La Vie en Remeron, Part 2: Backwards Day

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Er…oh, hai. I did say I was going to do “part 2” of this post “tomorrow,” did I naught? Hm, well, if I can pull off this three-weeks-equals-one-day thing off for the rest of my life, all this Fat Kills You Young stuff will go right out the window, right?

Yeah. Okay. Well, I’m still here and typing, which means the drugs are working, right? Or at least I think they do, which means more or less the same thing. No, me-and-me aren’t running out to get a marriage license or anything, but “me” isn’t telling me to fuck off and die because she sucks at positively everything ever, either. I (and I) could get used to that, even if it means I’m still spending ludicrous amounts of time unconscious. (Whoever said Remeron would put you out like a fistful of Tylenol PM wasn’t kidding.)

But let me tell you something. This drug is turning me into Cookie Monster. The one I remember from my youth, the one who actually ate all the cookies he wanted and didn’t feel a smidge guilty about it. Hell, CM ate everything, didn’t he? I remember him biting into a microphone once. Somehow my 6-year-old self knew better than to emulate him, go fig. For years I rarely ate when I wasn’t physically hungry, and didn’t eat huge amounts of food even when I was — just because I physically couldn’t, not because I was Trying To Be Good. Now I find myself cleaning restaurant plates that once would have produced leftovers, grabbing handfuls of this or that to nibble on whether I’m truly hungry or not, just because I’m craving it. I’m having lustful thoughts about the Trader Joe’s sesame-honey cashews I polished off a week ago, now at 1 in the morning, OMfreakingG.

When my psychiatrist first gave me the scrip for Remeron, he told me that it could make people gain a lot of weight when they were first on it, so I might want to “watch what I ate” for the first month, until the dosage was ramped all the way up, which allegedly kills off the weight-gain effect. HAHAHAHAHA. I’ll bet HE never had to take this stuff, or he’d know it’s frigging impossible to do anything like diet while you’re first on it. (To his credit, though, I don’t think he’s the kind of person who would push the issue.) In fact, I am now more convinced than ever that the roots of binge and compulsive overeating (in cases where it’s unrelated to diet-rebound effect) are rooted intractably in brain and body chemistry and don’t have SQUAT-ALL to do with “willpower” or any other such mind-control guck. I’m not craving microphones just yet, but give me time. I still have three weeks to go before they bump me up to 45 mg.

In fact, now that I’m starting to feel like I have a spine again, I’m starting to wonder about why there’s so little mental-health help available for fat people that comes from an HAES perspective. How many doctors — hell, how many people in general — assume that weight loss would either alleviate a fat person’s depression, or would be an inevitable side benefit of getting better? Too many for my taste. I can tell you right now that anything I’ve experienced as a 200-plus-pound person mentally, I also experienced at 125 pounds and at all points in between. Do people actually believe that thin people don’t suffer from major depression? Doctors even? The lobes boggle.

Plus, hasn’t anyone stopped to notice that 1) people gain weight from these drugs, and 2) they get better anyway? Even if you assume that all the Fat-is-Unhealthy stuff must be true, what’s “unhealthier” — wear and tear on your internal organs, or actively wanting to blow your brains out? I mean, is there really any contest? That’s why I told my psychiatrist that if they put “obesity” in the DSM-V (that is, make it an official psychiatric diagnosis) as is currently being discussed by the American Psychiatric Association, they are making a horrible, tragic error. Millions of people will become noncompliant with drugs that are saving their lives, because these drugs also make them fat, and the “obesity” diagnosis essentially means that if you gain hella weight on psych meds, you will never ever be out of remission. He agreed with me that it shouldn’t happen. I’m fervently hoping more of his colleagues agree with him than don’t.


And I’m embarrassed to tell you I’ve never read anything by David Foster Wallace because my gnatlike attention span couldn’t quite commit to it. But any time I hear about anyone’s suicide, as a major depressive, it rips my guts out. (Okay, maybe not Hitler’s, but there’s always an exception that proves the rule.) Not least because of how people respond to it. If I have to read or hear, “But they had so much going for them!” one more frigging time, as if it had shit to do with crap, I will let out a shriek that will bounce off of Mt. Hood, then ricochet off the red rocks of Sedona and into your Chicago latte. (Yep, that noise was me!)

I had a nurse practitioner named Cindy a couple of years ago who committed suicide; I found out when I tried to make my third appointment to see her. She was the last person anyone would suspect of being depressed; she was always so fresh, so cheerful. I later found out from the doctor who ran the practice she worked for, who assumed care of her patients after she was gone, that she left two notes so nobody would have any doubt about what her intentions were. Her husband told him, “She could do that, just totally fake people out like that.” At the time I didn’t understand how it could happen, that you could feel that way and literally NO one would be able to tell. Now I know.

