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Quickie health thing.

Work is stressing me out, in both my day job and my tutoring positions.  The specifics aren’t really important, but I’ll say that I’m actively trying to fight discrimination from the U.S. Government in one case, and asshole-coach-who-has-to-teach-math discrimination in another.  I’m the tutor, so I’m naturally caught in the middle…that’s just the way it is.  And work is work – it’s tedious, the environment is ridiculous, and the past couple of weeks have been absolute hell as far as workload goes.

I’ve had some disturbing things happen, mentally, that I know are odd (so it’s not like I’m having issues and other people are pointing them out – I’m asking folks around me if they’re noticing stuff, and they’re essentially saying, “Well, I didn’t want to say anything, but…”), and so I was thinking of talking to my Lyme doc about possible low-dose mood stabilizers that won’t take quite so much of a toll on my liver, so that I can not continue with this emotional ridiculousness I’ve been experiencing.  I mean, even just getting my hormones straightened out could go a long way.

I’ve been glancing through some of the books he’d assigned me way back when, on cortisol poisoning (happens when you’re stressed all the time, and no one’s accused me of not being high-strung), hormonal issues (specifically, progesterone deficiency with estrogen overload), and fibromyalgia, which pretty much covers all of the above in a very general way because, well, that’s kind of how fibro works, anyway.

In light of me having been clinically diagnosed with Lyme, and having it confirmed that I’ve likely had it since the age of 14, I started thinking about a few things regarding my emotional states and what I’ve been doing to try to combat them.

I’ve been on more than 10 different mood stabilizers over the past 10 years, only to have them either flat-out not work, or have seriously horrible side-effects.  The best one I had was Cymbalta, and I’ll tell you right now, it wasn’t enough to keep me from self-injuring while I was engaged, then married, to Wasband (I have pictures as proof…they’re not something someone on mood stabilizers would do to themselves if the drugs are actually working).

Thinking about it a little deeper, I realized that right now, at this time, I’m basically only on downers (blood pressure medication, diazepam, temazepam, and the occasional lortab as far as prescriptions are concerned), and while I’m fatigued, I still always feel on-edge, like there’s something lurking around every corner.  I always feel like I’m about to be “caught” doing something, even when I’m just sitting around.  I don’t feel guilt – it’s just these physical manifestations.

That’s weird, ya’ll.  When you’re on downers, psychological paranoia/anxiety is something that can happen.  Your body physically preparing you for attack at all times?  Not so common.

So I decided, since I have the resources, to look up some empirical studies on the effectiveness of anti-depressants and other psychoactive drugs on those with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases…particularly focusing on studies of those in the late stages.

Oh, yes, they’re out there.  I found one with case study examples spanning race, age, and gender, with examples of different psychological symptoms exhibited by the patients, and what was and wasn’t effective in helping them deal with what is, essentially, a neurological side-effect of having bacteria eating your tasty brain-meat.

Because I’m female, I focused on those, and stayed away from the ones mentioning teenagers and older women, as well as those mentioning the recently-infected.  That left me with, basically, two case studies to compare myself to and see if I was just being a nutcase, or if I had something of value to bring up with my doctor.

Well, it turns out that it’s a little bit of both.  I didn’t like what I read, because I could relate to it.  And this is some Scorsese shit, too, y’all…violent thoughts and urges, emotional instability at really weird times, and feeling like I’m on some weird drug when it happens.  I have actual road rage now for the first time in years.  The commute to and from work, which is something like 10 minute, gives me fits about 3 days out of the week.  I don’t *get* that kind of road rage.  I did when I was a teenager, because I was a self-important idiot who felt personally slighted every time someone did something stupid.  Now I know that, sometimes, people are just stupid or do stupid things, I’m not exempt, and I usually just move on after a second of being like, “Okay, WTF.”

Again, it feels like a regression.  Emotionally, this time, instead of mentally.

And what I’m reading in these studies is that the treatments these folks are on for their emotional problems are the “big guns” as far as depressive disorders are concerned.  Lithium, MAOIs, Risperdal, Lamictal…basically, bipolar medication.  And why not?  I mean, the symptoms are about as textbook bi-polar as you can get.

