Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Lesson Where You Least Expect It

I've been teased about my TV viewing selections, so I get a little apprehensive about sharing what shows I'm watching. One of the shows I watch is American Idol. Last week, I learned a good lesson. I know, you say, what could you possibly have found redeeming about a silly, singing, contest show? Well I'll tell you. Last week they had people to help the contestants not only with their singing, but also with their appearance. In a world where beauty and fashion seem to reign supreme and have great influence over what we think about ourselves and others, what place is that more apparent than in Hollywood and the celebrity world? The show unashamedly talks about how the music business is a tough place and it will chew you up and spit you out. It will change you and if you can't adapt and follow what makes you popular and brings in the money, you will be out of the biz faster than a minnow can swim a dipper. So Mr. Tommy Hilfiger and a stylist for American Idol were advising Phillip Phillips (I guess his parents REALLY liked their last name. So weird.)  about his fashion sense. The first thing out of Mr. Hilfiger's mouth is "I don’t want to be rude, but you need help." They showed him what they considered the perfect attire and when he didn't want to wear that, well they said, whatever you do, don't wear gray. Gray looks horrible on TV. So what does he do? He doesn't wear the wardrobe choice they selected and he wears not one gray shirt, but two. They also advised him to loose the guitar. He sang with the guitar. Even though he was told by multiple "advisers" that his look would loose him the competition and he can't continue to balk at what is required of a musician, he explained that he's there to play music and he can't be anyone but himself. My faith in humanity and the world was restored in this humble, but stoic kid who just wants his music to speak for itself. He gave me an added bit of courage to really figure out who I am and be that person despite what the world is telling me. I think we could all learn a little from Phillip, even if some of it is wisdom in naming your child :). Who knows, maybe our next child will be Beth Macbeth. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

True Light

Nakusp- Heaven on Earth
In the darkest days and the times where I felt utterly alone, amazingly I found comfort from a loving Heavenly Father. I would pray and beg to feel better and although none of it would go away, there was a feeling of peace, love and empathy that would come. I was beyond feeling much of anything but utter despair. However, knowing and feeling that Christ was aware of me and my pain gave me hope. There were also many times where a thought would come to me about some way in which I could act in recovering. I would think of trying out a new avenue that had never occurred to me. I remember one night in particular I couldn't sleep once again and felt totally miserable. At this point I hadn't considered that I might be depressed and not just merely unhappy with life because it was unbelievably hard. And with a jolt of clarity a clear idea "your depressed" came to me. I have no idea why I couldn't figure this out on my own, but I definitely needed this idea to come and come with unequivocal certainty. And although there have been times I've been horribly miserable and frustrated with feeling alone and like no one was there for me, including God, but I know He has been there for me. I know He has placed people in my life who have helped me get better and saved me at crucial moments. And I know that I have felt Him with me. I know He knew and I believe He was quite possibly as miserable about my situation as I was. Trials suck and it's possible this one will always be lurking in my life, but I have hope and peace because I know that Heavenly Father and Christ will not forsake me. I believe that all of us have that promise. We are loved and we are never alone. 

*I think I just may be done with this saga of a story for awhile. I'm sure something will come up that I'll want to hash out, but until then, a return to the usual. Thanks for your support and kind comments. I hope you all escape experiencing anything that I have described, but if you have or no someone who has, I would be happy to chat or help in any way I can.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Problems with Therapy

Therapy has some difficult hurtles to to leap over. First off, when your depressed you don't even feel like doing the things that you once considered fun, so the idea of a depressed person taking the initiative to get into therapy is pretty far fetched. There is also finding the money, finding the time, getting over the stigma, admitting you need therapy, getting yourself to go every week and most of all finding the right therapist to go to.

There are some real crazies out there and guess what? They are therapists. There are some types of therapy that have limited studies about whether they are effective or not and there are some types of therapy likes psychoanalytic (think Freud) that have plenty of research which shows they are not effective at all. I went to a therapist who was very kind and I liked her personally, but she was obsessed with one therapeutic technique that I found somewhat effective, but mostly just uncomfortable and didn't really help all that much (EMDR). Despite her enthusiasm for the practice, I've since learned that there is very little research about EMDR and so their is no proof it helps. On the other hand, the interpersonal approach as well as behavior/cognitive therapy has been shown to be as effective as medication. Still even with all of this evidence, there are many people out there who weirdly persist in there own little favorite techniques.

Before I went to the above mentioned therapist I had one visit with a guy who drove me crazy. He was like that hyper man on Home Make Over and so fakely happy, that I really couldn't take him seriously. So after one session I realized working with him, was not going to help. But it is so hard changing to someone else. I didn't want him to feel bad and I also didn't want to go over "my story" all over again. With this latest bout of therapy I've had to tell "my story" three times. Rehashing becomes really exhausting. Mix that with the fact that all of this ground work won't result in a long term relationship because we will likely be moving and I found it hard to go in.

