Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A difficult week

The title says it all...this has been a very difficult week. Between not sleeping and a myriad of other side effects from the medication, and the death of another one of my son's friends, I have found it very hard to cope recently.
My youngest son is 15, and someone he'd known since 2nd grade passed away in February. For a long time, they didn't even know what had happened to him. He was having flu-like symptoms, then died in the elevator at the hospital. They found out later that he had viral myocarditis - a virus that attacked his heart.
Then, a week ago Monday, I had to tell my son that someone else he knew had wrapped his car around a tree going 80 mph. He died instantly, but his passenger was OK after a few days in the hospital. My son didn't know this boy as well as the other one, but they bonded immediately the first time they met. He was very kind, polite, funny, charming - the kind of person you want to be around, and you hope his attributes will rub off on your own children. His funeral was extremely difficult. His little sister and best friend was walking around in a daze. She turns 16 in a few days. I am very worried about her. I'm hoping my son will continue to be there for her, as he is now. She and her brother were inseparable.
The medication is killing me. I thought I'd be past all these side effects by now, but instead I'm getting new ones. My hands shake, I feel nauseous all the time, I'm still not sleeping, and I can't concentrate on anything. But on a good note, I got a letter from my insurance company saying the Effexor XR would be less expensive then this generic, venlafaxine. Thank goodness! I was about to call my doctor and have him switch it anyway.
Well, I'm getting started on my Thanksgiving dinner. My son is flying home tomorrow, and my mom and brother are coming over. I'm trying not to stress out too much. I've got myself pretty organized, I just wish someone else was coming over. Then my mom would have someone to talk to other than just me, (my mom and brother are a whole other subject...I could write a novel about them!), and my husband would have someone to talk to other than my brother. Should be fun. If any of the rest of you are like me, the Holidays can sometimes push me right over the edge, then I spend the month of January in bed.
Let the festivities begin!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

3 am

What is it about 3am? I've heard it called the "dead zone" or "witching hour" on those paranormal shows. I would love to be in the dead zone right now!
It has been a tough couple of days. I have been waking up, like clockwork, at 3am. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I get to sleep in until 3:15. It doesn't matter if I go to bed at 8pm or midnight, I still wake up at 3. I try to hang on as long as I can every night so I don't get into a pattern of 8pm - 3am. That won't work 'round these parts.
Taking my medicine in the morning doesn't seem to be making a difference, and I really have a hard time remembering, so I guess I'll go back to taking it at night, at least I know it will be taken at the same time every day. Which is EXTREMELY important - especially when you first go on the meds. Your body will take several weeks to adjust. Oh, and the list of side effects I wrote about in one of my first posts?
Well, let's see...

Headache? Check
Drowsiness? Check (Unfortunately that hits at 5pm!)
Dry mouth? Check
Dizziness? Check
Insomnia? CHECK!
Sweating? Check! (Night sweats are especially fun!)
Constipation? Check
Shakiness? Check
Diarrhea? (Some people may ask, but didn't you check constipation? Answer: Yes)
Yawning? Check
Chills? Check
Decreased sex drive? Check
Gas? Check
Weight gain? Check (Of course - I couldn't be one of those that actually LOSES!)

OK, so this is what I've been dealing with the last few weeks. Someone who hasn't been on meds yet but is thinking about it - just be assured that these side effects really are temporary. I've been through this before in varying degrees, trying different drugs and combinations of drugs. I finally found that a combination of Effexor XR and Trazodone worked for me, but I made the mistake of thinking I could go off them myself. (We didn't have any health insurance, and I would have had to come up with another $175 each month until my husband went back to work, plus another 60 days' waiting period until it kicked in). I figured drinking my way through the withdrawals would be a less expensive option. I do not recommend it. DIY withdrawals, without the supervision of an MD and your therapist if you have one, can cause you to sink into a much lower depression than you were in before. That's exactly what happened to me.

Ok, well, I think I'll go turn on the TV for a little while and see if I might fall asleep on the couch. I'm sure I have a great variety of infomercials to choose from.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh Sleep, why do'st thou forsake me?

Ode to Sleep

Oh, Sleep,
Oh, Sleep,
Why did you go away?
I sang your praises on my blog this week.
I told everyone I thought you were sweet!
You visited one night, and ended up staying.
"Please come back!" you left me a-praying.
But you did not come back -
not that night nor since,
If you don't come soon -
they'll have to call an ambulance!
Please, Sleep, I beg of you -
come back and stay a night or two!
Oh, Sleep,
Oh, Sleep,
Why did you go away?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I love sleep!

Wow, I actually got a full night's sleep last night! It's incredible how much better you can feel with a full 8 hours. Insomnia is the main side effect (for me) of the medication. I'm on my second week of Venlafaxine, and tomorrow I increase the dose again. The reason for my great night of sound sleep? I forgot to take my medicine last night. Another reason to start taking it in the morning.
I actually had a pretty good weekend, my mom came up Friday night and we watched A River Runs Through It. Saturday was wet, gray, windy, and just plain stormy. I didn't want to leave the house, but my mom talked me into going to the hardware store for some paint and other things we needed, and to the grocery store to get the ingredients we needed for a scrumptious-looking soup we saw being made on TV. We made the soup and some homemade french bread, then after my mom left I painted the spare bedroom. For the first time in 16 years, I will have a guest bedroom! My older son moved out this summer to go to school. His younger brother moved into his old room, and now we are fixing up his bedroom as our new guest room. I have an old iron bed frame that my husband spent yesterday sanding down and painting. So today, we'll put the bed together and get everything set up. Yay! I love it when something actually gets completed. Now I can cross another item off my 43Things list!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oh, to be a cat!

