few people have told me they already miss the blog’s news and regular updates. Truth be told, I put hours of time and research into those things and I no longer have the energy or the brain power for any of it anymore. I haven’t even been able to work on my novel recently. I don’t have the concentration to read a book all the way through.
All I can do now are mindless tasks like Twittering or taking “What Britney Spears song are you”?” quizzes on Facebook. I love crossword puzzles and Sudoku and even those have become a challenge for me recently.
All I want to do these days is exist. And simply existing bothers me because then it feels like I have no purpose.
I’m also more prone to negative thoughts.
I could go on and on but that about sums it up.
I’ve been doing some thinking lately about this blog, mainly since I haven’t been blogging. If you’ve emailed me, I haven’t answered because I haven’t logged in to the email associated with this account. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that it may be best to terminate this blog.
You can continue breathing. I will not hit the delete button tomorrow. Or the day after even. I have—what I consider to be—a wealth of information stored in this blog and I hope to export the posts I have and import them into another site. It’ll be an extremely long and arduous process, especially since I will need to update all internal links. Despite the immense amount of time I’ll be putting into doing this, moving this blog to a free blog host will save myself $12 a month. Twelve dollars is a lot to spend for only regularly publishing Quote of the Week and not having a paying job right now.
I have also dropped off the face of the blogosphere. I have not been able to keep up with many of you—as interesting as you all are!—and this has led me into feeling guilty and also kept me away from blogging.
I recently finished reading a book called The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero for the women’s Bible study I attend on Wednesday mornings. He outlines six principles for an emotionally healthy church but I believe those principles can be applied to being an emotionally health person as well. The principle that spoke to me most was Principle 4: Receive the Gift of Limits.
Within Principle 4, Scazzero discusses “Learning to Discern My Limitations.” He expands on the following points:
- Look at your personality.
- Look at your season of life.
- Look at your life situation.
- Look at your emotional, physical, and intellectual capacities.
- Look at your negative emotions.
- Look at your scars and wounds from your family past.
I’ve evaluated these points in my life and am learning to discern my limitations. The season of life and life situation I had when I began this blog is much different than what it is today. I had less responsibilities, struggled significantly more with depression and suicidal thoughts, and had more time on my hands to blog and research. (And Facebook didn’t seem so appealing back then!)
Your season of life is also a God-given limit. Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time or season for everything under heaven: There is “a time to plant and a time to uproot … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:1–8).
I planted this blog back in July 2006 and boy did I ever speak. Now, I am silent and it is time for me to uproot. This blog has served its purpose and I would like to relocate it somewhere where it can continue to serve as a resource for people. I know I have many links throughout the web that will become inactive and broken. I will lose readership. I will need to rebuild a blog presence should I choose to continue writing about mental health issues. I have not lost my interest in writing about the subject; my season of life and life situation currently limit it. I must devote my precious time and energy to my novel now. And my personality—that guilty feeling that haunts me for not blogging and reading others’ blogs like I used to—cannot handle it right now. I am learning to discern my limitations. I have reached my limit with this blog.
One of my many paternal aunts, who lived in Montréal, Canada, died in early April. I wasn't extremely close to her but she would call to check in with me and send me birthday cards. I'd also see her in New York during the holidays at family gatherings.
She was one of my aunts who suffered from schizophrenia/paranoia but improved with medication.
I always felt a little weird calling her because I never knew what to say. I didn't know much about her other than the fact that she traveled a lot. Her speech and her English were tough to understand at times but she had remarkably improved both over the years.
A few minutes ago, I was cleaning out one of my document bins and came across a list of questions I wrote down to ask her so I could steer conversation next time I talked to her. Her phone number was prominently scrawled at the bottom.
So I dialed it. The phone rang and rang and rang. Hope fluttered in my heart, waiting to hear her voice, mixed with anticipation that someone totally different would answer it.
An automated operator broke in to tell me in French that the number was disconnected and out of service. If I needed assistance, press "0" for help.
I hung up. She really is gone.
My brain isn’t functioning today quite honestly so my apologies if the following makes no sense whatsoever. It’s long and I ended up rambling.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about whether there are any benefits to using pharmaceutical drugs. I have blogger friends who are very much anti-pharmaceuticals anything, try to avoid drugs as much as possible but take them if necessary, or think pharmaceutical drugs are a Godsend.
