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Psychopharmacology -- Day Two

It's funny. I am a pretty damn intelligent woman, by most measures--sure, I'm Captain Oblivious, sure, my friends seem oddly fixated on not letting me walk into traffic, sure I take a hint about as well as a charging rhinoceros, but still!

And yet, sometimes...

Now, as I've said, for the longest time--weeks, going on a month--food was making me queasy. I ate out of a sense of duty, and because occasionally I'd get hungry AND queasy, a truly vile combination.

But I got over that. I took the anti-nausea meds for a few days, then had to stop because it was giving me dreadful esophagus-eating heartburn. But I was okay. In fact, once I got back to Raleigh, suddenly I was voracious.  I was eating to make up for a month on starvation rations.  I was plowing through food with...not enthusiasm, exactly, but dedication, anyway. And in a weird way, I was proud of this--I mean, it doesn't seem like much, but when you've spent a month looking at meals like you'd look at a root canal, it makes a huge difference. And since I wasn't on the anti-nausea drugs, I felt like...like I'd gotten a little bit better. I'd clawed my way up a few inches, and I did it without serious medical intervention, and I did it mostly on my own. It was sort've like "Okay, I can get better. The drugs will help enormously, and thank god for them, but I'd be capable of surviving on my own, goddamnit."

Stuff like this is important to me. I'm kinda stupidly independant at times, emphasis on the stupid.

Yesterday evening, despite spending a lovely evening with my buddy Ari,* I was suddenly queasy again. And it felt like backsliding, like I'd lost that little bit of ground I'd clawed out on my own. "Good god," I thought glumly, "Am I this unhealthy and obsessive? Are we right back here again?"

This was discouraging. And the night of long, fitful dreams--you know the sort, where you're thinking of something, and you fall asleep and it runs in a thread through your dreams, and you wake up still thinking, and you aren't sure if you've slept at all, except that the clock says it's four AM, and you're completely unrested--didn't help at all.  I dragged myself down to breakfast, feeling like the Hindenberg about forty seconds after the spark.

"How're you?" asked Deb.

"Queasy," I muttered, staring at my re-heated pizza with deep dislike.

"Well, that's the drugs, right?"

I blinked at her. Several times. "Oh....right...."

Because of course it was a side-effect of the Effexor. I'd been warned about it specifically and in no uncertain terms--"Your stomach's gonna feel fluttery for a couple of days,"--and here I am, engaging in some serious self-flagellation over it. Same with the dreams. And I knew better. But nausea's such an oddly specific thing--you get only limited shades of it, there isn't quite the range of variation that you get with pain, say--that I was fooled by the familiarity of it all.  If it felt like the original queasiness, it must be the same thing, it must have the same cause, I must be at fault for lack of mental discipline and wallowing in misery.

It was interesting, and it sort of brought home to me how I really AM an unreliable narrator at the moment. Definitely got to avoid any major decisions until after the meds have had a chance to work.

So that was interesting. At the moment, I feel like I've got the flu--sweating, tremor, nausea, slight detachment from reality. It's not terrible, but it's not fun. I may spend most of today napping, just to try to get through it--I can probably expect three to four days of this before it settles down, and I'm thinking I'll just treat it like I really AM sick, 'cos at least I know how to deal with that.

*Who, like many of my friends, sees in me a baby seal wandering the beach and looking hopefully up at the nice men with clubs.

sorry to hear you aren't feeling 100%... licorice or some ginger tea with hunny may help settle the tummy a bit? hope things are settled down soon!

as a somewhat related side note ...i hate how if you mention to someone that your tummy is upset that the first thing out of a persons mouth (if they don't know you hehe) is: "oh are you pregnant?!" :P

i've found an easy and portable way to do away with transient med-induced queasiness is to suck on some super-minty non-sugary item. (sugary makes it worse. i used to chew the kind of gum that was so strong it made me sneeze, but the long-term effects of jaw-clenching made that a no go.) that, and the less portable ginger tea.

... I always liked the dreams :)

however I also miss pizza - some food's not so fun to eat for now.
Other stuff may be -delicious-.
While I wasn't on effexor I did find my tastes made a number of changes after the last batch of drugs ages back.

Me: "Yes, but she's a baby seal who randomly turns into a bizarre pink alien cactus, which puts the hunters right off, fortunately."

Ivpiter, reading the same post nearly simultaneously: "Baby seal protected by wombats!"

Am now picturing baby seal with earring, leather jacket, and wombat tattoo. Still with the hopeful look though.

"Queasy," I muttered, staring at my re-heated pizza with deep dislike.
I'd feel queasy too looking at pizza first thing in the morning..
But seriously, you do need to remember that drugs do have side effects, and recognize them as that, not some moral failing on your part. Treat yourself gently, rest, and perhaps a little peppermint tea for the queasiness. Hope you feel better as you adjust to the new chemical balance in your system.

