call me morbid, call me pale


I began this blog in earnest on the April 10, 2002 after a few PTSD-laced entries from a few months before. As I’ve no doubt said before, the original mandate had nothing to do with politics, pictures of cute babies or the sex lives of our dear commenters (although those have been awesome). No, it was a droningly quotidian diary of the first night I went on the antidepressant Celexa, and I swore I’d write every night for a year.

I would quantify that particular journey as a success, given that I’m now 87% functional, as opposed to the 34% functionality of those times. Come what may, I have many things to thank for my present sanity, but Celexa is a huge part of it. As I told Tessa, I’m not sure which third of the serenity prayer the drug is responsible for, but it definitely gets partial credit.

That said, the Celexa is like an old perennial flower that is finding it harder to sprout. Under no circumstances should a person on a good dose of SSRI have the kind of nervous breakdown I had in January, which, if you can believe it, I softpedaled on the blog. The truth was, I was about fifteen neurons away from just walking into the snow the way Kate Chopin walks into an ocean.

Since then, I’ve buttressed myself with work, talk therapy, exercise, some meditation and of course, distraction – but after a chat with my psychopharmacologist, we decided to make a gradual switch over to Cymbalta, an SNRI shown to be a fantastic replacement therapy for SSRIs.


go Team Duloxetine go go go!

(Some side notes: Edna, the protagonist in Kate Chopin’s novel “The Awakening”, lived in Grand Isle, Louisiana. When she walks into the ocean, she is actually walking into what would now be the most polluted shores in America thanks to the BP oilcano… thus the chemicals would kill her, rather than Victorian-era oppression. Also: “psychopharmacologist” is easily the longest word I regularly have to say. And to answer your question, yes, “Cymbalta” is a stupid name.)

Anyway, this is all to say that I’m switching off a drug that has become an intrinsic part of who I am, and as much as I trust the process, it’s still scary. I know many of you distrust all pharmacology, both the drugs themselves and the people that make them. I mostly agree with you – I still have a case of Vioxx from the dot-com days.

But I feel like I have first-hand, first-cerebellum proof that at least one of these drugs saved my life in a real way, and I have to open myself up to the fine-tuning process inherent in any slightly-mysterious discipline. In other words, if I turn into a wobbly, emotional, unpredictable fuck with meteoric mood swings, you’ll know why!

0 thoughts on “call me morbid, call me pale

  1. Anne

    Good luck with the switch. It is indeed a scary adventure to leave the tried and true for something that MAY be better. SSRI “poop-out” is a well known phenomenon among the chronically depressed and anxious set (of which I’m a charter member). I seem to have hit the jackpot when I switched from Celexa to Lexapro some year back, but in recent years my shrink has tweaked doses and added Wellbutrin and more recently a small dose of Concerta. Right now this feels like a really good mix — I’m still not panicking and can still drive on the highways, but I”m also not falling asleep midday and have weathered a difficult career event pretty well.
    “A wobbly, emotional, unpredictable fuck with meteoric mood swings” — Ian, I hate to break it to you, but only women go through menopause. ;-)

  2. Brad

    Good luck, very interested to hear how it goes. I’m on Celexa and still doing pretty good but wonder if there’s anything better or if I could possibly go without these days.

  3. Margot Carmichael Lester

    go get ’em, doll. steve switched anti-anxiety & depression cocktails last year with incredibly good results. and, thanks to his doc, the doses were just about perfect from the get-go. may you have similarly fantastic results!

  4. CM

    Good luck – Your entries bring so much joy and light to me that it’s almost paradoxical that such beautiful words and thoughts are written by someone struggling with depression, but I suppose it’s common for creativity and great writing to come from someone so complex. I hope the Cymbalta works out. We’ll be here reading the ups and downs.
    The random “Awakening” aside is very funny.

  5. Neva

    Hey Ian – been gone for almost two weeks but catching up on my xtcian reading.
    Did you consider Effexor? Cymbalta is like Effexor lite in my mind. Hopefully Cymbalta will work for you but if not, consider Effexor. I’ve seen it work miracles after SSRIs didn’t cut it. Just watch your blood pressure on those drugs.
    Maybe Cymbalta will help with your back pain too – if that’s still an issue? It has some effectiveness with chronic pain.
    Whatever happens I’ll been reading and thinking of you and here if you need anything. Good luck. The switches can be brutal.


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