When we first got to Durham and after a few months of getting insurance squared away, I sought the help of therapy. once again. The woman I saw was cold, unfeeling and a little hostile. She was convinced that my depression and anxiety (as well as extreme fatigue stemmed from the possibility I had hypoglycemia. This seemed absolutely ludicrous to me based on the fact that none of my blood tests had ever shown me to be hypoglycemic, nor did her little diagnostic quiz show me as having low blood sugar. Still she persisted in insisting that this was my one and only problem. She recommended I got a certain book and refused to help me with therapy or with investigating my medications. Another practitioner blinded by her pet project. I was so discouraged from this experience, that it took me until now to actually find someone who is working.

I still don't like going to therapy. It's difficult to motivate yourself  to go and spill your guts to a complete stranger and bring up hard and painful things. But I want to get better. I want to find ways to change my thinking, my behavior and figure out why all of this is happening. I want to be me again. I want to be happy for me, for Russ, my kids, my family and my friends. And I'm doing everything I can to get there and I know it will be worth it. Maybe someday I'll come up with a way to make effective therapy easily accessible to everyone. As well as a way to match the right therapist with the right person.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Switching Meds

Where the Green meets the Colorado River
Awhile after being on Celexa, I started having a bizarre twitches, especially in my legs. I started worrying after I saw a commercial suggesting to see your doctor if you experienced twitching, because it might become permanent. Awesome. My doctor suggested switching to Lexapro which has the exact same chemical composition, except the molecule is flipped and is supposedly a "purer" drug. The nasty bit about changing meds, is you have to go through the whole waiting period and hope the next drug works as well as the last. Luckily, I switched over pretty well and didn't have too many "bad" days. We decided after a month or so to switch back to Celexa to make sure the Celexa was causing the twitching (Celexa has a generic, Lexapro does not). Celexa again had the same twitching side effect and so I switched back again to Lexapro. After being on Lexapro for a few months and feeling mostly normal and able to get good sleep again, I was disappointed because I still felt very tired. I went back to the doctor and explained my fatigue and he ordered some blood tests which didn't show anything too abnormal and he gave me a sample of a drug used to treat narcolepsy. I was pretty uncomfortable about trying Nuvigil so I decided  not to take it and keep it on reserve. I suffered through the fatigue for awhile after that, just hoping it would go away. After visiting my OB a few months later she asked me why I wasn't doing therapy in addition to my drugs. I told her I didn't know who to go to and I had asked a couple of doctors for recommendations, but none had any to offer. I felt a little chastened because being in psychology I knew that studies had shown better results when both drugs and therapy are used in treatment. She had a recommendation, Wendy, and she was awesome! (more on that later) I went to Wendy and she suggested trying to add Wellbutrin in addition to the Lexapro, I noticed somewhat of an improvement, so we tried a higher dose. By the time we had tried all of these different combinations, Russ had been accepted to Duke and we moved.

Switching to new insurance, finding a doctor and getting a new appointment took forever. By this time I was horribly sick and tired of being so tired. I felt like a newborn with how much sleep I needed to function somewhat normally. Most of the time no matter how much I slept, what I ate, how much or little I exercised, I was still exhausted. I hated being so tired and physically not being able to take care of the household needs or be as good of a mom as I wanted. My kids watched entirely too much TV and I really hated myself for it. The next nine months were spent trying Prozac with Wellbutrin, Bu-spar all by itself and then finally Zoloft with Wellbutrin. Those nine months were absolute Hell. There were days or months when switching left me back in the horrible, dark hole of depression. I cried uncontrollably several times a day and worried about everything constantly. I couldn't fall asleep many nights and on top of it all I was finding no relief from the horrible fatigue.  Being on Bu-spar was the worst switch. I felt like I was back off of the medicine, which realistically I probably was. Bu-spar looks awesome on paper and has none of the usual side effects of SSRIs (like fatigue), but in practice does very little to actually help with anxiety. I was ready to try anything though, to get rid of this debilitating fatigue. In addition to the drug experimentation we also tried looking at blood tests again as well as a sleep study. Towards last April I tried Zoloft, which both helped my anxiety and depression and didn't leave me as crazily tired. So currently I am on both Zoloft and Wellbutrin. I still feel quite tired, but it's not as bad as when I was on Lexapro. I also got pregnant soon after starting on Zoloft, so I also don't know if the current fatigue is entirely pregnancy related.

Next: The Problem with Therapy