You ARE sick. Side effects to medication are caused by your body attempting to repell the foriegn invaders, just like half the 'symptoms' for most illnesses are manufactured by your own body as 'side effects' to being ill.

Napping through it is a fabulous idea. As is not going on a major run of pharmaceutical assistance at the beginning of a full work week in a factory full of noisy machinery and brilliant fluorescent lighting, but you've got that angle covered, so hey.

With that build up, I was so sure you were about to say you were pregnant!! O.o


Same thing here, I confess.

"Well, that's the drugs, right?"

WHEW! I was beginning to wonder if you were pregnant. (No, seriously.)

If you find the side effects unbearable or if Effexor doesn't work well for you, you might ask your doc about Lexapro. It's for depression and anxiety and it's ... magical. It's amazingly fast acting, and is great for pulling one out of a hole.

The problem with Lexapro is that it can have some unpleasant side effects of its own. If I miss a pill, I get feeling a bit strange - kind of lightheaded, tingly around the lips, stuff like that. If I miss a second pill, I start getting seriously messed up - kind of like the flu without the fever or sweats. Effexor was worse for that, though - with Effexor you get the sproings. The only way I can describe it is like your head is made out of lots of springs, all hooked together, and every time you move, they stretch and snap back in patches.

That having been said, you will take my Lexapro away when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. Between it and the Lamictal and the Risperdal, I'm functional. I hate having to take pills to be functional. It feels like failure. But I'd rather take the pills than be nonfunctional.

Even if you are "unreliable", the narration is still very interesting, and reassuring to those of us who maybe do similar things ^-^

YOu know, there's actually a lot of highly complex nerves in your abdomen - in fact the nerve knot by your stomach actually has neural tissue in. There's a lot of evidence to suggest that it controls a lot of your reflexes, and can remember and play back physical feelings - the reason you get "gut" feelings and an upset stomach.
So next time you feel like your stomach is trying to tell you somehting... it probably is putting some thought into the message.

My 4 year old has started literally asking her tummy for advice on things. Out loud.

Officially, it can take up to two weeks to find out what a given mind-affecting drug will do to you, including working through all the side effects and finding out what 'normal' on this medication feels like.

It can be frustrating, knowing that you won't get better right now, that any change will take a couple of weeks before seeing the real results.

Effexor treated me to REMarkable technicolor full surround-sound Nightly Dream Theatre, with plots so complicated a team of soap opera writers would have wept with envy into their monogrammed hankies.

It also put me on a rigorous - and I mean rigorous - dosing schedule. I did not skip a dose of Effexor. No one skips doses of Effexor, because it has a brutally short half-life, but it was a little more critical for me. I had exactly 26 hours between doses. If I took my dose at 8 am each day, and I missed one, then by noon I'd be dizzy, quivery, shaking, experiencing tingling jolts of vertigo each time I turned my head.

Not fun. One of two reasons I stopped taking the stuff. The other was a detatched, permanently flat emotional state that went on for about two years before I figured that, hey, you know, I should be feeling *something* more than blank.

Effexor and Paxil have the worst side effect profiles and withdrawal symptoms of the current batch of SSRIs. I'm not trying to scare you, but I'm constantly frustrated that doctors prescribe the stuff without educating their patients.

From my experiences and those of my friends, if the side effects from an antidepressant haven't cleared up within 6 weeks, they aren't going to go away. You're better off finding a different drug unless the side effects are minor and bearable. Take care of yourself!

amazingly enough, I never once experienced withdrawal when they took me off of it cold turkey after being on it for three years.

of course, I WAS lying in the ICU waiting for an echo cardiogram and a pacemaker, so i suppose i was too scared about my situation to think about how not being on Effexor affected me...

And yes, I managed NOT to have a complete breakdown all on my own, without drugs! probably because of the nurse kindly telling me that one of the side effects of Effexor was possible heart troubles and they didn't want to rock the boat o.O

I'd get hungry AND queasy, a truly vile combination.

Which combination also added me to the list of those going, "OMG, she's going to say she's pregnant!" If that were the cause, at least I could say, "Take B-6. It's a little, yellow miracle pill," but since that's not the cause, I have no idea if B-6 would help even a little. It does turn your urine neon yellow, which is kinda cool.

Anyway, I hope the side effects fade quickly. :-)

Hang in there, Ursula! Those of us in Cali feel terribly guilty that our little state was The Last Straw. I hope the nausea eases soon.

Even if the nausea was a symptom of depression, you shouldn't beat yourself up for 'backsliding'...don't think of it as backsliding at all. Things take time to process, and aspects of it will come and go.

That having been said, it's easy to jump to conclusions about where your head is at. But it's better (although harder) to just let it be what it is without analyzing it.

I wish you much luck and support!