Off My Meds… kinda

*runs around screaming*

Aah, but sadly, it’s nothing that fun or crazy. All that’s happened is that I’m trying to get down to a lower dose of antidepressants. Cutting it in half, in fact (though not cutting the pills themselves… that’s a no-no with this one).

Have you ever talked to a doctor about Depression? I always have a hard time not laughing at them. There are certain questions they have to ask you about your mood, etc. When they get to the ones about thoughts of suicide or self-harm, they always look at me like I’m a dangerous animal. Maybe not a tiger, but definitely a mangy raccoon that may or may not have rabies. They approach cautiously, gently, and very apprehensively. All of them. It’s kind of adorable.

When I mentioned it last week, my doctor looked at me like I was asking her for a referral to have my nose grafted onto my forehead. Things have been going well. Really well. I feel good, I’m sleeping well for the first time in years, my brain is functioning on many levels (even if my memory is still crap), I’m getting writing done, though I still can’t concentrate on anything that doesn’t interest me. Why would I want to change anything?

Because I don’t like being on more medication than I have to be. My body is sensitive to a lot of chemicals: MSG and aspartame give me headaches, and I’ve had to switch meds several times because of nasty side-effects. I don’t think I’m suffering now, but who knows? Maybe I’ll feel better once I adjust. I’ve been told by several doctors that I’ll probably never not need something. I have Depression, I’ve learned that needing medication for that is no more shameful than someone with diabetes needing insulin (this seems to be the go-to comparison), it’s part of my brain chemistry, runs in my family, all of that. That doesn’t mean I want to be on more than I need to be.

It’s not an easy adjustment. Missing a dose leaves me feeling cloudy-headed and muddled, and today, after four days of half-doses, I’m experiencing the same thing. I’m moving at regular speed, but my brain is processing everything around me in slow-motion. I feel like I’m sitting inside of my head looking out through my eyes. I can’t focus on editing; those words won’t come. I did that WIPpet Wednesday thing after one reduced dose, and that was OK; I wrote 6,000 words on it yesterday (and I owe the house and my kids an apology for kind of letting chaos reign while I did). I guess letting new ideas flow is easier right now than perfecting the ones I’ve seen a hundred times already. But I’m not in pain, and so far my mood isn’t crashing. Well, I’m feeling a bit down this morning (Friday). It’s partly because of that, but partly because of a simmering stew of other factors, including the fact that I forgot about Ike’s last KinderStart class.*

So why now? Because I’ve been getting more exercise, and they say that’s as good for depression as antidepressants are. I can’t get out with Jack every day, but we do pretty well, working around AJ’s work schedule and the weather. If we get an elliptical for the basement, even better. I think the exercise is doing a lot for my mental health (darn them for being right, I hate sweating!), and I want to see if it holds up without as much pharmaceutical support as it’s been getting. I’m trying to eat better, but that’s hard sometimes. The days are getting longer, and sunlight helps. There’s no perfect time to try this, but now seems better than January would have been. *shhudder*

I’m going to keep writing, even if editing my beloved primary WIP has to be put on hold until my head is de-muzzified, one way or another. Writing helps as much as the exercise does, but it’s harder to do when I’m feeling all stupid-like.  I’ll keep going with those vampire types, just for fun. I’m excited about the club, the food-people (better name pending),  Shivva and Trixie’s first assignment, the bad guys who are just SO persuasive about their cause, and the possibility that one of these young ladies isn’t going to stay true to hers… It’s just a jumbled mess of ideas right now, but it’s been a while since I really explored something new, and the excitement might keep me going through the tough days.

I’m also going to get outside more with the boys; we’re starting a vegetable garden, and I want to get them out to the walking trails when the snow is all gone from down there. I’m going to read more. I might need to sleep more, but I’m not going to let it become an escape.

TL;DR – I apologize in advance if things get weird around here in the next few weeks.

Er… weirder 🙂

20130502-213019.jpg

…but at least I don’t feel like he looks.

*It was only an hour or so, less than once a month on an irregular schedule. I don’t do well with irregular schedules. I feel like a bad mom. 😦

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

12 responses to “Off My Meds… kinda

  • L. Marie

    I’ve taken antidepressants too and gotten off of them. I never felt right on them. Sending good thoughts your way. Be good to yourself, Kate. Have you seen this post: http://malcolmscorner.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/in-praise-of-depression/

    • katemsparkes

      I hadn’t seen that one, thank you!