Whenever someone kills him/herself because of depression (as opposed to doing so because of terminal illness or intractable physical pain), the internal reasons and the final trigger are different for each person. But I really believe there’s one constant that binds nearly all of them, and it’s this: The moment you admit you want to kill yourself is the moment you start to become radioactive, and you become more radioactive every time you say it.

And that doesn’t go away if you’re rich and famous and good-looking and have a MacArthur grant and all the blah blah freaking blah you blah blah blah. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it is harder for a famous person to publicly admit to feeling suicidal, not easier, than it is for someone like me. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain; their reputations, which others have built their lives and dreams around, are at stake. People say, “If I’d only known I could have helped them,” but really, how many have the stomach to hear people go on, over and over again, about what stinksome seepage they really are and that everyone would be better off without them? Especially when the depressed person in question has had external successes beyond most people’s wildest fantasies, and knows that any complaints about his/her mental wellbeing will be looked on by many as whiny at best, downright insensitive at worst?

Even if you have the shrink and the drugs and the support system at home and all that other good stuff, that doesn’t put everything away. Shrinks often fail or are incompatible; drugs are often poorly tolerated or don’t work at all; even the most loving partner or close friend often gets to wondering why his/her love isn’t enough to save you. Riding it out with someone who’s that depressed, regardless of that person’s external life circumstances, is a tall order. (Chris, if you are reading this, I LOVE YOU TO LITTLE TINY FUR-COVERED PURRING PIECES.) We know it. We don’t want to wear anyone out. So we keep it in, until we can’t stand it anymore.

I want to change this. I think what saved my life until I got the professional help I needed is that I contracted with several people close to me that I would not harm myself, and I kept re-contracting with them every time I had a close call. I also truly believe that one advantage that I have being aspie is that I physically CAN’T hold back a secret about myself that huge for very long with anyone who cares about me. Your secret I can keep; mine, nope. I always figure, I’ll be found out sooner or later anyway because I’m a lousy liar. So “faking people out” like Cindy did, or as numerous celebrities have done with their public, was never going to happen with me.

But I can see how it could happen to them, it’s because suicidal depression is The Great Shame of the Cities; if you have any acting ability at all, you want to avoid that shame, but doing so could kill you in the few seconds it takes to find the dry-cleaning bag and put it on your head before you even know what you’re doing. If you are reading this and you are feeling suicidal, please don’t stuff it down or cover it up. I care about you and I want you to get better. If you want to contract with me that you’re not going to harm yourself (andeejr at geemail), even anonymously or pseudonymously, I’m happy to help. I’m no shrink, and I may not be able to do much more in return but affirm that I received your note and that I care, but I can at least do that.

Oh, and Backwards Day means that from here on in, whenever I catch myself saying something bad about myself, I have to find something good about that bad thing. I’m inattentive? Inattentive people are great; they can think of something more than that oh-so-important bit of work business that nobody will remember in 200 years anyway! I’m sloppy? Sloppy people are great; they’re not preoccupied with superficial appearances! I’m whiny? Whiners are great; they’re not swallowing their feelings and taking them out on everyone else! I sleep too much? I’m storing it up for next summer, isn’t that smart of me! I’m too hard on myself? That’s great, it means I won’t ever become a flaming egotist who doesn’t think she has any faults!

I’m a fatass? (Fill in the blank!)


11 Responses to “La Vie en Remeron, Part 2: Backwards Day”

  1. meerkat Says:

    I think I like this finding-a-good-thing-about-the-bad-thing a lot better than cutting the bad thought out entirely and replacing it with a contradictory positive thought. That always seems so arbitrary and self-serving when I try to do it (kudos to people for whom it does work, though; I wish I could express my discomfort with this method without sounding critical of them). But it’s true that there tends to be something good you can say about most any “bad” quality.

  2. Bilt4Cmfrt Says:

    “I’m a fatass? (Fill in the blank!)”

    OK, us fatass’s tend to be more intelligent / intellectually inclined and you are one, razor sharp, cookie (Ok, that’s always been a weird idiom for me. Sharp Cookie? So good it hurts? WEV). Of course, now their trying to convince us that thinking makes you fat but I think (and I’m already fat) that’s all just another can of smokey inanity desperately being added to the thinning cloud of the obesity panic smokescreen. One gets the feeling that, if people aren’t actually starting to get it, at least their starting to get numb to the constant bombardment or wonder why it even matters.

    That aside, know this; You have worth, you are admired, you do inspire. There are no Backwards Days for these, only Forwards.

