Venlafaxine 300mg and Seeing the Good

I’ve been taking 300mg of Venlafaxine for a week now. A week is damn all in the context of anti-depressant medication, I know, but I’m actually feeling cautiously optimistic about it. A and I had a really good weekend; I’m not saying that most weekends are shit per se, but experiencing raw fun and pleasure is, as you can imagine, rather rare for your Not-So-Humble Narrator.

Also, last night we saw a very professional and wonderfully authentic production of King Lear. I was actually proud that I was able to go, even though on paper I would always have been keen to do so; last week I’m pretty sure it would have been impossible, and even if I could have dragged myself to it, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate for any more than about three seconds. When you’re watching an intense Shakespearean tragedy, concentration is clearly a pre-requisite, so that would have been a fucking disaster. As it was, I was actually able to both follow and even enjoy the play, which surprised and gratified me greatly.

I’ve felt fairly level over the last few days (as my Moodscope results, unscientific as they are, would appear to attest – currently they’re about 20% each day, which is much better than the standard 1% or 2%), but I (unlike NewVCB, apparently, in the context of our last appointment at least) am well aware that I have a secondary or at least differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder, type II. All anti-depressants carry with them the risk of (hypo)mania, and that presents a slight concern. It’s particularly noteworthy for me as I genuinely have no conception of what is ‘normal’ contentment/happiness, and what is psychiatric pathology; I simply do not have a proper frame of reference from before mentalism. Arguably, if you hold to the medical model at least, the mentalism was always – to a greater or lesser extent – there anyway, thus rendering a frame of reference devoid of it impossible.

I’m reminded of Freud’s old dictum about the transition from ‘hysterical misery to common unhappiness’, or whatever way it was that he put it. Let me make this clear: I am still strongly depressed, still suffering the usual intrusions of PTSD and occasional psychosis and dissociation, and am still terrified of leaving the house (particularly alone – although I went to a non-Paul appointment by myself yesterday, about which I was very pleased). Drugs don’t cure people – actually, as you know, I don’t believe that anything actually cures people – but maybe I was too quick to condemn Venlafaxine. Maybe, to use the old phrase employed by myself, both VCBs and doubtless countless others, medication can at least take the edge off the ‘hysterical misery’.

So, so far, so acceptable. In other news, I’m on a diet again and, again, am cautiously hopeful that I can stick to it. Since I’ve been taking 600mg of Seroquel, my cravings for sweet stuff have spiralled out of control. A few weeks ago I ate six bars of chocolate and three Creme fucking Eggs in one day! Unsurprisingly, I’ve gained 11 lbs since the last time I weighed myself, which was a fucking year ago (I know I have a dangerous personality, so I keep away from the scales. There’s no danger of any imminent eating disorder given my humongous size, but I don’t want to step onto a slippery slope and become obsessed with my weight). To that end, yesterday, I procured some Slimfast, and have found that the Cafe Latte flavour can (again) take the edge off my craving for such ridiculous amounts of crap. This is all weird to me, because savoury rubbish rather than sweet stuff has always been my weakness. This is why I opine that Seroquel, not just me, is to blame. Anyhow, if it fails, it fails. I’m also planning to re-quit smoking next month, but again – if I don’t, then I don’t. There’s no point in self-vituperating about it (that’s easy to fucking say, mind you…). I want to lose weight and get back off cigarettes, but if my mental illnesses don’t like that, then I am a slave to them. All I can say is that I’ll try.

For all my positivity in the last 600 words, though, there has been a lot troubling me in the last few days too – I mean, yes, the usual pervades my mind (abuse, fear, therapy, blah de blah). But it’s not just that. A lot has been afoot in parts of the mental health blogosphere of late, and it has left me feeling very disillusioned. I’ve been angry and frustrated on behalf of the personnel in question, and furthermore it left me questioning why the fuck I even write what I do here. I was actually asked this question by a third party fairly recently (respectfully, I’d add), and defended myself on the grounds that this blog is nothing more than a personal journal.

