Posted on June 11, 2022
TW: Mentions of suicidal thoughts.
After a couple of months of Moclobemide, it became increasingly clear that it wasn’t really working. It was better than nothing but it wasn’t good enough; I was having less bad days than I’d been having previously but I wasn’t having many good days. I don’t expect constant happiness – I know that that’s not a realistic dream – but I have to believe it’s better than this. But, in order to try something new, I had to get off the Moclobemide first.
I was taking 300mg twice daily before I began to reduce the Moclobemide and I came off it fast. As always, this was a process I discussed with my psychiatrist and we made all of the decisions together, dependent on my medical history and our joint understanding of my reactions to these kinds of medications. This is just my experience. Please don’t start, change, or stop taking any medications without the advice and support of a medical professional.
150mg Twice Daily (+ 20mg Propranolol Twice Daily)
The first phase of the reduction was a little over a week and I didn’t feel particularly different. I was still feeling depressed and hopeless and miserable; I was so incredibly anxious. I didn’t want to be around people: I just felt so overwhelmed and oversensitive. I was feeling pretty unmoored and lost but on the worst days I felt pathetic and unaccomplished and useless. It was awful. Plus, it was a pretty hard week: although I had one really good hangout with a friend, I also had two quite upsetting medical appointments and a migraine that lasted several days.
Sleep-wise, it was still a struggle – as it has been for months. Getting to sleep was frustrating; sometimes it took hours, even on the few occasions that I took sleeping pills (I haven’t found them helpful since I tried ADHD medications back in November last year, which have thoroughly screwed up my sleep). The longer my difficulty with sleeping goes on, the more anxiety I have around it, which definitely isn’t helping. When I finally did sleep, I slept badly with the vivid, stressful dreams that I’ve come to associate with the changing of medications. I’d sleep late – into the afternoon – but even then, when I had managed to get up, I was still tired and sleepy, actually falling asleep on the sofa during the day several times.
I was craving food – particularly salty foods – but nothing satisfied the craving, which was incredibly frustrating.
It’s probably worth noting that I was in the middle of a pain flare up, with the pain mainly in my arms around the elbow. It was pretty bad, worse than the chronic pain has been for a while. It was especially bad in the mornings and was part of why I struggled to get up once I finally managed to wake up. It was so bad one day that I had to cancel my hydrotherapy session because just the thought of washing my hair in the shower had me near tears. Fortunately, it did start to get better by the end of the first phase, much to my relief.
150mg Once Daily (+ 20mg Propranolol Twice Daily)
The second phase of reducing the Moclobemide lasted ten days. It was a hard week: I was very depressed (and the suicidal thoughts were back) and I was easily overwhelmed and upset. It felt like my brain just wouldn’t shut up and kept magnifying all of the most distressing or anxiety-provoking thoughts I had; I was doing my best to keep myself distracted by mundane stuff as much as possible but I wasn’t always successful. As I said, it was a really hard week.
It was still taking me hours to get to sleep, even on the nights I was falling asleep on the sofa. Most nights, I slept badly and I had more of the same vivid, stressful dreams (and nightmares) before struggling to wake up, no earlier than eleven. I was sleepy within an hour of waking and Red Bull didn’t seem to help. I was so tired and so sleepy during the day; I fell asleep on the sofa in the day several times during those ten days. I was so tired all the time that I struggled to get anything done.
I was still craving the sensation of eating – especially salty foods, as I said – but again, food just wasn’t satisfying or filling in any way. I’ve got it under control for the most part – I’m getting better at resisting the urges and eating according to what I should be eating and not what I randomly want to eat which I then get no pleasure out of anyway – but it’s very frustrating. I’m also talking to a nutritionist about the specific salt craving and she’s sent off for blood tests to determine whether I have a vitamin or mineral deficiency that needs attending to.
The chronic pain got bad again after it’s momentary dip. It was so bad that it was repeatedly waking me up in the night and washing and drying my hair was an exhausting experience. I had several really bad pain days that made it a struggle to concentrate, to do anything. I also had a several horrible migraines that took me out of commission for a couple of days each, which was very unpleasant. They have been worse though so I’m grateful for that.
Washout (+ 20mg Propranolol Twice Daily)
The one day washout period was awful. I was deeply depressed with suicidal thoughts; I was barely functional. Fortunately, it was just one day without medication rather than the usual two weeks. That’s always the worst part of changing medications for me so I’m grateful that it was so short this time.
So coming off the Moclobemide wasn’t fun but it wasn’t as terrible as it could have been either. I’ve definitely had worse. I’m just glad it’s over and now I’m onto the next medication, which will hopefully be better. It’s hard to stay hopeful when I just seem to be finding medications that don’t work but even when I do feel hopeless, I honestly don’t know what else to do. So I just keep going.
