Visual Running Tour and My Anti-Depressant Story

Today’s Positive Note: I’m nice.  I’m never aggressive, I don’t fight, and I just generally try to be sweet to people.  I call/send cards when called for, I bake cookies, etc.  I need to work on this with regards to my family though; I’m not always the nicest to them!

This morning’s run: I thought I’d give you a little visual tour.  If you have never lived in/run in Manhattan, this is proof that it’s really quite pretty, at least some areas.  I have a lot of different routes, so if you ever have questions about where to run/how to get to different parks, etc.,  feel free to ask me!

This morning I did five miles (probably more like 5.5. actually).  I was tired and sore and low on energy, so they werem’t spectacular or anything; it was just one of those “get it done” kind of days.  I have a random pain sort of behind my left hip socket, at the very top of the thigh in the back.  Anyone have any ideas?

Boats!

Ducks in a row!

 View of midtown from a pier.

 

Rocky shoreline.

Bark and leaves!

Berries.

Don’t eat these guys.

Sweaty Caronae after the run.

I spent two weeks worth of part-time income on textbooks today.  Blech. 

This is probably about one-third of the books I have bought/will buy for the semester. 

Very tasty brekkie:

Two sunny side up eggs, a honeybell orange (very juicy), green tea, and warm pumpkin muffin smeared with peanut butter.  Delicious.

Dinner was also noteworthy (don’t worry, I had snacks in between!):

A slightly different version of last night’s salad and a very special open-faced sammie.

Yes, that is whole wheat toast with hummus, cheddar, and avocado.  Cooked under the broiler for five minutes.  Best. Sandwich. Ever.  Try it!

And now for a little bit of mental health talk.

I know that I reference my depression a lot.  I talk about things that I do for myself; going to therapy; learning how to love myself.  But one big thing I haven’t really discussed is medicine.  Everyone has vastly different experiences with depression medication, even people who are taking the same drug.  Some good things happen and some bad things.  I firmly believe that not all depression medications are bad — they have sort of gotten a bad rap in the health world, and I can definitely see where people are coming from on this one.  I don’t think anyone should have to be dependent on a drug for happiness, and it certainly won’t give you joy or love or friendship.  But in some cases, and for some people, drugs can be useful.  So what follows are purely my own experiences, and, of course, I am not a doctor, and if you think you may need medication, or even just someone to talk to, I highly recommend that you go see a doctor!

I remember, as a child or young adolescent, being dragged to psychologists and psychiatrists by my mother.  Of course, I hated her for it, but now I recognize that, in all her motherly wisdom, she saw and understood things that my 12-year old self probably couldn’t see or understand.  Looking back, I think part of the problem for school.  from the time I was quite young, I remember hating school with a passion.  Every day was so icnredibly mundane that I could hardly stand to go back again the next day.  I didn’t hate school because it was a struggle for me or because I had social problems or because I just wasn’t intwerested.  I hated it because it never challenged me.  I lived in a small town, and while the schools were certainly good, there were no gifted programs, and I felt as though most of my classmates just weren’t as interested in knowing things as I was.  I firmly believe that every child is smart, we just have different sorts of smarts.  I had school smarts, and, unfortunately, these “samrts” were not stimulated.  I wanted to know everything about everything — and I tried to.  I read voraciously (even encyclopedias), I tested out of classes and did my own projects whenever I could, I went to Farsi classes on the weekends.  I think that in a lot of ways, this boredom sort of triggered something depressive that was already inside of me.  By the time I started high school, when I was 13, my day didn’t revolve around being happy, as it should have.  Don’t get me wrong, there were many things I did enjoy — being on the diving team, going to poetry performances, family trips to Canada.  But the majority of my time was spent sitting in classrooms being told things that, for the most part, I already knew.

It was around this time that I first began seeing doctors.  I honestly don’t remember what year I was first prescribed a medication; I was probably 14 or so.  Although this is not always the case, the first drug that I tried seemed to work well for me.  I refused to notice a difference, but my family members seemed to, so I stayed on it.  As an aside, I do not have the greatest mental health genetics, you could say.  Many members of  my immediate family and extended family suffer drom various mental health issues.  When I was 7 or 8, one of my mother’s brothers committed suicide.  So, from the very beginning, I didn’t have genetic luck on my side.

The drug that I started taking in high school is called Celexa, also known as Citalopram (generically).  The smallest dose is typically 20 milligrams, but because I was so young, and the larger dose gave me insomnia, I took just 10.  I stayed on this dose until I was 19.  My experiences with the drug have were not at all bad.  I don’t recall being miserable all the time.  I think that in some ways, the medicine was a necessary evil for me(I have actually heard my mother, who is a doctor, refer to anti-depressants in general in this way).  The medicine made my days more bearable, but it also, perhaps, numbed me a little bit.  I’m still not sure about this.  I had a lot of good experiences in high school, but I still wasn’t happy at the end.  Most days I was deeply sad, and a felt a general, pervasive gloom all the time.  It was like a rain cloud was following me around and making everything that should have been green or magenta or plum colored gray.

I think I may have tried to go off of the Celexa at some point, but it is a very difficult drug to get off of.  I would have serious, ongoing heart palpitations, and was in a constant state of anger and/or agitation.  When I came home from school last year and was referred to a psychiatrist, I tried a variety of different drugs.  Let’s go chronologically

1. I was, first, prescribed Lexapro (escitalopram — a sort of cousin of Celexa) by a school psychiatrist.  This, however, was not covered by my insurance, so I didn’t take it.

