Tag Archives: gastro

Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Gastro and Antidepressants, Not a Winning Combination

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crazy pills

Recently I had a bad bout of gastro. I don’t just tell you this because I have a shameless love of sharing my bowel movements with people, I mean I do, but that’s not the reason I’m mentioning it this time. This bout of gastro meant that I couldn’t take my antidepressants. I simply couldn’t keep them down, not to mention the husband is not exactly a quality nurse. He found it quite odd that I’d need to be checked in on more than twice a day so dispensing medications was quite beyond him. So I went from Tuesday to Friday without any antidepressants. That’s four days without antidepressants. What could go wrong in four days? Surely that’s not that long. Wrong. The result of being off antidepressants were swift and brutal. On the Saturday I was well enough to get out of bed and keep some food and water down. I was feeling very odd, I’ve been in a down phase for over six months now but this was different, I took my antidepressant at about 8am for the first time in four days but it wasn’t soon enough to stop the effects that the withdrawal had on me.

 

At 9am I went back to bed. I still wasn’t very well from four days of exploding from both ends and not being able to eat. I proceeded to have vivid nightmares of memories that I prefer to keep buried. There are some people that are of a theory that you must confront and deal with every single memory and feeling but quite frankly there are some that I’m perfectly happy with keeping buried deep down under the concrete fog of suppression. They can stay buried as far as I’m concerned because there are some things in this life that I will never be strong enough to deal with and they get to stay in that box. Unfortunately they came running out of that box and dancing around in my head. I woke up. They continued to run around unfettered. Jumping about, opening other boxes. I desperately tried to close them. I began to shake, I began to cry, and I began to think I was losing my mind. I felt that my kids would be better off without a crazy mother and that I should kill myself rather than have them endure my endless psychological burden on them. I tried to contact my husband, he was busy. I tried calling the medical centre my GP works at, they were fully booked and nobody could see me. I then contacted my two best girlfriends, Helen and Lisa, they were probably busy, they’ve both got kids and commitments, Lisa was even in the process of publishing her book, but they pretended they didn’t. They sent me the number for a home doctor visit and asked if there was someone they could call for me, was there someone they could get to come see me. They immediately wanted to look after me and make sure I was cared for. At this point, 11am I sent the following message to my psychologist:

Hi _____. I’m really sorry to bother you on the weekend but I’m slightly concerned that I might be having a bit of a psychological episode. I can’t stop having nightmares even when I’m awake. I think it is because I’m so depleted from gastro, which thankfully stopped and I hadn’t been able to keep my medication down since Tuesday and because the pain in my leg is quite bad at the moment but I’m really struggling and just don’t quite know what I should do. I’d normally just duck in to see my GP but she doesn’t work on weekends and nobody else can see me and I was just unsure what I should do so was wondering if you had any advice. Sorry, Robin

She sent me a message saying that she would call me back in 15 minutes.

 

In four hours I had gone from feeling a vague sense of impending doom to feeling like I was losing my mind and wanting to kill myself. Such a short amount of time and I was ready to end it. That’s how intense sudden withdrawal from antidepressants can be. There was no lead up into this overwhelming despair it just hit full force within a matter of hours. I had started taking a new antidepressant a little over a month ago and had found it quite effective for me, it was like all that had been undone and I’d slid even further backwards. When my psychologist called she explained to me that I probably wasn’t losing my mind that I was probably suffering withdrawal symptoms. That the feelings that I was having were from the chemical imbalance rather than some sort of break in my mind. This was very comforting to me. She spoke to me for quite some time to make sure that I was okay, and told me to go to the emergency department if I needed too, and to not simply suffer through the symptoms if they were unbearable. That sudden withdrawal from medication was awful but it would be over in a few days but there were things that doctors could do for me in the interim, such as prescribe a drug like Xanax to keep me more settled whilst my regular medication kicked back in. Just knowing that I wasn’t crazy, that there was a reason that my brain seemed to be melting out of my ear provided me with great relief. It gave me a lens to view my thoughts through that let me know that it would pass, and that they would go away. The symptoms were still to server for me to cope with on my own so I took 25mg of Seroquel over the next few days whilst the worst side effects were present.