[I just thought I’d add that, a few days after this, the chronic pain faded and I started to feel a lot better. So that was very good news.]
Category: chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depression, food, heds, medication, mental health, sleep, treatment Tagged: antidepressants, appetite, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depressed, depression, drowsiness, eds, ehlers danlos syndrome, food, heds, hypermobile ehlers danlos syndrome, maoi, maois, migraine, moclobemide, side effects, sleep, withdrawal symptoms
Posted on March 22, 2022
After the Temazepam didn’t make a dent in my insomnia, my GP prescribed melatonin and finally – FINALLY – I started getting some sleep again. And in the nighttime hours. I started out at 2mg but almost straight away, I found it almost impossible to wake up in the morning so we reduced it to 1mg with the blessing of my GP.
As is always the case with posts about medication, supplements, etc, this is just my experience. Please don’t start, change, or stop taking anything without the advice and support of a medical professional.
So it definitely helped me get to sleep more quickly. I went from lying awake for hours – for most of the night – to falling asleep in less than an hour. It wasn’t always quick but it was a lot quicker than it had been (part of that could have been due to a flare up of my chronic pain though).
Almost straight away, I was struggling to wake up in the mornings. I would wake up and fall asleep again over and over; I couldn’t seem to stay awake and that meant I wasn’t getting up until late morning or early afternoon. After a couple of days, I went from 2mg to 1mg but it didn’t seem to make any difference. I mean, I appreciated being able to sleep again but suddenly I was sleeping more than twelve hours, which was just problematic in a different way.
Again, almost right away, I was finding myself increasingly sleepy in the day. That was another reason to reduce the dosage but that didn’t seem to make any difference on this either. I was back to drinking Red Bull pretty much every day – not a habit that I want to return to but I was just too tired to come up with an alternate solution and just wanted to make it through the day. My eyes were always tired and I struggled through the day, trying to do things, trying not to fall asleep. And that was with the caffeine (I’m starting to wonder if caffeine has any effect on me at all at this point). It’s hard to know whether it’s the Moclobemide, melatonin, or just the accumulated lack of sleep but I really, really don’t want to spend my whole life feeling tired and sleepy because MAOIs are the only medications that work.
It was taking me a while to get to sleep – I couldn’t get comfortable (yay, chronic pain); I couldn’t relax; I couldn’t unwind – but it was still so much better than before I started taking the melatonin. I was still getting to sleep a lot quicker than I had been. I do keep going to bed too late, which is a habit that frustrates me, but I’m trying to be better about that.
I was sleeping restlessly, waking up a lot, which wasn’t super restful. Waking up was a struggle: I’d fall asleep, wake up, fall asleep, wake up… I just couldn’t wake up. I couldn’t open my eyes or make my hands work for such a long time; it was horrible. I don’t know if that’s the melatonin or the Moclobemide but, whatever it is, I don’t like it. Getting up took a lot of effort and I usually didn’t manage it until into the afternoon.
During the day, I was physically exhausted but also really sleepy; I couldn’t keep my eyes open (and they were just so tired). I was ready to go back to bed within a couple of hours of getting up. I started consistently drinking Red Bull again, something I haven’t done since I stopped taking the Phenelzine last September. It’s not a habit that I want to start again but I don’t really know what to do: I’m so tired that I can’t figure out what the right thing to do is so I’ve just been going with it to get through the day. But even with the Red Bull, I’m very drowsy and tired.
While I’m certainly drifting off faster than I was before I started the melatonin, it hasn’t been straightforward. It often took me quite a while to get to sleep, like I had to concentrate in order to sleep (which seems somewhat counterintuitive) but then I was restless and woke up over and over. However, there were also nights when I fell asleep quickly and slept well. So I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from that.
Generally, waking up was unpleasant. I’d wake up, fall asleep, wake up, fall asleep – over and over again. It was very frustrating. I found that eating something straight away did help me stay awake but I hate it: food is absolutely not what I want when I first wake up but it’s the only thing that seems to make waking easier. Over the week, I have noticed that I’m naturally waking up earlier and earlier, which I am grateful for.
I struggled during the day though, physically exhausted and just so sleepy; it was so hard to keep my eyes open. I don’t know if the Red Bull helped at all. Socialising, even when it was enjoyable, was exhausting and I fell asleep on the sofa multiple times. That, of course, just made it harder to get to sleep when evening rolled around.
Given how much I struggled to wake up and how sleepy I was during the day, I stopped taking the melatonin, an experiment to see if it was the cause of my drowsiness, if I could sleep without it.
