Exercise Doesn’t Really Help Depressed People

I told you. Didn’t I tell you?

Study participants, all of whom were diagnosed with depression, were split into two groups: one received “physical activity intervention” (which sounds like a scary new reality TV show) along with normal care for a year, while the other people weren’t forced to exert themselves. The people in the group that worked out for twelve months said the exercise didn’t alleviate their depression in the slightest.

via Exercise Doesn’t Really Help Depressed People.

how i went to the doctor with cysts and came out with prozac

The cyst saga: it continues.

So here’s a thing: apparently the “many” cysts that showed up on the sonogram in New York have turned into two little book-end cysts, one in each ovary. Good news, right? Except for the part where they still cause me excruciating pain once a month, yes!

So no surgery for me; it seems that my body is well on the way to reabsorbing the cysts. KaiserDoc suggested going on the Pill for a few months so I wouldn’t ovulate; I explained that the Pill makes me crazy (bad-crazy, not fun-party-time crazy) and besides, wouldn’t that pretty much put the kibbosh on the whole second-kid question? We went back-and-forth for a bit, her saying “…or we could just do nothing” and me going “Um, PAIN,” punctuated by her leaving for ten minutes to take a phone call, which – professional! But what it came down to was that I’m not entirely comfortable with playing Russian roulette with my hormones, especially when there’s no guarantee it’s going to work.

KaiserDoc was reasonably sympathetic, in the way you sympathize with the crazy lady on the bus who tells you she’s misplaced her tinfoil hat. And speaking of crazy: I said maybe there was some magic combo of hormones and anti-depressants that might just mitigate some of the crazy, and KaiserDoc sort of jumped on that, giving me a delightful run-around about how she can’t recommend any one thing or combination of things because “everyone reacts differently” (which: OBVIOUSLY, but maybe as a DOCTOR you have SOME IDEA of which BCPs are most compatible with the chronically depressed, since I am REASONABLY CERTAIN I am not the first person in the world to be in this position) finally saying “Well, let’s just start you on Prozac and then re-visit the birth control pill idea after a few months.” So, basically: take some pills and quit being a crazy person, and then get back to me. Nice.

I’m not saying I shouldn’t be on meds, but, dude. Way to play up every stereotype of an insurance-company run health care conglomerate, KaiserDoc! Perhaps you can also sign me up for the newsletter – oh. You did. Right, thanks for that.

She did give me some Vicodin, too. So now I can be really high and also in pain. Yay!

things what are obvious

So, hey, funny thing: turns out after stopping my meds I’m depressed again! I know, right? NO ONE WOULD HAVE GUESSED THAT THIS WOULD HAPPEN EVER.

To be fair, I stopped the meds, like…three months ago? Four? So it’s not like I’m in withdrawal or anything. In fact, despite all the haters screaming about how hard it is to get off Wellbutrin, I had no problem whatsoever. Yay me! Except for the part where I’m all “nothing matters and I might as well jump off a bridge.” Again. Not that I’m going to jump off a bridge; that implies a certain amount of motivation, which I am totally lacking at the moment, but still. The sentiment! The sentiment remains the same, and has come creeping back rather predictably after a year-long medically-induced hiatus. (At the moment I can’t even remember why I stopped taking the meds, but I’m sure I had a good reason. Something about not being able to get excited about anything, I believe…oh the irony.)

Howev! I’m feeling better about the writing thing. I recognize that attempting to write a novel in 30 days when I’m already ridiculously overextended is…well, ridiculous, and sets false expectations in my head, and isn’t actually indicative of my abilities as a writer. Doesn’t that sound rational and right-minded? (It’s a trick.)

In other news, we’ve all been sick with a nasty cold for the past week, which does little to improve my mood. Currently there are things in my lungs, and I do not like to have things in my lungs. As a side note, it is not a good idea to obsessively watch medical dramas while ill. I mention this as a public service to my readers. (Also: it’s never lupus.)

is it monday already?

It’s Monday. And it’s June. How the hell did that happen?

I foolishly jinxed myself a couple of weeks ago by saying – out loud – that I intended to take some time off in June. Now, of course, I am inundated with unsolicited projects, which is lovely, of course, because I love my job, but also a wee bit frustrating. (Not that my “time off” would be actual time off, per se – I have a novel to finish, after all, and a toddler to…toddle, and a house that desperately craves some TLC, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.) So I’m torn between doing a happy little dance because I’ve got new projects and kicking things. I could always do both! That’s the principle behind Goth dancing, after all.

