Posts Tagged ‘Prozac’

Crashing, Burning, Realizing, Accepting

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Bear with me… this one’s a hard one to write.

I’ve been thinking about the last couple months today, and I feel like I finally have a pretty clear understanding as to what really happened and why.

I was doing well for a number of months during summer and fall. Moving to Seattle in September, buying a new (very old) house, and learning a new city was a whirlwind. I had no time to dwell on depression. I was mentally stable through that time. October was a little harder, as was November. The near-fatal error happened at the beginning of December: I asked my psychiatrist if I could lower my Prozac dosage by 10mg.

I keep wondering why I chose then to ask. At the time, I realized I was stable as a result of the dose I was on, so why? The decline in happiness in late autumn was directly related to marital stresses that James and I were struggling to get through. Part of the problem was my lack of sex drive, but that was probably more of a result of the issues we were dealing with as a couple. So why, then, did I ask to lower my dose in the first place? I knew it wasn’t going to help anything. I knew I was having a rough time in my marriage. Why on EARTH did I think dropping the medication dose was going to help at all when I knew that was probably the last thing I needed?

The answer I hate admitting slapped me in the face today. The Ugly Truth that I’ve been trying so hard to keep hidden from everyone including myself. An answer that I have, of course, known all along but have been trying to deny. I was hoping I was “well enough” to start weaning back on antidepressants, but I really wasn’t.

By December, I was a few months post-breastfeeding. My body was back to being mine. I wanted so, so badly to believe that the depression, anxiety, OCD, and paranoia that hit full force as a postpartum mental illness was finally subsiding.

It wasn’t, and I was in denial. I knew that I needed that higher dose of Happy Drugs to keep me functioning, yet I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would be alright if I cut back. Well, no, I didn’t think I would be okay, l just really hoped I would.

See, if that plan worked, then I was going to ask to cut back another 10mg, and so on. I thought that maybe it might be possible to wean off antidepressants all together eventually.

Stupid.

The drop in my mental stability happened almost immediately upon taking the lower dose. By the time the holidays rolled around, I was faking a smile half the time. My stomach started hurting chronically. I didn’t want to admit that I could feel myself slipping. Not to anyone, but especially myself.

About mid-January was when I went spiraling downwards. I started to panic a few days before leaving for a dance competition in California. I kept changing my mind about how I was going to get there: drive, fly, drive, fly, rental car, fly, drive, fly… I felt that OCD twitch spring up on me and I kept going back and forth. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I felt like screaming. It was stupid because the travel plans had already been taken care of, and I knew it. That was just THE SIGN, though. When I realized what was happening, my chest felt tight and I told James I wished he hadn’t bought me the ticket for the convention. There was no getting a refund, so I was stuck, but I was panicking because I had a feeling that it was just going to be another horrible competition experience. The kind where I barely make it through the weekend because I can’t stand being in the ballroom around all the normal, happy people. The kind of weekend that poses as a reminder to how not okay I really am at times. The kind that pushes me over the edge and there’s no ledge to break my fall.

It was.

The rest of January and half of this month were hell. I barely left the house, and I couldn’t handle being social for more than a short period of time. I was slipping further and further into the depression, and I knew it.

Finally, I made the choice to call my psychiatrist and told her what had been happening. That’s when I was put back on my old dose of Prozac and I chose to add a bit of Wellbutrin to the drug cocktail.

For some, that combination works wonders, but it almost killed me. Or rather, while it’s painful for me to admit, I almost killed me. Not the drug, me.

A week off the Wellbutrin with only the correct dose of Prozac in my system has brought me to this point and has allowed me to finally be completely present again, or as “with it” as I ever am, anyway. Now that I can see clearly, I have been reviewing my mental situation over the last few several months. The rise, the fall, and finally, the crash and burn.

And you know what the absolute sickening realization that I walked away with is? I almost didn’t walk away this time. I was so far gone two weeks ago that I don’t remember the week I was on Wellbutrin. Sure, I have my writing to remind me. My insane Facebook statuses, the aching muscles from working out at the gym, the worried creases on my husband’s and friends’ faces when they look at me. Searching for that sign that I’m not going to fall again.

I am not able to survive without the correct dose of the right drug. I cannot fight the demons in my head without the help of a therapist. I am unable to move forward without leaning on others for a bit of help. I will never be that strong person that I thought I appeared to be before I had kids.

I was not well then, either. I never was. Before I had children, though, I had enough time to focus on forcing myself to just keep swimming. After having kids, that was impossible. It forced me to accept that I couldn’t do it without help. My bad days weren’t just MY bad days anymore, they started affecting my husband and kids more than anyone should have to endure. And I should know because I have dealt with serious mental illness that went untreated in people I love for pretty much my entire life.

Except I didn’t really accept it. I wanted so badly to believe that it was a short-term solution. That one of these days I’d wake up and breathe in the morning with clarity without the help of drugs.

Perhaps someday, but I need to understand deep down that the reality isn’t the truth I want to hear: I cannot be well without the antidepressants and extra help.

