Goodbye

April 21, 2010 at 1:01 am (Uncategorized)

Thurday is the last day of the DS106 class and I have learned so much about myself through doing this blog. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders because I have been able to put my feelings out there in the open. I have been extremely busy with work and school these past couple of weeks and I have not been able to go to counseling. Once the semester is over I will start seeing my counselor again. I hope to one day reconnect with my dad and talk about all of the abuse that I went through. I know that will be a long time from now because I am still working on my anger torwards him. I hope that one day my mom and I will be able to hold a real conversation. I always think to myself when did things go wrong? My mom and I use to be so close and now I can’t even speak to her without getting irritated. I wonder if I will ever tell my parents about the sexual abuse that I went through. Will it tear apart my family if they knew? Would they even care? Would they deny it? Would it make them cry knowing that their little girl was touched in innappropriate ways? These are all questions that I want to one day get answered. I don’t know if they ever will be.

I want the people reading this blog to understand that it is ok to admit that you need help. I use to think that by going to counseling and taking medication was saying to myself that I failed. I couldn’t do it on my own. That is not the case at all. I’m going to counseling to make myself a better person and to make sure that I am healthy and happy in the future. I attended a conference recently and the speaker said that a mental illness is almost like a car crash, you never know when it’s going to happen and it will come out of nowhere. Please, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

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Close of the semester

April 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm (Uncategorized)

As another semester is coming to an end, I find myself wondering what I am going to do for a living once I graduate from college. Sometimes I think that I overthink the subject and then I start feeling hopeless and then that makes my depression that much worse. Between me working full-time and also going to school in a weird way it distracts me from thinking about the future. I get so busy at times that I only think about what is in the moment and not what my next step will be. I’m getting anxious just thinking about these next couple of weeks because I have finals and I need to do good on my finals so that I can get good grades and graduate and then get a good job and I cant fail any of my classes because I have invested so much of my time and money on school.  Does this make you stressed out just reading this post?

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family

April 12, 2010 at 3:08 am (Uncategorized)

In one of my earlier posts I had mentioned that I was sexually abused by 3 of my brothers when I was younger. Although my mother and father didn’t abuse me I still hold so much anger inside of me that sometimes I start clenching my teeth when I think about my parents. They were supposed to be my protectors and I was left by myself. I wonder if what happened to me when I was younger has this weird affect on me now. I have never once said I love you to my parents and even hearing my mom chew food gets my angry. I have completely avoided my dad for the past 8 years and have not spoken to him. Sometimes I tell people that I don’t have a dad. The only person that I hug is my boyfriend. Whenever a friend or a family member tries to hug me it just feels akward. I feel emotionally disconnected from them. It’s like there’s a hole inside of me that needs to be filled and I don’t even know where I would get it from. The only brother that I talk to today is the one that didn’t abuse me. Although I have never talked about the abuse with my family, I get a sense that they know. My counselor has suggested that I talk  to my mom about it, but how weird would that be? One of my brothers is married and has a son. I don’t want to ruin his family even though he took something away from me that I will never get back. He took away my innocence as a child. How am I supposed to forgive someone that evil? And he just goes on living his life like nothing ever happened. Nothing good will come out of telling my family because it will probably just backfire on me. All my family did was tear me apart and they will never have anyone idea how I feel. It happened over 12 years ago but it’s hurting me the most right now. It’s a wound that may never heal.

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Happy and fat or thin and sad?

April 8, 2010 at 1:40 am (Uncategorized)

I found this article at http://www.aolhealth.com/condition-center/depression/medication-weight-gain?icid=main|hp-laptop|dl3|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aolhealth.com%2Fcondition-center%2Fdepression%2Fmedication-weight-gain. What is your opinion? Which one would you rather be?

Would You Rather be Fat and Happy or Thin and Sad?
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Photo: Mary Ellen Mark for Self Magazine
By Lauren Slater

I have traded the weight of depression for the weight of flesh — or, to put it bluntly, for a tire around my torso that makes me appear as if I’m walking with a flotation device beneath my clothes. This rim of flab never fails to shock me when I glimpse myself in a store window. I stare and stare as my fumbling brain does its double take: Is that belly-heavy self really me?

Affirmative. Alas.

