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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.