Saturday, December 31, 2016

Struggles with depression and medication

No one wants to be on medication.  No one with depression / anxiety issues wants to be on medication.  Without exception, everyone I've ever talked to about it has either put off getting on medication, avoided taking it altogether, or really struggled with the need to take pills.

I am included in this list.  When I am feeling well (due to the drugs) I try to lower my dose.  When I gain weight on them, I want to get off of them.  When I read articles like this one from Scientific American, I think that I shouldn't be taking them at all.

I've been taking Cipralex for a while now - a couple of years - maybe 3 or 4, I can't remember.  It works most of the time.  But like most of the drugs, I've ended up increasing my dose and I worry about having to continue increasing it until it no longer works.  I was taking one pill for a while, but then needed to increase it to 1 1/2.  But then I gained weight.  So in the summer, when things were brighter and easier, I went back down to 1 pill.  And I was fine.  As the sunlight decreased, the fall got colder, and I was feeling crappier, I increased it again to 1 1/2.  And then I noticed that the heart palpitations I had experienced 6 months earlier came back with the extra medication (an emergency room visit, 24-hour Holter monitor, and echocardiogram were required to test them out).  So I cut out the extra half pill a couple of weeks ago.

On Thursday, after freaking out at my husband and stressing my son from the argument that we had (which does not happen when I'm actually feeling well), and having a night of crying a few days before, I realized that I need the extra half pill.  But I can't live with the heart palpitations.  So I am likely going to have to change meds again.  Can't live with them, can't live without them.

The only time I've been able to go without medication in the last decade was about 2 1/2 years ago when I wasn't working.  I had a few months when work just didn't come in.  And I felt well.  But if I want to make money, I need to be on medication (no matter what Scientific American says).

Medication does not cure the problem.  It covers it up - much like taking an Aspirin covers up a headache.  SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) do not help your brain make more serotonin.  They don't fix anything - but they make life livable.  The only other way to make life livable would be to completely change my lifestyle - and that of my family.  And that might not even work.

My own opinion after dealing with this issue (it's always been around, and it is absolutely genetically predisposed) is that our Western culture exacerbates the problem.  Too much data input.  Not enough quiet and brain rest.  Inability to deal with quiet and brain rest.  TV, Internet.  Too much.

And our kids are going to have it worse.  As the parent of a 13-year-old boy, it is almost impossible to control the amount of input they have - especially when I am depressed and having a hard time dealing with anything at all.  So it keeps increasing and perpetuating itself.

The answer?  A great deal more self control and parenting control than I have at the moment.  So it's medication - making sure the meds are balanced, and then taking back control of the things that have gone out of control while not feeling well.  A constant tide of issues that you have to ride like a surfer.

Again, I am not writing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I really don't want that.  But I want people to know they are not alone, and of those who don't have the issues to possibly have more understanding for people they know who do.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Changing my View

Last night I vented.  I blogged out my anger and fear.  And then this landed on my Facebook feed (watch it, it's not that long and really listen to his words) - sorry tried to embed it by got something else, so check out the link:

I know a LOT of people find Russell Brand hard to take.  But just listen to him.  He is the wisest flawed human being I have heard lately.  

And this came into my vision as well:  

The lesson I gain from these two things is this:  We need to start taking care of each other.  We need to start loving each other.  We need to change the mindset of anger and hatred.  We need to figure out how to do that, and if we can do that, then the system will change.

All of the poor and disenfranchised need to feel better about things.  Trump isn't going to do that - but maybe the fact of Trump will motivate people for real, positive change. THAT I cannot control.  Neither can you.  What I can control is my mindset.

First off - and this sounds ridiculous, but it's not at all.  Pray for Trump.  Pray hard.  Pray that he gets influence from above to do the right things for everyone.  Pray that his focus on himself switches to actual concern for people who are in hard times.  Pray that the people he chooses as his advisors do positive things for the good of all.

Second - be active.  Do SOMETHING.  Support what you want to see in the world.  Send money to the causes that you view as important.  I personally contribute monthly to the Suzuki Foundation and  But the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and any number of other wonderful charities exist out there.  Put even a small amount of your money into a good cause to help other people.  