I just can’t do it. It’s part of me. And, ugh, I hate saying it more than I want to admit. I know it shows no weakness on my behalf, but I just never wanted it to come to this.

But so be it. I can find a way to accept this, smile bravely, and move forward. I have no other choice, and what happened a week ago proves it.

Antidepressants and a Sad Realization

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I just had a phone appointment with my psychiatrist in Tucson.

Last week I sorta’ realized that the up-and-down mental health roller coaster I’ve been riding is not only a crappy thing for me, but for my husband, kids, and friends as well. And my blog readers. Can’t forget you all. *sending cyber hugs your way*

So anyway, I told her about what’s been happening ever since I last saw her- the breakdowns, the constant battle with trying to stay on that lower Prozac dosage but always losing the fight, and my general sense of “shit, I’m being crushed by a fucking tidal wave and I don’t know if I’m ever gonna resurface“. All of that in addition to the constant fatigue and fight with my anti-depressant-induced lack of sex drive. This has been going on since the beginning of December, and I just can’t deal with the instability anymore.

I kind of wanted to cry when I told her I know I need to go back on my old dose, which was the highest one I’ve taken. It’s only 10mg more than what I’ve been trying to take, but it makes a huge difference. The bad thing is that it really affects my sex drive and fatigue problems. Like, mentally I do much, much better, but I suffer some physically.

So then she gave me the option that I had a couple months ago: Go back to the higher Prozac dosage, but try adding a small dose of a second antidepressant to enhance my overall energy level, motivation, and sex drive.

I didn’t like that option a few months ago, and I went with the the lower Prozac dosage instead despite the fact that my doctor recommended I try this particular path. While my sex drive has increased, my overall well-being has deteriorated. And honestly, while I love a good fuck on a particular horny day, my mental stability is just one of those things that can’t be sacrificed.

So back on the old dose it is, except this time I’m taking my psychiatrist’s advice and adding a small dose of Wellbutrin to my daily happy pill ingestion. I’d prefer not to feel asexual again, so I figure it’s worth a try. She assured me she feels I’ll be very pleased with the results, and if not, it’ll be easy enough to back off of the Wellbutrin.

I told her I am very sad that I can’t just be normal, to which she replied, “What’s normal?”.

Good question.

Current Mood:Sad emoticon Sad

So I Saw My Psychiatrist Yesterday…

Friday, December 4th, 2009

And I’m stable.

Well, slightly nuts from the stress of being with my family for two weeks, but stable, nonetheless.  I had an anxiety attack yesterday before my appointment, and before it got the best of me, I got it under control.  Once upon a time, the panic controlled me.  Now, I have the power to stop it.

I told my doctor that the Prozac has practically killed my libido.  I hated admitting it.  When we sat down and figured out the time frame of when my ability to orgasm like a 17-year-old boy died, we realized it plunged shortly after I stopped breastfeeding.  She gave me a few different options, we talked about the pros and cons of each, and together we decided that cutting back my Prozac dosage a little could very well take care of a lot of the sexual problems.  It was either that, or adding a little of another drug to my happy-pill cocktail.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to take more medication unless it’s absolutely necessary.

So as of today, I’m on my new dosage.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that I stay stable.

Please, send happy thoughts my way that the med change doesn’t send me spiraling again.

Current Mood:Happy emoticon Happy

A Bittersweet Moment

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Holy freaking crap.  I can’t remember the last time I (or have I ever?) had so much fun in one weekend.

I haven’t been to a dance competition since my brain oozed out my ear ten months ago.  I just haven’t been strong enough to face over-stimulation in those sort of extremes this year, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to handle it.

Except this weekend, I took that leap and crossed the border to meet up with a whole slew of other dancers.  I had a fabulous time making new friends and scaring the crap out of the guys from Seattle and Canada with my “oh-my-gawd-did-you-just-yell-penis-in-a-crowded-room” approach to life.  I also drank like a fish (sans hangover- go me!), stayed out until 5 a.m., enjoyed flirting with all the cute men on the dance floor, and even came home with a star-shaped trophy for placing in the advanced spotlight finals.

My feet are a callused, blistered mess, and I slept a whopping 8 hours the entire weekend.  Exhausted muscles and a multitude of hard-earned bruises feel a bit more like badges of honor rather than painful nuisances.  And even though I was so achy and tired that I could hardly get up the stairs last night, I’ve got the insatiable urge to put my dance shoes back on this morning.

A special thanks to my incredible husband for watching the girls and supporting me more than I deserveYou rock!

But while I had such an amazing time this weekend, I felt a little sad when I woke up this morning.  Regardless of how far away I get from that psychotic breakdown I had at the beginning of the year, I will never forget what my life was like before I started treatment for depression. That ghost memory that never fades no matter how far away I run.

