Autumn

Autumn

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bumps In The Night

For several weeks now I've felt not quite myself. As many of you know I do not sleep well. I roam the darkness. Catalog the song of owls and spend time down at the river with my rear firmly planted on the dock with my feet in the water. My waking hours nothing more than a daze.

Now, I feel like a fool.

Several months back, after a long conversation with my family doctor, he prescribed an anti-depressant. I dutifully had it filled. When I arrived home with this new medication I carefully read the accompanying instructions and was taken aback by all its possible side affects. Then Sweet Wife read the same and since we both agreed the side affects too dangerous I agreed not to take this medication. I chucked the bottle on the kitchen counter and forgot it.  

The seasons change. Spring into Summer and now Autumn. Somewhere within the fabric of time I began to change. I did not notice this change within myself, but Sweet Wife knew something wasn't the same. I ignored her warnings.

My energy was gone. My will to care left me. I just flat didn't give a damn about life. I worked as normal and each afternoon locked my shop and drove home, and sometimes, made dinner. Often I'd just stop along the way and grab fast food. Weird.

One afternoon I awoke to find I'd been standing in place with a framed photograph in my hands. I wasn't aware of when I'd taken the picture from its place nor how long I'd held it. Very unsettling, to say the least.

Then, one day I dropped by the pharmacy for my prescriptions. Returned home and placed them, as I normally do, on the vanity. Later, went to bed. Same routine. Stare at the ceiling, think, toss and turn, glance at the clock, moan and mumble, again and again. Then, for some odd reason, I thought of my medications. I remembered the bottle tucked away in the kitchen. Where was it, I asked. Maybe, just maybe, it would help. The moment slipped away but some slight fragment of this brief thought remained the next day.

I'm uncertain if I searched the next morning or a day later. It doesn't matter for eventually search I did indeed. The bottle had disappeared. Forgot about it.

One night recently I'm about my routine of popping pills. I reach and take yet another bottle of medicine and for some odd reason read the label. Turned to Sweet Wife and asked her if she'd remind me why I'm taking this medication as I can't remember to save my life. She reads the label, repeats out loud, 'Citalopram.'

"Oh,"

She said.

I'd been taking the medication all along....for all these months, I'd without awareness, altered my brain chemistry.

I'd become a Zombie. The bottle of poison had magically made its evil way into my nightly routine and had each month been refilled by the pharmacy.

And, here's the sad part. I can't just quit. There is no cold turkey. I must slowly over a period of time reduce its hold over me, at least so said the doctor.

We'll see.

Isn't Fall best of all.

Stephen





  


60 comments:

  1. Those SSRI's are notorious for screwing with your sleep. Been there and done that. The best thing I ever did was get off them.

    Also consider what will happen legally while being on SSRI's should you have to "shoot to stop a threat", you're much more likely to be thrown to the wolves.

    Just my thoughts.

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  2. Sounds awful, Stephen. Good luck getting off the stuff - we're pulling for you.

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  3. Doctors do prescribe an awful lot of medications. Sorry to hear that one slipped into your routine. Hope you can get back to your normal gradually.

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    1. Thanks, my dear lady...we're not sure of the guilty party. Probably me thinking I'd misplaced the bottle.

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  4. Having lived with people who were going on and off antidepressants (and antipsychotics, which was an interesting time in the old apartment), I strongly recommend that you take the time to tell Sweet Wife you love her, and remember she loves you. I say this because living with people (even when you're not romantically involved, just splitting rent) who are going through withdrawal is its own little hell.

    That said, I've seen weaning and I've seen cold turkey. Cold turkey (usually prompted by running out of money, sometimes by inability to cope with side effects) ensures that everyone in the vicinity is in for two weeks to a month of hell, but then it's over and done.

    Weaning usually means months of dealing with the same side effects, trying to remember if they're actually less annoying now than before, and looking for improvement while fighting the daily mental battle against side effects and the temptation to make them go away by increasing dosage. On the other hand, it's a manageable sort of misery, unlike the utter hell of cold turkey.

    I know Sweet Wife loves you very much, and will support you whichever route you choose - so I strongly recommend that the two of you decide your battle plan together. The world will be a brighter, and more restful place, when you make it through - and we are rooting for both of you.