Suggestions welcome, but for any of you out there who are feeling helpless, I recommend getting involved in some fashion by volunteering in your community.  Share love.  Accept people who aren't like you.  There are hundreds and thousands of places that need help.  Local hospitals, animal shelters, libraries, food banks - get out there.  Meet other people.  Help the hopeless.  If each of us did just a little of this, it would make a difference.

But most importantly, set aside the anger.  Set aside the hate.  Choose to send positive energy into the world, not negative.  

I'm going to try.  I'm not perfect, and it is really easy to take the low road.  But I'm going to try to take the high road this time.  For the sake of my soul - for it shall whither under the oppression of hate.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tears ... finally!

It's November 10, 2016.  Two days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.  I can barely stand typing that.  I can't comprehend it.  I honestly didn't believe it could happen.  I felt in my bones that it wouldn't happen, but it did.

Tonight I cried.  I got fucking mad and then cried.  Two days it took for me to actually get over the shock and get to mad.  It started with two people on Facebook telling me to forget about it.  Telling me to let go and go for a walk.  I will, but not until I understand this a little bit better.  And I'm talking about understanding the psychology behind it all.  Then I was reading many women's posts - the ones who are in shock.  They've been crying for 2 days.  They feel it too - the fact that the history of the Women's Liberation Movement isn't yet finished like we thought it might be.

The reason I got mad was not because the American public voted this ass into office.  I got mad because I thought:  "If Hillary Clinton were a man and had acted and said exactly what HRC had, she would have been elected".  People would have seen Hill Clinton (the man) as a superior character with great preparation, ambition and a stellar political career.  I thought:  "If James Comey hadn't pulled that ludicrous stunt 11 days prior to the election, HRC would have been elected".  I thought:  "If the popular vote decided the election, Al Gore AND HRC would have been elected".  And I thought:  "Well, that's it for the American action on climate change ... we're fucked more now than we were a week ago".

I will give you this much - if he doesn't continue being the same person he showed himself to be during the election, we may have some hope.  But I don't think a skunk can change his stripe.  So the rest of this is based on what I understand his character to be.  Let's hope I'm really wrong.  Let's hope there's a human being under that orange facade.  If ever I wished to be wrong ... it's now.

Last night, a friend of mine stated that "at least he's pro life" - well, honey (I'm still her friend, I generally don't ditch my friends over a difference of political opinion), if he is in charge of that country, WAY more people are going to die in a lot of different ways.  The odd abortion is going to look like peanuts in a field full of corpses (going too far?  I might not be).  He's going to be WAY more of a war monger - given his wanting to increase the military so much - and that means lots of people are going to die.  Environmental emergencies will be more frequent than they would have been had America continued acting on climate change and more people will die.  And not just in the US.  Hillary wasn't pro-abortion - she was pro-choice.  Wanted women to be able to control their reproductive system as they and their doctor and their God chose fit.  If you don't like abortions, don't have one.  But don't cause a woman to give birth to an unwanted child just because you don't like the thought of ending that life long before it has begun.

I am mad because I thought as a society that we were getting over the whole sexist thing.  And it is now terribly, blatantly obvious to me that it is alive and well and still controlling our society.  Some people who are sexist don't even realize it.  They just don't like HRC.  Well, I'll tell you (general American public) - most of you feel that way because she just doesn't fit the idea in your head that you have of how a woman should behave, look, speak.  Turn this around.  Imagine Hillary Clinton being caught saying sexist, abusive comments about men.  She would have been crucified.  Trump paraded all of Bill Clinton's abusers out before a debate - but 12 (TWELVE) women came forward to explain how Trump had treated them and he called them liars.  And people BELIEVED HIM - both about Clinton's women AND his own.  WTF???

I'm really mad because my son is tied up in knots.  He asked if Donald Trump was going to use nuclear weapons - he is truly frightened that this is going to be catastrophic.  I don't think it is, but it kills me that he feels that way.  I'm not one to shelter my son from the news - but right now I wish I had.