When it comes to weight, the devil is in the details. I’ll spare you most of them, but I’ll at least mention that my midsection is not all that has expanded now that I’m in my supposedly expansive middle 40s. My face has also gained girth, broadening in the weirdest of ways, a thickening of my features that causes people who haven’t seen me in a while to pause, stuttering, as they struggle to reconcile the face they recall with the face they see before them. What typically follows is that the long-lost friend will step back in surprise, silently wrestling with etiquette. Eventually, she’ll give me a strained smile, painful for me to observe, and I’ll feel my face get hot. Shame, apparently, weighs even more than the collective flesh of our obese nation, a land where people grow fat on cheeseburgers and also, it turns out, on certain calorie-free capsules known as antidepressants. By some counts, nearly 30 million Americans — among whom I number — are currently taking these medications.

Watch the video below to hear Lauren Slater talk about the tough decision to take medication that treated her condition, but also made her gain weight.

“It’s so nice to see you,” the long-lost friend might finally manage to utter, or “God, your hair has really grown!”

In an attempt to spare these friends (and myself) from these awkward reunions, I now give advance warnings about my state. “Listen,” I’ll say over the phone before we meet. “It has been a while, so I need to tell you that I’ve gained a bit of weight.”

The devil is in the details, right? A “bit” of weight means more than 80 pounds. I almost enjoy the fact that shame or no, my fatness has bestowed upon me a newfound ability to be as blunt as my new shape. Maybe, once the scale has slid up beyond a certain point, you lose your sense of propriety, throwing all caution to the wind. It can be fun, this almost Dionysian sense of abandonment. On my end of the line, I smile. “Beware,” I say. “I look like a cheeseburger.”

Before I became a cheeseburger, I was a woman composed of 105 pounds of muscular matter known as the biochemical phenomenon Lauren. Yet despite my balanced body-mass index, my mind has always had a wayward metabolism of its own, circling up into great excitements, then, just as precipitously, diving down into deep waters where everything is dank and dark.

Up or down, I’ve relied on an ever-changing parade of pills for more than 30 years: pills oblong, spherical, in plastic casings or scored so you can crack them in half like a cookie. Some people give thanks to God. My deepest thanks have always been reserved for the psychopharmacological factories that pop out these synthetic cocktails designed for the millions of folks who, like me, are in desperate need of an anchor. When everything works well, these drugs prevent us from sinking or spinning, allowing us to stand like a normal homo sapien.

I am ashamed of my weight gain, but I have never been ashamed to publicly acknowledge my gratitude to Eli Lilly. The most miraculous moments of my life were not when my daughter and son were born, but when the second or third Prozac pill shot down my throat and catapulted me into a world called sane. I still have a special fondness for the first time I touched down, balanced in body (105 pounds) and in mind. Although I later learned that I would remain there only temporarily, that my life would be a series of comings and goings, for a time I wandered in a quiet, tempered bliss, the world all glittering crystal, the sounds around me silvery. Even water tasted delicious.

I am a person who reacts robustly to antidepressant drugs. When one medication ceases to work, as it always does, I am able to switch to another and regain my stride. Before I took these drugs, I had spent weeks and sometimes months of my childhood and early adulthood in institutions. Afterward, I became a grown-up: a wife, mother, psychologist, writer — successful beyond my dreams. Given that the payout has been so much greater than anything I ever dared ask for, I have had little patience for people who complain about antidepressants’ side effects. I mean, side effects?! My own most prominent, overpowering side effect has been regaining the ability to live my life, thank you very much. If I suffered from dry mouth or a low sex drive in the meantime, well, who the hell cared?

I had no empathy for the pill-popping complainers of the world, those who took these incredible lifesavers, felt measurably better, then whined about constipation or jittery sleep or — and this really bugged me — not being able to cry as easily. Good God! I’d think. You took this drug because you cried too much. So what if you sometimes feel a little numb? Let’s toast to a little numbness after a lifetime of excessive emotion!

When people I knew went off their antidepressants because of the side effects, I’d shake my head, thinking, Obviously, you weren’t really depressed to begin with. Indeed, I thought these folks were worse than depressed. Because if a drug restores you to your mind — the hallmark of humanity — and you reject that for better orgasms or more copious tears, clearly, you’re so crazy that no drug in the world can set you straight.

I walked and talked this attitude for a good 23 years, having my robust responses and thus maintaining my sanity, stumbling now and then, even occasionally falling, but always finding my way back, thanks to a new drug combination, perhaps a bit bruised but extremely happy to be safe and sane at home.

Then, one day, despite taking an antidepressant known as Effexor, my dark mood returned and did not abate for days, then weeks, then months. I sank into a sea so deep that no one could locate me. I was utterly alone, unable to make out anything but the occasional distant flecks of phosphorescent fish swimming by in the murky ocean, their light too dim to see by.