Cats are Wonderful Friends

Gentle eyes that see so much,
paws that have the quiet touch,
Purrs to signal "all is well"
and show more love than words could tell.
Graceful movements touched with pride,
a calming presence by our side --
A friendship that takes time to grow --
Small wonder why we love them so.
~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A raucous cacophony

This morning I was kicking back, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee when I heard the sound of crows raising holy hell outside. I mean, A LOT of crows! (Think Alfred Hitchcock!) When I went out to see what was up, a very large red-tailed hawk was being dive-bombed by several dozen crows in one of the large fir trees in my yard. The hawk flew up, and dangling from its talons was a baby crow. Almost immediately, the dozens of crows swarmed the hawk, which lost hold of its prey. The baby bird fell to the ground on the other side of the house. While the crows chased the hawk away, I went to find the baby bird, to see if by some miracle it had survived. I never found it. At first this made me very sad, sad for the baby bird and sad that I had to watch something so small and helpless being killed. But then, I started realizing what had just taken place. One crow called for help, and dozens of crows from all over showed up. They banded together and went after the predator.

I'm hoping that as this crow calls for help, other crows from all over will show up and band together to help me defeat MY predator.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Comfort Food

When you're feeling like the whole world is against you, sometimes all you need to make it better is a bowl of homemade soup. I've had a butternut squash from my garden sitting on the counter for a while now, and I decided it was time to try something new. I personally don't care much for winter squash. All the butter and brown sugar in the world can't cover up the mushy texture, so I just don't cook them. I did, however, decide to grow them this year. For whatever reason. Probably because my husband actually likes it. Too bad I don't like him enough to fix it for him. Just kidding, I did bake the first one just for him.
So, here's this thing sitting on the counter. I wanted to make some soup, but wasn't up for the "pumpkin pie" taste with cinnamon and cloves. So I found this recipe
Oh dear Oh my! I LIKE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP! This recipe was different, and that's what I wanted. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With a Kick. Try it today. Your soul will thank you.

Monday, November 2, 2009


It's an unhappy by-product of the happy pills. Last night was my first bout. I woke up at 12:30am and never went back to sleep. Mama ain't happy at all, folks! So, I'm up, and I was doing some research on Venlafaxine. Here are some of the side effects we have to look forward to:

From the following website...

* Nausea -- up to 58 percent of people
* Headache -- up to 26.1 percent of people
* Drowsiness -- up to 23 percent of people
* Dry mouth -- up to 22 percent of people (see Effexor and Dry Mouth)
* Dizziness -- up to 23.9 percent of people
* Insomnia -- up to 22.5 percent of people (see Effexor and Insomnia)
* Nervousness -- up to 21.3 percent of people
* Loss of appetite -- 17 percent of people
* Body weakness -- up to 16.9 percent of people
* Sweating -- up to 19.3 percent of people
* Constipation -- up to 15 percent of people
* High blood pressure (hypertension) -- up to 13 percent of people
* Ejaculation problems -- up to 12.5 percent of people (see Effexor Sexual Side Effects)
* Anxiety -- up to 11.2 percent of people
* Shakiness (tremors) -- up to 10.2 percent of people
* Diarrhea -- up to 8 percent of people
* Yawning -- up to 8 percent of people
* Chills -- up to 6.8 percent of people
* Vomiting -- up to 6.8 percent of people
* Indigestion (dyspepsia) -- up to 6.7 percent of people
* Impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction or just ED) -- up to 6 percent of people (see Effexor and Impotence)
* Blurred vision -- up to 6 percent of people.

Oh, and if that's not enough:

Other common venlafaxine side effects (occurring in 1 percent to 6 percent of people) include but are not limited to:

* A decreased sex drive (libido)
* Infections
* Flushing (redness of the skin, especially the face)
* Gas
* Weight loss (see Effexor and Weight Loss)
* Weight gain (see Effexor and Weight Gain)
* Abnormal dreams
* High cholesterol
* Agitation
* Confusion
* Unusual thoughts
* Increased urination
* Taste changes.

So, it begins. I already deal with many of these. I know many more are on their way. But they don't last too long, and I know I'll be much happier. And so will the rest of my family.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On my way...

I have battled depression for so many years, I don't even remember for how long. This summer, I went off my meds. I really thought I could do it this time! Well, by September I was a mushroom growing out of the couch, both in usefulness and shape. A poisonous mushroom nobody wanted to touch or even be near. My house is atrociously dirty, as I find many other, lazier, things to do than clean. Why my husband hasn't left me yet, I don't know. The piles of laundry are too scary to touch, and the dust bunnies are multiplying everywhere, just as rabbits do.
I just finished one week of going back on an antidepressant. I take the generic brand Venlafaxine. I'm starting a gradual dose of 37.5mg the first week, 75mg the second week, then my regular dose of 150mg starting the third week. They truly are the happy pills that keep me from becoming rooted to my couch or bed, and I think I am finally resigned to the fact that I may need these for the rest of my life. When we have insurance, it costs $30/month. When we don't, it's $175. Since my husband works seasonally and we are quite often without insurance for months at a time, it can be a real financial hardship to keep mama supplied with the magic pills. But, I realize now that I need them to function at a very basic level.
I want to share my struggle with others who are going through the same thing. To let you know that there is someone out there just like you, and maybe we can start our own little on-line support group. Thanks for reading my first post!