Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Remeron for a Reason

I don't think I've written a whole lot about Remeron (my anti-depressant) on here. The thing goes somewhat unappreciated, maybe because there isn't anything to complain about. It doesn't give me any side effects so I mostly stopped noticing it was there. Or, maybe, my memory is simply bad enough that I've forgotten I'm on any meds anymore. But every time I manage to run out of it, I realize just how much help it is.

A neurologist several years ago put me on it because I was both depressed (had been for years) and needed extra help getting to sleep (as you all understand). I tried the generic first and it worked awesome. I felt like a new person. I was suddenly able to have hope for the future again and became usefully optimistic. I figured out how to smile. But then the side effects started- my muscles started to hurt. At first I thought I'd just pulled something, until I noticed it was happening to a bunch of muscles and would rotate around and change which ones it affected for no apparent reason. I tried staying on it but by the end of a month I was in constant pain. I felt so good otherwise that my doctor put me on the brand name instead and, just like we were hoping, it worked- no muscle pain, but all the good effects were still there.

When I got off of Xyrem a year ago, I stayed on Remeron, and I was glad I did. I didn't know how glad until the first time I ran out. I switched from the mail order system to picking it up from pharmacies because we kept moving, and with my memory you can imagine what would happen literally every month. I would get down to five tablets and start thinking I should refill it. I'd remember every night since I take it before bed, but forget by the morning. I wouldn't write myself a note until I was down to two, then finally make it to a pharmacy in the middle of nowhere, where they would have the generic or nothing at all and have to order it, and this would always happen to fall on a Friday somehow, so then I would have to wait until Monday and not take it for one or two nights.

The first time this happened, I was expecting to feel depressed. Instead, sleeping just got ten times harder. My dreams got more persistent, intense and disturbing. I did notice a drop in my mood but I was more concerned about the lack of sleep. On a good day I'm petty discombobulated, but without Remeron I get even more out of it and confused.

You would think, with such a big difference, I would learn after the first few times, but no. I keep running out. I think I've remembered twice out of the last ten or so times. I finally (now that we're settled again) switched it back to mail order, three months at a time, so it will no longer be up to my extremely efficient brain. But not in time to avoid it happening again this past weekend, of course. The first night I didn't have any, I just stayed up. My husband and I drank lots of caffeine, ate tons of cookies (Uqi's chocolate chip!!) and watched Stargate Atlantis. Between that and playing cards we managed to stay awake until around 2AM. My ploy sort of worked that night. I got up around 8 or 9 as usual so that I mostly skipped the dreaming phase that gets so much worse without Remeron.

I was feeling pretty smug (though more sleep deprived than usual) when I went to pick up my Remeron yesterday, until they told me that it hadn't come in and they couldn't get it until today. Feeling exasperated with myself for getting in this situation to begin with, I didn't try anything fancy last night, just got in bed and really wished that I hadn't.

I was looking at star charts like in Stargate SG-1 (which we started rewatching yesterday) when somebody came in with some fried chicken in a plastic bag and told me I was supposed to deliver it to this Buddhist monk. Apparently she lived at the top of this really steep hill even though we were supposedly in my extremely flat hometown. Actually it was more like a small mountain, with these crazy round boulders making it up. So I'm really hungry, climbing this weird mountain, sort of light-headed and trying to determine if a) the chicken is gluten-free and b) if it's okay to eat somebody else's lunch. I poke at the chicken and it seems GF so I try a piece. It's not tasty but it isn't poisonous either, so I keep eating it. I get up to this temple on this mountain and deliver the chicken and this monk lady is asking me all these really philosophical questions about stuff. I'm mostly just confused but sort of happy because the stuff she's talking about is interesting, but in the course of that I forget to deliver the chicken and just keep eating it. Then she sends me on my way and I'm wandering around my aunt's house seeing everything she's recently remodeled. Then a bunch of my cousins are there and we're taking my great aunt to see a newly flooded area of the city. It was clearly a highway before, but now the ocean is there, and a couple of highway bridges are acting like piers. We walk out on them, talking, and I'm telling them the whole city is going to be flooded soon.

So, this dream's not too bad, you're probably thinking. Well, then I feel pain in my mouth on the inside of my bottom lip. I get all annoyed thinking it's probably just something I accidentally bit as I was eating all the GF fried chicken. It's bleeding a lot and the blood tastes metallic like blood does. I start trying to find somewhere to spit it out because it tastes disgusting. It starts welling up more and more and gets all over my hands as I try to hold it inside my mouth. I find a dirty sink in an art class and spit the blood out into it, but it keeps coming and the texture turns really globby and clotted. The texture disgusts me even more and I just keep spitting it out, hoping it will stop. It tastes horrible and I feel nauseous.

It slows down a little, thankfully, but it tastes worse and worse, almost like rotting. In the sink, blood is mixed with old acrylic paint that many students have washed off of brushes. It makes a horrible, bloodstained rainbow.

Needless to say, I got up right away and went for the caffeine. I'm never under-appreciating my antidepressant again (until, you know, I forget about this whole thing in the next five minutes).

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