Tag Archives: medication

Medications and Stigmas

I attribute part of the comeback in my mood to a change in my medication.  First a disclaimer: I am only writing about my experiences, and everybody reacts differently to medications.  This is not meant to be advice, support for, non-support for any particular drug treatment program.  I am only following my Doctor’s recommendations.  See a mental health professional to discuss your personal situation.  OK, off soapbox.

When I originally went to my family doctor, he prescribed Wellbutrin.  I noticed a few of things from the Wellbutrin.  Besides helping with my depression, I felt a surge of creativity and strange, often entertaining dreams (both of which I have written about previously).  The problem was that it also seemed to be amping up my anxiety, which would eventually short circuit any gains I was feeling in getting rid of the depression.

When I first went to the psychiatrist to address my issues, he switched me to Celexa for depression and Klonepin for anxiety.  Again this seemed to work, but eventually the gains ceased.  Now I had become unmotivated and apathetic.  Depression back.

So when I went to my group sessions, the therapists and doctors were able to better assess my situation.  I have now added Wellbutrin back into the mix, and am taking all three.  The side effects (namely the anxiety and apathy) so far are cancelling each other out.  In addition, my creativity (and weird dreams) seems to be returning.

It’s hard to talk about medication and depression to people.  I don’t think most people think about depression as a big deal.  Everybody gets the blues, the conventional wisdom goes, and you just need to get over it.  What the don’t realize is that it becomes hard after two years of trying to “deal with it”.  It hasn’t been a bad day or bad month.   The pervasiveness, the physical reactions, and the filter that depression puts in your head (in effect making your emotions lie to you) just make it harder and harder.

I feel like people with depression get off easy with the stigma attached to it.  People only see us as weak.  Other people with mental illness have more serious accusations leveled at them.  People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, and Schizophrenia are labeled as crazy and potentially dangerous.  Autistic people are “weird”.  Those that suffer from Tourette’s are treated as an endless source of comedy.  Well let me say that people with mental illness aren’t weird, crazy, dangerous, or funny.  In fact, there are many people living with these disorders who do not come forward because of these stigmas.  People aren’t really different, they just need help.

A good place to start is The National Alliance on Mental Illness.   NAMI is a nationwide advocate for those with mental illness.  They have support groups in many cities and towns across the country, and offer information and support to both those suffering from mental illness, and for the people who support them.  For more information, visit their website: http://www.nami.org.

Next time: Mindfulness, Meditation, Prayer, and Faith

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A Spike in Creativity

The last week or so I have experienced a huge surge in creativity, especially a desire to delve into the visual arts.  In the past my outlets have mostly included writing and music, with a recent interest in photography.  Perhaps it is the uptick in the success of my photographs that I am wanting to branch out.  Perhaps it is because I am in the process of redefining myself and therefore not letting me hold my creativity back.  Of course, maybe it’s the medication.  

So I found myself yesterday at the hobby store throwing a bunch of different things into my cart. 

The first project I tackled was the simplest, and perhaps the most rudimentary.  I made a necklace for Lovely Wife.  Although this didn’t amount to much more than picking out the materials and stringing them together, I am rather pleased with the results.   I know that Lovely Wife will appreciated it due to the effort (however small) that was put into it, but I hope the she finds it aesthetically pleasing as well.

The second project is a clock that I will place in the man cave.  I have always been fascinated with clocks and watches (which I plan on discussing in an upcoming post) This I am also not going to build from scratch–I bought a movement, and therefore I just have to do something with the face.  Because I am really unsure how I want the end project to appear, I may put this one off for a while until inspiration truly hits.  Right now I am envisioning somewhat of a minimalist approach, with only a few or no numbers.  It will be interesting and satisfying to see how it turns out.

The last will be the most challenging and exciting for me.  I bought three small canvases, some oil paint, and an assortment of brushes.  It is exciting because my brush will take me to places that my camera cannot go.  It also gives me the opportunity to be less literal.  Objects won’t have to necessarily behave the way that they do in real life, or have the correct proportions.  However clichéd, I think that my first painting will be a boat, perhaps leaving the stormy waters behind and drifting towards the sunrise.  I think that it perhaps sounds a little corny, but it captures my mood (or at least my aspiration), and I have always been fascinated by the water and the sea.  I sometimes think that I should have joined the Navy or the Coast Guard, but then again, if I had I wouldn’t have met Lovely Wife.  In any event, however the boat picture turns out, whether a clipper at full sail or a fisherman in a rowboat, this will be going up in the wall of the man cave as well.  The second painting that I would do will hang in out kitchen/dining area.  My wife has collected various wine and vineyard themed art works since we have lived in the house, and I like the idea that I could contribute to this as well.  So far no concept has jelled for the final canvas.

