09 July 2007

Summer Reading

Anytime I have time on my hands, I like to cruise the bookstore and the local library, looking for new reading material. Lately, anything I've picked up in the sci-fi/fantasy genre has disappointed me. That's why I started writing a novel of my own, it is something that I would enjoy reading. I don't know if I will ever finish it, but I have enjoyed the process of writing it thus far.

I went to the library last week. Oh-hia-ia's libraries are tax-funded, so there are always new books on the shelves, all kinds of things to explore. I picked up about 10 books, fiction and non-fiction. One non-fic caught my eye, "Is it me or my Meds? Living with anti-depressants" The cover is a soothing light blue, and there's a yellow smiley face in the middle.

Of course I picked it up and checked it out. That question, "Is it the meds?" has been something that I've been struggling with. I'm in so much better shape than when I wrote the first blog post about my depression in the spring. And I know that the meds are a major part of that. But I worry about taking them, I worry about ending up dependent on them for life. I have discussed this with both doctors, Dr. H and the shrink. Dr. H essentially said, "Why mess with what's working? Give it a year, minimum." The shrink said, "You must consider the very real possibility that you may have to go back on the medication at some point in the future. Relapse happens often with depression. I'm not saying that you'll be dependent on them for life, but you may need them for longer than you think. Let's re-evaluate where you are with the meds in October, OK?"

Turns out, as I have worked my way through "Is it me or my meds?" that my concerns are shared by the vast majority of those taking anti-depressants. And many, many psychiatric patients stop taking them, self-medicate, or mess with the dosage without the doctor even being aware of it. The horror stories I'm reading in this book scare me, but my experience has not been the same as many of the folks profiled in the book.

For many people, the meds don't work at all, the side effects are horrible, and when they do work, it is only for a short period of time. They talk about the half-life of both Xanax and Klonopin, both of which I have taken only at dire need. They're both anti-anxiety meds, and no, I do not have a current prescription for either of them. Xanax makes me calmer, better able to handle something very stressful. Klonopin makes me giddy. I would probably not agree to having a regular prescription for either unless things got much, much worse than they were for me.

The side effects that I've had with Wellbutrin have largely disappeared. Dr. H and the shrink both told me that they were glad that I continued taking the medication despite the side effects, that many patients don't stick it out. The daily headache was a pain in the ass, frankly, but it disappeared after about 10 days. The shakes, which made me look like I had Parkinson's, are much diminished, although they're not gone completely. Dr. H gave me the full medical explanation for what's happening to my body with the shakes, but since I did not write it down, I can't share it with you. Basically, he said that my body is overcompensating for something that the medication has introduced to my system. Whatev. All I know is that I feel much more like myself, and that things that were bothering me enough to induce near-hysteria are no longer worrisome.

I'm not even worried that I'm unemployed. I feel like it is no big deal, that something will come along, and it will all be all right. There is no basis in reality for this belief; I know that in order to find another job, I will need to actually look, something I have not bothered to do.

So in the meantime, I'm going to finish reading the books that I got from the library, await the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the theater and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows in hardback on July 21. I may even write a book report or two. And I've got all kinds of free time for fangirl silliness too.


Dawna said...

Hrm. I'm gonna have to check that book out! As a person who has suffered from chronic depression for my whole life and has never been medicated- I often wonder if the quietness in my head is me or if it is just the medication.

No no, I'm not schizophrenic, but my mind is utterly quiet. Like the lack of white noise when there's a black out. Soothing yet disturbing all at the same time.

Lucy Arin said...

I so feel that.

I had a few weeks where everything was numb, numb, numb when the meds first started working. But that went away and has been replaced with happy, happy, happy, which makes me worry, worry, worry. What happens when I quit them? Do I want to quit them? What if I can't quit them? But I think that I'm over-thinking it. IDK, have to wait and see, something I've never been good at.

John said...

Hi Lucy!

Imagine my surprise at being tagged unfairly (by your own admission) whilst I was out of the country! Though I have yet to dig out enough to reply to your tag I have found the time to return the favor. Consider yourself tagged. Details over at The Shepherd's Staff.