I made an interesting discovery this week, one that leads me to an interesting quandary. It’s med related, of course, as are many of my quandaries. You see, I find myself in something of a catch 22. I currently take two meds, one, a standard ssri anti depressant, the other an anti anxiety/anti depressant. Lets call the first one med a, the second, med b. I’ve been taking med b at night for over two years now, as one of it’s more immediate effects is sedative and it was helping me to sleep. Initally I started at a sub therapeutic dose as I reacted so strongly to it, and that was enough to knock me out. Now, I’m at 10 times that dose, and as of two months ago, taking it at intervals during the day (1 three times daily, 2 at night). The hope was that it would help level out the extreme spikes in mood I was experiencing, as well as helping me sleep at night. Makes sense, in theory. In practice? I started to notice a pattern of extreme drowsiness at intervals during the day, perhaps not surprisingly happening each time about 30-40 minutes after taking med b. The drowsiness has been made more pronounced by circumstances, eg, if I’m in the car, I will fall asleep, and I have in fact fallen asleep at my desk on occasion. Whatever about being very dull company on the drive in and out of work, that level of dopiness at work really isn’t acceptable. If I’m at home and actively moving about, it’s less noticable.

So, I contacted the mental health nurse, and for once he got back to me. He’d spoken to my consultant, and she suggested I try not taking it during the day unless I need it and see how I go. Short answer? Fail. My mood has been getting steadily more erratic the last few days, and eventually this evening (and much to Hubby’s relief) I had to give in and take one, I was getting way too agitated and reacting too quickly everything. But again, it’s made me really sleepy.

As I see it, I’m currently faced with two choices – don’t take it, be far more alert but risk extremes of mood, principally anger/agitation, or, take it, be calmer, but far more dopey. Another factor of the dopey side is that whatever motivation I might have, it’s much, much harder to make myself do anything at all when pretty much all my body wants to do is sleep. I need to exercise to keep myself well, but when I’m sleepy it’s so much harder to make myself do it, never mind if I’m sleepy and in bad form to boot. I’m wondering does this also explain the chronic over eating that’s been going on lately – I’m struggling to stay awake, so I’m going for sugar? It’s like yet another really vicious circle – I need to exercise, eat well, and keep my mind alert, but I also need to take a drug that makes me sleepy, so I overeat to compensate, and lack the drive to exercise. This leads to weight gain, which really doesn’t sit well with me, which makes me feel bad about myself, which fuels negative thinking………..and we’re back to square one.

There was also not one, but two bars of galaxy. Bad. Bad bad bad bad bad

If you can figure out a solution to this one I’d love to hear it. Right now, I’m at a loss, and a tad sleepy, so I’m going to bed.

This article has 6 Comments

    1. Managed it a bit better over the weekend R – took two during the day instead of 3, and tried to time it so that I could either exercise or doze off afterwards! I'm seeing my consultant again Thurs week so will talk to her about it then.

  1. I'm definitely not qualified to come up with an answer rather than trying to find the balance between drowsiness and being able to go about normal life. How long do these episodes take
    Have you tried taking them before lunch and then at the 30 minutes mark go for a walk outside ?
    I know they have a room for expected mothers at our office where they can lie down for a bit, would it be worth checking if you can steal that room for a bit and have half an hour ( with alarmclock! ) of sleep see if it gets you going afterwards?

    1. The sleepiness can last for about an hour Annemiek. Nowhere at work I could use (although that sounds wonderful, you're clearly far more progressive than we are!!), I think my best option is to either time it with car journeys or try and persuade myself out for a walk. Summer has yet to show its face here so that's a little challenging!

  2. Can you change your medication to a newer anti-depressant as they tend to have less side-effects? It's something that I think you should mention to a medical professional.

    I found mindfulness and yoga helpful for mood swings personally. Have you started the DBT yet? Mindfulness is part of the core skills taught in it so that should help matters.

    I detect some "black and white thinking" in your post in relation to the comfort eating. I know it's easy to feel guilty after an episode of emotional eating and it can feel like a vicious circle. However, CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) has some helpful strategies. Instead of black and white thinking, it advises you to "think in shades of grey" i.e. to reach some form of compromise instead of veering to an extreme of "I must be perfect all the time" and realise that you're doing your best in a challenging solution.

    I have a sweet tooth too so I would suggest the following snacks which are approx 100 calories each give or take:
    -1 Alpen Light bar (70 calories)
    -1 Special K bar (99 calories)
    -1 MullerLight (usually around 99 calories but just check the pack)
    -1 Tangle Twister ice lolly, 1 Solero ice lolly
    -1 Cadbury's Freddo Frog (95 calories), 1 Dairy Milk thin bar 95 calories (not the regular sized one!!), 1 Cadbury's Curly Wurly 115 calories, 1 Cadbury's Fudge (about 100 calories..never really eat it so not sure!)

    If you get one individual sized chocolate bar/cereal bar/mullerlight, it's easier to control portion size. I looked up the Irish dietetic guidelines before and they say that you can have 1 sugary snack that's worth 100 calories per day maximum. Sugar isn't an essential food in the diet so that's why they limit it to 1 100 calorie snack.

    Otherwise, I would say plan your meals in advance and keep a food diary as this helps you to be more mindful of what you're eating in a non-punitive way.

    I would recommend discussing these issues with your therapist however these are tips that I've found useful.

    1. Thanks so much for that. As regards meds I've tried quite a few at this stage, including some newer ones, and the one that I'm on now seems to be having the best result so I'll probably stick with it.
      Black and white thinking? Absolutely, I'm wicked for it. I either *have* to exercise every day or not at all, eat 100% healthy or not at all etc etc etc. I feel like once I've broken out of the good habits, it's all gone down the toilet so there's no point in trying any more. Probably need to work on that one!! I do try to plan meals in advance, in fact I have to do make sure we all eat during the week, but I find it very hard to resist getting something extra when there's a shop so close to me. Should probably come out without money entirely!
      I like your snack list, will try and bear that in mind in future. Thanks for the support x

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