Until my psychopharmacologist reached into his bag and came up with a new concoction. Take two, he said, and let me know how it goes. The new drug was called Zyprexa. I’d never heard of it. Zyprexa. It sounded like xylophone. I imagined someone playing a scale, the notes arcing down and then back up.

I took two. By that point, I’d been taking two new pills every six or seven years, whenever the old ones got too old and didn’t do their job anymore. For me, Zyprexa was manna from heaven. I took the pills during a time of despair that seemed deeper than any I’d ever known, and soon, after months of no appetite, I woke up hungry. Toast tasted dark and delicious, the butter melting into a pool of yellow like the summer sun through the window. I plunged my finger into that yellow pool, then sucked on it, enjoying the flavor. The tangy acid of orange juice cut through the lipids and made my mouth taste fruity.

I didn’t know that morning that Zyprexa could cause massive weight gain, swift and severe. In a widely reported 2009 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, children and teenagers who took the drug for 12 weeks gained an average of one and a half pounds per week. Had I known of this possible side effect before my doctor handed me the pills, would I have refused them? All I can say is that I should have refused them, but it’s difficult to predict what one will do in times of desperation. Then again, if I had refused them, I might not be here today, alive and sane, sitting on the big berth of my bottom.

Of course, many antidepressants and other mood-mending drugs have the potential to cause some weight gain. (See “What Drugs Might Affect Besides Your Mood” on page 139.) I had put on a modest 5 pounds or so on my prior medications, but, due to the treadmill and salads, I’d kept the poundage from creeping up much beyond that. At my best, I was a petite 110, at worst, 117, which, at 5 foot 3, was still fairly svelte, with a few curves.

On Zyprexa, my weight skyrocketed, despite my efforts to diet. My bottom became like a separate being, with a will and waddle of its own. My 9-year-old called it Mama’s Patootie, then just Patootie. My 4-year-old liked to dash at me from behind, diving into my patootie as if it were a snowbank. “Maaammma!” he’d say, though whether to me or to my patootie, I wasn’t sure.

When it comes to weight gain, Zyprexa is in a class by itself. One theory holds that the drug impairs the satiation center in the brain, making it hard to feel full, however much food one consumes. Based on my experience, I agree with this hypothesis. Add to this the fact that most Zyprexa users have spent a great deal of time in a foul mood, a state in which food tends to taste like gritty prison gruel. If you combine a malfunctioning satiation center and the exhilaration that comes from realizing that the big banquet called life is once again yours for the taking, you take and take and take. At least that’s what I did. At first, all this taking felt really good. Enchiladas tasted really good. Mole sauce was really, really good. The only problem is that people start to notice if you go up to the buffet six times, so, to avoid embarrassment, you pile your plate really high. Yet afterward, you’re still hungry! How odd.

All those years, I’d confidently assumed that as long as I had my sanity, nothing else mattered. I had never deeply considered that, like it or not, my mind happened to be packaged in a body, a body I couldn’t jettison. And yet, I had my set-in-stone credo: Whether tearless or now obese, my body (and my side effects) would always play second fiddle to my mental well-being. But what is sanity? How to define it? Is it scoring high on a standard exam of mental status? Holding down a well-paying day job? I’d say it is both of those things, along with the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures, big and small, like appreciating the soft breeze on a warm spring day, having nice soaps in the guest bathroom, loving your children and husband, and being able to treat yourself to regular shopping trips to Target.

Except I didn’t want to go to Target. The only garments I fit into there were from the plus-sized department, all gauzy and draped, their purpose to conceal rather than reveal. Indeed, I started to fear going out at all, on the off chance I’d meet someone I hadn’t seen in a while. Mental health is largely defined by the ability to engage in social interactions. Yet increasingly, I felt isolated because of my mental health regime. At first, I pretended not to notice, but soon I couldn’t ignore that as my body grew, my social circle shrank in nearly direct proportion.

I was also worried about my physical health. Zyprexa, I discovered, while incredibly effective when taken in combination with more standard antidepressants, may also put patients at risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a combination of conditions, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, that can increase the chances of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. At the time, staying true to my beliefs, I told myself that diabetes was nothing compared with the deep despair that is depression, which feels as if the mind is being held hostage in a cage of nails. Wasn’t it better to be mentally well now and eventually need an extra-large coffin, albeit a bit earlier than anticipated, than suffer through a series of slow, sad days?