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    1. We spoke last night about this very subject - the best method in which to proceed. I chose cold turkey. She said no...either way it must be done as I can't live as a zombie. Thanks, my dear friend.

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  5. Oh, please be careful. We are all counting on you to get better as I'm sure is Sweet Wife.

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  6. Throw the bottle away and buy the damn Harley....there ain't nothing like the feeling of the wind in yur face and an empty country road.....THAT IS REAL THERAPY BRO.

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  7. Stephen, Although I don't want to tell anyone who is suicidally depressed that they should not take these, because they likely should, the rest of us need to think again. When my youngest son died my doctors were very quick to precribe almost ANYTHING. I did not take anything because it was NORNAL for me to be deeply saddened and to be chronically sorrowful. I told them that when I got to clinical depression I would let them know.
    With all that is going on in the world, it's alright to be disconcerted and concerned. We would be insane if we were not !

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    1. Thank you, Jane. Sorry to hear of your son's passing...been there, done that too. Funny thing is I wasn't aware I had a case of depression until my doctor prescribed the medication..I thought I was in a simple funk...live and learn. Bless you.

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  8. Careful with those things. My daughter went from post partum depression to full psycotic break after taking the meds. She had to be hospitalized. No doubt it contributed her nasty divorce and custody battle. She eventually got off all meds and is doing fine. (50/50 custody) It was a long long road. By the way, she didn't sleep while on the meds either.

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    1. Sixbears, old friend, I'm glad I've at least found my problem...and it isn't too late to correct it. Thanks.

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  9. Oh, lordy. Something like that happened to my mother - a med she was given for a problem made the problem worse and turned her into a shuffling zombie. And make sure they give a serious review to the different meds you are taking together and how they interact.

    And you might want to think about your diet. Backing away from meats, going heavy on fresh vegetables and fruits helped pull me out of a bad spot I hadn't even realized I'd gone into.

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    1. Good advice on the diet, my friend. Thanks. Sorry to hear about your mother.

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  10. Careful with that.

    Diet, exercise, enjoy life and I'll toss in a free prayer(Or more!!) for you!!

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    1. Thanks, my friend, especially for the prayers. God bless.

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  11. Take it slowly, talk with your doctor, and sweet wife. Have your doctor go over ALL of your meds. And take it one day at a time my friend.
    We all will support you. And, help you if we can.

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    1. Indeed, he should go over my meds...I've a tank full. Thanks, my friend.

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  12. I have just completed the process of weaning myself off of lexapro (considered one of the "milder"-hmphf-SSRIs)...I personally chose to taper down, but be prepared when you finally stop (no matter how low the dose)...you will probably experience dizziness and "brain zaps". Give it a week, and it will pass. Up your intake of omega 3 oils. Hang in there...It is worth it to get off of them (and if it world went to pot, I would rather be off them now vs cold turkey in the midst of a stressful situation)...

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    1. Oh, heck...that isn't good news...thank you very much for the informative comment..I need the help. Please, don't be a stranger.

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  13. Our local state run mental health center just prescribes pills for any problem. So many people say their problems increased or never improved after pills. This place is divided--people who embrace pills and never recover; people who get pills and manage to free themselves; people who just refuse the pills.

    Nursing homes are filled with people who shuffle about because the nursing home doctor wants them more pliable for the staff. At my age, I dread the end.

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    1. It is a bad problem in this country. I, as I've said, had no intentions of taking this medication...now look at me. Thanks, my friend.

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  14. I was given the exact same medication for extreme anxiety, after a week or so I found myself with horrible thoughts of hurting myself. I was NOT depressed prior to the med. I stopped taking them, and will deal with lifes stresses with Gods help. Be carefull friend, prayers for you and Sweet Wife.

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    1. Yep, me too....Sweet Wife is having fits. Thanks, Misty.

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  15. Hang in there Stephen, I have a friend that was taking stuff to wake up , stuff to function , stuff to sleep, and stuff for anxiety. He has since gotten off most of them and runs 10 miles every few days. Do your best to get off that crap. All the prescription meds are just covering the symptoms of the root cause of the issues. My personal opinion is the quality of our food and the lack of physical excerise. Now believe me I'm no saint when it comes to eating good and or working out but when I do it does make a world of difference that's for sure.

    Good Luck friend!

