Wandering Through The Haze

The last couple weeks have been a confusing time for me. I have found myself in somewhat unfamiliar territory emotionally and physically. About three weeks ago I made a casual observation that my mind had become somewhat muddied. My cognitive processes seemed much slower and my memory had gone to pot. I was having a great deal of trouble recalling names from the previous chapters of my life, and I couldn’t seem to remember to do anything. Theses memory problems were most troublesome because I work as a salesman and forgetfulness is bad for business, but as time passed they worried me a little more.

Along with the mental cloudiness my temper was getting much shorter and as time passed my wife and I barely spoke without ending up making some sort of short, frustrated, and angry comment toward each other. About a week ago I began to notice I was doing things that made no sense, like forgetting steps of repetitive tasks I have completed thousands of times, and was becoming distrustful of myself which in turn was causing a marked increase in my anxiety levels. I had just come to the realization that I was beginning to slide downhill quickly when this weekend the tension with my wife exploded into a real open argument. She basically asked me what the hell was going on that I was repeatedly doing things that made no sense, or failing to do things that were obvious. It seems the greatest source of frustration on her part was that I had turned into a complete idiot.

The only other time I recall having these types of memory problems was right after my son was born. The sleep deprivation affected my memory, and I had a lot of problems with work until I figured out a system to deal with it. In time a slept again and the problem passed. I was never unduly angry in those days and I don’t remember feeling like I was in mental molasses I just forgot everything that happened in the course of a day. This time around my mind doesn’t feel quite right most of the day. I can’t focus and I forget things I am supposed to do moments after I am told I need to do it. I have always been a little absent minded, but of late it is becoming a safety hazard. You certainly don’t want me to be operating any heavy machinery, but my job requires me to drive the roads every day.

Over the past few days I have browsed through the ever dangerous WebMD reviewing the symptoms of depression, Chronic fatigue Syndrome, and whatever else sounds good. This can be counterproductive exercise and as my wife correctly points out, if I try hard enough I can make myself fit any of the criteria. It reminds me of taking Psych 101 in college. When we got to the chapters on actual psychological disorders the professor warned us that we would all think we had undiagnosed mental problems before it was over. It seems everybody has a few of those symptoms at some point along the way it becomes more a matter of severity. I have written before that WebMD is a hypochondriac’s best friend.

I had my last medication management appointment two weeks ago which was just before I started to become aware of the depth of my forgetfulness. I did talk to him about still having some problems sleeping and being slightly more anxious than I would like to be. The sleep problems are better than when they first started in July, but it can still take me 45 – 90 minutes to fall asleep. The average is about an hour. I have also begun to have a little trouble staying asleep waking up two or three times each night. I would say on average I have had 5 – 6 hours of sleep a night for the last four months. Some nights have been less some nights more. I have always needed about eight hours of sleep to remain functional and it appears that the prolonged lack of adequate sleep has begun to take its toll. The slow creep of the fatigue seems to have snuck up on me a bit so I didn’t feel it coming.

The question I ask myself now is why am I not sleeping properly? Back in the summer it was clearly anxiety driven, but that explanation doesn’t really make a lot of sense now unless I have become so numb that I hardly feel it anymore. Am I depressed? I don’t feel sad, but I also don’t seem to give two shits about a lot of things that I really enjoy. I have chalked it up to lack of energy, but that takes you back down the path toward depression. When you add it all up, anger, insomnia, loss of interest, and then put it the context of my history it sure sounds like it could be, but I don’t feel a great deal of sadness. If this is depression it has been disturbingly insidious in its arrival.

When I was talking to the doc a couple weeks back I asked him about SSRI medications. Most folks who will read this are aware of my distaste for these medications. I find the sexual side effects intolerable. I have only ever taken Celexa and Lexapro as they are supposed to cause the least incidents of these side effects. I asked the doc if there was any chance that one of the other medications would not lead to the sexual dysfunction. I was surprised at his answer. He indicated that the wider allowable dosing schedule for Zoloft would allow him to start with much lower effective doses and it was possible that we could use the medication to augment the Wellbutrin without getting to doses high enough to trigger side effects. Of course the only way to know would be to try and there are no guarantees, but he seemed to think it was worth a shot.