I’ve been to more conventions over the last several years than I can count… and I haven’t walked away feeling good about a single one of them even when I’ve done extremely well in competition.  I just couldn’t enjoy myself while doing everything in my power to avoid the inevitable anxiety and panic attacks.  That knowledge that everyone else belonged there except me.  The desire to hide under the bed so I could avoid painting a smile on my unwilling lips.  It was never natural, and it was never fun.

I went because I hoped that eventually it would be fun.  I couldn’t understand why everyone else was having a blast while I could hardly breathe.  What the hell was wrong with me?  Why couldn’t I fit in?  I wanted to be one of the other people more than I need coffee and chocolate, and if you’re a regular reader YOU KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THOSE ARE IN MY LIFE. It made me hate myself even more than I already did.

I cannot believe the difference the medication has made for me, and it saddens me to know that my quality of life could have been so much better had I known that treatment really was necessary in my fucked-up case.

Better late than never, I guess.  And at least I know now that it wasn’t a matter of not belonging, it was just that the depression was covering the entrance to the door I needed to walk through.

Current Mood:Happy emoticon Happy

A Means Of Survival

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

My experience with Prozac thus far is a love-hate sort of relationship.

I wish from the bottom of my soul that I could live life as a “normal” human being without the help of a daily pharmaceutical drug.  I hate that in order for me to function, to get out of bed, to take care of my kids, and to leave my house I am dependent on an antidepressant.

But then there’s the flip side.

Last night, we took the kids to a pool party/movie night at the YMCA.  A couple hundred kids splashing, screaming, throwing beach balls around, and the loud volume of the Jungle Book would have been impossible for me to tolerate pre-happy-pills.  I couldn’t handle that kind of chaos and noise without panicking and struggling to breathe.  In fact, I never would have even considered going to an event like that if I was still living in my previous mental state.

Loud, busy social situations are still a little difficult for me on occasion, but not because I still have anxiety attacks every time I leave the house.  It’s just a lot of stimulation and I have to be in the right mood for it.

Some days are easier than others.  If I’m exhausted or feeling under the weather, I can’t handle loud, crazy places.  I need my “down time” regularly to feel healthy, just as most “normal”, non-happy-pill-takers do.

While I wish that I could do this without my Prozac, I am forever grateful that it exists and that I had the strength to force myself to take it.  And of course, I am so thankful that I have a husband who supported me and held me in his arms every step of the way.

The 6-week adjustment period of taking an SSRI drug was a roller coaster, but the long-term effects are a boat ride on a calm ocean at sunrise.  A few waves and bumps to keep it exciting, but a pleasant experience full of promises and attainable dreams.

I went from the crunchy-granola-girl who believed that there was something “natural” that could get me out of the shark-infested waters, to a believer that anti-depressants are not an evil way for the medical world to control my brain.  That transition was not an easy one, but it was a necessity for me to continue to be here for my family.  The natural remedies just simply didn’t work.  They weren’t powerful enough, and believe me, I tried.

Now for a confession that you probably didn’t know:  I haven’t told my parents about this.

They know I have struggled with depression my whole life, but they are the reason I grew up believing that therapy and medication were a BAD thing.  They scoff at counseling, think psychiatrists and therapists are all quacks, and taught me that anti-depressants were just a way to drug you up and turn you into a zombie.  If I ever wondered where my problems with paranoia stem from, my answer *most likely* lies within that last sentence.

I am not sure when they came up with the ideas, but if the time should ever come (like if my book should ever be published), I will be ready to tell them the truth.  They know I had to see a therapist to help with the depression, but their reaction was so negative and “oh-my-gawd-pity-me-I-fucked-up-my-kid-now-they-need-therapy” that I stopped there.  Come on, I had to get my fabulous genes somewhere.  Did I really think they might have a positive, rational, non-selfish reaction?  No.  But I hoped they would.

But here *is* the truth, for those who have doubted.  Like me.

Antidepressants?  When prescribed correctly, they breath life and clarity into the zombie.  They clear the fog from their head and dispel the haze from their eyes.  They have helped me avoid becoming an agoraphobic nutcase who eventually killed herself because of her inability to function in society.

Therapists?  They’re not out to control you.  They are there to help, to teach you communication strategies, and to point you in the right direction to make healthy decisions for yourself.

Psychiatrists?  Okay, I’ll admit… all the ones I’ve met are a bit… bizarre.  But you know what?  I also believe that like the therapists, they have their patients’ best interest in mind.  While I know that some of the twisted, psychopathic Hollywood ones have existed, I think the frequency in which they occur has been blown badly out of proportion.  They’re not the majority.  They are like the small handful of child-molesting priests that happened to make headlines and give the entire population of religious Catholic men a bad reputation.

And I am grateful to all of those things.  They have made it possible for me to feel alive and find ways to achieve my hopes and dreams.  Hell, I actually have hopes and dreams now.  I didn’t before.

Prozac?  I don’t have to love it, but I do know that it’s a means of survival for me.  Perhaps someday I can wean off of it.  But for now, I am content that it is necessity in my life.

Current Mood:Happy emoticon Happy