It’s scary, though, reading that.  For lithium, you have to have regular blood tests to make sure you’re not poisoning yourself.  I’ve been on Lamictal and Risperdal, and they made my head feel like it was going to explode (and also made me slightly homicidal when I got irritated).  I don’t want to get on an MAOI because of all of the restrictions you have to make.  Look at an OTC drug some time…heh.  MAOIs are pretty much the death knell on taking most cold medications, pain meds, sleep-aids, and even blood pressure meds.  They’re serious shit.

So I’m kind of at a loss right now.  I need to go back to my regular doctor for my 3-month-hey-you’re-on-controlled-substances visit, and then go to my Lyme doc for my update on the supplements I’ve been taking and talk to him about hormone therapy, but…yeah.  This is kind of bothering me.

I know there are folks who read this who have found me through Lyme disease searches – have you personally seen or heard of anything like this?  The whole rage-out thing?  Because apparently it’s out there, and it’s an issue big enough for several people to at least research it…and not the same group of folks doing multiple papers, either.  These are independent groups.

I suppose I’m just going to keep on truckin’ until I figure this out, but it’s a little scary around here right now, which is why you haven’t been hearing much from me, even on Facebook.  I mean, how do you say, “I totally wanted to rip my co-worker’s teeth out today for absolutely no reason other than the fact that she annoyed me” without sounding like a psycho?  You can’t do it.

I’m not doing anything, to myself or others (of particular interest is to myself, since that’s been an issue in the past), so I’m good for now.  I guess I’m trying to weigh my options, because I hate going into office unprepared, and what I’m seeing isn’t encouraging.

One thing I can say without a doubt, though – Forrest has, no shit, been the one steady thing in my life.  It absolutely amazes me, given what I’ve been through, that this guy is as patient and understanding as he is, and that he “gets” it.  He’s still around.  He’s not going anywhere simply because I annoy him, somehow.  That continually trips me out, in a good way.  I’m damned lucky there.

Now, if I could get this other stuff sorted, I’d be peachy, yes?

8 comments to Quickie health thing.

  • Brenna

    Hey Bonnie. You’re an awesome researcher… do you have access to EBSCO or any of the other research article databases through your school? Just thought there might be more behind the firewalls, ya know? Anyway, since I’m curious and just finished my Women’s Health Care course, if you want to talk more specifically about your symptoms or if you don’t have access to EBSCO message me on FB or email and I’ll see what I can dig up.

  • Brenna

    Have you thought about using SNRI? (Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) My beua is on one, as am I. He is on one for depression and I am on one for anxiety (we take different ones though,Cymbalta for me and Effexor for him)
    Anyways SNRIs are not really interactive with other drugs on the market, and they may help with the depression/anxiety. The only “side effect” I have had with Cymbalta, or the Zoloft I took for a while, is dizziness. The dizziness with Zoloft was bad enough to make me switch. But I only get noticeably dizzy on the Cymbalta is if I eat too soon after taking it, but it lasts maybe 30min.
    They both help me enough that my physical symptoms are diminished and my moods don’t swing as violently. I still need Ambien every now and then to help me sleep. But overall it allows me to keep a check on how I am doing (if I am too stressed or not) and it does help me keep myself mostly in check. I am also on Bc, so when I get that sudden upsurge of estrogen like the first day I do actually feel like I am going slightly crazy. But usually if I can relax, read a book or a funny blog, it brings my stress back down and I am able to feel normal again.

    • I can’t take SNRIs…I was on Cymbalta (as I mentioned), and it didn’t do anything for me. I’ve been on SSRIs, benzos, uppers, and other, much less fun stuff. I’ve either gone batshit on it, or it’s had very little effect at all. My brain chemistry’s changed, and while Lyme’s got to have a lot to do with it, I’m willing to bet my hormones have even more. I was on Zoloft for a bit, and I actually planned a suicide for about 2 or 3 minutes before going, “Uh, wait a second…”

      My Lyme doctor had already mentioned a hormonal imbalance with me, and in speaking with my OTHER Brenna (who’s in the midst of all of that fun stuff in her role as a nurse in an OB unit), reading research papers devoted to the topics (because I’m a nerd, and WebMD is for pussies), and observing myself both personally and through the eyes of those around me, there’s a possibility of too much estrogen in my system. I nearly had a stroke on birth control pills on 3/17/10, so I can’t take them again, unless they don’t have estrogen. I can’t eat soy for the same reason. Dairy is pretty sparse in my diet, now. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, as well as I can, and it’s not working. Unfortunately, most psych drugs haven’t worked for me in the past, and I doubt that, until I get my Lyme under control (or at least my hormonal imbalance corrected), they’re not going to do much.