The answer seemed obvious, and yet, it wasn’t. After all, I had two children and a husband to consider. My husband is a good man. He wanted to love me regardless of my weight. He did love me regardless of my weight. But though he would never admit this, I didn’t feel as if he wanted me regardless of my weight. I sensed a tension in his touch. As with my social circle, my sex life got skinnier, filled with more awkward silences than kisses.

I didn’t blame him, not one bit. After all, he didn’t sign up to marry Patootie. He signed up to marry me — Lauren. But Lauren was hidden, the extra pounds like curtains on a window I couldn’t see through, feel through, get through. I was trapped, the jiggle and roll of my extra flesh causing me not only shame but also discomfort. Summer heat felt searing. Stairs seemed to double, then triple, topping off in the clouds, impossible to scale. I gasped and sucked for air. I could not reach certain places on my body when they itched, my arms too short to span my own girth. My daughter, on the cusp of adolescence, stared at this new body called Mom with wide-eyed alarm. “You have to start jogging,” she’d say, “or you’ll have a heart attack and die!”

My daughter’s fear is what finally enabled me to feel some fear of my own. If I was fearful, then how could I be happy? And so my cherished assumptions about the mind being separate from the body, about physical side effects being of little or no importance, began to crumble. I realized that I couldn’t be happy if my body wasn’t happy. Even more destabilizing to my theory, I learned that my happiness was not a private affair — it was inextricably tied to the people I loved. It was impossible to separate my daughter’s panic, my friends’ shock, from whatever misgivings were brewing in my own increasingly taxed heart. And so I was left, again, with a seemingly untenable decision: Would I rather be fat and happy or thin and miserable?

I’d always prided myself on being someone who valued intellect over appearance, but the truth is that it’s difficult to be fat and happy. Besides the conundrum of being made both well and ill at the same time, there was also a reality issue: As a very fat — OK, an obese — person, I felt unreal. Sane yet unreal. My essential identity had nothing to do with being a fat person, because I’d never been a fat person, and so the inner me was at odds with the very meaty outer me. This helped me see a mere “side effect” for what it could be, in the extreme: a symptom that separates you from your normal self. This, ultimately, is why taking the drug became intolerable to me.

I wanted to stay on Zyprexa to maintain my happiness and sanity, of course, but I also wanted to prove a point, to hold on to my safe assumptions that my mind and body were easily divisible. I wanted to stay on Zyprexa so that I could claim my happiness as mine alone, unrelated to the feelings of my family and friends. But my daughter had fear in her eyes, my husband had hesitation in his eyes. I was trapped by love.

In the end, I went off Zyprexa as one leaps off a cliff while being chased by wild animals: Leap and you’ll crash on the jagged rocks below. Stay put and you’ll be eaten alive. I was afraid that I was giving up the last medication that would kick me into the land of the sane, and the living. But I was also less judgmental about the choices all of us must make about our life and our health, the trade-offs we discover we can and cannot live with.

Within a few months of going off the drug, I shed 40 of my excess pounds. I also struggled with my mood, although I tried hard to hang on to the belief that there were other concoctions that might help me, as there had been in the past. And I did eventually find them, though the search has never been easy. But it was necessary, because for me, fat and happy do not go together. In some ways, I wish this wasn’t the case. I believe that it is possible to be both fat and happy — surely, some men and women are — and I feel somewhat shallow now that I know my physical size has such emotional heft, that it casts such a looming shadow on the very self it contains. Yet, like it or not, I think of myself as a petite person. I’ve discovered that who I am and how I feel cannot be considered apart from my body, especially if that body, my body, is clogged with fat and sugar. In this condition, it becomes difficult to ignore death loitering at your doorstep.

I have also come to see that my body is not really mine. Its atoms existed before me and will continue to exist long after I am gone. My body belongs not only to me but also to those I love. It is merely on loan to me, temporarily assembled, and if it becomes ill, the people who rely on it, who rely on me, suffer, too. In this sense, we are all bridges to one another, stretched out tip to toe, sometimes colliding but undoubtedly joined, each one of us a possible point of communion, in happiness, in sadness, in sickness and, hopefully, in health.

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Too much medication?

