Thursday, September 11, 2008

Taking Care of Myself

When I sat down to write Wednesday's post (which I do late the night before), I was literally exhausted. In fact, I was so tired I was concerned a depressive episode might be on the horizon.

What differentiates a depression from fatigue? For me, it's having so little energy that I'm unable to take a bubble bath. It's feeling so tired that walking into the kitchen to get a glass of water feels like taking a hike. It's feeling like I have so little energy that I can't stay awake one minute longer. Since I felt like this at 9:00 p.m. and I usually don't go to bed until midnight, I was concerned.

So...I did what I needed to do to take care of myself. 1. I posted to let you know that I wouldn't be posting, but I didn't write a longer post. 2. I went to bed at 9:00 and slept until midnight, but since I knew I needed more sleep than that, I took 1/2 mg. of Ativan (which I sometimes use as a sleeping pill, although I've been off it for months). 3. Since we had painters arriving at 8:00 a.m. and I knew I needed to box up our bedroom, I awakened at 7:00 a.m. and took 10 mg. of Adderall, which I haven't taken in months.

In terms of the medication, I must tell you that while I have been off it for months, I have no trouble taking it when I feel I need to. Since my response to medication is unusual, I am able to titrate off the Adderall in one day, because I can tell when my body doesn't need it. And while I always hesitate to go back on Ativan (since it usually takes a month to begin sleeping normally again), if I need to sleep and I can't, I take it--knowing I will stop within a few days.

Before I went to bed, I had already decided that I wouldn't be going to school on Wednesday. I didn't feel well enough to play badminton, and I didn't have enough energy to drive myself to school and concentrate on music theory. Again, this wasn't a problem. I'm taking the music class on a pass/not pass basis, and I'm taking it for pleasure rather than for a degree, which I already have.

My only goal yesterday was to box up the bedroom--which I had to do because the painters are on a deadline. I felt well enough to do that. But...I rested for the remainder of the day. I worked at my desk. I chatted with a neighbor. And by the end of the day, when I felt so much better, I called a friend and we walked around the park, which is 3.2 miles.

All in all, it was a very pleasurable day. I was proud of myself for doing what I needed to...and not doing what I felt I couldn't. As I sit down to write this post, I feel like I've fully recovered and only need one more night of sound sleep to be back to normal.

These days it is very easy for me to achieve wellness; I wish it had always been so!


P.J. said...

You inspire me so much, Susan!! It's obvious that you have learned how to set your boundaries clear and stick by them.

GREAT JOB at taking care of yourself. It takes a strong and wise person to know when to take a break and when to push through. I learn so much from you.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear PJ,
Thanks for the compliment. Yes, I now find it very easy to set boundaries and follow them. But it took a long time to figure this out. You're almost 30 years younger than I am; so just think how much more you'll know when you're 58 (smiling face).


GirlBlue said...

Susan I've been feeling the exact same way of late, so tired I could barely keep my head up. Yesterday when I got home I went to sleep right away only waking up from time to time to check my daughter's home work, then forced myself awake to lock up the house and go back to sleep. I woke up feeling a lot better today but still tired.

I've been attributing it to the paxil but what if there is some other reason as well.

Gianna said...

good for you!
I'm learning the same lessons...I had to take emergency meds, as you know, (at a high dose unfortunately) and I'm almost completely off them in less than two weeks...should be off them in three days!

who said we need to be on this stuff forever?

I'm so glad you feel better...I can't wait until I'm strong enough to take a 3.2 ml hike again...before the drugs made me real sick I used to hike 3 and 4 hours a day in the mountains here where I live...I look so forward to that again!

stay healthy!

Jazz said...

I think it's great that you have so much insight into your illness and what you need to do for yourself. It's so important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you--and to follow through and do what you need to do. I know it has been a long struggle for you, but it has paid off, and maybe with your sensible use of medications when needed and making yourself slow down and take a break, you have averted an episode that could have given you days or weeks of misery. Good for you!

Nancie said...

I am so glad you are better. You truly know how to manage your condition well! I am learning much from you too. Thanks for sharing with us. I am remembering you in prayers.

Thank God I am well though swarmed with various things. Still learning to pace myself :) Thanks for your visit. Take care and hope you continue to get better and stay well.


Tamara said...


I, too, am learning what I can and can't do and when to take care of myself to prevent further sliding in the wrong direction. It isn't easy because I have spent my life fearful of displeasing others and being more concerned with what others thought I SHOULD do versus what I needed to do. I am getting there though. Good for you that you understand yourself so well and make it a priority to stay healthy!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Girlblue,
I've never taken Paxil so I don't know if being tired is a side effect. Perhaps others can speak to that.

If it were me, I'd ask myself, "Am I taking the same amount of Paxil as I did before, but do I now feel different?" If you are taking the same amount, then it probably is something else.

The question is: Would increasing the Paxil help or is the Paxil "pooping out?"

Or are there other contributing factors? Only you can answer the latter question.

Good luck. Let me know if there's any way I can help.


Wellness Writer said...

Yes, it does feel great to be able to walk for three miles and not think about it. I certainly remember other days when walking from my bed to the bathroom was all I could do.

Hope you're doing better!



Wellness Writer said...

Yes, it has been a long haul. But now that I know I can avert depressions with my wellness activities and medication when I need it, it's well worth all the pain and suffering.

Well...kind of...I guess. It sure would have been nice for one doctor to have helped in the process.


Wellness Writer said...

Glad to hear that you're learning to pace yourself. It makes all the difference.


Wellness Writer said...

Hugs back to you! It sounds like you've made great progress and continue to do so. Good for you!


Gianna said...

Paxil made me a total the point that I was so disoriented I sometimes didn't know if I was going to work or coming home from work...(on the Bart train when I was under the bay in the dark---didn't know if it was morning or evening!!)

and the tiredness was just monumental...

for some insane reason I stayed on it for much longer then I should've because my doctor said it would never did.

Wellness Writer said...

Thanks Gianna. I hope it helps Girlblue.

discoverandrecover said...


I enjoy reading your work - the way you describe thinking through things....figuring out practical ways to get things done....

The best part of this piece was hearing about your ability to achieve wellness - appears now to be part of your day-to-day life.

Good for you Susan....
You've earned it!


Wellness Writer said...

Thanks so much. You're right. Achieving wellness is part of my daily life. But I like the way you put it, and I appreciate your continued support!