(I’ve been fidgeting with my About page and widget per assignments on ‘zerotohero’ but today I’m going to blog from my heart.)
As Life has firmly established for me, I struggle with my head. My mother tells me that I started crying when I was two. By this she means that I cried about everything: “It’s too loud”, “It’s too bright”, “They’re looking at me”, etc. I distinctly remember hiding under the kitchen table at mealtimes because it was all just too much. I’m sure I was a fun, fun child. *snort* Although I loved learning, school was a tremendous challenge for me; If I could not bear my own family around the kitchen table, how do you think I handled being in a classroom of twenty+ children? I lived for lunchtime. At lunch, because we were three houses down from the school, I got to go home. Blissful interlude to regather myself and gain strength to go back and face all the stress.
I remember the intensity of distress mitigating itself somewhat during puberty. I was not in so much visible distress, but I was aware that I did not feel the depth of happy emotions that other people did while I was keenly affected by sadness. I would deliberately listen to sad music to make myself cry in a sort of cathartic process.
Things were generally better by the time I went away to college. Until I started having panic attacks. The school psychologist suggested that the reason I was having these attacks was because I was not making a decision about something–how she knew this I do not know–and I should make the decision and everything would resolve. Well, yes and no. I made the decision, ended up pregnant, destroyed my relationship with my family, had a late term miscarriage and my first major depressive episode as an adult.
Major depression came and went, homeopathic and herbal remedies were tried and tossed, pharmaceuticals were introduced and thus began a 13 year journey on a succession of drugs which blunted all my emotions but at least I could function instead of sitting on the couch crying or banging my head against the wall behind the locked bathroom door just wishing that I could be dead so I didn’t have to feel this way anymore.
I spent most of 2012 weaning myself off of Paxil and was ‘clean’ for two months before I could not stand it anymore. Now, this is a point of debate with doctors: Was that a relapse or was that a result of discontinuation or something else? The best answer is this: I never in my life felt like I felt after I came off Paxil. The sheer insanity of it was astonishing. I know depression. I know anxiety. I know panic. We are intimate acquaintances, we three. This was something else. This was horrific. This, I now know, is Primary Discontinuation Syndrome.
Adding insult to injury, studies now show that the gap between neurons and their receptors widens during anti-depressant use. Essentially, Beforehand your feel-good chemicals had to jump two inches to reach their receptors, now they have to jump a foot. They might not make it. So the situation in your brain is worse than when you began. How do you fix that?
Enter “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross. I cannot tell you how much this book helped me to understand my whole life. She describes your brain as being run by four distinct ‘engines’. Each ‘engine’ runs on a different ‘fuel’. If you do not have enough of the needed fuel then your engine will not run properly. To determine which fuel you lack, you take some questionnaires. I recognized myself repeatedly and unexpectedly. It was almost as if she had been peeking at even my unspoken thoughts. How could she know that?! The long and the short of it is that I have never had very good fuel levels. I was honestly just born that way. But that can be fixed. I can use amino acids to build those levels and fix the actual cause of the problem.
For me, personally, I have what she calls ‘sleeping cats.’
There are three kinds of catecholamines: dopamine, norepinephrine, and the best known of the trio, adrenaline…I’m going to call them collectively the “cats.”
Your sparkle-the feeling of zest and excitement that may be missing from your life-is derived from this trio of supercharged brain chemicals. All three cats can arouse and excite you emotionally, mentally, and physically if they’re working up to speed…
If you’re low in the cat department, though, you many not react strongly to anything…
Whole classes of antidepressant medications have been designed to try to mimic or amplify the cats’ activities in the brain-notably, the popular Wellbutrin (or Zyban), the older tricyclics and MAO inhibitors, and simple uppers like Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin. Even some of the serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac and Zoloft, whose primary job is to enhance serotonin’s calming influence, also have cat-stimulating effects….
At our clinic, we’ve had much better results using nutrients to boost cat levels. One amino acid in particular has worked wonders in helping our clients recover their natural vivacity and focus. It’s called “tyrosine.”
Ah, blessed tyrosine. It has saved my life, especially while stopping my Paxil. Normally I would be in the throes of PDS (see above chart) but I am actually better than ever. No fuss, no muss. Some tyrosine, some GABA, a little 5-HTP at dinner and bedtime and I am a new person.
If you suffer from any sort of Mood Problem, I strongly recommend this book. Not often that I say something is a Life Saver, but I am not exaggerating when I apply that label to this book.