Topamax


At the age of 14 I sunk into a deep, deep depression. So deep that I could not see a way out. So deep that while I never contemplated suicide, I kept it in my back pocket as a last resort. So deep that I spent two full months in a psychiatric unit of a hospital because there was no other option.

In the 22 years since then, I have battled the occasional emotional ups-and-downs, the funks, and I’ve even had to go back on anti-depressants a couple of times, but nothing even close to what I experienced back then. The last bout was back in 2001. I went to see a psychologist and ended up on Paxil. They both helped tremendously and for the first time in my life I felt like I’d conquered the depression and anxiety.

Until last week.

It’s back. I thought it was a funk. It’s not. I know the difference. With a funk, I can see the end of it – I know it’s temporary. I can feel it. This feels so different. I’m starting to pull away from everyone and everything.

I don’t want to go on and on about it because I know what I need to do. I already made an appointment. I hope to avoid medication this time mainly because I think I might have to stop taking my Topamax. Too many meds messing up my brain.

I hate this. I hate this more than anything else in my life. I hate it more than migraines. I can feel myself slipping and sinking each day. Each minute. It hurts. I looked at Griffin this evening and I told him how sorry I was. I was sorry for passing on my fucked up genes to him (god how I hope he never has to know what depression feels like). I was sorry that I wasn’t doing all the things I should be doing with him (guilt, guilt, guilt). If I don’t get better for myself, I need to get better for him.

So, there you have it. A deep, dark secret and a big confession all on a late Saturday night. What more could you ask for?

I am in love with words. I write for a living and I hope to continue to write for a living – whether that is writing grants or a novel. I love talking and I love finding the right words. Sometimes I can’t even finish telling a story if I don’t find just the right word to complete my thoughts. And yes, it is just as annoying of a habit as it sounds. Words are what ground me in my crazy world. They are what calm me down. They are what make me feel alive. When I was a little girl and would see a sunset or sunrise, or a full moon high in the sky, I would always say the same thing, “If I could paint, I would paint that.” I am not an artist, but I can paint with words. Beautiful watercolors. I feel like that is slipping away from me and I am scared.

I met with my neurologist on Monday and we determined that while it is still too early to tell if the Topamax is working, I will stay on it for another few months to see if it eventually will decrease the number of migraines I get each month. Unfortunately, he isn’t able to increase my dosage because I already am suffering from some “language deficits.”

Language deficits is a nice way to say that last week I could not remember my own phone number. Well, I knew the first four numbers, and technically, I knew the last three, but did not know what order they went in. And the real kick in the pants? On Monday, while I knew Griffin’s middle name, for the life of me, I could not spell it. I had to write it on a piece of paper a couple of times before I got it right. Sometimes I am at a loss for words – literally. I confuse words. I say “feathers” when I mean “fabric.” I say “curl” when I want to say “turn.” I stop in mid-sentence because I completely blank on what I am trying to say. I stumble and stutter. It’s strange because I can feel my brain slowing down. My mouth is going as fast as it always has, but my brain is putting on the brakes. Sometimes words come out of my mouth and I can’t stop them – they just don’t make sense. They might sound similar (like curl and turn) or start with the same letter, but they don’t make sense within the context of the sentence. It’s frustrating and I’m becoming so aware of it that I’m paranoid when I have to talk to people outside of my family and friends. Can they tell, or is it just me? I’ve described it two different ways. One is that my mental dictionary is shrinking. The other is that the medicine has taken away my ability to small talk and engage in witty banter and has revealed a layer of stupidity. Seriously. My writing seems to be fine. But verbally? I’m shrinking.

I am in the process of detoxing from all of my migraine medications. Everything except Topamax. And in case you’re wondering…this was not my decision. I’m not that stupid.

I called my doctor on Friday because I had a horrible migraine and I didn’t know what else I should do. I’d taken the maximum dose of Relpax and I’d already taken an Excedrin. He had already denied my request for a refill for my painkillers. So I’m forced to leave a message on his answering machine where I probably sounded like a desperate drug addict looking to score. Now that I think about it, I was. But I digress. His nurse called back within a couple of hours and told me that I was most likely suffering from rebound headaches and I needed to increase my Topamax and stop everything else. I can’t even take Excedrin. I seriously started to sweat when she told me this. Since I had Griffin, I’ve been taking Excedrin EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Like, I should have bought stock in that company. I only did that because the migraines were so bad after he was born that I had to devise my own little system for rationing my medication. I knew my insurance would only give me so many Relpax in so many days and I knew my doctor would only give me so many painkillers in so many days and so on. So I supplemented everything with Excedrin.

So I’m currently detoxing and it sucks. Big time. I was supposed to start yesterday, but Patrick and Duncan had baseball tryouts all day and I was supposed to be alone with Griffin. I woke up at 3:30 AM with a horrible migraine. When I woke up again at 7 AM, it was worse. I tried taking a nap at 9 AM and woke up an hour later and couldn’t open my eyes. That’s when I decided to take a Relpax and start over on Sunday. Don’t judge me…you don’t know the pain.

So today is officially day one. It still sucks.

Paresthesia. Pins and needles. Numbness. Tingling. Whatever you want to call it, it’s happening to me. I noticed it in my hands while I was driving to work this morning. To me it feels like that very final stage of pins and needles, when everything starts to come back to life and it feels all light and tingly. When I’m working or moving my hands I don’t really notice it, but when I stop, I can definitely feel the tingling. It’s weird to close my eyes and suddenly be aware of a part of my body that I wouldn’t otherwise feel. It’s sort of like being pregnant and suddenly being aware of your belly when you close your eyes and the baby moves.

I don’t know how I feel about this yet.

Names are falling out of my brain faster than I can count.

Well, it finally happened. The stupid has set it. I’ve joked for the past week about how now that I’ve started taking Topamax, I’ll start forgetting basic things and won’t be able to find the right words in conversations. Last night as I was going to bed, I said goodnight to Patrick and asked (or at least tried to ask) my usual question.

Me: “Do you want me to turn up the…um…the…um…that thing?”

Patrick: “What thing?”

Me: “This thing.” {pointing}

Patrick: “The baby monitor?” {smiling}

Me: “Shut up.”

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