Monday, 27 October 2014

Week 2 on Fluoxetine and a link

It's just over two weeks since I started taking Fluoxetine. And it's really kicking in.

After a pretty rough sleep last night, I realised I'd recorded a couple of vlogs since starting the course, but not written anything for the actual blog.


The black cloud that once took up residence in my brain has gone.
I still have the odd flash of negative thought and anxiety, but they're more of a flash than a prolonged sense of frustration. For one thing, I no longer have 4 hour long guilt trips.
Before starting the course, my common sense, logical thought process and strength was wrapped up tightly in a box in the back of my head with no escape from the malice and anger surrounding it.
My last counselling session revealed that since taking the course, everything's swapped.
The negative thoughts are still there and I still have the struggle going on inside, but I've located the strength I had before and am able to use logical thinking to over come difficult situations.
No longer do I feel like the happy avatar in my head is curled up in a dark alley, having the shit kicked out of it by my inner demons.

For one thing, I can meditate. The usual method for meditation is to ground yourself, breath carefully, then focus on emptying your mind. I had no issues with meditation in the past, then it got to the point where it was almost impossible to focus my mind due to the number of thoughts and distractions floating through my head.
And now? Not a problem. I can even visualise which was always an issue.
I can also stand in a room, take a moment to observe the four walls around me and feel like I'm in it rather than a floating entity outside my own head.
The best part is I've realised I'm actively noticing the colours of the trees changing from green to all the colours. Taking it in rather than just giving it a cursory glance.


Ha! That's a whole different ball game.
First off, these past couple of weeks, I've been exhausted. Especially if I leave the house for the day. I've spent much of this time on the sofa, completely tuckered out, watching as much intellectually stimulating TV as I can find (here I'd like to thank Tom for arranging Netflix for us. saver). I've been pretty much next to useless due to my crap energy levels.

Despite this, however, I'm also buzzing. Every movement I make seems to be accompanied by slight physical vibrations, as if all the electrical charges and buzzing in my brain have leaked out and reformatted into my skin instead. It might not be obvious to those who see or listen to me, in fact in might just come across as nervous energy. But it's very obvious to me.

I attended a social gathering on Saturday, the first one since being depressed then starting the course of medication and after roughly 2 hours of being there, I actually had to force myself to lie on the sofa for a bit to try and calm myself. So it seems to increase with adrenaline. As the evening progressed, I was sat in a ball between Tom's legs to add 1) having someone close to me I could use as a focus point and 2) curled up in a ball so I could create some tension in me to try and subdue to the twitch and that only lasted so long til I had to get up and move around.

My morning insomnia has got a touch worse too.
For a while now, usually once or twice a week, I wake at 5am, try to get back to sleep, fail, go downstairs, curl up on the sofa with a blanket, put some mundane TV on, then pause it when I feel myself drift off. I then usually catch up on another 2 hours.
I tried the whole going to bed earlier to get better sleep, but that just resulted in my waking at 3am instead. So...I try and push myself, making my bed time as late as I can manage. Evenings are now putting something on TV, curling up on the sofa, then just zombifying my brain until I think 'right, that should do it' and slink off to bed.

Last night was the worst one I've had since starting this course. I could not stop vibrating.
I've found I'm usually able to focus the full body vibration into a single constant motion eg finger tapping or foot jiggling. But after a while that can get really annoying and a touch distracting. For others as well as myself. So, at one point, lying on the sofa, I raised my hand into the air, clenched my fist and focused the energy into that. Just focusing on holding my arm up seemed to help as I then realised I'd managed to zone into the last half of the program we were watching without noticing what my body was doing.

Then went to bed.
And had the most restless night ever. I could tell I was disturbing Tom too. I was clearly grinding my teeth, rolling around, and generally making a nuisance of myself.
I'm now honestly wondering if it's better if I sleep on the sofa until these symptoms pass. That might not give me the best night's sleep, but then, he's got to work in the morning. I don't. I can rest...he can't.


the meds are doing their job. One of the symptoms people feel during the early stages of taking the drug is increased depression, and I can understand why. If you're not used to feeling like this, it's pretty horrible to deal with. However, all the side effects I'm going through are what I felt before, just no major change really. I'm used to it.
I'll be seeing my GP in November to get a review and see if the dose needs to be adjusted and continuing with my counselling on a weekly basis.
What I've explained does sound unpleasant but when you've dealt with full on depression and anxiety the way I have, the strain and the fact that I knew I was losing's a very small price to pay to hold onto a peace of mind.

Donor's link
In other news, my donor has set up her own blog to describe her experience as a donor. 
Please do check it out as it's very interesting and well written and it fascinates me to see what the other side of this experience is going through!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Experience with Fluoxetine thus far

[Important note and message below main post]

Okie dokie...I was planning on recording my progress on the new prescription on a day to day basis, then posting them up as a batch later, but as the results have been fairly immediate and good and I doubt that will change much over the next week or so, I decided to post an update now.

