Thursday, May 31, 2012

I've quit refined sugar, caffeine and anti-depressants! (5...4...3...2......)

After months of being on different anti-depressants and experiencing none of the beneficial anti-depressant effects, and having seemingly every single side effect, I decided to stop taking them for a while.  I've been off for a few weeks now and I feel okay.  Just normal; not great, not terrible.  Normal with none of the side effects of drugs, which is better than what I was experiencing on the drugs.  I was most recently on Wellbutrin but it made me angry and anxious and weepy.  You know what else makes me angry and anxious and weepy?  Depression.  I don't need a drug to exacerbate issues I can get naturally and for free.  So I stopped.  I haven't experienced any terrible withdrawal effects like I did with Effexor, but today it occurred to me that there must be some so I looked it up.  Here's the list:
aggression, anxiety, balance issues , blurred vision , brain zaps, concentration impairment, constipation, crying spells, depersonalization, diarrhea, dizziness. electric shock sensations, fatigue, flatulence, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, hostility, highly emotional, indigestion, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpy nerves, lack of coordination, lethargy, migraine headaches / increased headaches, nausea, nervousness, over-reacting to situations, paranoia, repetitive thoughts or songs, sensory; sleep disturbances, severe internal restlessness (akathasia), stomach cramps, tremors, tinnitus (ear ringing or buzzing), tingling sensations, troubling thoughts, visual hallucinations / illusions, vivid dreams, speech visual changes, worsened depression.

I highlighted some things I have concerns about. 

*Depersonalization:  That sounds scary.  Does that mean I can change from being a person to being something else?  A robot?  A tiger?  I have not had that (yet).  But would I even know if I had?  Maybe I'm a tiger right now.

*Flatulence:  I find flatulence to be a side effect of almost everything.

*Hallucinations:  Maybe this mid-life crisis is a hallucination?

*Highly emotional indigestion:  Is there any other kind?  ....
oh wait, I didn't see the comma.  It's actually "highly emotional, (comma) indigestion. Never mind. This withdrawal-symptom list needs a proof-reader.  Highly emotional....... what?  They are leaving me hanging.  That makes me anxious.

*Over-reacting to situations:  Does this mean that bawling through the entire last episode of the John Adams miniseries because of all the deaths, but especially when he said he thought a flower was the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, was a tad over-the-top?  Maybe.  Maybe a person prone to depression shouldn't watch sad movies.

I'm trying lately to eat healthy, exercise and I'm also trying my hand at being drug-free (prescription drugs, anyway) and I don't know how long I can stand it.  I've been told by my friend Pete who is a psychologist to try out therapy and see if it helps but I can't bring myself to go see a stranger and unload and get their opinions of how I could better live a life that I've been living for the better part of 40 years mostly pretty well, when they just met me an hour beforehand.  Doesn't seem very efficient. 

So instead I've been looking at books about cognitive behavior therapy for treating depression because that seems more efficient.  They are (probably) written by someone at the top of their field, who has thought about what they are going to tell you long enough to write it, proof it, edit it and submit it to a publisher, and hopefully they have gotten their ideas peer-reviewed.  Seems much better than a one on one therapy session if you ask me.  So I researched the best books on the topic. 

If you ever want a good laugh, read the reviews depressed people write for self-help books.  Just look at any self-help book for depression and read the one and two star reviews.  Hilarious.  I LOVE depressed people.  They (we?) are sooooooo skeptical about everything and utterly reject the idea that depression is something that you can behave your way out of, but feel so miserable that they will try any stupid thing that comes along.  (Oh, and "depressed" people "like" to use a lot of snarky "quotation marks," which "cracks me up.")  Here are some quotes from some of the reviews:
"I am guilty of "distorted" thinking. Oh, dear! Surely I should want to correct my "distortions"!"
"This is a BIG book full of unnecessary material that someone who is severely depressed is going to have a HARD time even holding up."
"Because the book got so many good reviews, I thought it must have been written by God himself. It wasn't."
"Does it pass the suicide test?"

"Literally, half of the book is saying 'My CBT is helpful!'. Well, I got this message from the first 50 pages, no need to repeat it on every 2nd page."

And on and on and on... There was another review that was kind of long but the gist was about a story in the book told by the author about the day his baby was born.  The baby came out looking kind of blue and the author said that he had all kinds of "stinkin' thinkin'" (snarky depression quotes) going through his head.  He worried that his new baby wasn't getting enough oxygen, he worried that he would be strapped with caring for a mentally retarded child because of these first few oxygen deprived moments, but then he stopped himself and employed his cognitive behavior techniques:  1)He can't predict the future and 2)he must have faith that other people know what they are doing.  The reviewer said exactly what I was thinking:  YOUR BABY IS BLUE.  GET HIM SOME AIR, FOR FUCK' SAKE.  Isn't that just common sense and totally non-depressed and normal?  It just seems like a pragmatic reaction to me.  Eyeore is (was? is he dead?) a pragmatist.