I understand wanting change.  But choose a change agent who actually has scruples, morals, a good education and an understanding of how the world works - when one is available and a viable candidate (no, Bernie wouldn't have won - he leans far too close to the Socialist end of the spectrum - but I'd love to have him as a leader - maybe in a couple of decades a Bernie will be viable).  Don't choose a guy who is simply going to be used as a tool for the worst people the Republicans can put forward.  Guilianni?  Christie?  That Alt-right newspaper guy?  You (the people who voted for him) think these people are going to bring change and root for the poor, the working class.  You drank the orange Kool Aid, kids.

I've never seen a group of people buy such lies before.  I'm sure there are historic examples, but in my lifetime, this is the worst.  He's lied about everything.  And people bought it.  Which takes me to the education system.  It has failed.  It would appear that a large number of people can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie - even though we have more information at our fingertips than anyone else in history.  They can't tell between reality TV and reality.

A change is coming - but it's not the one you wanted.  And it certainly isn't going to be for the good of the many.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Okay, so today I had some symptoms of Gluten Intolerance/Celiac Disease.  I couldn't for the life of me think of what could have done this.  Which makes me question if I actually have a problem or if it's all in my mind.

Then I remembered that a couple of nights ago I had some cottage cheese - a very small amount.  I found out on a website the Dairyland cottage cheese can be contaminated with barley gluten.  Previous to this I thought that my symptoms were coming minutes or hours after exposure.  This time it was 2 days.

And it really does seem like I am dealing with a reaction to microscopic amounts of gluten.  It's really rather ridiculous - and if I wasn't living it, I really don't think I'd believe it.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Celiac Disease??

Okay - right off the bat I'm going to tell you that I will be talking about annoying and potentially gross bodily functions.  If you can't handle it, close this page now.  Really.

Last chance ....

So for the past several months I've had diarrhea - urgent and almost instant.  Almost constantly - well, every time I needed to go - so once or twice a day.  Before 4 weeks ago I'd had about 3 somewhat normal bowel movements in nearly 1/2 a year.  And it was sticky - it stuck to the bowl.  This is not the first time I've had troubles.  I've had Irritable Bowel my whole life, and for the past 10 years or more I've had moments when my digestive system acted up - bloating, pain, terribly smelly gas, etc. (which I've also been experiencing lately, and which is really, really, terribly, embarrassing - the smell anyhow).  I've also been gaining weight.

I came across something on the Internet that suggested to me that I might have a problem with gluten.  So I cut gluten out of my diet.  And instead of diarrhea being the norm, it became rare - once or twice a week - and only when I had accidentally ingested gluten.  There was (now here's a gross part) quite a bit of mucus in my stool, but the rest was fairly normal.  After about two weeks, I went on vacation for a week.  We went to a friend's house - someone whose father had Celiac disease, so they were very careful, and I ate only foods that were obviously gluten free (eggs, meat, veg, fruit) or packaged food labelled gluten free.  And then we went to Disneyland.  And Disney is amazing where diet is concerned.  They have an allergy menu and they keep the allergy food separate from the other foods.  So aside from one time when I had two bites from a Rice Krispy square (Rice Krispies have barley malt in them), I had a very successful trip.

I've been home for a few days and have found that being here is harder than Disney - I've had a couple of bad days.  I bought some Ghirardelli chocolates when we were away and it turns out that although the ingredient list has no gluten-containing items, they are made in a facility that uses some gluten, so they can be cross-contaminated.  As well, one must clean the cutting boards and knives, etc. very well to avoid cross-contamination.  And just because gluten-free deli meat is sold at Safeway, it does not mean that it's not cross-contaminated if you get it at the deli counter.  So packaged processed meats only for me.

Now, let me be VERY clear.  I HAVE NOT been diagnosed with Celiac disease - although I'm thinking it's a very good possibility.  But whatever is going on, I'm having a serious reaction to gluten.

Of course, I couldn't get an appointment with my doctor until the end of November, and after that it will likely be a while until I can have tests done, but I thought I'd write about this because it is very, very stressful.  And depressing (gluten can cause depression in those sensitive to it).  And I figure if I've been dealing with this for so long without any help - there must be others.  So I'll take you on this journey with me, and we'll see what happens.

