Tag Archives: chronic illness

Prozac and Me

Depression and anxiety are like asthma; if you try to ignore them, you will have an attack.Today I took the plunge: I went for a physical at my regular doctor’s office and asked her about medication for depression and anxiety.

Whew.

Just admitting that is hard.

I don’t even know why, honestly. I’ve been an advocate for people with mental illnesses for years. I used to run a pen pal support group for people with depression. I don’t look at anyone I know who is on medication or in therapy any differently. It’s just me that I’m hard on.

Taking that first step was hard; picking up the phone and calling my doctor in the first place. I had an even harder time scheduling my first therapy appointment back in January, and making myself go. Stubbornness runs in my family, but it’s more than that. When you have depression or anxiety, your brain will try to trick you. “Everything is fine, man,” your brain says. “You don’t have to go. It’ll be different this time.”

I know better now.

So, I went.

Depression and anxiety are like asthma: if you try to ignore them, they will get very bad, and you will have an attack and get sick; if you stay on top of them, take your medication, and go to therapy when needed, you’ll cut down your chances of having an attack. I wanted to take care of it before it got any worse. Things haven’t exactly been easy these last few months. Even before losing my friend and my job, I was struggling. Depression has long been a part of my life.

My doctor said it could take 2-3 weeks for me to notice a difference on the Prozac—and we started me on 10mg a day, so it might take even longer. (I tend to react strongly to medication, so starting on the low side is always a safe bet with me.) :P I’ll be seeing her in two and a half weeks to determine how it’s working and whether we need to bump it up.

I’m glad I went, even though it wasn’t easy telling a stranger that I need medication. I was afraid of being judged. Instead, she was super understanding and supportive. The only person judging me is me.

Have you ever been on Prozac? Did you notice any side effects? In the past, I’ve tried Zoloft, Seroquel, Elavil, and Cymbalta. I didn’t have good luck with any of them. (For example, Zoloft made me feel nothing and Cymbalta made me stay awake for three days straight.) Leave a comment or shoot me an email. This is a judgment-free zone. :)

Creating a Writing Lifestyle | Managing Health

I’ve been having a hard time accepting that I am sick and will never get better. After six years of seeing various specialists, my current rheumatologist has determined that I am probably in the early stages of Lupus. I’ve focused so much on finding out “what,” I never really spent much time grieving my old life. Lately, I’ve been really frustrated that it takes all of my energy just to get through a five-hour shift at work, and that it takes about a half hour for me to get out of bed in the morning. While trying to reach my daily word count goals and manage some promotion, I struggle with things like joint pain, fatigue, GI issues, and Lupus fog, for starters.

But, writing is not only what I do—it’s also who I am. I made the decision in October 2011 to be a professional writer: make a living off my fiction, and continue to improve my skills. This means that every day, no matter how I feel, I have to do something to move forward. Luckily, writing is not a fast-paced career like, say, working in retail is. I can take breaks when I need to. It’s not physically hard at all to prop myself up in my chair with pillows. It is, however, mentally draining, especially on days when I’m already at low energy.

Coffee helps, and Emergen-C gives me a boost of B vitamins. The most important thing, though, is knowing when to work and when to rest. It sounds easy, but it isn’t when you have a chronic illness. When you have a cold, you can push yourself because you know in about a week, it’ll be gone anyway. I never know how long a flareup is going to last. Pushing myself one day can cost me dearly for an entire week. I now have to measure my every move.

Sometimes, I’m not sure how I do it. There are nights when simply reading through a manuscript is too exhausting. Trying to juggle my part-time “day job” at the department store, my chronic illness, and my writing career often feels overwhelming, but simultaneously motivates me. I may not be able to change how I feel, but I can control what I make of it. I don’t want to be the sick girl who can’t work. Because writing is something I love and am good at, I’ve turned my illness into a sort of game: become a full-time author so that I don’t have to worry about struggling to keep a regular job. Building my writing career also means improving my quality of life.

To my surprise, Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She talks about utilizing her best time of day, the morning, to get her writing done. A documentary about Ida Kolader, a young woman living with Lupus, looks at how life is “twenty percent what happens to you, and eighty percent how you deal with it.” I’ve decided that my writing is my eighty percent.

What’s your eighty percent? Do you have a chronic illness? How do you balance your writing career with your health?

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Creating a Writing Lifestyle
Part I: Getting Disciplined

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Next Time: How my responsibilities impact my writing career, and how I make it all work.