Depression/Pragmatist test:  If you saw this picture and thought,
"Watch out Eyeore, that bird is going to crap on you, right in your mouth" you are probably
a pragmatist.  And that bird probably did crap on him. 

Have any of you, my readers, been to therapy?  If so, how was it? 


  1. I tried therapy. But her socks really bothered me- the way they folded over her ankle so carelessly. I couldn't bring myself to go back. I've decided crazy, emotional, sometimes depressed and anxiety ridden will now just be listed under my personality traits. I'm sure the right person will find me endearing.... haha

    1. I agree, don't stress over the small, unimportant stuff. Nobody should be forced to change to please another.

    2. LOL about the lady with the carelessly folded socks! I wouldn't have gone back either.

  2. Congrats on getting off the meds. Yes, I do agree that self-help books and a healthy lifestyle does wonders for one's mental health. Good luck in your future endeavors!

  3. I went to therapy and I actually stumbled across someone I felt got me. I wanted to adopt her as my mum. She was like my personal cheerleader in granny clothes, she didn't bother with BS (she quickly realized that I'm prone to disliking it) and I got to vent. I actually got somewhere. Mind you, a good girlfriend can do exactly the same thing for free....

  4. Another blogger I like writes here. Search her archives for depression, I have found it to be interesting.:)

  5. I'm sorry you have experienced side effects with meds, but I think you are doing the right thing giving up caffeine and sugar.....they definitely are mood influencers. I had to give up caffeine in my 30's because it made me weepy, and if I had enough of it, suicidal!

    1. Whoa, Eva! Suicidal from coffee. That would totally SUCK!

  6. Hi! I went off my meds for anxiety a month ago. I started taking St. Johns Wort (well, I remember to most days anyway), some good supplements (vit b, d, etc.) Maybe give that a try. Also read Wheat Belly and Diabesity. OMG. When I'm off refined flours and sugars, I feel so good. I had a carb fiesta on vacation and I had terrible anxiety and a massive break out.

  7. i have been seeing a therapist for a while. she does not tell me what to do. the thing that i find amazing about therapy is that i have all the answers to all my questions already; the therapist just helps me find them. it's true that a friend can listen just as well, but that's where it ends. the therapist's guidance makes all the difference. my goals in therapy are not necessarily to be a different or better person, but to see why i do things and why i think things, see why i am the way i am, and then decide if individual behaviors are worth keeping. i recommend it for everyone. it's not about what kind of person you are now, it's just about finding out more about yourself. that changes things, believe it or not.

  8. ugh. i've been in therapy for years. you know what really messes you up? therapy.

    yeah, one of the side effects of my depression pills is suicidal tendencies. because that makes all the sense in the world.

    i've given up sugar before and i felt so clean. but currently, it's the only vice i have remaining. please don't take away my sugar. in fact, i'm going to troll for cookies right now!

  9. i find therapy is so much better when referred to as "analysis." seriously. let's all start calling it that again, okay?

    some therapists are awesome, and some are terrible, and some will give you crappy copied tapes of whale songs and tell you to drink chamomile tea. i've had all of the above. when it's good, though, it's very good. it does feel good to say things out loud, and there are analysts out there who specialize in CBT and can give you real, practical advise. if you hate it, you can quit, and the only side effect of that is a free hour once a week and more money in your pocket!

  10. I get that therapy is good for some people, and they swear by it but I am soooo uncomfortable with the idea of it. And also, I've been reading a little bit more about CBT and to tell you the truth, I am not all that negative. I don't fall into the thought traps that they talk about. Come on, I'm 41 years old, I've learned how to think like a logical person. But then again, maybe I should shut up and try it. But I don't want to invest time and cash into forging a relationship. I can do that for free too. Bottom line: I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! I just feel depressed for no reason at all, it's unreliably triggered by less than nothing, and that is frustrating.

    I've been reading Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and that is about the best thing I've read on the subject so far. Lots to think about. But not "stinkin' thinkin'"!

    1. i LOVE that book. i buy copies for friends all the time.

  11. Holy crap this was funny. I'm concerned that you're not concerned about brain zaps.

    1. Thanks! I've had the brain zaps before.

  12. NO JOKE, my last therapist was prone to FALLING ASLEEP as I was talking.

    It happened more than once.

    1. I hope you weren't there to deal with feelings of inadequacy or being overlooked.

  13. I think your friend Pete sounds like a genius and you would be wise to follow his sage advice.

  14. ps: Carol gets it. :)

  15. My friend Pete does sound like a genius, doesn't he? So you like Man's Search For Meaning?

  16. Dana McKibbage WaldbilligJune 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Maria Bamford called her therapist 'The Rapist'. (note the strategically placed space)...

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