Is it though? When I sat and thought about it, I’m not really sure any more. It’s not meant to be anything more, but to my surprise it’s morphed into something more popular than I could ever have expected when I started writing it in May 2009. The thing is, sometimes I feel pressurised to write, to the extent that I get irritated by my ‘need’ to blog. This is especially true of my reviews of therapy sessions, which are by their nature very long. I mean, I could reduce them to abstracts rather than specifics, but then all the minutiae would all be lost and forgotten to time, and I don’t want that. I want all I can possibly remember here, for me, for posterity, for recollection of the healing points made, and for help in avoidance of the bad. But, perhaps paradoxically, the more I have felt under pressure to sit down and write said posts, the less I have been able to do it. My motivation, minuscule as it was in the first place, erodes completely. I find excuses to avoid writing. I feel anxiety rising from the pit of my stomach – not because of the content I wish to record, but because of the recording itself. It’s pathetic, I know.

What all this culminated in was this: I wrote two posts that I haven’t published. Both declared that I was taking a (possibly lengthy) break from writing here (at least publicly); one entry was bitter and angry, one more measured and considered. I sought advice from another blogger and from A, and decided to wait before I published either.

Cue today. I went out the back to smoke and sat down and just thought about it for a long while. For all the negative sides to it, and for all the unpleasantness of the last few weeks in parts of the Madosphere, I think I have done something worthwhile in writing this blog. For myself. If it is somehow worthwhile for others as ‘entertainment’, a form of advocacy or whatever, then that is a very beneficial side effect – but with no disrespect intended at all, I don’t write it for you. The blog is public merely because I value feedback, support or advice for myself, but if commentators/readers derive catharsis from it, then that’s an excellent and gratifying incidental.

So I will not be taking any sort of extended break. I’m not sure how I’ll catch up on all the psychotherapy stuff, but I’ll work it out sooner or later.

To be clear, if people don’t like the realities they read in the mental health blogs out there (regardless of who the author may be), then – as I’ve said a million times before – then DON’T FUCKING READ the mental health blogs out there. Just click the ‘x’ on the top right (a variable location if you’re a Linux user, that said), and go the fuck away. S.I.M.P.L.E.

Otherwise, readers, Twitter friends, etc, you do (I hope) know that I value you all very, very deeply. Without social media, and without this blog, I wouldn’t have made so many wonderful, gentle, kind, genuine and supportive people – in fact, not just ‘people’, but ‘friends‘ – and for me that actuality easily trumps the negatives associated with what I do here. Thank you all for continuing to follow the life and times of Yours Truly, and for all your amazing encouragement, friendship and kinship.

Onwards and upwards.

30 thoughts on “Venlafaxine 300mg and Seeing the Good

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  2. I’m glad you’re not going to stop blogging. I find your blog very helpful and enlightening and amuseing at times. It’s helped me think my shit through too. I don’t know where you get the energy from to blog so often. I’m really lazy about blogging myself.

    I’m glad the increase in the venlafaxine is working so far – you deserve to be better and weller then you are so there.

    Take care of yourslef and hugs xxxxxxxx

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  4. Glad you’re not stopping blogging and that the Venlafaxine seems to be working somewhat. I think it would be a great shame if the Madosphere continues to lose some of its better bloggers.

  5. So glad you decided against taking a break! I honestly find your blog (granted i have only recently started to read) completely fascinating. You write SO well and i think alot of people, including myself, benefit from your words.
    Steph xx

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  8. What is normal? Hmm, I wonder that myself to be honest, the closest I’ve come is ‘anything that isn’t a problem’. Yeah, not the best answer but I’ve learned from experience, both good and bad, what is a problem for me. Not overly helpful but it’s the best I can do, I think you know yourself well enough to know when things are going too far, what you want to do about it is up to you though.

    The internet is a marvellous tool, and it seems that a quarter of it is dedicated to people wanting to bitch about the other quarter who put content on (the remaining half is porn which I think says an incredible amount about humanity). My own blog is not a patch on yours but for me it’s more about writing things which would only be banging around in my head unless I got them out so it’s more a method of catharsis than anything else. There are a couple who find it interesting enough to venture back but that’s by the by. I think despite all the trials you’ve had, you’ve hit upon the real reason why you write this blog, it’s for you, maybe so you know you’re not alone in this venture, only you can tell. It’s never about writing for other people, lets face it, we’re not getting paid for this so why treat it like a job?