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    1. I'll give it a week, then I'm finished with the stuff. Thanks, John.

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  16. Gee Stephen,

    Given all the negativity espoused here about anti-depressants I'm almost reluctant to tell you that they work just fine for me. But screw it, they do and I'm not ashamed to talk about it. There are, however, good reasons to be on them and not so good reasons. As one poster mentioned, going through a sad time is normal for everyone and if your brain chemistry is not screwed up to begin with, you'll probably pull out of it and get back to normal without drugs. They do tend to prescribe the things these days rather willy nilly though. I suspect it's done with all the good intentions of easing your pain or getting you through the rough patch.

    But, as I said, if your brain chemistry is normal to begin with, it's gonna be altered by these things. Now, if you happen to have a problem like I do where you get depressed for no good reason (other than your brain chemistry being whacked), then they can and do work to fix that in many cases. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to get what's right for you and only a competent psychiatrist should take you on the journey.

    Really, the only reason I wanted to comment here is exactly because I figured you'd see nothing but the negative side from most people regarding the drugs. Depression isn't something people should screw around with or suffer through for a significant amount of time. But, everyone suffers it at some point in life due to circumstances. "Normal" depression certainly can be eased by drugs but you'll get through that without them too. Depression caused by messed up brain chemistry though, can often be fixed by drugs and I just hope your experience doesn't put off someone who could actually benefit from them. And yes, they do change you a bit. For instance, things don't bother me as much when I'm on the meds, but I also am not as passionate as I am when off them. You get trade offs.

    Anyway, be careful coming off the things. You'll probably be back to normal in no time and of course, we're all rooting for you. Good luck!

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    1. You're not the only one. I take them, too, and I like myself a whole lot better on them than off. (My family likes me better too.) Some people need them, and benefit from the medications. Not all of them mess with your sleep (Wellbutrin is notorious for causing sleep issues, at least for me). The various SSRIs that are out there usually have specific things that they treat better than others. But not everyone needs them. Some folks don't; they'll process their blues and be able to move on—and it sounds like you're in this group.

      But for those of us that these drugs genuinely HELP, we live every day in a state of gratefulness that there's something to help us, something that keeps us from that zombie-like state you described. Something that makes life "normal" and keeps us on an even emotional keel. We're not awful, and we're not serial killers in the making. Our brains just need some help balancing out. Some of us have been through multiple medications to find the one that works the best for us.

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    2. I actually thought about the "all negative" thing too this morning. Meds have their place, and I take a couple regularly myself because my brain chemistry is permanently whacked because I don't have the right numbers of a certain type of brain cell that creates a certain chemical. But they often get handed out like candy rather than being part of a carefully worked out and monitored regimen.

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    3. Guys, I can well understand both sides of the coin...but for me...no thanks. This stuff has screwed with my life. I still feel like a zombie; few cares, few worries, as if I lived in a twilight zone. Thanks...to all of you for the comments...believe me it helps.

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  17. Most of the kids guilty of mass shooting have cold turkey stopped taking SSRI drugs. Be very careful in the weaning off period. You are in the thoughts of all your readers. Best wishes.

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  18. I've heard that if you stop taking SSRIs cold turkey, they could lead to seizures. Do the taper thing, as unpleasant as it is.

    If you need a little pickmeup (once you're safely off the SSRI), try l-tryptophan. I recommend the Lidtke brand, the one called L-tryptophan Complete. You can find it online or in a health/nutrition store. Totally natural. And for sleep, I recommend melatonin. I take the Natrol brand, time-release kind. You can find it at Walgreens.

    Just my two cents! I hope things get better for you.

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  19. Just get better! Always know your meds!

    Do what you have to do to get off them. They can't be good for you unless you have a serious problem .... which I don't think you have considering our conversations.

    I have a Holistic Nutritionist friend that could diagnose all the meds you are taking and give advice.

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    1. Oh, I can hold a conversation, when necessary....but, I'm not the same man as found a few months back. Thanks, sweet lady.

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  20. That's rough, my friend. Tapering off of any of those is no picnic, but cold turkey can be dangerous. Like everyone else says, make sure you and Sweet Wife keep saying "I love you", especially when you go through rough patches. Also, stay in regular contact with your doctor. They don't see you every day, so they can do a great job seeing unhealthy changes that you may not notice because they occur so gradually.