The idea of painting is challenging because I am a complete neophyte.  I do remember in 8th grade or so painting a small scene with a mountain and a river.  While I didn’t think it was a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, I remember getting a C on the project and being a little disappointed.  As long as I did the assignment as per the instructions, isn’t grading art a little subjective?  Maybe this is why I haven’t painted all this time.  In any case, I think that the rawness of my technique may be an asset to my vision rather than a liability.

WEDNESDAY FUN: Photo Favorites

Yesterday evening I was outside playing with the kiddos when I spotted this first sure sign of spring.  Nobody poses for photos better than Mother Nature.

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Weird Dreams May Come

Since I started taking a different medication for my depression and anxiety, I have noticed that I have had some particularly vivid, odd, and memorable dreams.  I’m not sure if this is due to the increased serotonin in my brain, a side effect of the medication, or just a coincidence.  I did, however, find this link to a discussion about others that have had strange dreams that seem to have been brought on by the same medication that I have been taking (Celexa).

I have always been quite an active dreamer.  As I have become an adult, I’ve noticed that I have tended to have some recurring dreams.  The three scenarios that I can recall off the top of my head are losing teeth, discovering in public that I am completely naked, and looking at myself in the mirror and pulling my hair into a pony tail (quite an accomplishment for a man who is balding in real life).

But the dreams that I have been having recently, while not really nightmares, are kind of disturbing and vividly entertaining at the same time.  I can remember two from about a week ago quite clearly.  In the first, Lovely Wife and I are sitting in what appears to be our apartment (we’ve lived in a house for almost five years), when Tim Conway enters our abode with a cordless drill and proceeds to our bathroom and closes the door.  Apparently in dreamworld this isn’t out of the ordinary because no one questions what is going on.  Soon we hear a commotion coming from the bathroom, so I open the door, where I find Mr. Conway sitting on the john, unconscious, and apparently injured by the drill.  Interpret that one, Sigmund Freud.

The second finds me going into a convenience store to buy a pop.  The first thing I notice is Nancy Pelosi sitting outside the store on a folding chair, talking on a pay phone.  Again, dreamworld logic rules here, as I don’t think to myself “That’s odd, what is Nancy Pelosi doing in my town?” but rather, “There are places that still have a pay phone?”  As I walk into the convenience store, there are no shelves, just drink coolers going around the perimeter and a cash register near the door that I entered the store.  In the middle of the store there are several parlor type tables and chairs, with many nearly identical strippers sitting around them (at least I think they are strippers.  The are all wearing naughty-Catholic-schoolgirl type outfits and openly flirting with the store’s patrons.  I decide to get my pop and get out as quickly as I can.  As I open the cooler door, one of the ladies stands up and touches my hand with a tazer-like device.  It is not enough to knock me down, but certainly gives me a jolt.  Then she hands the tazer to me, leans over my shoulder, and invites me to administer a jolt to her backside.  Luckily I wake up before it really gets weird.  I know what you might be thinking, “No, you woke up just as it was getting interesting!” but I assure you that it was neither erotic nor exciting.

So, do these dreams mean anything?  Does anybody else have medication induced dreams?

MONDAY FUN: YouTube Music Favorites

Hayes Carll, Chances Are

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The Elusive Quest

For the past couple of years, I have tried and tried to succeed in an elusive quest.  There are two cardinals that hang around in our backyard, and I would like nothing better than to get a photograph of at least one of them.  Now, I will admit to not knowing much about the cardinals.  I don’t know if they actually live in our yard, or somewhere near.  I don’t know if they go someplace during the coldest months–it seems like that spend at least part of the winter here, but also seem to disappear for a couple of months.  I don’t even know if these are the same two cardinals every year.  But I do know one thing: they are quite beautiful.

But every time I try to get that photo, they flitter away.    Perhaps if I didn’t have to get so close. 

I got a happy visit from the FedEx man a couple of days ago.  He was here with my new camera.  Yesterday I also saw  one of my red-hued friends hopping around the bushes.  I ran back into the house to grab the camera, feeling optimistic that the better resolution and more powerful zoom would allow me to capture the image of my friend.   I saw him for a split second in the frame, and then he was gone.  I switched to the viewfinder so I could scan around a little easier.  Nothing.  I tried looking with my naked eye.  Nada.  Argh!