    Hmm, I feel I’m getting bogged down a little here, why use one word when a thousand will do seems to be my way. Anyway, yes we, your loyal readers, do want to hear about all these things you’re going through, but we can wait. And like you say, if someone reads it but doesn’t like it? Well, just like watching something you don’t like on TV, they can change the channel as sitting there bitching about it seems to me to be more a sign of insanity than anything I’ve read on the madosphere.

  9. Sooo glad you have decided to keep writing your blog. As I’ve said before, you are great at what you do. Writing the blog is such an achievement for one as depressed as yourself. You know only too well as do I how difficult it is to do anything sometimes when depressed. So maybe this is your purpose at the moment, to write down your thoughts whether for yourself or for others.
    Good luck with the meds.
    Ashley xxx

  10. thank fuck for that. Not been a twitter-head I’ve been mooching past your site like a lovestruck teenager for updates. *Congratulations* on being able to cope with Lear…. (the paradox- one more catch-22 for the mentals- we need the example of Lear to illuminate the path but can’t experience it until back in the light)

    I fully support writing for yourself, and screw every cunt who thinks it should be otherwise. It means there is a lot of absolute shite online, but the variety of genuine expression -particularly when it’s *good*- means that however alone you feel there is always someone in the same situation. If I manage to survive, it’ll be because of this site, both what you write/experience/deal with, and the ‘host’ it creates for others’s (blogs, comments, etc). Does that mean you owe me the privilege of writing regularly? Fuck no. Does that mean I owe you for the privilege of reading? weeeelll- I can see that at the end of your journey there could well be a book, and meanwhile I feel profoundly grateful for the technology and the fact some precious soul I’d never have come across otherwise has miracled onto my path. you rock.

  11. I find your blog posts put into words what I struggle to articulate at times, and your therapy posts lift the lid on a difficult journey (one I also began today). Your indepth knowledge of many topics and gripping writing style also appeals! However, I and the majority of readers I think, realise this is your journey and you have no obligation to share it publicly. I am grateful you have. I hope you continue to do what you want to and would not judge you either way. People blog (and stop) for different reasons after all.
    Take care of yourself.

    • What mrsp said–you provide each of us the knowledge that we are not alone in what we struggle with, and your way of dealing with your madosphere may give some of us a new idea to try, in order to have some semblance of therapy.

  12. Gah, yeah that was pleasant, huh.
    Glad you’re feeling a bit better, and also that you’re not going to stop blogging.

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  14. As others have said already, you don’t owe anyone anything- so if you _do_ need a break, please take it. That said, really glad that you don’t feel you have to right now. This blog is insightful, funny and very well-written- I agree with the commenter above that a book should be on the cards some time!- and the blogosphere would be a lesser place without it. But _you_ come first Pan.

    I’m glad the new meds seem to be helping and hope they continue to so.

    Best wishes
    Kate

  15. I don’t understand why people read blogs just to say hurtful things, or when they clearly dislike the way in which the person writes. Obviously I have experienced that a lot in the last few weeks, and it has made me stop blogging, and has actually had a detrimental effect on my mental health generally, as I am now even more paranoid and mistrustful of people than I was before. People I thought I could trust have clearly been bitching about what I write behind my back, and then I have had very hurtful anonymous comments (particularly the one saying I give BPD a bad name) and obviously have no idea who it is from, but makes me think it could be absolutely anyone, which means there are very few people left who I trust, whereas until a few weeks ago I had always felt very safe writing on my blog, and in the madosphere generally. I am so angry with myself for letting comments from a few people upset me so much, but I can’t help wondering how many others agree with them, and that is what has made me so paranoid I think. Hopefully when I am feeling less vulnerable I will be able to get my blog running properly again, but people seem to like to attack you when you are least able to cope with it if my experiences are anything to go by. I am glad that you are continuing to blog – the madosphere wouldn’t be the same without you. xx

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  17. I agree that if someone doesn’t like what someone is writing on their blog, they are under no obligation to read and would do better to refrain from commenting. The Madosphere can be such a supportive community so it’s sad when something happens to diminish it a bit.