I’m still trying to figure out where I stand.
Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money. It is not to their advantage to put out completely shoddy products that do not work. I’m sure many of them bury negative data and findings that do not shed a positive light on their drugs but if something works overall, they’ll put it out there. I don’t believe the doctors who are involved in these trials are all dirty, rotten sell-outs. Some of them are very well-meaning and honest who work to make these drugs as effective as possible. Call me naïve if you like but I just can’t bring myself to believe there are more greedy docs who skew results than there are those who are concerned with advancement.
I don’t think twice about popping Excedrin Migraine when I’ve got a painful, debilitating migraine; I have no problem taking naproxen (aka Aleve) when I’ve got menstrual cramps, and taking ibuprofen isn’t an issue if I have severe muscle pain. I don’t question the safety of these drugs. I’ve used them for so long, they’ve proven to be relatively safe for me (not everyone can tolerate those drugs) and efficacious. The safety risk of taking Excedrin Migraine sometimes outweighs the benefits of not taking it. (Note: I only speak of adults in terms of ingesting this kind of medication.I don’t believe developing bodies, such as youngsters, are able to handle medication that can significantly affect mood.)
When it comes to psych meds, I am not anti-medication. Psych meds should be taken on a case-by-case basis. There are some people who consider these meds to be a life-saver while others complain that it has made them miserable and worsened their lives. This is the gamble people take when choosing to ingest a psych med—most people don’t know that. Trouble is, most people don’t know when the stakes are high enough to take that risk.
I shouldn’t be in a position to judge anyone but when I hear people taking antidepressants based on circumstances—a job loss, failed relationship, loss of a life—I worry that it’s unnecessary. We are becoming a nation that is more reliant on “quick fixes” rather than developing coping mechanisms. It’s easier to pop a pill and dull your emotions than it is to face problems, tackle issues head on, and learn to work your way through it. Case in point: rising unemployment hasn’t slowed sales of antidepressants or sleeping pills.
- I have an aunt who was a violent paranoid-schizophrenic. She was placed in a mental institution and drugged up the wazoo. Now, she’s basically existing; the lights are on but no one’s home. The drugs have killed her. She’s alive but not really.
- My father was a non-violent paranoid-schizophrenic. It got to the point where we needed to medicate him to get him on track. The medication helped him to function “normally” but his thought processes and physical ability was significantly slowed. He once told me that he felt useless because my mother was busting her butt at work to pay for my college and he was basically an invalid because his mental illness had prevented him from being able to work. He died 4 months later. A few days after the funeral, my mom began to find his psych meds hidden all around the house. I often wonder if the drugs killed him.
- Another aunt (this is all on the paternal side of the family) also became a paranoid-schizophrenic. She was a brilliant woman who was basically reduced to moving from place to place to the point where she eventually became homeless and could not hold down a job. She disappeared for a while but during one cold winter, was found and brought into a homeless shelter. She was placed on meds and her cognitive functions returned despite the fact that her speech was sometimes garbled. She traveled the world, went on cruises and various excursions. The change was remarkable. Psych meds improved her life and saved her—the benefits of the drugs outweighed the side effects.
As I withdraw from Lamictal, I am curious to see who I am without this drug. Will my creative juices flow freely once again or are they now somewhat hindered? Will my cognitive functioning correct itself or will I forever suffer from problems? Will my short-term memory loss issues smooth out or will I still suffer from intermittent forgetfulness? I have some side effects that may remain with me for a while or perhaps forever (though I hope not) but seeing others fully recover after taking drugs for 10 times longer than I have gives me hope.
I feel the majority of my progress has come from intensive counseling and being infused with the truths as laid out in the Bible. I’d say 90% of my progress has been due to counseling. I give the meds 10%. You can tell I don’t place much stock in them. But they’ve helped to cut down on the mixed episodes.
So far, I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts are behaviors that are out of the ordinary. (Thank GOD.) I’ve been dealing with a mild depression but that stems from basing my worth based off of my career rather than any biological imbalances. The last time I suffered a severe depression, I was on Lexapro (if that tells you anything).
I’ve gotten a lot of resistance and concern from family members who question my decision to come off of the medication. They’ve seen a miraculous change in me and attribute it to being on meds. Meds aren’t a cure-all. They don’t see the counseling and shifting of thought processes going on that has helped me to develop coping mechanisms. Meds may help people “cope” but they don’t develop the tools needed to cope.