April 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm (Uncategorized)

So lately I have been feeling really tired and I have been taking my medication like I am suppose to. The funny thing is, when I take my antideppressants every other day I actually feel better. Could the medicine be too much on my body? Right now I am taking 20mg of Lexapro which is supposed to help me with not only depression, but also anxiety. There are times when I get really stressed out and anxious, so I also take Klonopin for that. My doctor that prescribed it to me wanted me to take it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. I couldn’t even stay awake during the day when I did that, so now I just take it when I feel a panic attack coming on. I don’t know if any of you have ever had a panic attack, but it feels like you are out of control and you don’t know what to do with yourself. If you have had one before, then you definitely know what I am talking about. I have gotten 6 panic attacks in the past couple of years and they mostly happen when I am driving. The first time I had one I had no idea what was going on with my body. My friend had taken me out to Chipotle for lunch and the place was really crowded. I was standing in line waiting to get my food and talking to my friend when it hit me out of nowhere. I just remember looking around and thinking that there were way too many people in this tiny place and it was way too loud. My heart start beating so fast and hard that I could actually hear it. I felt like my throat and chest were tightening up and it was getting harder and harder for me to breath. Different parts of my body started to get this tingly feeling like all of these little things were poking me. I started to feel dizzy and I told my friend that I didn’t feel well, but I had a really hard time expressing to her exactly what was wrong with me. I really thought in my head that I was going to die and I had a really hard time controlling my breathing. I got out of line and sat down at the nearest seat that I could find. I put my head in my hands and I remember feeling really embarrased and I didn’t want anyone to look at me. I was afraid that someone in the restaraunt was looking at me thinking that I was going crazy. At the time I wouldn’t be able to explain to you what was going on with my body, but I could tell you that it is the worst feeling that I have ever left. I remember feeling vunerable and scared at the same time. I saw my counselor that same day and she explained to me that I had a panic attack. I actually really enjoyed that session because she taught me a relaxation techniques.

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Exercise

April 3, 2010 at 2:57 am (Uncategorized)

Last weekend I went rock climbing with a class from NOVA. I was terrified, but still managed to get to the top of the rock. It was weird becuase for the next couple of days I felt more energized and I was in a better mood than I’m normally in. My counselor wants me to start exercising a couple of days a week because it increases your endorphins which in turn make you happier. I remember when I use to play soccer and how good I would feel when I accomplished something, wether it was learning a new trick or scoring a goal. I miss those days when I could just go out on the soccer field and put all of my worries aside for an hour or two. It also allowed me to take out some frustration and aggression. I would love to get into a team sport again.

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Depression and the brain

April 2, 2010 at 12:34 am (Uncategorized)

Check out this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeZCmqePLzM

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Bullying

March 30, 2010 at 5:49 am (Uncategorized)

http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/phoebe-prince-suicide-leads-to-indictment-of-9-south-hadley-students/19418522

I found this story on AOL news, so sad. What do you all think of the nine people that are being chared? Do you agree with it?

http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/AOL News/9-charged-following-suicide-of-bullied-girl/74517678001

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Random Thoughts

March 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Have you ever woken up and thougth to yourself, why am I here? What is my purpose? Is it just to be a normal 21 year old and go out and drink and party? What is normal? I’ve asked this question to myself a few times and I still can not seem to find the answer that I am looking for. I sometimes think to myself that I have no purpose in life and it’s at those times that I get most depressed. What is the point of living without a purpose? I get so hopeless at times and I truly believe that no one in this world cares. I was in ninth grade when I first attempted suicide. I was with my best friend at the time and we were hanging out at my house. My boyfriend had just broken up with me and my best friend was talking to him on the phone. No, they weren’t talking about me, they were flirting with each other. And this was right in front of me! I felt so betrayed and just felt so useless. I took a few bottles of over-the counter pills from the medicine cabinet and I can’t tell you how many I took that night, it must have been anywhere from 30-40. I don’t think it was just the fact that my supposed “best friend” was talk to my ex, but so many things from my past had built up to this point. I remember taking the pills right in front of my friend and she did nothing to try and stop me. She actually thought it was kind of funny, what a friend! Anyways, I remember overdosing on the pills and just passing out on my bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t tell if I was really awake or if I was just dreaming. I turned my head to the side of the bed and threw up all over my friend’s school binder. I woke up the next morning and I had a very hard time breathing. I went straight to the bathroom and started throwing up again. My mom was home and she just assumed that I was sick. To be perfectly honest, I was just surprised that I was still alive. I went back into my room and I realized that I had not been dreaming, I really did throw up all over my friend’s binder. The shocking thing is, I still hung out with that same girl for the next three years. How could I continue to hang out with someone that only brought my self-esteem down? Maybe it’s because I was always use to people around me treating me that way.

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not again

March 22, 2010 at 12:55 am (Uncategorized)

I went out with some friends last night and drank too much again. I have no business drinking in the first place and I just got completely wasted. I’ve been moping around all day feeling sorry for myself. I don’t really have much els to say, sorry this post is so short. I just don’t feel up to doing much of anything.

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