A New Med Regime Is In Order

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I’m dropping the meds, well not dropping my medication totally just dropping the dosage.

When I was first diagnosed with depression the doctor put me on 30mg of Mirtazapine, an antidepressant with the added benefit of being a sleep aide. In addition to my feeling emotionally crappy I had also been having trouble sleeping consistently.  Subsequent to that we raised it to 45 mg as I felt had stopped making progress, maybe I had even regressed a bit.  In hindsight I wonder if any of it was true.

20121019-233653.jpgA number of months ago I lowered my dosage back to 30 mg and then some time after that down ever further to 15 mg. This was after I had left work, not retired officially but was in the process of burning all my vacation and banked time.  I was feeling better and whether the decision was right or wrong I wanted to get off the “juice”.  My wife questioned my decision.

A few days ago I reduced the dosage down even further to 1/2 of one of the 15 mg tablets, or 7 mg +or-.  Only time and the stability of my disposition will tell whether that was prudent or not.  And these changes are all without the doctors advice or knowledge.  Again whether right or wrong I can’t say.

I still maintain my “depression” was more situational than psychological and upon further reading on a number of topics I also now wonder if emotional intensity is a factor.  Certainly the symptoms jive with my mood swings and their intensity but more reading will be in order before I can definitively say.

I guess the bottom line, or where the rubber meets the road, is where I’m at emotionally, how my mental health progresses.  That is what it’s all about isn’t it?  In that regard I’ve been feeling quite good lately, maybe even very good. Hearing myself say those words scares me though, like I’m waiting for the other foot to fall. I’m expecting some imminent decline in my mood or mental health. I’m thinking the doldrums must be around the corner because this is too good to be true.

What is around the corner is winter and with it the shorter days and less sunlight. To compound the seasonal issues we live in a river valley at the confluence of two rivers. One of those is a bit warmer and the mixture of the two, combined with turbulence from the nearby dams makes for very foggy mornings.  A double-whammy, seasonal change and weather fluctuations.

The lack of sunlight has been detrimental to me before and as a means to cope with it, to mitigate the dreary days, I was using a SAD light. This was after a doctor’s suggestion that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADs).  I saw significant improvement in my moods after eating my breakfast in front of the light.  I was no longer as tired later in the day and my sweet tooth shrank to where a large bowl of ice cream at 9 pm was no longer a requirement.  On the whole I felt much better.

I haven’t used the SAD light in a couple years now.  Instead I now take a fish-oil supplement, an Omega 3 capsule, and have begun increasing my intake of vitamin D.  Both these changes seem to have helped me and the last time I tried the light I didn’t feel as much of an improvement.

Of course I am maintaining the supplement regime, I sleep better, my diet’s improved, and I’m putting concerted effort into improving my exercise schedule.  All these are good things and I’m “hoping” they are enough to keep me well.  I know “hope is not a plan” however I’m optimistic my new meds regime won’t backfire.

Wish me luck, please.

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Depression. Mine is……well, Depressed – pt.2

In my previous post I was giving a bit of an update on how I see things have gone for me lately, how I’m feeling better and generally less angry and frustrated.  I think I’m coming out of this tunnel called Depression. I believe I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train (I hope).

I discussed some of my symptoms, the treatments and path I took to deal with it, the meds and my visits with a counselor.  I left off with the discussion about if the death of my sons had any role in my depression.

More to the saga

Depression. Mine is……well, Depressed – pt.1

I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, not at all angry and as unhappy as I was before.  My depression, if that what it is, seems to have diminished or become depressed itself.  I was never 100% sure it was depression but as I understand there is a broad spectrum of symptoms and I had a number of them.  In some ways it’s hard to remember really what it was like during the bad times but I think some mental health issues are like that, in that when you start feeling good you forget a bit about what feeling bad was like.  I have a sense I didn’t like it much.  Being as I’m in a good space now I thought I could update things a bit.  Have a seat with me and let’s roll.

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Morning pages

I’m going to try something new this morning, in fact at least a couple things.  The first thing I’ve tried and just completed was writing my “Morning Pages” within 30 minutes of my getting up. Now for those of you who don’t know, morning pages are essentially a handwritten journal prepared every morning and topics include anything and everything under the sun.  The goal is to just write, to open up your creative side.

 It’s an idea proposed by a writer named Julia Cameron in a few of her books on writing.  At any rate I typically only do it weekdays, once I get to work and have a few moments of solitude before my day starts.  So I am trying to do it on the weekends now too, and I’ve been moderately successful.  If I leave it too late however the day begins, and once my wife wakes up the activity in the house picks up, thus making it more challenging for me to focus.  A topic for another day.  So I brewed a cup of Joe and began.

Once my morning pages were completed my blog came next to mind.  It also has been neglected of late, or perhaps not neglected but certainly not given the attention it deserves.  So here I am.  I’ve repositioned myself in my easy chair so I can see outside, my laptop at the ready and the ideas waiting to pour forth.  Well, maybe not.  Certainly the view outside is nice, it is inspiring, and the idea has the romanticism that I expected, but the inspiration for a topic is a little more elusive.