But I did manage to kick last week’s Cold of Death after only a day and a half of real illness. YAY, IMMUNE SYSTEM! Managed to kick it and still get the house tidy enough to have a friend over on Friday. I never have friends over! It was glorious, and why don’t I do that more? I mentioned the social anxiety thing in my last post, but what I don’t think I mentioned is that my social anxiety is SO MUCH BETTER NOW. Seriously, the Wellbutrin might not have done a lot for my, you know, chronic depression, but it went to town on my social anxiety.

Used to be, I literally could not be in a crowd of people without feeling like I was stuck inside my head. You know, watching the whole thing from about three feet back and cringing every time I spoke? Yeah, was not what I would call “good.” But ever since I started taking the meds, I’ve had no problem being in group situations. Even if there’s more than two people in the room, I feel like I’m actually present. It’s so neat!

Curiously, the lingering bits of social anxiety seem to coalesce around the making and execution of plans. I still hate contacting people. I still would rather poke myself repeatedly in the eye than actually call someone on the phone. And I still spend the time leading up to a social engagement in a state of hair-rending panic, imagining all the myriad ways I could make a fool of myself and cause everyone to forever shun me, which I probably did the last time they invited me anywhere, and they probably just invited me this time to be polite, and OMG I SHOULD JUST STAY HOME.

But as long as I ignore all that, I always have a fantastic time. And it’s getting easier to ignore, sort of. Sort of. Depending.

In other news, I posted another video post. Whee!

some things I’ve realized

1. My house is never going to be really “nice.” I’m messy. Not So’s messy. We have a toddler. All of these things mean that we’re lucky when we can see the floor & the dishes aren’t overflowing out of the sink.

2. I am really, really bad at contacting people. I’m great at replies, but as far as making contact? I suck. Still have a bit of social anxiety in my system, obviously.

3. Having cute jeans that fit counts for a lot.

4. I do not like wine. Also, it gives me migraines. But on top of that, I don’t like it, and I never have, despite the fact that I really, really want to be the sort of person who likes wine.

5. My kid is capable of entertaining himself for a full nine hours while his mother huddles, feverish and full of excruciating sinus pain, under a pile of blankets. This is a Good Thing (as is the fact that Not So was able to come home for lunch to make the kid a sandwich & put on a new DVD. Which I would have done, but not competently).

6. I have a tendency to be overly ambitious. Oh my god, I know! You are all shocked at this, but it’s true.

7. I think my depression might be creeping back, and I’m contemplating talking to my doctor about upping my Wellbutrin. Is it so bad that my corresponding train of thought involved “…and maybe I’ll lose even more weight”?

better living through chemistry

Yesterday I totally impulse-purchased this Naturalean Complete Day/Night Energizing Cleanse thing from Whole Foods, which promises to “Kick-start your diet in 7 days!” followed by an asterisk, which informs me, sotto voice, that this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. I figured, why not? My diet is certainly in need of a swift kick.

What the box contains is a jar of “Metabolic Advantage” thyroid formula pills, which contain a boatload of Vitamin B12 and a bunch of enzymes (such as the entertainingly-named “Multi-Glandular Complex” – hee!) as well as seven packets which contain a nightly dose of “Fiber Formula” and “Laxative Formula” pills – eleven pills per packet. Eleven! That is a lot of pills.

I started taking everything last night, and today I feel GREAT. Like, crazy-manic rearrange-the-whole-house great. I! Have! So! Much! Energy! This is a novel change, and one I plan to take advantage of by cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen and then maybe going for a jog. Because I have so much energy, you see.

In other news, the kid slept in his bed for the first part of last night. Slept! In his bed! This is cause for celebration, especially since it meant that mama got to have the entire grownup bed to herself for three hours. Ahh, sleep. How I have missed you.


I used to know how the word “okay” came about, linguistically. I could look it up. I’ve already decided I’m not going to, though, so you’ll just have to take my word: it was entertaining. Or not. I really don’t remember.

Maybe I just have an unrealistic idea about what “okay” is. I keep looking for something that will make me stop having days that feel impossible, but is that even a thing? Are there people who don’t wake up in the morning and think “Oh god, I can’t do this”? Maybe the trick is to just limit those days, say, to one or two a week. Currently I’m clocking 5 or 6, which is disheartening.

The Wellbutrin seems to be helping, in that it is no longer actively hindering. I cut my dose from 300mg/day back down to 150mg, and the difference was astounding. In retrospect, what the HELL was I thinking, going with a full dose? Am I a girl who follows doctor’s orders? I so am not. Yet I just sat there and nodded when he said that I’d be increasing my dose after a week, and then did so, on schedule, not unlike a lemming. When did I become a lemming? (Aside: I used to have a comic I’d cut out of the paper titled “Lemming Suicide Hotline,” which showed a bunch of lemmings on phones saying “Jump.” “Do it.” “Go ahead, jump.” Hee.)