 

A week later and I’m back to normal and I actually feel really proud of myself. I know that probably sounds weird, proud of myself having a complete meltdown, but I am. 2 years ago when I went into Saint John of God Psychiatric Hospital I was having similar feelings. I went to my husband for support, he’s not good with the feelings, he was too busy. I continued to flounder and could not cope and felt like there was nothing I could do. This time round, in a matter of hours I had repeated the same process, reached out to my husband, he was too busy but I am hopeful that one day he will have made enough progress that he reaches back, on being rebuffed I tried my GP, on being unsuccessful I still didn’t give up and contacted my two wonderful friends Lisa and Helen and then my psychologist. In the last two years I have made three fantastic decisions that have made me a stronger and better person. I chose Lisa and I chose Helen to be my friends, without them my life would be so much less productive, and I picked the best psychologist that I have ever seen. Someone who understands me and how to treat me. Someone who is willing to take time out of their weekend to treat me. I am so proud of myself for making these healthy choices in my life. I am so proud that instead of spiraling out of control for months that I got onto it in a number of hours.

 

So I guess I write this blog entry to both warn people on antidepressants that if you get gastro or any other illness where you can’t keep your medication down then please go see your GP or a hospital immediately, because you’ll have effect beyond the illness and they are savage, but also, just because you fall it doesn’t mean you can’t get up. And just because you fall doesn’t mean you need to be ashamed. You can be damn proud of yourself for how quickly you got yourself back up.

If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you can find good resources on the following sites:

  1. Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
  2. PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
  3. PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/
  4. Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
  5. Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/ 

Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 4, The Zoloft Diaries

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Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 4, The Zoloft Diaries

My psychiatrist waits in Consultation Room 2.

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To get there, you have to walk up the hallway from your room, past the medication booth, then past the reception desk and then through the consultation room door. Safety screens cover all the windows so that all us inmates of the Mother and Baby Unit don’t gnaw our way out. You can’t have the motherly insane escaping. We might start fucking nagging someone or something.

I had never been here before. But I had heard of Zoloft before. Heck, this aint my first depression rodeo, I know zoloft. It was 2014 and zoloft was commonly prescribed for breastfeeding mums. I wasn’t to be one of the first to take zoloft, and I sure as shit won’t be the last. Let’s hope I don’t need to be on it for the next ten years. Fuck it, I’m going to try colonic lavage to fix my mood. I’m desperate.

My psychiatrist is a busy man. At least I assume he must be because he’s never around. Not that I can understand a word he says when he is around because he’s so freaking quiet. I need ear zoloft just to deal with him. He is handsome enough, I wouldn’t have shagged him back in my wild days but he’s not bad to look at I guess. He has a shining bald head and glasses so round you could use them for geometry. My mathematical knowledge is pretty poor so let’s just pretend I’m referring to the right area.

“Mwahflamammubble,” he said to me the morning we met. He gestured to a deep seat, and I sat as I assumed that was what he had said by his gesture but honestly he spoke so softly that I haven’t a fucking clue what he said. There was a silence between us then. A kind of awkward silence as I became increasingly paranoid that the mumbles were actually a question I failed to answer.

And that day was the beginning, the bare beginnings of a story very little like the popular zoloft myths–a wonder drug here, a drug that triggers violence there. No. For me the story of zoloft lies not between these poles but entirely outside of them. It is in the land of the bland and banal really. It just kind of takes the edge off, doesn’t cause hideous nightmares but also doesn’t make my whole world shiny and new. Should have gotten myself some seroquel whilst I was in there. In fact from time to time, when the panic rides me so hard I’m ready to peel my own skin off, I still regret turning down seroquel. But hey, a little bit of heart stopping anxiety for no reason is good for the soul, right?

I’ll leave my “appropriation” there because the original gets a little too scientific about prozac and I just can’t put my arty mind through that so close to bed time… fuck it, let’s be honest, the twins have croup and my little girl has gastro so I’m freaking exhausted and want to go to bed now. Yes it’s only 9:15pm but I’m really fucking tired.

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This chapter of my “memoir” was appropriated from The Prozac Diary by Lauren Slater.  Read the real thing here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/slater-prozac.html

To read the gripping first chapter of my “memoir” please go here: https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/memoir-of-a-teacher-a-red-hot-tip-for-nanowrimo/

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