Friday, August 24, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel or just spots before my eyes?

Could I cope if it was just the tiredness and low energy? I’d probably still be pissed off about it, but what’s really been crippling is the depression that’s followed.

The description I gave in my post “Bollocks” back in May still holds. Although I haven’t blogged too much about it since, I still get hit with at least that level of intensity several times a week. Needless to say, it has been taking its toll. I’m also in no doubt that it’s gotten worse over the past couple of months.

Finally, however, a step forward seems to have been made, in that my GP has secured me an appointment to see a specialist in Edinburgh (2½ hours drive away).

Unfortunately it’s not for another 3 months.

A couple of weeks ago Maggie and I made the decision that I just have to shift into survival mode. For the past 18 months I’ve been trying to operate as normal, only with reduced energy, but the reality is it hasn’t worked. I’m in a state that’s anything but normal, although the fact that we can normalise almost any state we’re in only helps to confuse matters.

Put simply, my task now each day is to try and reach the end of day, and accumulatively to reach the end of the week.

I saw my GP again today and he’s agreed to put me on a low dosage anti-depressant – amitriptyline - to help combat the chronic lows. Part of me feels relief, while another part feels quite wary.

However, dark humour is to be found in the unlikeliest of places. While looking through the long and horrifying list of potential side effects any anti-depressant drug has, I came across this entry:

“Increased appetite and weight gain may be a side effect of the medicine or may be due to the relief of depression.”
Looks like attempts to combat weight gain are doomed – I’m depressed, let’s eat – I’m happy, let’s eat…

21 comments:

Kanani said...

Hi...
Well, chronic fatigue is often associated with clinical depression. And there are some medications that do induce weight gain... zyprexa is the worst of offenders.

But... if it's the right med, it really shouldn't. Elavil (what you're taking) should help you sleep as well.

And unfortunately, you won't see the full effects for three weeks. But stay in there... if you find yourself gaining a huge amount of weight (like not being able to stop eating) then call your MD immediately.

Thinking of you...xxx k

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Kanani.

Not being able to stop eating is something I've struggled with for years, which is what made the weight loss so damned difficult.

Julie said...

I'm so glad that you're going to see a specialist. I know how difficult it can be to get in to see them. My husband was experiencing double-vision in each eye. (Double-vision usually happens when your eyes aren't synchronous.) It was nearly three months before he could see the neuro-ophthalmologist. After a whole series of tests, it turned out to be something simple. His tears are to viscous and he needs to use drops 5 times a day.

I hope your problem is something equally easy to overcome.

Orfhlaith said...

Not to be a scaremonger here, but look into the withdrawal symptoms also. I can't speak to the drug you are taking, but I have avoided taking anything for my own depression because a) I don't want to be on anything for life and b) I don't want to have to deal with what happens when I STOP taking it. There is depression in my family, but, so far, I have managed to pull myself out of it with the one day at a time mantra. Not easy, but my depression is not so debilitating that I can't do it, albeit with effort. Best of luck and I wish you every success in beating this demon!

Kim Ayres said...

Julie - here's hoping!

Orfhlaith - I appreciate your concern, but I am going into this with my eyes well open. About 8 years ago I was on anti-depressants for 18 months. I'm also starting off on a very low dose.

It's a case of balancing things. You have to know WHY you are taking them and how you're going to make the most of them.

Where a lot of people go wrong with ADs is thinking they are a final solution rather than a break from the emotional pain to give you time and clear space to actually DEAL WITH the underlying causes of it.

If the causes are never dealt with then when you stop taking them the old problems will re-emerge - in fact they may even be worse because you've gone a few more years without dealing with them.

ADs are a support, not a long term solution, in most cases. Used correctly they can be of benefit to give you the space to find out effectively what's wrong.

Withdrawal symptoms can be a problem if you stop suddenly, so it should always be done gradually and under supervision of your doctor. Hopefully by then, however, you will have had a chance to deal with the underlying causes.

Carole said...

Good luck with the specialist Kim. And it is so good to have Maggie in your life. She seems like a stong, safe lighthouse in the heavy gale that is blowing against you.

Eryl Shields said...

Best of luck with both the ADs and the specialist. Looks like things are beginning to move in the right direction - here's hoping!

Also, a fat happy person is surely better than a thin miserable one. Weight gain could be a price worth paying if the treatment gets you back on form mentally.

Fingers and toes crossed for you...

Andraste said...

Sorry if I sound like an irritating little optimist, but hey, try these meds, and if they work, but you end up gainging weight again, there has GOT to be some other med you can switch to that WON'T put the pounds on. In the last 20 years there have been such advances in this type of medicine that there are more than a few options out there for people suffering from depression and chronic fatigue - I'm sure you and your doctors can find something that works with your individual body chemistry and meets your needs.

But good luck with this one - let's hope it works without any undesirable side effects. Every body is different, right?

Anonymous said...

