Friday, October 30, 2009

That'll teach me to get all excited about my hair.

Sorry about the lack of hair pictures; I didn't even think of taking one before I unsnarled the bun and went to bed.

And, apparently, forgot to take my fucking Effexor.

That doesn't happen very often, but I can always tell when I've gotten distracted and forgotten the Anti-Brain-Scurvy meds. I had a dream that the entire ICU crew had to walk from Dallas to the Gaza Strip, climb 300-story skyscrapers, and be catapulted across huge crevasses in a sort of Survivor-meets-Amazing-Race-meets-Python challenge. (Just for the record, I've never seen either reality show, so I don't know how accurate the catapult thing is, but there you are.)

If the crazy-ass dreams aren't enough to clue me in, the electrical shocks up my neck and down my arms will remind me. And if *those* aren't enough, the feeling that my brain has the flu will be, for sure. (Note to those who are saying "brain flu? WTF?": Yes, it really is like my brain has the flu: mentally achy, exhausted, and foggy as hell. It's bizarre and unpleasant.)

Thankfully, my brain is jacked up enough that one dose of Effexor XR is enough to set me straight again in terms of norepi and serotonin within about eight hours, so now I feel fine.

Thus, a public service announcement: I've gotten six emails in the last two weeks from readers who are dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression. I've told all of them this individually, but I want to make it public: If you are having problems with mental fitness, *please* see a doctor. Specifically, see a psychiatrist rather than a family practitioner.

General practitioners are fantastic, but they don't have the intensive training that a shrink does when it comes to both the mind and the brain. I went to see a family guy, a generalist, when I discovered that I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, and I ended up on a drug that is difficult to dose, hideous if not impossible to stop taking, and the psych drug equivalent of swatting a fly with an atom bomb.

My shrink, the first time I saw him, raised his eyebrows both at the drug I was taking (in light of my personal history) and the dose I was on. In his words, "If that other guy thought you were really depressed and possibly bipolar [see archives as to why the GP was mistaken], he did everything exactly wrong." Turns out Effexor is best used for people whose depression and anxiety has been refractive to other treatments.

This drug saved my life. Period. I would've either drunk myself to death like the women in my family did generations ago, or I would've simply died of lack of mental stimulation and ennui. That life-saving, though, came at the cost of knowing that if I miss a dose of my Brain Vitamins, I'm screwed for the next eight hours, *and* that there's a very good chance that I will never ever ever be able to stop taking this particular drug.

Which, as long as an asteroid doesn't hit and the zombies don't invade Medco, isn't too bad a future to contemplate......but it would've been nice to work up to the Strontium 90 of brain meds rather than start out on them, if you know what I mean.

Here endeth the Public Service Announcement. You may all go back to your homes, your beer, and your regularly-scheduled Nurse Blogging now.


Andrea said...

I've been on Effexor. It got me my life back (It brought back the Old Me, the Happy Me, and it was awesome.) But, I weaned off it so I could get pregnant. It took three months to wean off, but I did it. That was two years ago. Since then, I haven't had to take a script for mental health (I also got the Vitamin E! from my PCP - what's up with that?), but I have some interesting, lingering effects that never went away after d/c'ing the drug. If you'd like to talk, please, shoot me an email.

woolywoman said...

I (heart) vitamin E, but yep, you need to keep some spare doses stashed around so that you can take it the moment you realize you forgot. I have heard one can be weaned off it, but never looked into it, as they will pry the bottle from my cold, dead hands.

Penny Mitchell said...

I asked that my doc wean me off Cymbalta. We did it very gradually and it was STILL hell. I just love that sensation of having a cattle prod thrust into my ear.

I was completely off it for a few weeks, still dealing with almost nonstop zingies and on the verge of killing every single person in my vicinity when I called her back and asked that she please keep me out of jail. I've been on 20 mg of fluoxetine since then, and it's perfect. It's enough to keep the zingies away, and keep me out of a blind, screaming rage, which is nice.

I will be on this stuff for the rest of my life. I'm okay with that. The alternative is untenable.

Rat said...

been there done that, got the t-shirt. I am good with Brain Vitamins. I am good with who I am. I however, am NOT good with the EVIL drug companies who do not think about the poor folks (me included)who am waiting for insurance to kick in and charge a kazillion dollars for 10 tiny capsules to keep you "normal." Hmph. I am in a quandry, though....and only you know what I mean. Being a rat and all....Being a Brain Vitamin "normal" rat... oh, screw it. I'm fine with it. It keeps me normal. Fairly out of back pain, and as "normal" as I am going to be on any given day. So there.

Give me Brain Vits or give me death...

Ok, so that's a little strong, but keep 'em commin' at freaking $55 for 10 capsules and I'll keep smiling.

Peg Bisbee said...

Thanks, Nurse Jo. I appreciate you taking the time to address it.