This is long, sorry about that. I don't like writing long posts. I guess because I don't like reading long blog posts:
Let me make one thing very clear before I write ANY of this. I've been dealing with anxiety/depression for a very long time, but it is SO MUCH better than it once was. I've said that before and I'll say it again, I'm sure. I've changed my life to such a degree that my moods are manageable. I am no longer pursuing a big career, don't even work full-time, I stay at home a lot, avoid a lot of interactions with people that I would actually like to be able to do. I do (or don't do) these things not so much because I want to, but because I feel better when I do (which ends up being the same as "wanting to"). I need to feel better to maintain those relationships that are important to me - with my friends, my husband, my son. I do all of this so I don't turn into a hyper-sensitive bitch who no one can stand to be with. So I don't turn to drinking or drugs. My priorities have changed … that is one of life's lessons, isn't it? We don't get to do everything we want to. We have to choose. I've made my choices and I'm happy with them.
Okay, that said, last fall and winter apparently had a couple of minor triggers for me. For September and October and into November, someone in our house was constantly sick. For seven weeks one of us was either throwing up, had a cough, or had a runny nose. When you have anxiety, illness can be a big trigger. The other thing that happened was (as I am apt to do) I took on too much work. I worked a lot in September, October and November, but when late November and early December came around I was working 20 hours per week. They were small triggers, things that ate away at my stability. Nothing happened quickly, just kind of a gradual erosion of my happiness. I was grumpy.
I feel the need to explain myself here (not sure why, but I guess this bothers me): 20 hours doesn't seem like much when the standard work week is 40 hours. However, when you are also trying to do all the cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc., it adds up. I work outside of the house on Wednesday mornings and bake bread for people that same day - so Wednesday is pretty much used up. I only have 6 hours the other 4 days of the week in which to work - I am home from dropping my son off at school by 9 and I have to pick him up a little after 3. So with time for lunch, it's really 5 hours, 4 days per week. After school I'm doing laundry, dishes, baking, making supper (I bake all of our bread and when not too busy bake cookies, muffins, tortillas, etc.). I try to eat well and feed my family well - which takes time, by the way. I also fit in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day and I try to do yoga - those things we are told help with depression. I want to meditate, too, but still haven't put that into my schedule. So 20 hours per week starts to sound a little more like a lot. When I'm working less, I have much more time to stay sane - activities that include reading, doing a jigsaw puzzle, watching T.V., blogging, Facebook-ing. Those things that seem like recreation, but really just give my brain another mode to be in other than "Mom", "housekeeper", "archaeologist", "researcher".
I don't understand how people can work full time, take care of children, take care of a house, and remain sane. I really don't. I can't do it. If you can do it and hold it all together, well done!
Anyhow, the long and the short of it is that by December, I was getting pretty darned cranky - not sad, not "lie-in-bed-and-can't-eat", not sleeping-all-day - just cranky with my loved ones. I had one really good, happy day in there and it surprised me - I hadn't had one in a long time. So I decided that it was time to get back on pills full time. Problem is that the pills I took "when I needed them" cause an allergic reaction when they are in my body full time for about 2 weeks. The only other medication that I had been on long-term in the past was no longer on the market. I knew I'd have to try a new medication. Always a challenge, because with anti-depressants it is always a gamble as to how you are going to react.
I called to make an appointment with my doctor at the beginning of December. She could see me on the 28th. So for a month I regularly took the pills I already had. And got very itchy over Christmas. That was Apo-Citalopram (at least that's the name on the bottle - the brand name is Celexa, but I wasn't aware of that at the time, because it's not on the bottle of generic drugs I have - so I've been taking this drug on and off for, oh about 6 years and didn't realize what the name was. Duh!).
I went to my appointment on the 28th and asked for Cipralex (Escitalopram). I know a couple of people who are taking this newer drug. It's "cleaner" (fewer side effects) than some of the older ones like Prozac, Zoloft or the other SSRIs. I understood at the time that it is related to Celexa - it is a newer, cleaner version of it - scientifically, it is the mirror image of Celexa - the molecules are organized in the opposite pattern. Different, but similar. I understood that I might be allergic to this one as well and if I was, the doctor suggested I try Zoloft. So when I went to the Pharmacy and it said Mint-Citalopram on the bottle, I figured it was Cipralex. As it turns out, it wasn't. It was exactly the same drug that I had been taking for a month and itching all over with. But it was 1/2 the dosage - 10mg instead of 20mg - but the bottle said to take 1/2 a pill - making my dosage 5mg. (Sorry, this gets confusing). The pharmacy made the mistake. They were supposed to give me 5mg of Cipralex because it is the equivalent of 10mg of Celexa. But they gave me 10mg of Celexa and instructed me to take 1/2 a pill. So they gave me the wrong drug, but told me to take the dosage of the right one. Essentially, they instructed me to take 1/2 of what I was already taking. Fortunately, I didn't follow the instructions. I eventually took a whole pill because 1/2 wasn't working - so I essentially ended up taking exactly what I was taking for the whole month of December - for the whole month of January. I did figure out part-way through the month that it was the wrong medication, but I stayed on it until my appointment with the doctor on the 29th of January.
The new Celexa (from a different drug company) made my nose run for a few days, but the allergic reaction calmed down. I would actually continue taking it, because it helped with the moods, but it really affects my sleep patterns - I was awake every night for about 2 hours unless I took something to help me sleep (Ativan, Nytol, Gravol, Benadryl). A lack of sleep really doesn't help with mood disorders.
So when I went to the doctor yesterday, I explained the whole long story to her, assuming that I had gotten confused and asked for Celexa instead of Cipralex. But, no, as it turned out, I had asked for the right drug, she had prescribed the right drug, and the pharmacy had screwed up. Well, no real harm done in my case, but had it been someone in worse shape than myself, or been different drugs involved, it could have been a big problem.
Anyhow, long story made seemingly endless, I took my first Cipralex last night (1/2 a pill or 5mg for now - I don't want to take more than I need). And I slept through the night - something amazing, really. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced insomnia just how wonderful a full night's sleep is. For those of you out there who know … well, you understand. Let's just say that this morning I'm a bit groggy but really happy for the sleep. I'm sure the "groggy" is liable to hang around for a few days, but my body should get used to it. I just really hope I don't have an allergic reaction to this one. That would suck. I'm sitting here noticing every little itch I have right now. We'll see.
Of course, the saga continues ...