HI KIM, I RECCOMEND YOU READ OVERCOMING DEPRESSION AND LOW MOOD BY CHRIS WILLIAMS,ITS A BOOK OFTEN USED/RECCOMENDED BY THERAPISTS,IT WILL HOPEFULLY PROVE USEFULL ALONGSIDE YOUR ANTIDEPRESSANTS.GOOD LUCK.

angie said...

as a person who deals with Bi-polar Disorder Type 2 (rapid cycle), i know some of your pain.

i completely agree with your comments re: orfhlaith's comments - it's is a matter of balance, looking at your past, evaluating your life AND (most importantly) AD's are NOT a final answer - they are merely a little part of a much bigger picture.

i'd also like to add that sometimes/often times, it's a chemical imbalance. (*a very dear friend of mine is/was depressed, but after a couple of consultations and a few months on AD's he's better than before!)

i can only hope the same relief is in your future! good luck on the meds! i'm cheering you and Maggie ON!!!

savannah said...

*hugs* just because...i wish you well, sugar!

jotcr2 said...

I have to say that the weather in Scotland might not be helpful. Its just turning Spring here, and what a difference big bright blue sky can make. I know a few people that are on meds for Depression/anxiety. I think it is best treated with therapy as well. Meds might lift you from a 4/10 to a 7/10, but its better if you can lift that through other means. Your fitness will help, but that is not so easy when you are tired. A jog or brisk walk in the morning before you can work up excuses for not doing it is also extreamely useful. The heartrate increase is a natural mood lifter, and its free. The higher the heart rate the better - but from memory, you hate running, so a brisk walk is good too.

TheAmpuT said...

Not that you need more advice, but 3 years post traumatic amputation, here is what I have learned.
I can do anything I want to, just like before.
Provided I have the allotted units of energy.
I now have units of energy. Let's call them 20. If it takes me 10 to clean the entire house, and I need a few for being a single mom and making a healthy dinner, well...that is not the night to go out.
Back in the old days, I used to be able to use 10 units, then carry the other 10 to the next day. But they days of carrying over are gone gone gone. 20. Per day. Period.
But now that I know that, I make it work.

hang in there.
oh..ps...writing blog posts takes me a couple units, too LOL

Restaurant Gal said...

Part of me just wants to scream in frustration at the medical system you have to navigate--three months! Again, I wish I could do something from my side of the Pond.

Best to you, The Gal

Kuin said...

Hey there,
having been on anti-depressents when my boys were little to combat post partum depression I wanted to say.
Good for you for knowing that you needed to seek some relief.
Don't worry too much about the weight gain issue, seriously, I found that the weight gain didn't begin until many months after being on them.
The main thing is you want to get back to where you feel like yourself again.
I remember when I first went on them I felt tired at first ( one side affect is also frequent yawning), but I started to feel less anxiety and reslestness within the first 3 weeks but it was about 5 or 6 months after being on them when one day I got up and I remember this clear as day.....

I was like...OH my God ! I am me again..I feel like me!!!
I was on them for about another 6 months and then weaned off.

It was such a great feeling and I hope you find it too!!!

take care my good buddy !!

Mary Witzl said...

I'm coming to this late, Kim, but I do know of one woman who actually lost weight on anti-depressants. Granted, she lost too much, and she did put most of it back on later, but still...Everyone's body chemistry is unique, and you never know how your body will react. Fingers crossed that the prescription they give you will be the right one for you.

Amy said...

I'm glad to read that you were able to get an appointment with a specialist. I am also glad to hear that I can blame weight gain on antidepressants. After Joe was born I went on them immediately and I feel like they helped me make all the tough decisions around which doctor would do Joe's surgery and how to shrug off insensitive comments. Wait a minute...why didn't I lose the weight after I got off of them? Hmmmm...I want my money back.

For me, they worked well.

Hang in there.

Archie said...

Good luck my man, it sounds like you're on the right track. I hope the specialist can shed some new light on everything.
Now all you have to do is keep yourself just depressed enough to keep the weight off... ;)

Kim Ayres said...

Carole - Maggie is my rock, there's no doubt.

Eryl - if the choice was to be fat & happy or thin & miserable, I'd chose fat & happy any day of the week. Unfortunately fat & happy is a rare combination.

Andraste - we all have to have a few irritating optimists in our lives - far better than irritating pessimists :)

Anonymous - thanks for the recommendation, I'll look out for it.

Angie - There's definitely a chemical imbalance of some kind this time round. One of the key aspects of this depression is that it's followed the tiredness, not caused it. Whatever's wrong is causing both, but it's the depression side of it which is the worst to cope with. My thoughts are with you for your own condition.

Savannah - thank you - *hugs* to you too :)

Jo - the fitness is one of those things that concerns me - I cannot exert myself to anything like the same degree without feeling wiped out. This makes things like cycling or even brisk walks nigh on impossible

AmpuT - writing blog posts, does take energy, but it is also another form of self medication these days

Restaurant Gal - thank you.

Kuin, Mary, Amy & Archie - the weigh gain thing isn't really bothering me, I just thought it was funny the way it said on the side effects that you migt get it from the meds, or from just feelng happier :)

The reality is my weight gain in the past has been partially because of eating to combat depression. When I feel better in myself, it's much easier to resist the cravings

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,

I know, I know, it's been a while. I hope the meds help and that you get to the root of your tiredness.

On ad's myself for 4 months, reason I haven't been around, just didn't have the interest (not that your blog isn't interesting! Just lost interest in everything, don't take it personally!)

Stella (posting as anon as google/blogger doesn't like me!)

Kim Ayres said...

Hey Stella! Welcome back :)

If you need a listening ear, you have my email