2. At home, a very bizarre psychiatrist prescribed me Wellbutrin (bupropion). I don’t remember the exact dosage, but it was clear from the start that something wasn’t right.  Many people have had success with this drug, including several members of my family, but  I became extremely irratibable and fragile.  I wanted it to work, because at this point, I was so desperate to be happy.  But I would become frustrated to the point of incapacity by the smallest things.  It was an incredibly strange month or so of my life (sidenote: during this time, I was not on the Celexa, and was also having icky withdrawal symptoms from that).  So yeah, bad times all around with the Wellbutrin.

3. When I told the wacky psychiatrist that my mom and I didn’t think the Wellbutrin was working, he seemed skeptical.  He kind of implied that any anti-depressant should work for anyone, and he also insisted that he’d never heard of anyone having Celexa withdrawl symptoms.  He then wrote me a prescription for Pristiq, a very new (and, in my opinion, not yet super well tested) drug.  Celexa is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), while Pristiq is an SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor).  Scientifically, I don’t know  what the difference is, but the Pristiq was not doing it for me.  I was shaky, anxious, and very cranky.  My doctor parents got me samples from their offices for free, but because the drug isn’t generic (or at least wasn’t), I would have had to pay and arm and a leg if I was actually getting it at the pharmacy.  Also not working.

4. My therapist recommended that I see a different psychiatrist, and this turned out to be a very good idea.  I’d had a feeling something fishy was going on with the crazy one.  Anyways, the new one was extremely knowledgeable, scientific, and just generally kind.  We decided that I should taper off the Pristiq, get back to the Celexa, and then try a higher dose of the Celexa.  Tapering off of anti-depressants can be quite tricky (see above for a wide variety of the symptoms I was having).  Doctors, however, have developed a clever solution that works for at least some of the medicines: the psychiatrist gave me a small dosage of a sedative to take while slowly lowering the dosage of the Pristiq.  I have no clue why the sedative thing works, but it did (the sedative was Clonazepam, also known as Klonopin).  By the end of August, 2009, I was back to my tiny dose of Celexa.  A few days later, after all the Pristiq and Weelbutrin were out of my system, I doubled the dose of Celexa.  Why didn’t anyone think of this before?  This seemed to work slightly better than the previous dosage, and I have been on it ever since.

The combination of the 20 mg of Celexa and having found a great therapist in New york has worked well for me, and I really do feel happier now than I have in the past few years.  Sorry for being so long-winded, but I feel like this is an important topic, and one that should be addressed with total honesty.  So there you go, that’s my anti-depressant story.  If you feel like you’re having problems, please find someone to talk to!  I would love for you to email me and we can talk about anything you want and I’d be happy to help you find a doctor or therapist near you.  There are more resources on my mental health page.

Thanks for reading about my experience.  It’s actually very cathartic to just put it all out there!

If you have taken an anti-depressant, did it help you?  If not, did you consciously choose not to?  In general, do you think these drugs are overused in our society? I’m curious what you guys think!

PS — if you’re uncomfortable leaving a comment (which is totally understandable), you can send me a message at caronaeh@gmail.com

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce
    Jan 24, 2010 @ 22:42:10

    ahhh textbooks, the bane of my existence!

    it’s a very important topic, i’m glad you posted about this! i actually get kinda shy about talking directly about my mental health issues on my blog, despite the fact that it’s obviously a major factor in my life since i have no problem referring to my ED. it was very interesting to read about your experiences, you certainly have had to experiment to figure out the right meds and dosage for you. i REFUSED to take meds for a long time, despite my therapist’s urging. when i finally agreed, the dr started me on prozac. i saw a diff dr a week later, and she “confiscated” my prozac and put me on lexapro. i didn’t realize it at the time, but i am one of those people who can’t tolerate SSRIs at all. like REALLY can’t tolerate them. i didn’t sleep for 1 1/2 weeks, was constantly moving/shaking (i now know this is called akathesia) and was really suicidal. apparently a subset of the population reacts this way to that class of drugs. i had to go inpatient to be stabilized, and they started me on wellbutrin (after ruling out bipolar disorder, bc they originally thought i was having a manic episode instead of reacting to the drugs) and luckily i’ve had better results with it than you did. i think it’s working for now, and i take a really small dose of abilify as well. i think that drugs are majorly overprescribed in our society, but i also think they can play an important role in treatment. no drug is a “happy pill” despite what some think, but for people with severe depression, sometimes meds are necessary to give you a fair shot at doing work in therapy to overcome your mental health issues!

    phew! sorry, had to get that out there 🙂

    Reply

  2. amyjane12
    Jan 24, 2010 @ 23:16:01

    Beautiful run! I want to go to NYC and run– looks like a blast.

    Reply

  3. Lisa
    Jan 25, 2010 @ 00:20:02

    Looks like a great run 🙂
    And thankyou for sharing such open and honest thoughts….sometimes writing can helpso much 🙂

    Reply

  4. janetha
    Jan 25, 2010 @ 12:59:58

    those are awesome photos from your run! it must make the exercise be a lot more fun. your eggs look good too. thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Reply

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