      It reminds me of why I went off of my last medication… well, among other reasons. It was making me completely flat. I didn’t want to die, I wasn’t having panic attacks over nothing, but I wasn’t experiencing joy, either. Living without strong emotions (positive and negative) made me feel less than human. It was brutal, but I didn’t even have the will to fight it.

      I just want to get to a place where I can experience melancholy or despair when they’re appropriate. My depression tends to not be situational, so if I can find a balance in my treatment, I should be able to achieve that. I hope so, anyway. When I’m having a had episode (like both times I was pregnant), there’s no chance of appreciating natural beauty, or kindness, or the gift of life itself. I just want to be dead. I’m willing to stay on meds to avoid that (for my sake and my family’s), but I’m hoping that a normal emotional range is possible. 🙂

      • L. Marie

        So it’s chemical then? I experience that. Sometimes I take St. John’s Wort, but often I forget to do that too. I’m pulling for you, Kate!

        • katemsparkes

          Thanks. Yeah, it is. Runs in my family. Aggravated by pregnancy hormones, so no more kids for us! I’m fine with two kids, not so fine with missing out on my university education… stupid depression. -_-

  • Nagzilla

    Hang in there, sister. I’ve struggled with depression for years (diagnosed as chronic) but have currently found some that work really well for me. Between that and regular therapy appointments, I am enjoying life more now that I have ever in the past 20 years, and I actually am happy. Yeah, there’s ups and downs, but I do get to experience that emotional range you’re talking about, without feeling like I’m drowning or want to end it all the time.

    And some meds are way harder to decrease than others. I was on effexor for a while, and it took me six months and a complete break down before I was free from that. Blarg. I wish you the best of luck and hope it goes well. Keep on keeping on. It’ll get better. I’m proof of that.

    • katemsparkes

      Thanks, it’s always good to know I’m not alone. Effexor was the one that made me all flat (and nearly killed my marriage), and it was a bitch for me to get off of, too. I was on another one at the time, which helped keep things from crashing too hard, but it took a long time and it was rough.

      • Nagzilla

        I say Effexor is evil and from the devil. It didn’t help my depression that much, and it gave me monster migraines, which I had never had before I had taken it. But getting off of it… damn. Every time I’d cut the dose, it’d be two weeks of vomiting, nightmares, and night sweats. Horrible. I actually read somewhere that getting off Effexor is as bad as quitting heroin. I’m trusting what they say (as I’ve never been on heroin) but if that’s true, it’s not a drug I’m likely to ever start.

        • katemsparkes

          I read that somewhere, too! I know it’s not fun, but I’m glad I did it. I know it works for a lot of people (it did help my depression at first, when I really needed it, and my mom was fine on it for years), but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. O.o

  • Jae

    Geez, I’m sorry you’re having to go through all of that. Hopefully you’ll find a good balance for the meds soon. I’m glad you have writing to turn to.

  • ioniamartin

    Vegetable gardening sounds like a great reprieve! So far all I have planted is potatoes, as our well has been having issues, but I do have a couple of what appear to be tomato plants coming up. Good luck striking a balance.

  • ontyrepassages

    I’m glad to hear you’re open to other ideas concerning your depression, getting outside, and exercising. Anti-depressants are crucial for some, but my experiences were bad. One left me continually nauseous and unable to retain a single coherent thought, another left me on the bathroom floor all night contemplating suicide, another rendered me so ill I didn’t realize I’d developed pneumonia that landed me in the hospital, and the last turned me into a zombie.

    Keep in mind that doctors don’t like to take you off such meds…it’s easier to just medicate you, plus they fear the fallout if they take you off and things go badly. Psychiatrists are no different. They’re head MD’s. If you aren’t seeing a therapist/counselor/psychologist I recommend doing so. They don’t prescribe meds and so don’t have an interest in keeping you on them. At the same time, such people aren’t examples of “one size fits all.” Your personalities have to mesh.

    When I found the right one he saved my life, TAUGHT! me how to live without meds, and then “graduated” me…told me I no longer needed him. Whenever my tears begin it’s his words that help me back to where I need to be. I can’t say enough about all that he did for me and miss him dearly as a human being.

  • mysticcooking

    Good luck finding the right combination! Have you read any of the Bloggess (Jenny Lawson)? She published her first book recently, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,” which is very funny, but also does a good job of portraying her own struggles with depression.

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