I’ve decided that I’ll probably give that Christian psychiatrist a call. My counselor recommended him and she said that he’s very neutral on meds and doesn’t shove them on anyone. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if anyone would accept me as a patient only to lose me in the end—she insisted he wouldn’t mind. The intake cost is hefty but since I was able to temp a few days for my job this week—I’m not permanently returning, I can swing it.
Which brings me back to my position on psych meds: I said it earlier but I think it’s a case-by-case basis. In my personal life, I’ve seen the benefits outweigh the side effects and I’ve seen the side effects outweigh the benefits. And I’ve seen benefits (not necessarily beneficial) as a result of side effects. Psychiatry is the biggest medical guessing game of all medical specialties. There are no certainties, and there’s no one medication that works best for everyone. Pharmaceutical companies make it a point to put the disclaimer on the patient information sheet that they’re not exactly sure HOW these drugs work. All that stuff about serotonin, dopamine, and neurotransmitters is pure speculation when it comes to depression. You’ll have me convinced about chemical imbalances once I can get a MRI and blood test done. Until then, it’s all trial-and-error.
So if I do suffer from relapses while withdrawing from this medication and it gets to the point where I may need to be hospitalized, I’m not averse to remaining on the drug. Better to be alive and on a psych drug than dead because I was determined not to use it at risk to my safety. If I end up having to stay on the drug, the future of giving birth to children will seem a bit more uncertain.
Recently I’ve been a pretty active participant in the Six Apart section of the Get Satisfaction community. I suppose you could call me a Six Apart fangirl (kinda like Apple has their fanboys). (Full disclosure: Technically, I’ve been a long-standing of user of Six Apart’s services beyond this blog since I’ve owned a paid LiveJournal account since 2003.)
Although I pay to use Typepad’s services, I wholeheartedly recommend them — especially since their customer support has been incredible. I have tried other free blogging services and prefer Typepad. I enjoy providing feedback with the products I use and Get Satisfaction has provided just the means to do so. It’s been worth the money.
As a result of my active participation, I was asked to be quoted in a press release about Six Apart’s budding social community to which I enthusiastically agreed to. You can read it here.
So I’ll probably get a bit more traffic in the next couple of days and I haven’t posted anything worthwhile. Other than maybe this. Boo.
So here’s a greatest hits collection to browse through in the meantime:
- Information about Effexor (venlafaxine) Withdrawal
- Information about Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)
- Is there any connection between Zoloft and rage?
- Beware XYZAL — allergy drug
- Lamictal’s generic equivalent, lamotrigine, has now hit the market
- Christian counseling: Nouthetic vs. Biblical
I’m still here; I’m still around. I haven’t had much desire for blogging or anything of the sort. I am still plugging away at my novel. I’m getting involved in a local writer’s group and praying to God that I’m not taking on too much.
I’m back up to 100 mg. The 90 mg actually threw me for more of a loop than I’d intended. It might have been that combined with an attempted jog but at the urging of a friend, I will try to take this as slow as possible.
I’m also trying to resolve some spiritual issues so we’ll see where that takes me.
Last day on 100 mg, I think. I’ve been calling around to psychiatrists in my husband’s insurance network and it’s incredibly out of date despite the “Information updated on 3/22/2009” fine print. Someone’s not doing his or her job. I’m tired and don’t care to call around some more and deal with some nurse sounds pissed off for working in a “looney bin” and won’t give me a referral number.
So I’m left to my own devices for now and will be dropping down to 75 mg tomorrow. I’m just not sure I’ll find a psychiatrist who’s supportive enough to take me on as a patient only to lose me again in the end. Maybe the $400 2-hour intake with that Christian psychiatrist might be worth the money although I really balk at the cost.
In the meantime, I still am not sleeping well and have been sleeping all sorts of wacky hours. My job came back at me with an offer of more work but I declined this time. My job is to remain alert and catch errors and I am FAR from it. I don’t even feel safe driving right now. My comprehension level for anything is total and utter poop.
I’m simply alive and surviving. That’s all that can be asked from day to day, right? I’ll still make a few posts and my apologies in advance if they’re somewhat incoherent.
I'm doing better for now. Thanks.