So, no more lemming. I will take my 150mg and feel slightly more okay than before, and that will be fine, really. And on days like today, when the idea of leaving the house is absolutely untenable, I will just change back into my fuzzy slippers and curl up on the couch watching bootleg Glen Phillips concert footage on YouTube while I work on websites on Not So’s laptop. It may be the least I can do, but at least it’s something.

process of elevation

You may remember that I started Wellbutrin last week, possibly because I posted a long, involved rant about it (which did not, surprisingly enough, include links to the manufacturer’s website, the Wikipedia page and the article on Mental Health dot com – but rest assured that I read them all, and several more besides).

spinThe first couple of days were…not good. Bad, in fact. The first day I felt like a zombie and couldn’t speak without slurring my words (fun!), and I felt a little bit like I was on acid, only without the speed. Oh, seratonin! You jokester, you! The second and third days I was…well, the words wildly overemotional would not be out of place in a description of my mood. My mantra was “It’s supposed to get worse before it will get better,” alternating with “THE MEDS AREN’T WORKING AND WHERE ARE MY ANXIETY PILLS?”

I’m feeling better now, thanks. Just in time to up my dose! So this weekend should be a mood-altering extravaganza. I almost don’t want to take more of the medication, since the half dose seems to be doing okay and I’ve only just gotten past the dry mouth, which was annoying. But I’m game. If I’m going to do the antidepressant thing, I may as well go whole hog.

Speaking of whole hog: I jumped headlong into my WIP manuscript last night and ended up writing 2500 words. Woot!

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If you’re happy and you know it…you’re not me

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, during which I thought I’d mention that I was pretty depressed and anxious and might possibly benefit from some sort of pharmaceutical intervention. I also wanted to discuss migraine meds, but a funny thing happens when you mention depression at the doctor’s office: all else is eclipsed by the sudden need for them to quantify and prescribe. I was given a weird electronic device – something like an ugly LeapFrog – on which I was instructed to take a quizlet to ascertain just how depressed I am. “Press 1 for true and 2 for false,” the medical assistant told me, and then closed the door so I could have some “privacy.”

Of course, after taking the quizlet – which asks things like “Do you feel irritable or cranky most of the time?” and “Do you often find it difficult to interact with others?”) – I start to see “hidden” meaning in everything. OMG I call myself Cranky Mama. Cranky Mama. That means I am cranky! As in, not happy! I might was well call myself Severely Depressed and Should Be In Therapy Mama! (Forgetting, of course, that Cranky Mama evolved out of Cranky Pregnant Girl, which I thought was unbearably cute during Ellison’s gestation.)

I could have told you what my results would be. After all, I have the Internet, and what is the internet if not an enormous LeapFrog? Every once in a while, just for fun, I take various depression assessments, and my scores are pretty universally in the “Meep! Get thee to a doctor!” category. And, see? I got me to a doctor! It only took, what, 20 years of being morose to convince me that I wasn’t just going to “snap out of it”?

Said doctor came in very earnestly and proceeded to quiz me about my history of depression, taking copious notes and furrowing his brow a lot. My monologues tend to do that to people, I’ve found. There’s a reason I am not a super villain. However, at the end of said monologue, I successfully bent the doctor’s will to my own, prompting him to prescribe me the antidepressant I wanted (Wellbutrin) as well as an anti-anxiety pill (though not Valium, sadly)…so maybe I have a future as a super villain, after all. (“It is I! Prescription Girl! Fear my mighty Google-inhanced knowledge of psychotropic substances!”) Amusingly, the doctor actually had to leave at one point to discuss my treatment options with the on-duty psychiatric consult…since apparently I have “a long history of severe depression” as well as the “possibility of mania” (which is news to me, but whatever) and he wanted to make sure none of the meds would bring out what I can only imagine are my latent bipolar tendencies. People: I am depressive. Period. The closest thing to manic that I get is when I’m hopped up on sugar and exclaiming over Shakira videos.

We did not, however, discuss migraine meds, despite the fact that I was coming down from a migraine at the time of the appointment. It occurred to me that I ought to bring it up at some point, but I was tired of discussing things by then. You may be shocked to hear this, but I do get sick of talking about my problems. Eventually. Besides, do I need to add more pills to my daily arsenal? I do not. (I am a person who rarely even takes a multivitamin, after all. Ingesting substances that are not delicious isn’t really my thing.)

I have high hopes for the Wellbutrin. If all goes well, I will not only be a veritable fountain of good cheer and optimism, but I will also be thin and randy (those being two particularly attractive side-effects of this particular med). Let’s all think happy thoughts about that, shall we? Er, those of us who aren’t clinically depressed, that is.

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