    Glad to hear the venlafaxine is having a positive effect on your depression. x

  18. Seroquel was responsible for my son’s weight gain & progression to diabestes II. He had little control over his craving for carbs & fats. I think it is much less you and much more Seroquel at fault. It happens A LOT on that med.

    About Shakespeare: see neither Richard III or Othello is a depressed state–it will only make you feel worse, as there is no chance at anything other than a miserable outcome. You could say the same about Hamlet, I suppose, but it didn’t hit me the same way as those other two, which I did see live at a well-respected Shakespeare festival here in California.

    You said:
    All anti-depressants carry with them the risk of (hypo)mania, and that presents a slight concern. It’s particularly noteworthy for me as I genuinely have no conception of what is ‘normal’ contentment/happiness, and what is psychiatric pathology; I simply do not have a proper frame of reference from before mentalism.

    This an entry from October 2010, in my LiveJournal–it finally gave me a way to tell people what depression feels like from inside. I too am not sure what is ‘real’ appy, and what is hypomania:

    http://honeyandollie.com/2010/10/06/this-is-what-depression-looks-like/

    We seem to look at it the same way. One paragraph stood out for me:

    “I would rather not wonder, when I realize that I’m feeling happy, if I’m starting on a hypomanic swing. I’d just like to take happy for what it is. I’d like to trust feeling happy. But here’s the truth. I have to manage being happy. I will never be able to trust being happy, not entirely.”

    My hypomanias last a few hours at best, anymore–not that they were ever long-lived. If I realize I must be in one, it disappears instantly!

    But that paragraph she wrote–-it’s exactly what I feel. Why do I have to distrust any happy feeling–and forget *joy*? While the meds were not quite right, I lamented that I would have to face devastating depressions for the rest of my life, making me wonder why I bothered. I still *don’t* know why I bother, but at this moment, I have no feeling for a shortened life.

    I have had weeks of days where the only reason for getting out of bed was to use the toilet–eating sometimes exercised no hold on me. For an insomniac to sleep abnormally long hours–it’s lovely, and I had no impetus to curtail it.

    I tend to deal with emotional, rather than physical-energy, spoons, although one will bleed into the other.

    Do, indeed, as most others have said, write this journal for YOUR needs. Some of us will benefit from your experience, as well as wish to help you.

    Marina

  19. I love the Madosphere, and it’s so sad and makes me so fucking angry when people comment with derogatory comments that hurt my friends. I’m so glad you’re not giving up blogging, this place just wouldn’t be the same without you!

    Also, so gratified to hear you’re feeling a bit better and are able to enjoy things again. I know you’re an atheist, but you’re in my thoughts and prayers often. You’re in for a massive chin-wag next time I see you!

  20. i’m so glad you’re going to keep writing, please please please don’t make your posts any shorter, you write fantastically and you write as much as needs to be written!
    X

  21. i know what you mean when it comes to sweet things. i know this all too well myself realising now weigh my heaviest ever of 18stone. I have just joined the gym and my doctor has no idea why im so heavy because i dance ALOT. so if i dont lose the weight with daily visits to the gym somethings telling me for me to be thin its gonna take hacking off body parts!

  22. what has been going on in the blogging world to frustrate you pan? (if you don’t mind me asking)

    Whatever the case very glad you’re going to remain around, writers like you are ten a penny.

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  24. Selfishly glad you’re not taking time off, Pan. It makes me feel less alone to read a blog that resonates with me so much (especially one this well written). (But if you ever really need time off, we’ll understand.)

  25. Oh, and Venlafaxine was the med I was when I got serious about treatment back in 1998. It was Effexor XR back than, not generic. Went up to 300mg. Didn’t feel like it did much. Added lithium a year or two later. Now, 150mg venlafaxine is part of my 5-med cocktail. Tried to get off it last summer, with disastrous results.

  26. That’s a remarkably quick improvement on an antidepressant; be careful about the old hypomania I’ve had antidepressant induced mania or hypomania (it was never diagnosed at the time) and I crashed pretty bad… what am I saying I crashed REALLY BAD still on the antidepressant, continued with it for a month into the crash, believing I needed it for my depression… I’m not trying to put the frightners on you just saying if you know you might be bipolar, please be careful.

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