The pros and cons of antidepressants

paxil tabsA few months into our move here in 2014, I became very stressed. The uncertainty of this major adventure had overwhelmed me, so I started taking a low dose of Paxil. Surprisingly, my doctor told me nothing about the side effects and long-term problems that might occur. It took a new friend to finally inform me how detrimental that 10 mgs could be to my health. She said it can cause problems with weight gain and decreased libido.

Come to find out, it can do a LOT MORE!

paxil side effectsHere’s a list of possible side effects from Paxil: Weakness, Drowsiness, Dizziness, Nausea, Anxiety or nervousness, Dry mouth, Insomnia, Constipation or diarrhea, Increased sweating, Decreased libido, orgasmic inability or delay, Agitation or irritability, Restlessness, Impulsiveness, tremors, hyperactivity, Memory problems, Allergic reactions, Problems with balance or coordination, Confusion or Hallucinations and Racing or abnormal heart rate.

This did not include additional problems because of my history of brain injury.

Now I’m no idiot. I knew there would be side effects, but gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose back in 2011, I wasn’t expecting.

I am now in the process of cutting my dose in half. I want out of SSRI dependency. But, of course, this isn’t simple either. It turns out Paxil is one of the most difficult SSRIs to get off of without major problems. Apparently this can effect my brain’s acetylcholine production. I have learned that I need to supplement my levels of choline, lecithin and other B vitamins to lessen the effects of Paxil withdrawal.

Luckily there are dietary changes that help:

“Lecithin and choline can be found in a wide variety of foods, but many of the richest sources are foods also high in cholesterol and fat. Egg yolks are one of the best dietary sources of lecithin/choline. Other excellent sources of dietary choline are beef steak, liver, organ meat, spinach, soybeans, cauliflower, wheat germ, peanuts, and brewer’s yeast.”

I’ll let you know how this process goes for me, but in the meantime, please give some thought to the prescription drugs you are presently taking. Are they helping enough to be worth their side effects? Inform yourself about what other problems they can cause.

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Fog lifting off the Spanish Peaks this morning

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This morning I woke up to a dense fog surrounding our home, so rare around here! We received almost half an inch of rain last night.

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Only minutes later, the sun worked its way through the clouds, and the Spanish Peaks began to emerge…

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Looking west, Mount Mestas suddenly appeared with a big fat gollop of clouds on top.

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LOVE the cloud and sun show in this part of the country!

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Home Sweet Home

 

Three Years Later in Rural Colorado…

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Today we celebrate three years of living in this magnificent part of Colorado. Granted, this was not all a pleasant experience. In fact the first year and a half, from the time we decided to leave suburbia in Fort Collins until our home was completed here, were grueling. Some synonyms for grueling that describe my experience best: backbreaking, challenging, demanding, formidable, and sometimes hellacious. Building in rural areas is not for the meek, and building in mid-winter has its own challenges, but we lived through it and now we are happy as clams!

(Exactly how happy are clams anyway?)

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We moved here for a number of reasons. To live close to nature, to try passive solar living, to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives, and to find a far more peaceful, healthy and less expensive lifestyle than cities can offer us. We received so much more!

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The greatest gift for me is a sense of freedom and natural silence that I have never come close to in my previous life. I now live in the present, choosing each hour how I want to spend my day. I awaken to the birds singing with the sun pouring in, and go out to work in my fledgling garden of mostly native plants, most of which will be sunflowers blooming very soon!

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Then, if I feel like visiting friends, I drive into La Veta on county roads with wildflowers popping up everywhere. Yes, the dining choices are slim here, just one of the “conveniences” you have to give up to live in the country. Luckily I’m a great cook and prefer to eat at home most of the time.

The hardest part for me was taking the original risk. Letting go of our nice home in suburbia was not easy, especially after seeing the one hundred year old miner’s house we would have to move into in Walsenburg for over a year.

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Then there were the challenges of working with the local contractors and our builder here. Just getting them to come to work was often the biggest challenge! Here’s where we were one year into the build. But somehow it all came together and everything works today, so we have no complaints.

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I know we will face many more difficulties and much stormy weather up here, but at least we finally know where home is. For now, this is certainly where we belong…

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)Would you like to read the whole story of how we ended up here enjoying country living? Check it out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.

When Breath Becomes Air

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“No philosopher can explain the sublime better than this, standing between day and night.”                    (pg. 34 of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi)

I just finished reading this fine book, the last written words of a top neurosurgeon who died in his mid-thirties of lung cancer in March of 2015. With a recent scary cat scan of my own lungs in January, you may wonder why I chose to read this book now. I wasn’t sure myself until I read it.

First of all, Kalanithi is obviously a deep thinker, always searching for the meaning in life. In fact as I read I realized he had the opposite reaction than most of us when confronted with such a daunting diagnosis. Most become more emotional, he seemed to become more analytical. This was not my response to my own recent confrontation with death. My response was along the lines of: “Am I proud of my life?”

One aspect of Kalnithi’s story rang very true to me, the way my perception of time has changed so much since we left the city behind with all its traffic and deadlines.

“Everyone succumbs to finitude…Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.” (pg. 198)

We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.

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I am boundlessly grateful to finally understand the pleasure of living in the present.