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Sorry this is kind of long and rambling.....I've had depression since a kid, been on various different meds since about 14 yrs. old (I'm 31 now) and its changed since a teen, like before it was a very harsh debilitating 'I wish I was dead' kind of depression but now I guess it's more anxiety and restlessness than feeling really low. I got really depressed a few years ago due to stress from work, and since then decided to change careers and go back to uni. Luckily, my parents are really supportive and have helped me with uni costs etc. I just feel mentally handicapped most of the time. And it's not a self-confidence thing of me thinking I’m stupid, if that makes sense, but an actual physical problem with recalling words, getting things mixed up, poor memory. I just feel like, in comparison to my 20's when I did my first degree, my IQ has seriously declined since then. I recently completed a PGDip course in psychology, a conversion course, and I really struggled to recall things. Like we could do a lecture on something and two weeks later people might talk about it and I would be sat there feeling confused, adamant that we hadn't been taught something, then go home and review my notes only to see the stuff I had written with no memory of it. But sometimes they would talk about stuff from two weeks ago and I would remember it. It's like selective memory or something. But I've been finding that during my studies, when I talk socially, I struggle to place words, like I would begin a sentence only to stop whilst my brain is searching for the word, like it's on the tip of my tongue but I just can't verbalise it? Which of course then makes me really nervous about talking to people because they probably think I’m an idiot. I've tried like rehearsing sentences in my head before starting/joining a conversation, but obviously, when things go off on tangents my brain really struggles to improvise? Anyway, when I did my first degree I took an SSRI, I’d been on seroxat since my teens and was still on it at uni. I can remember having lots of energy, clarity of thought, almost hyper points where I would sometimes not sleep at all. I was also an exercise enthusiast and went running/cycling and gym daily. My concentration and thought/speech was fine, and I can remember almost like having a tuning fork type of concentration and really good memory recall. As I entered the workforce once finishing my degree things started to get worse again as I did an office job and spent more time sat and getting mentally tired an so into a bad habit of just going home, having dinner and going to bed. Because of this I put on a lot of weight, which I admit gets me down but, at the same time, I can be optimistic that it's something within my control to change. I'm still overweight now which I guess I can attribute some of my fatigue too. I'm also not on seroxat anymore as it stopped working for me. I went through a handful of different meds, different addons, different combinations etc and finally my psychD put me on lofepramine which is a tricyclic. That med seemed to calm the anxiety I got about work and pressures of deadlines but at the same time I felt a bit like it took away my concern for things in general. The change from work to uni with everyone being on the ball all the time and being able to remember things all the time made me realise how much I struggle with memory and word recall. My head feels foggy, but not in a depressed fatigue kind of way? I dunno how to explain it, it's like the feeling you get when you first wake up? That kind of half-awake not there feeling that disappears after a coffee, only with me it doesn't feel like it disappears. The lofepramine dosage my psychd put me on was upped to 280mg, and I recently realised that one of the reasons I over sleep and feel fatigued is partly due to the sedating quality of the drug, since then I've decided and have reduced my dosage to 210mg then 140mg to see if it would make a difference to the fatigue, foggy headed bad memory etc.
(Please, no lectures on how I shouldn't be changing my meds or how I’m not a qualified to alter my dosage. I'm been on various different AD all my life, and I'm fully aware of the interactions and also repercussions to changing my dosage. However if I can monitor my 'happiness' level and I'm in a relatively stress free environment atm to do this, then I feel it is within my purview to ‘experiment’. I’m chasing a better quality of life, and the meds are one factor which I am trying to consider as being partially responsible for that quality. Again I’m fully aware that meds take weeks/months to build up in the body to reach maximum therapeutic levels and so in reverse logic lowering a dosage may not immediately display any changes until some weeks or months may have passed. Again, I could consult my psychD, but I would have to be referred again to them, and after a year had gone by of me waiting for the stupid referral for me to explain all of this for them to nod and say ‘Yes, let’s try and reduce down and see how it goes’, I’m skipping the inevitable GP visit where they say ‘Oh we can’t deal with that dosage, we have to refer you to X NHS department which should take X amount of months.’ And I’m skipping the nodding head from the psychD and the forewarned conversation about how I might only be managing because I’m in a stress free environment and that could change depending on said environment –just…no lecture please, I’m fully informed.)
It’s only been a month on the different dosage and I honestly can't say I feel any better energy/memory wise. I mean I assumed it was the meds, because I tried taking 2 tabs at night before bed and two in the morning, and although I woke up easier, I found once I'd taken the morning 2 I got really tired and drowsy, so I know the tablets have played some role in the fatigue feeling. I exercise now more than I used to as well, and I admit the decline in that was partly due to a hip injury that would flare up if I attempted to run or cycle. That is healed now, so I've been doing more exercise, my thinking being maybe that was also partly helping my memory or something, increase blood flow etc. But, I find it really difficult to maintain, like I might start going to the gym 3x a week and running in the evening 1-2 times, and I'm fine for the first week or two but after a while the fatigue thing gets really bad, like I feel like I’m coming down with the flu or something, my throat gets sore etc. That’s another annoying thing, since being at uni again I don't think there has been a month when I haven't been sick. As in with a cold /chest infection. December 2014 and January I was really ill, at one point I was convinced I had pneumonia it was that bad. But I just pushed through and used day nurse and it kinda got better. And no I didn’t go to the dr and get antibiotics. I’ve had some really bad chest infections and been once to see a dr only to be told that I didn’t need antibiotics, I’d rather not face that condescending judgement again. Anyway, exercise wise I know it takes some time for the body to adapt, I also know I'm not a spring chicken anymore and yes I was careful to monitor diet, protein etc. I've tried different things, like cycling the exercise to have tough weeks and easy weeks etc to give my body a break but also build up some tolerance but again I get periods where I have to stop. Sometimes I get really low periods again, like very sudden no warning everything goes flat and pointless and slows down, and if I sleep the day away, then I feel better again, so I'm kind of attributing that to fatigue rather than depression. I dunno if any of that makes sense. But I guess I'm tinkering with things (meds/diet/exercise/sleep) to try and get back onto an optimal way of living. It's hard, especially when I can remember (haha remember) all the things I used to do when I was 20. The joys of getting older?
I guess out of all of that what I’m trying to ask is, does anyone feel like their IQ over the years has declined? And not due to inactivity, but due to the meds? I mean I know intelligence is something you partially acquire, and doing nothing will not improve it. But I’ve been two years in an environment where all I do is learn new things etc, and I don’t feel like my head has progressed or as I say ‘woken up’ to being back on track like before. Maybe I will never get that way again, but it’s hard to accept. It’s hard to accept that having memory problems and recall problems to the point where sentences seem to tale off into some fluffy vagueness that leaves me wondering what I was talking about, is normal? Part of me has a suspicion that the meds may have altered my brain in some way that has caused some permanent change, and now this is just ‘normal’ for me. Can anyone relate to this? Any thoughts?
(Once again, I don’t condone the changing of meds without some kind of professional intervention per se, but individual cases warrant individual choices. In this case I’m fully aware of the repercussions of med changing with no professional consultation, and anyone reading this who is new to meds or unsure, please do not stop taking your meds or change the dosage without talking to a dr or psychiatrist just because you’d read that I did this. And for those of you out there thinking ‘31 is just a baby you don’t know what you are doing’ please restrain yourself. I could go fully into my personal circumstances and life history and you’d have a better understanding that for me, 31 is just a number not an indication of my maturity, but I’ve already info dumped enough for today.)
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