Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Cymbalta Digression

I try not to whine in this blog.  And there are lots of days when that's all I'm capable of doing, which is one of the reasons a couple of weeks will go by with no posts.  (Of course, there's also the issue of not having one dang intelligent thing to say, but that's beside the point at the moment.)  This past winter was especially whine-worthy.  For a couple of years now, I've been dealing with a bad case of boredom.  My kids are old enough that they don't need constant vigilance (shout out to mad-eye). I don't have a job at the moment, and with 13% unemployment in our area, it's unlikely I'll find one soon.  And for some reason, housework just doesn't do it for me.  Oh, wait.  Maybe that's because I don't do housework.

And anyway, it's the kind of boredom that's specific to someone with a neurotically busy brain.  Just having a full to-do list isn't enough to solve the problem. I spent four years being the administrative assistant in a busy office in a busy school district, but once I mastered the details of the job, I was bored silly even though I was plenty busy.  (It would probably be more accurate to say I was bored bitchy than bored silly, as my kids and my poor husband will verify.)  And even unemployed, I have plenty of things to do.  It's just that my brain is bored.

So it was with a great deal of relief that I discovered when I went back to school last semester the specific kind of busy-ness that keeps me happy-- it seems to have something to do with intellectual challenge.  I was stressed and hyper-anxious about being back at school after 25 years, but I was happy.  Almost everyone I knew remarked on the change in me.

There were a variety of reasons I didn't take classes this spring (except for the writing class at our local community college).  It took about two months for the glow from last semester to wear off, and by the end of February, I was back in the dumps again.  And it was February.  Not a good combination.  The difference this time was that I knew what would solve the problem.  And once I got my acceptance into graduate school in April, I knew help was on the way.  I just needed to make it from April until September.

So I decided to try going on anti-depressants.  This definitely was not full-blown depression.  I was up and about and getting things done.  It was just a low-level cloud of gloom.  I've done anti-depressants before.  About ten years ago, when I was suffering from near-chronic migraines, the first thing the neurologist tried was Prozac.  It made me so dopey and sleepy that I couldn't stay on it-- not to mention that it didn't seem to help with the headaches.  But I know several people now who are very happy with Cymbalta, which is a newer drug that is used to treat depression, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy.  Reading about it on the internet, I discovered that although it isn't approved for migraines (which I still have several days a month), there are a lot of people who are using it (successfully) for that.  So I was intrigued.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.

But it wasn't.  I managed to stay on it for two weeks.  I had every side effect on the list:  nausea (although that was only the first three days), drowsiness during the day and insomnia at night, cottonmouth, constipation, loss of libido.  And in the second week, the headaches started--not the worst ones I've ever had, but bad enough, and completely unresponsive to the migraine meds that usually take care of my headaches.  So after two weeks, I quit taking it.  I was still on the lowest dose, and it comes in capsules, so I couldn't really wean off it, I just stopped taking it on a Monday after having spent the entire weekend with a headache that just wouldn't go away.

And of course the headaches got worse.  I knew they would--withdrawal from a drug with neurologic consequences is a no-brainer as a trigger for migraines if you are migraine prone.  If you are the Headache Queen, you know that the price you pay for any number of activities is more headaches.  By Thursday, I was up at 4:15 a.m. "casting up my accounts," as they say in regency romance novels.  I love that phrase.  It makes something icky sound just a teeny bit elegant.

So now it is another two weeks later and I seem to finally have the cymbalta all the way out of my system. But you know, here is the good part:  in spite of all the side effects, it worked.  I was sleepy and in constant need of a drink of water, but my mood was considerably improved.  Not enough to make it worth the side effects in the end, but enough that I remembered what it was like to have energy, to be interested in what was going on around me again.   And oddly, although the side effects have gone away, the improvement in my mood is hanging on.  Or maybe that is just because it is finally truly spring and the weather has been great.  Even spectacular.

So I decided to solve my problem the old-fashioned way, and I signed up to audit a month-long intensive version of the semester-long Introduction to Literary Criticism.  So starting Monday I will be doing the two-hour commute again, and I don't think I've ever looked forward to anything more.

I'm feeling bad about posting this because it sounds a little bit too much like whining.  but that's what's been going on for me lately.


1 comment:

  1. February is the worst month of the year (though around here November comes in a close second.) School is one of the best things for my moodiness, too.

    I loved the phrase "bored bitchy" -- doesn't that sum it up?

    I am really looking forward to reports on the class you are auditing.