    And we'll all be praying for both of y'all.

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    1. Thanks, very much, for the kind words and prayers, my friend.

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  21. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)September 27, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Oh, Stephen - I don't know what to say. My heart aches for you and Sweet Wife. My sister-in-law went through the same thing. They changed her brain chemistry. Thank God my brother slowly weaned her off them. He changed her diet and made her exercise. It took time, but she did it. Even with the ups and downs, good days and no so good days, she said it was worth all the effort. Please know that all of us will be praying to give you strength and resolve. Wish I could give you a big hug, too!

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    1. Hugs, Sweet Phyllis, are very welcome...thank you.

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  22. It's a good thing you discovered the error before any more time went by. I know little to nothing about drugs, prescription or otherwise but wish you luck getting it out of your system.

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    1. Indeed. Not sure how many refills I've had but it's been a few. Thanks, my friend.

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  23. I went through this. I went down by 25% a week. I just cut my pills with a pocket knife and just took less. I didn't have a hard time because it was slow enough. I also did it on my own because my doc liked to write prescriptions, so I would just take the piece of paper, tear it up, have a smug feeling inside knowing that I was healing myself. That was 10 years ago now, not once have I regretted my decision.

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    1. I've a pill cutter...good idea. Thanks, Anon.

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  24. I was given Prozac when it first came out. Within two weeks I was patting kids on the head and I was happy for the first time in my life. Then my fingernails started itching. Then I took a backscratcher to work. I ITCHED. The doc said I had to go off Prozac. It's very depressing to try and reach normalcy, only to be told you can't.

    Then came Zoloft and Paxil. Not as uplifting, but just as 'itchy'.

    Then came Citalopram (Lexapro). No itching, but no benefits either.

    It seems that 'if it helps' I can't take it.

    I'm up every morning until 1am, when I fall asleep from pure exhuastion. My days are zombie-like. I write a humorous blog. Go figure.

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    1. Intelligence can't be hidden....thanks, my dear.

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  25. Some years ago I went through a rough patch in my life with insomnia being one of the things I experienced. My doctor at the time prescribed Celexa (same thing you are taking) Celexa is some bad s***!!! With it I still had insomnia but when I did fall asleep I had horrible violent dreams. I thought I was losing my mind, and then I realized that the dreams had started after I started the Celexa. I went to my doctor and advised him that I would not take it anymore-I had only been on it for ten days. Then he put me on one of the older tri-cyclic anti depressants called Elavil. It really helped me sleep and in a couple of weeks I felt a lot better because it helped me sleep and I was rested. It too has some side effects like all drugs like weight gain, accelerated hair loss, and excessive prespiration-walk across a room and sweat a bucket. But it helped and was able to wean myself off of it after a year. You might ask your doctor about some of the older non SSRI drugs. Counseling also helped me during that time.

    Hang in there Stephen! You have been through a lot in the last few months with your family and that can take a toll. Prayers have been sent your way.

    Fred G

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    1. Thank you, Fred. I do so appreciate your kind words and support. God bless.

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  26. I have agoraphobia (fear of crowds) and take Effexor so i can function realatively normally. But I have to take a sleeping pill so i can get some rest. Of course it makes you sweat but its better than nothing.

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    1. Sleep, is priceless...at any cost. Thanks, Corey.

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  27. Stephen - Sorry about the troubles, Pal. Seems like there's so many mixed reviews about depression meds because even the doctors and researchers aren't 100% sure why they work when they do, and don't when they don't. They can tell you what they "think" happens, and their guess is undoubtedly better than my guess would be, but there's still so much we don't know about how the brain works. Even one as simple as mine :)

    Anyway, please know that a lot of people are thinking about you and rooting for you. That's gotta count for something.

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    1. Thank you, Paladin, my friend...and welcome. Nice to have you aboard. I'm a big fan of your blog...

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    2. Ha! Right on Paladin. That's why they call it "practicing" medicine! LOL.

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  28. And all along I thought you were just a pain in the a$$.

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    1. Ah, you late bloomers...I am a pain in the A$$. BTW, happy first full retirement day. I haven't sent a card yet. Sorry, deal with it.

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  29. Thinking of you and Sweet Wife at this time.

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