There are times when I imagine myself doing this routinely, sitting with a cup of coffee, drinking it and the taking in morning sun simultaneously.  It’s cathartic I find, it does help me with some of my personal issues.  I can express myself in a way that I have few other opportunities to do so.  I’m not the most social person, nor can I talk to just anyone, but I can write and doing so frees me in a number of ways.

The day is gray, it seems the hint of spring we’ve seen a few days ago is now lost to us again.  Living in this valley as we do I find the weather somewhat oppressive, we get more fog and cloud than many other areas and those conditions aggravate any Seasonal disorders that I may have.  That poor mood may come out in my posts, and for that I apologize.  Improving my moods and general emotional condition is partly what this blog is about.

At any rate I find myself rambling.  Words pour forth that have no real meaning.  Perhaps it’s too much coffee, maybe the writing moment has passed.  I will sign off for now, bidding you adieu, and I’ll see you another day.

Slip Slidin’ away, Back into the Pit of Despair

It has been a hard couple of weeks, probably more like 6 or so when I think about it. I’ve been sliding back into that dark place, that psychological arena I was in closer to the beginning of the year, the place where there is little optimism, where dark moods prevail and it seems like life itself is being sucked out of you.  I’ll call it a relapse into depression, where for me at least it makes itself known in loss of sleep and an undercurrent of anger.  I had, or have, no energy or enthusiasm towards those things I know I enjoy, hate my job more than normal, and frequently want to cry.  ‘Tis a sad state of affairs and I fear I’m falling into the pit of despair.

I’ve mentioned this mood, the early symptoms and my fears, to Gloria.  As my counselor, or therapist, she has been charged with the task of guiding me through this maze of despondent life, bringing me toward the light and helping me understand the tools I require to remain successful in my travel toward wellness.  But psychological tools are not enough, and I felt perhaps some change in my medication was in order as well.  I wanted to increase my meds immediately but thought my Dr. should be onboard.  She agreed, and a visit with my Doctor was scheduled.

In the interim there were things I thought I should try, simple things that may have a positive effect and at the very least could not hurt.  Knowing I am sensitive to the changes in light, and the winter season gives me the “blues” I broke out my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light and began sitting in front of it as I ate my breakfast before work.  I hadn’t really been noticing any of the typical symptoms I normally experienced with this condition, such as being excessively tired after dinner, nor the sweet tooth that drove me to eat large bowls of ice cream or other sugary treats, but what the hey, it can only help right?  But to no avail, no real improvement and I was deparately waiting for my visit to my GP.

The big day finally arrived, I explained my feelings and fears to the Dr. and he agreed to support me by increasing the dosage of my meds.  He renewed my prescription and I now take 45 mg of Mirtazapine, up from the 30 mg I have been taking since the beginning.

It’s been a couple days now, I think I’m feeling better although the true test will be my sleep patterns, if I sleep continuously through the night or wake up 2 or 3 times as has been the case lately.  I will try to remain optimistic, and the fact I even think of optimism is in itself a good sign.  Wish me luck, I am hopeful if for no other reason that I’ve felt like writing.  I am looking to blogging as a tool, another in my arsenal that can help me out of this hole, a ladder to help me climb out of this pit of despair.

Feelin’ pretty good

I feel pretty upbeat this morning, better than many mornings lately.  Not that I have felt poorly just not as “up” as today.  The trick now will be to determine why, if there’s an external reason or if it’s strictly a function of meds operating on my body.  Gloria (my therapist) has said many times that I will have good days and some not so good and one of the benefits of journaling is that I can refer back and see progress, comparing with those days when things were not as good and I was less “up”.  It seems to me that there is a subtle distinction between most good and not as good days.

Doing a little armchair psychoanalysis would lead me to believe that part of the reason is that I was active yesterday, mowing the lawns and otherwise puttering around outside.  The “outside” part may be significant as well, getting more sun will elevate many peoples moods, I believe an increase in the uptake of vitamin D is one factor.  I have been suffering (another word I dislike) from SAD for a number of years that I’m aware, who knows how long before that.  I had been extremely lethargic during our winters, craving sweets and just generally blah feeling.  I purchased a SAD light and that has helped immensely.  During summer hours and/or if I get lots of sunlight my mood improves and the symptoms go away for all intents and purposes.

Another possible reason for the mood lift is my reading, perhaps even the types of books I’ve been reading.  Currently I’m reading a book on Procrastination, How and Why, and How to Fix.  That’s not the exact title and I’ll post it separately.  Essentially I think there’s a coorelation with (and it just struck me as possible) between exercise, both body and mind, and my mood.  Things that make you go Hmmm…..

I know that when I read non-fiction, self help books or motivational books etc. that I wish to post more, to get my thoughts down on paper as it were, but the posting also interferes with my train of thought and my focus on whatever book I’m reading.  I’ve tried to post from my phone, which is marginally more convenient, but I’ve yet to come up with the best combination of reading and note taking. (as an aside, note taking for the purposes of blogging is a bit easier on the phone in that the autocorrect and auto punctuation can speed things up)

Anyway bottom line is keep fit, physically and mentally.  And Dwayne, by the way, Don’t Procrastinate.