So it appears I have a decision to make. Of course I have allowed myself to reach the point where decision making is difficult. It is hard to muddle through the pro and cons when your brain is moving so slowly through a fog. I keep thinking if I could just get some rest things would be ok, but that rest never seems to come. I am taking a few days off in a couple weeks, maybe I can get some rest then, and come to some sort of intelligent decision.

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8 thoughts on “Wandering Through The Haze

  1. Hmmm…there are always the tricyclics. Like Elavil. I say this because you can take them at night. They aid in sleep, and they also deal with depression issues. Also? The brain fog? Yep. It deals with that, too. I was DXed with Fibromyalgia (J’accuse, Dr. H!!) because I had the symptoms that you describe. My brain turned to pea soup, I could NOT sleep, I had awful fatigue, plus weird aches specifically in my ribs that would NOT go away. But, the brain fog was the worst. All symptoms of FM. My neuro put me on Elavil–a tricyclic antidepressant. No sexual side effects for that one (as if….I already have one very big sexual…uh… side effect.) Anyway, it started working right away. So…it’s worth reading about. It’s an old, well-researched drug. Keep in mind, docs have their faves. They are not pharmacologists.

    • It is so true that the docs have there favorite or “go to” chemical solutions. Sometimes I wonder how much their blinders are affecting my ability to succeed in this battle. He is not a great fan of the tricyclics, but he will defer to me if I push him on the issue. I guess it falls to me to do the research. I am finding myself in a place where the energy for such reading and decision making is hard to come by. When the afternoon comes and I have a little time I am looking for mindless diversion not life decisions. I was reading about FM and I dont think it describes me. I often have joint pain that makes no sense, but its not day after day persistent. I think my problem is straight up fatigue. i just need to get to the bottom of the insomnia.

      • Well, my daughter’s doc was throwing around the idea of tricyclics. I was a little surprised. And then another doc didn’t like that she was taking Lamictal. Everyone has an idea. What I can tell you is that the tricyclics help with sleep. That’s what they are used for most commonly, AND if they help with the depression–all the better. With no sexual side effects? What they hey, do some reading. My FM is not constant. It’s largely brought on my seasonal changes and stress. Fall is the worst time for me. Joint pain in the rib cage…that’s where I’ll feel it. It’s the rapid nerve firing that gets me–I can actually feel the clothes hanging on my body which is WEIRD!!!! As for stress? If one more person tells me to manage my stress, I’ll become a member of the NRA and become an employee of the post office. ACK!

      • Oh yes… I think I have written something on here before about the catchall “get a little for exercise and keep your stress down”. So much easier said than done. I wonder if it ever occurs to them that if I was that adept at managing stress, or even had manageable stress, I might not be talking to them.

  2. You’re right. The worst part about trying to make a decision on meds for your mental health is that your brain is not working properly…hence the need for meds! What a catch 22. In those times I always rely on my family and support team for clear thinking.thinking

    • Psychotropic medications have been one big catch-22 for me since the very beginning. Oh how I hate them, but I also cant seem to get on without them. I have never really found the right mix. One begins to wonder it the right mix is out there, and finding it, or advocating for it, when you cant push your mind through the fog is hard work.

  3. I totally understand your questions and apprehension about medications. Unfortunately for many of us with the diagnosis of depression we must succumb to SSRI’s — which I hate as much as you for their sexual side effects. Women and men can agree that that part of treatment really sucks. Do what you must to feel better.
    Good luck with your decision making! — Daylily

    • I have spoken to very few people that dont experience these side effects. I really think the percentages in the literature are way too low. It is painful to have to make these choices. Something is always lost.

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