Although anti-depressants can take a couple of weeks to actually balance out in the patient's system, the pill itself will generally start working within half an hour or so of being taken. Therefore, I wanted to start the first day feeling refreshed and rested after a good night's sleep so I could try and establish any new symptoms against what I usually feel.
Naturally, of course, that didn't happen as I barely slept a wink. Things out of my control kept waking me up (Tom's cough, needing the loo etc) and when I did sleep, it wasn't very restful. This isn't uncommon for me.
Blah. So...I tried to keep as open a mind about the first day as possible. Whilst feeling pretty knackered.
Within half an hour of taking the pill, however, I noticed I started to feel fuzzy. Unfocused, difficulty concentrating. But on an amusing level. I felt slightly drunk. I think it's called 'brain fog'.
The rest of the day was spent feeling as though I were wearing a beanie hat (it's a tight fitting woollen hat that sits just above the ears) that was just a touch too tight. But it wasn't a bad sensation. Maybe I was expecting worse, so the initial reaction was amusement.
I didn't really trust myself to do much given my sudden epic lack of focus and concentration (which is apparently quite normal), so it was a good idea to have started at the weekend when Tom was at home with me.
Thing is, I'm very aware of a patient with new drugs suffering psychosomatic symptoms (reading about the symptoms then convincing yourself you're feeling them). However, given that I've spent most my life with something just a bit wrong with me or getting hit by different forms of illnesses, I've learnt to be able to differentiate between what I actually have and what I could scare myself into believing I'm going through. That's actually the reason I spent so long in denial about being in depression. I didn't want to go on a course of medication for feeling 'sad' and something that could easily be dealt with through talking therapy, which many cases of depression can turn out to be.
It's a line thin. And a risky one.
Although I'll have read the pamphlet, I tend to try and forget about them the symptoms then check the pamphlet if I'm feeling a bit different to normal. It's a difficult situation as so many drugs have SO many lists of side effects. You just have to trust yourself.

I'm now on day 3 of taking the tablets...and a little surprised that I can already feel the difference. Kind of expected it to take longer.
Admittedly, I'm extremely tired, I'm a touch out of focus, my head feels a little bit like it's in a vice (again, not pleasant, but it's not the negative vice I've faced in the past), my throat hurts and I'm...hah....yawning. Lots. However, that could also be down to fatigue as that's one of the main side effects of Fluoxetine, along with insomnia. So you're shattered, but can't sleep restfully. Bit of a vicious circle.
Honestly, however, this isn't really new for me as the depression and my illness both exhausted me and I was struggling to sleep. So...fatigue is just what I was feeling before...just with a couple more elements thrown in. A sore throat is also a sign of fatigue and I've literally had one since I started taking the pills, so now I'm watching this particular symptom as I'm seriously unsure whether it's an impending cold or the pills. So far no other cold symptoms, except for that.

One of the warnings on the pack is that the patient may encounter an increase in depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety for the first week (I know, right) which is why the leaflet actually asks the patient to let other people know what to look out for and expect and to keep an eye open for warning signs.
Now I'm wondering if this was reported because some patients struggled in dealing with the first batch of symptoms, which I can see being a little too much for people to live with if they then try and get on with the normal aspect of their lives (going to work, attending social events etc).
I think the only reason the increase of these symptoms haven't reared up for me is because I was hit by them so hard before I went on the drug, they couldn't get any worse.

Oh yeah, I'm also feeling cold. And I don't think it's just down to my Raynaulds or the weather turning really chilly.
Last night, it occurred to me that I was wearing the warmest pyjamas I own, a thick duvet, a thick bed cover on top of that and I could feel Tom's warmth radiating next to me....but I still felt internally chilly. And when I'm cocooned that well, I start radiating my own heat. I then recalled feeling cold/hot, is one of the symptoms.

My overall mood?
Ok, so that's the physical side of things. Is the drug actually performing and doing what it's meant to.
Yes. Or at least it seems to be.

I feel pretty good. Usually when I feel this good, I feel a hint of wariness in the back of my mind at the same time...but this time I don't.
It's possible it's because the drug has already kicked in and is offering me the balance I need and I just need the next couple of weeks to help me levels out the side effects.
But it's possible it's because I've been stuck in such a bad place for so long, the relief at having an escape is so strong it's producing my own chemical reaction which is coinciding with the drug and making it work more effectively and quicker.
Either way...I don't actually know, but am delighted this is the effect it's having.
I have a counselling session on Wednesday (my first after starting the course), so maybe that'll reveal some potential home truths?

Only bummer is, as well as the fatigue, sore throat and so on, my appetite's gone up, but I now feel nauseous after every couple of fork fulls so have to moderate my eating to ensure I actually eat, but that it's not an uncomfortable experience for me.
But quite frankly...given how I've been feeling up til now, I don't care. I'm thinking clearer than I have in a really really long time.

And it's like a breathe of fresh air.

The biggest test is when I go out into the world, into a situation that usually raises some form of negative reaction in me. That's when I'll know.