      You know how women sometimes go nuts right after they give birth because of all of the extra hormones surging through their bodies, because their liver can’t process them well enough? Those same women are the ones who are at higher risk for gestational diabetes. I’m at risk for garden-variety diabetes, and am showing insulin resistance. It just fits. I have to see my gyno, anyway, so I might as well see if that’s an option.

      I’m glad your stuff’s working for you – it’s a great thing when a person finds a medication that helps, and I’m a big advocate for drug therapy when it’s necessary. I’m just hoping I can find something, soon. :-)

      • Brenna

        I am actually on Cymbalta and Buspar, which is an SSRI.
        Hmmmm. Excess estrogen is a problem. Fun FYI- estrogen actually increases the number of neuronal projections, there for the number of connections in your brain. These connections have actually been shown to grow and shrink during a woman’s cycle. So when she has low estrogen she does not have as may neuronal projections. I maintain it is a form of brain damage and think it is a damn good excuse for not having to work :p
        I use Nuvaring and think it is the f&#$ing SHIT. A) no remembering a pill (which I would forget all the damn time) B) Everything is local, so the doses are lower. But I don’t have to worry about how much estrogen is in my system, since it is all where it is supposed to be. Save the stuff that escapes.
        Is it totally excess hormones or just excess estrogen?
        If there is too much estrogen I think they can use exogenous progesterone to help.
        That sucks for you. Really. I mean… pregnancy is bad enough, but you having to go through all this despite not reproducing is totally not fair. Though depending on your opinions of spawning I’m sure not having to deal with screaming baby right now is defiantly a good, good thing.

        • Buspar is a complimentary drug used for SSRI’s and SNRI’s. It’s actually classified as an anti-anxiety (sedative-hypnotic) drug. It’s used for augmenting purposes, and occasionally for sleeplessness associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (hooray for psychopharmacology courses!). Norepinephrine (the “N” in the “SNRI”) is kind of a natural opiate, which helps with pain associated with certain symptoms of depression. That’s why doctors gave Cymbalta to me for treatment of depression and the fibromyalgia symptoms. If your doctor had put you on an SNRI and an SSRI, I would be getting a second opinion, because that can be dangerous, depending on dosage levels and scheduling. (Sorry to get all med-nerd on you…I go overboard with studying stuff like that, because I’m really interested in all of the aspects of medicine when it comes to psychiatric applications.)

          I know about the estrogen/brain connection, and yeah, in the past several years, I’ve noticed that I feel like a damned moron at certain points in my cycle…most notably during my period. I also have low impulse-control during that time…so, yeah, I’m pretty sure hormonal imbalance is a big part of my problem…lol.

          The Nuvaring would be great if it didn’t have estrogen in it. I have signs of PCOS, and nearly had a stroke last March (St. Patrick’s Day, in fact) because of my birth control pills, so I can’t take any estrogen, and am actually barred from eating soy by my doctor, because it mimics estrogen in the system. :-/ I’m on blood pressure medication because of that whole deal. If I take birth control, I’m in that population that would probably die of a stroke or pulmonary embolism.

          I’m probably going to try to get on low-dose progesterone, because that’ll slow down the severity of my periods, and might even stop them. For all intents and purposes, excess estrogen is the most likely suspect. Obviously I have to have blood tests and whatnot, but I’m about 99% certain that that’s what’s going on. And you’re right – it fucking sucks. I want a hysterectomy LIKE WHOA. I don’t want kids, and my reproductive system is doing me more harm than good in pretty much every way it can; once you hit “psychiatric symptoms”, you’re pretty much in the realm of “get rid of it”, I think. I just have to get a doctor to agree with me. :-)

  • D

    I’m on Cymbalta, and sometimes I still pull my hair out (literally). That counts as self-harming, right?

    • Um, yes. It does. In fact, it’s a sign of high stress…an anxiety disorder would be more likely to manifest that way, and Cymbalta alone won’t do much for that (I found out the hard way…my legs are covered in scars from when I was with Wasband). You might need something like Paxil, honestly.