Updates will be forthcoming.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nightmare Disorder

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but for as long as I can remember, I have had bad dreams.  Almost every night.  I have dreams of being chased, being pursued, being in areas of natural disasters, etc.  It is almost always a true relief to wake up.  Sometimes they are so bad I don't want to go back to sleep after they've woken me up.  But this has been my normal forever.  I just live with it.

Last night I had a particularly bad one where I had murdered and dismembered a small girl and was then trying to hide it from everyone so I wouldn't go to prison.  Oddly, I didn't feel so bad about murdering someone, but just wanted to make sure I didn't get caught - and apparently it was the second time I had done it.  Not exactly my personality.

Anyhow, I was extremely stressed trying to dispose of the remains and hide it from the authorities.  By the end of the dream I was convinced I would go to jail and was considering killing myself with a bullet in the head.

Okay - so it was dark.  And I've given you the short version of a dream that seemed to last for hours and was extremely graphic.  Nice, eh?  I do occasionally have good dreams, but they are very rare.  I like the ones where I can fly.  (After last night I'm wondering if there is an unsolved murder somewhere that I'm tapping into ... or if I'm just crazy).

This week, I was reading a book that mentioned something called "Nightmare Disorder" - which I instantly looked up.  It's in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  Unbelievably, there are others that have this problem - or: unbelievably, my normal is not normal.  They say that if it affects the rest of your day, or prevents you from living a normal life, there are things you can do about it.  Drugs, meditation, yoga.  I've known for a long time that I should meditate - even bought a pillow a few weeks ago to sit on.  Time to use it, I think.

I also think I might talk to my doctor about it.  Dreams like the one I had last night stay with me for days - sometimes weeks.  And needless to say, they are very disturbing.

So if anyone else out there has the same problems, there may be a solution - or at least a way to ease symptoms.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Weight - week two of this round

Okay.  Well.  I have done a few good things this week.

I tried to eat when I was hungry - not when it was time to eat, but when my body told me it needed food.  And smaller portions.

I stopped with the sweets.  Even with, eating chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches is not a way to lose weight.  So I cut out the chocolate, ice cream ... anything that we would consider dessert or candy.  See, before, I figured that I could eat a little bit of this stuff and still lose weight as long as I kept my numbers in balance (calories in, calories out), but the truth is that once I had some, I would have  a little more.  My cravings would then cause me to eat a lot more of it.   And, surprise!  I suddenly was eating almost as many calories in sweets as other things.

So for me ... cold turkey.  The only way I can manage.  I haven't cut sugar out altogether.  I'll still eat instant oatmeal - and yogurt - and sauces with sugar.  But no sugary drinks, no chocolate, no pop, no ice cream (etc.).

Oddly enough (even though I preach this a lot to people I still don't realize it until I do again) my mood has been much more balanced without the sugar.  Funny that.  The wild swings I was having have gone away.

And last night, for the first time in a really long time, I slept without any drugs.  I slept from 11 until 7 with only one wake up and I didn't have to read or watch TV or anything to get back to sleep.  I was awake for maybe 10 minutes (not 2 hours).  Huzzah!  I'm not presuming that this will continue, but it was really, really nice.

Now, last week I said I was 149 pounds.  Really, I've seen the scale up as high as 151 in the past couple of weeks.  This morning I was under 145.  I'm not saying I lost 4 pounds this week - I'm sure I didn't, but there is a natural up and down of about 4 pounds and I'm at the lower end of it (with some weight lost, I'm sure).  So I'm very happy about this.

Normally, I would give myself permission to eat more sweets.  Not happening this time.  I might allow myself a little more food at a meal, but no desserts!!

So, yay!  Like most weight loss endeavours, mine has started off well.  Let's hope I can continue.  I did have one hell of a craving for sweets yesterday, but I managed to not give in.

For me, having one rule (no sweets) is a lot easier than trying to balance a bunch of different things.  Just the way my brain works - less to remember.