Additional note and advice 
If on reading this readers are tempted to go ahead and try a course of anti-depressants, I strongly recommend speaking to a counsellor first and checking if you don't just need to 1) have a couple of session of talking therapy 2) a course of CBT.
What I'm currently going through is a treatment to sort out the chemical imbalance in my brain. In the past, I was able to use logic to talk myself through moments of anxiety and depression. On occasion, I'd sit with a friend, talk something through, then throw off the dark mantle which had placed itself on my shoulders, give a grin, say 'I'll be fine' and mean it.
This is no longer the case. My problem turned from the metaphysical to the physical in a form of chemical disruption in my brain. Talking started to feel like I was just going round in circles. There was nothing I could do to solve the problems I was facing, there was nothing any one could say which would help dislodge the black shadow in my brain, despite my desperately wanting them to be able to.
That's when I realised, just talking wasn't enough any more.
Don't go on medication unless it's prescribed by a professional and you yourself are not certain in your heart of hearts it's the right thing to do.
Being on any course of medication itself can draining because you've got to remember to take it, if you don't, you might get hit by other side effects, and it's a constant daily reminder of what you're actually going through. You don't want to put yourself on that course unless you absolutely have to.
Trust me.

Friday, 10 October 2014

A prescription for relief

[The Vlog and blog differ as the vlog contains information the blog does not. It's also my natural reaction to what's happening rather than below which is more script based for those who don't/can't watch the videos]

My doctor and specialist team today proved exactly why they are made of all the awesome by getting back to me today with the update of whether or not I could in fact take a course of anti-depressants.

Turns out I can. 

I'm laughing. I'm actually feeling amazingly good today. I feel like I have an escape from the cloak of dark doom that perpetually lives inside my head, sapping any of the remaining strength I have inside me.
I have family, I have friends...all of whom have been there for me through thick and thin and have been pillars of strength for which I love them all.....but...there's only so much talking either they or myself can do to alleviate that which lives inside my head. What I've got going through my head is a physical, chemical reaction. And it needs to be tamed and controlled. And that opportunity is now available to me.

As of tomorrow (taking it in the morning with the rest of my medication to keep me in routine), I am on Fluoxetine at 20mg. Dosage may change based on what the doctor recommends. I'm seeing her in 3 weeks time to give the stuff enough time to filter through my system and actively kick in.
I'll also be seeing my counsellor on a weekly basis to help me through the first stages which actually adds to the relief that I won't be going through it by myself. 
The first couple of weeks I'm informed can be the hardest, but quite frankly, given the mental heavy I'm going through at the'll be interesting to see what difference it makes.

As the good patient I am, I read through the leaflet. I actually felt myself getting progressively more and more worried, until it dawned on me that....I'm already going through most the side-effects! No...really...I love the fact that one of the rarer symptoms is 'feeling detached from yourself'. 
That just described the basis for being me!

Actually favourite side effect is 'yawning'. Best effect ever. Cos no one yawns any more.
And yes, I tend to go all jovial over side-effects as it reduces the fear factor they may carry. If I remind myself that I'm already living with them, then it's less likely to have me going 'ohgod was that an effect? Gah!'

So yeah. I'm relieved. 
Of course, I've got to actively take them and put this theory to the test, but...I still feel like I have an escape.
Happens too rarely.

I will record my experience as I go.
Should be interesting....or boring as hell....I'm just writing this. S'up to you to decide :).

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Just one more way to get shafted

So...hah...been hit by an epic catch 22.

Last weekend, I left London for a brief trip to just escape myself and broke...twice. I mean seriously. The second time, I broke to the extent that I first completely physically closed off to the person I was with, then had to force my jaw open past the anger and aggression I felt towards life, to be able to communicate my thoughts to them and initiate a line of dialogue. Neither of those worked in pushing them away brain took another path and just....stopped. Turned off. This, however, actually seemed to give them a mental opening to get through to me and after a while, I slowly came back round to myself.
The whole process took about 4 hours. My intention had been to go out for a walk lasting a few minutes. Unfortunately, my mind had other plans.

I don't want to feel like that any more. It's too much.
So...on my return, I had a counselling session and repeated everything I'd gone through to her. She informed me that although I'd accepted that I was depressed, I hadn't accepted the level of depression, somehow repressing the severity of it and my counsellor strongly advised I skip CBT and go straight to a course of anti-depressants.
Now, I would be more than happy to do this, numbing the negative, self-destructive comments and the disorientating thick black cloud which rears its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. Not to mention that fact that I'm strained to the point where I'm now struggling to remember what it's like to feel strong any more. That mana potion of my life has run right out. I'm now working on sheer will power of those closest to me, basically holding me by the scruff of my shirt so I don't fall into the yawning abyss in front of me.
But...that's slowly becoming not quite enough any more.
Know the real kicker? Went to the GP today and was informed that anti-depressants can actually cause further damage to kidneys and aren't advised to be taken by renal patients.

My friends, have you ever seen me throw my head back and bray in laughter, only to follow it with rubbing my eyes and saying 'urgh, that was a laughter a hysteria and frustration more than anything else'
That. Any potential relief I could have to control the chemical strain in my head and stop that black cloud from descending any more may cause me further damage.
I honestly....honestly....feel like life is flipping me the bird.

The GP did find me something that might work, but suggested I contact my specialist to ensure it's actually ok. So now...just a touch more waiting. But the type I can handle. yeah...let's see what the next week brings.