Back in March I wrote about my ongoing struggle to manage my chronic depression and anxiety and how my doctor prescribed 37.5 mg. a day of Venlafaxine, the generic form of Effexor. 37.5 mg. is the lowest dosage, and for a while, it was enough. Since I was first diagnosed with chronic depression in my 20s, my depression has always been seasonal. I needed medication from around October until around May and skip it in the summer.
Well, this past summer showed me that my depression is no longer seasonal. Things were so bad this summer that I couldn’t even blog about it, because I was just trying to get from one day to the next. I was a mess. I couldn’t sleep more than a few hours a night, which I know didn’t help. I was just angry, all the time, about everything. The slightest thing could set me off, I was yelling, and constantly bursting into tears. And it took me WAY too long to ask my doctor for help.
It never even occurred to me that the problem was not enough medication. There I was, fighting with my husband every day, constantly feeling like he didn’t understand me, to the point where I was worrying that he would move out, or ask me to, because the fighting was unbearable. I felt like I was in quicksand and sinking fast.
I hate that now I know that all I needed to do was take more medication.
The reason I had only been taking 37.5 mg. is because when I tried taking 75, it made me feel jittery, like I was crawling out of my skin. So I told my doctor about the fighting, and the crying, and how I just felt like something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel if I took a higher dose. I didn’t want to end up chronically disheveled and hooked on internet bingo or something. I had been taking a 24-hour extended release capsule, but my doctor had a better idea.
She switched me to tablets that last 12 hours, and suggested I try taking one 37.5 mg. tablet in the morning, and then two 37.5 mg. tablets at night before bed, with the idea that the initial jittery feeling would happen while I was already asleep, so I wouldn’t notice it. And people, it WORKED. In a way I never ever expected.
By the beginning of the second week of the new regimen, I realized I no longer felt anxious all the time. Not only did I stop feeling like I was sinking into a hole I wouldn’t be able to get out of, I felt…normal. Like, this is what normal, non-depressed, non-anxious people feel like.
I stopped assuming that every glance and gesture from my husband was some sort of personal slight. I stopped bursting into tears because something didn’t go right when I was cooking dinner. It was like I woke up to my own life. And something else happened that I never would have thought I just needed more medication for -
I’m losing weight. I’ve lost my craving for fast food and junk food. I looked it up in Google, and the chemical Serotonin which is mostly found in the body’s gastrointestinal tract, contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Carbohydrates also increase the body’s serotonin level. I was trying to raise my own serotonin by overeating carbs like breads and crackers and chips. Effexor helps my body use it’s own serotonin more efficiently, which means I’m no longer craving carbs.
I’ve lost just over six pounds in two and a half weeks. I eat regular meals, but I don’t feel like snacking at all. We had McDonalds for dinner last night as a treat for the kids, and it didn’t even taste all that good. I ate half a hamburger and half an order of small fries and that was enough. The old me would have eaten all of it and still had a snack later.
I’m sleeping much better at night, too. I know I’m sleeping more deeply because I’m not having weird, vivid dreams all night long, and I can actually get right up when the alarm goes off. This is huge for me. I’m trying not to beat myself up over the fact that all I needed to do to avoid all the hell I put my family through was tell my doctor and get a higher dose of Effexor/Venlafaxine.
I’m so lucky that Chris and the kids understand that it wasn’t my fault and have forgiven me for everything. And I know that medication doesn’t solve everything, I still need to figure out how to recognize when I need to ask for help. And I’m so grateful that this dosage of Venlafaxine is working. I’m so grateful that I’m out of the quicksand and living a real life.