The other day Lovely wife looked up cardinals on the internet, and found that they are fond of sunflower seeds, and also that they like to bathe themselves.  The previous owners of our home did have a bird bath in the back yard, but I removed it when it started to crumble to pieces.  No doubt I will be setting one out this spring, along with a feeder full of tasty sunflower seeds.  In addition, I am going to buy a tripod for my camera.  I am confident that with these tools and a little patience I will succeed in my quest.

While ruminating on this today, I realized that the Epic Cardinal Photo Quest is allegorical to my fight with depression.  Every time I seem to have a more permanent happiness within my sight, it flits away, just beyond my reach.  I have become frustrated, and yet I am hopeful and patient.  Recently I have added tools new and old to help me kick the depression.  Medication.  Counseling.  Exercise.  A creative outlet.  I am confident that with these tools and a little patience I will succeed in my quest.

I will get a great picture of a cardinal.

I will be happy again.

LATE FRIDAY/EARLY SATURDAY FUN: Fruit & Veggie Challenge

Today Lovely Wife and I were picking up a couple of things for supper at the grocery store before we picked up the kiddos.  Lovely Wife noticed that Mangoes were on sale and asked if we should get one.  Now, Lovely Wife and I are quite familiar with and fond of Mangoes, but to my knowledge Little Guy and Baby Girl had never tried any.

I have to report that the Mango was a rousing success.  In particular our usually picky Little Guy gobbled up his pieces and asked for more.  He kept asking what it was.  “A Mango,” I would say.

“Mingoes!” he would reply.  We’ll work on that.

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My frenemies, beer and coffee

One of the tough parts about coming to terms with my depression and anxiety is slowly weaning myself from two of my great loves: beer and coffee.  Now, I don’t drink either with any of the regularity that I once (read: college) did.  But I also gained much more of an appreciation for the finer points of each.

Like the typical American college student, the kind of beer that I would choose for a weekend looked something like this: cheap, cold, and wet.  As it turns out, once I started appreciating the craft of brewing more, and looked more for quality rather than quantity, my tastes started to sway from typical American pilsners.  I particularly enjoy beers with a high hop content, such as IPAs.  This led to further experimentation with different styles.  In particular, I have fallen in love with nearly every offering from the Boulevard Brewing Company

Coffee and I have had a much simpler love affair.  I never really got into the Latte-Cappucino-Mocha-whatever thing.  This is how I like my coffee:  black.  Run some hot water over some ground up beans and pour it in a cup, thanks.  That said, there are two different things I have come to realize: 1.  There really is a big difference in taste–even inexpensive stuff–from one brand to another (e.g. love the coffee from a certain donut joint, but can’t stand the joe from a particular fast food titan.  2. I really love freshly ground beans.  My mom bought me a coffee grinder for Christmas a couple of years back–such a simple gift and yet so wonderful.

At first blush, it almost seems like these two characters would help me.  Alcohol can seemingly help with anxiety. Just ask any guy who wasn’t able to approach the pretty girl at the bar until after he built up a little “liquid courage”.  The caffeine in coffee conversely can take the edge of depression when you are feeling more active and alert.  It really is a Faustian bargain, though, isn’t it?  For while each does its part to help with one side of the depression/anxiety coin, it does so at the expense of sabotaging the other.  To wit: Alcohol is a natural depressant, and caffeine can make one jittery and, well, anxious.  Not to mention that it isn’t advised to add these guys on top of the meds that I am taking.  And please don’t mention non-alcoholic brews and decaf coffee.  Ew.  Just can’t. 

So for now I am slowly bidding a fond adieu to a couple of long time friends.  I’ll drop by every once in a while, on special occasions.   Hopefully someday my mood will be significantly better and our roads will once again cross on a regular basis.

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SUNDAY FUN: The Fruit and Veggie Challenge

In an effort to be more health conscious, our family has decided to eat more fruits and vegetables.  However, the thing we found is that we were limiting the kinds of produce that we were eating.  For example, fruit consisted mostly of apples, bananas, and grapes.  Over and over.  So Lovely Wife and I decided that we are going to try something “new” (or at least something that doesn’t show up much in our household) each time we do our grocery shopping.  The first experiments: pomelos and ugly fruits.  I definitely loved the pomelo.  After peeling off the rather thick rind, the wedges were fairly easy to separate, and it tasted delicious.  Kind of like a slightly sweeter grapefruit.  In fact it made me envision that this is what eating a Squirt would taste like.  The ugly fruit, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as satisfying.  It has a similar–if not a little sweeter–taste than a pomelo, and is also very juicy.  But the pulp was just so fibrous that it just wasn’t that enjoyable.  I ended up just sucking the juice out of each wedge.  Stay tuned for further fruit and veggie adventures.

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