  3. Pegkitty Says:

    I meant to comment after the Part 1, but must have gotten side-tracked…anyway, I wanted to give you a big AMEN on the getting the help from anti-depressants, even with side effects. I actually had a counselor in a D&A treatment program that told the group “taking anti-depressants long-term will shorten your life.” I raised my hand and pointed out that if I didn’t take them, the razor blade would make my life a HELL of a lot shorter.

    And I also wanted to say “thank you!” for the blog. Reading your insights and the comments from others makes me feel less alone.

  4. Dorothy Says:

    I really, really love you! Thanks for being so open and putting out there what it feels like to be suicidal. I’ve come close (real close) more than once. I’m on Lexapro and I’m still *real* depressed (on 20 mg) but I don’t have the constant litany of “kill yourself, why don’t you kill yourself…how shall I kill myself…,” ad infinitum when I’m on it. I also don’t have any highs or even real happy times – I’m not sure if that’s the meds or if that’s just the depression getting worse with age (I’m 54). However, it’s worth staying on the meds just to not fight off suicidal ideation continously. I’ve read your comments at Shapely Prose and Shakesville and followed you back here a while ago. I always love your writing.

  5. Sarah Brodwall Says:

    I never stopped gaining weight the entire time I was on Remeron…I don’t remember how long that was. Almost a year, at least. I gained about 30 pounds and ended up going off the med because I couldn’t stand getting fatter and fatter, even with all the fat acceptance work I’d done. I decided to go off Remeron and start taking sibutramine–AKA Meridia, which was originally developed as an antidepressant. I lost 40 pounds. (You might be interested in the stuff I wrote on my blog at about Remeron and fat acceptance.)

    I have found that serotonergic drugs rarely help my depression in the long run and tend to cause massive weight gain in my case, and am (so far) not willing to try them again. I have had better luck with pramipexole, which I think is called Requip in the US, than I have ever had with any other drug, and have not experienced any side effects with it.

    I think doctors base prescriptions too much on algorithms (first Prozac, the Zoloft, then Effexor…) and not enough on a patient’s actual symptoms. For the past few years I’ve been less passive with regard to the drugs I take, and things have worked out much better for me. Most doctors know much less about psychopharmacology than we think.

    I wish you luck. E-mail me if you ever want to talk about this stuff. I’ve got 16 years of experience with pmeds and enough of a systematizing brain to have learned more about psychpharmacology than most doctors I’ve met (sadly).

  6. kate217 Says:

    …better perch for the cat.

  7. Meowser Says:

    Oh, I like that one!

  8. CoryBetty Says:

    Meowser – I don’t know what to say. This is the most clear articulation I’ve heard of all this – I have tears in my eyes. Sometimes I forget that there are other people who have this same problem, have had it. Anyway, I’m not articulating very well at all…just thanks.

  9. CordyQ Says:

    I would rather be a fat ass than a Jackass or asshole! 😛

    anyway just waned to tell you how much i related to this post. I am like Cindy, I fake it better than anyone, and I don’t think anyone in my life knows how bad it gets sometimes. I can’t handle the way most people react when I tell them about how messed up things get in my head, so I put on the happy cheerful smile and jokes and says “It’s all good”

    It does kind of scare me at times, how easy it has become, and how convincing I am lol… if there comes a time when I am not strong enough to stop myself one night… there will be a lot of people who are very shocked. That is one frustrating thing about all this depression stuff, it is something people don’t want to hear about and they definitely don’t and can’t understand it so you feel a little alone out at sea.

    The faking is the only way I can have a tiny bit of normalcy, in a way it keeps me sane, all the while making me worse lol

  10. SQ Says:

    Yes, very late reply, but after I noticed you wrote this on my birthday, well, that was too interesting a coincidence not too.

    Anyway, firstly, excellent post, I was shaking by the end of it. It’s not a point of view I’m really familiar with, because I’m not on any meds, but depression runs in the family and I’ve had my minor run-ins with it. I recognise the contracts, the hiding so I’ll at least inconvenience as least people as possible

    What really stuck me about the story was an entirely different point, though. You’ve got a paragraph there about how others, friends and family, think they can help or want to, and as I said, with me it runs in the family, including my father. I’m not going to give any details, because of OMGdrama, but feel free to ask (thecloakmaker at hotmail and all that), or you know, not. I’m getting lost in politenessess while actually sounding rude! Is politenessess a word?

    Anyway! Sorry for the near drama, and thanks for putting this out there, that means something, in a positive way. Hope you’re doing okay, and a *wave* from a passing stranger.

  11. How Many Calories Can You Burn Jumping the Shark? « fat fu Says:

    […] La Vie en Remeron, Part 2: Backwards Day […]

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