My sleep was better than it had been before this experiment with melatonin but it still wasn’t great. It was still taking me a couple of hours to get to sleep but I wasn’t lying awake all night, which was an improvement. Most nights, I slept restlessly and kept finding myself stuck between asleep and awake or with busy, vivid dreams.
I consistently struggled to wake up, although I discovered that eating something straight away did help. Otherwise I just kept drifting back into sleep. Waking and then getting up was just a battle, every single day. I was managing to get up earlier than I have been able to over the last few months but then I was generally sleepy within an hour of settling to whatever I was working on.
I was incredibly sleepy during the day, every day without fail. I was easily fatigued and it didn’t take much to leave me passed out on the sofa for a couple of hours. Everything just seems to take so much energy. The urge to nap was constant and my eyes kept closing; it took all of my energy just to stay awake. Even with a Redbull or two in my system, I was always drowsy. I wish I knew why the sleepiness kicks in during the day only to completely disappear at night; it’s really wearing me down. It seems clear that the MAOIs are at least the main cause of this sleepiness but if they’re the only way forward, then we need to find some way to counteract it. It just isn’t sustainable. I can’t do what I need to do like this.
Having come to the conclusion that the melatonin wasn’t the cause of my daytime sleepiness, I decided to try another experiment. Given that I still wasn’t sleeping particularly well, I thought I’d try the melatonin again, just to be sure. I started with the 1mg but that didn’t seem to be enough: I’d feel my body, particularly my legs, start going to sleep but then they’d twitch awake, horribly and painfully. That only made it harder to get to sleep, both the physical pain and the fear of it. So, thinking that that dose might not be enough, I returned to the originally prescribed dose of 2mg. It had mixed results. Some nights I slept quickly and well but some nights, I slept terribly, waking over and over and experiencing busy, stressful dreams. It’s better, I guess, than sleeping badly all of the time but it’s not as straightforward as I’d hoped it would be.
The drowsiness – and fatigue – is still a problem. I’ve got some ideas to pursue on that front but there isn’t the time to test any of them out before my trip to Nashville so, until I get back, I’m just going to have to muscle through and hope the adrenaline can plug the gaps. I’m anxious – I don’t want to miss out on anything – but I’ve also been living with this, to some extent, for years now. I’m well practiced at managing my energy, even though I don’t always listen to my experience and instincts.
So I’m not really sure how I feel about the melatonin. After five weeks, I’d hoped I’d know one way or the other whether it was helpful but I’m not sure that I do. It might have broken the sleepless loop I was in but it hasn’t proved to be reliably helpful and on the nights it isn’t helpful, it feels like it makes things worse. So I don’t know. I really don’t.
Category: adhd, chronic fatigue, depression, heds, medication, mental health, sleep, treatment Tagged: antidepressants, chronic fatigue, drowsiness, exhaustion, fatigue, hormone, hormones, insomnia, maois, melatonin, moclobemide, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, red bull, redbull, sleep, sleep cycle, sleep-wake cycle, sleepiness, supplement, tired, tiredness
Posted on March 19, 2022
TW: Mentions of self harm and suicidal thoughts.
It’s been a while since I did one of these updates and the last few months have been A LOT. An update is somewhat necessary, if only for blog cohesion. It’s all been pretty awful, hence all of my posts about medication: we’ve been desperately trying to get a handle on things. I’m not sure we have but there’s a natural point here, around medication and my upcoming trip to the US, so I figured now was probably the best time to do it…
The end of last year and beginning of this year was bad. Really, really bad. I was the most depressed I’ve ever been, self harming and suicidal. I’ve been suicidal in the past but never like this, never to this extent. It was awful but it was also kind of cozy and cotton wool-y, especially compared to what came next. I had a kind of anxiety-induced breakdown, something beyond and different to a meltdown, that just wrecked me. Like, it was so bad that I missed being suicidal. The anxiety was paralysing and the whole thing completely wrung me out. It was unbearable but it was probably the only thing that would’ve forced me onto the new medication – something I’d been resisting out of sheer exhaustion and hopelessness. But I couldn’t go on feeling like that. I was scared the medication would bury the stuff that needs dealing with and I still am but I couldn’t go on like that.
So I started taking Moclobemide but I was also taking Diazepam pretty consistently, given how bad my anxiety was. Things are better than they were – and I’m writing again, which is a good sign – but they’re still not great. I’m still struggling with a lot of stuff. I haven’t been able to go to therapy for a while now and I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to go back – that unexpected twist in the road certainly hasn’t helped. So I’m feeling kind of stuck in terms of how to move forward.
Physically, things haven’t been awesome either. My appetite hasn’t recovered much from the battering it took from the ADHD meds; I’m still not really eating but I am doing better than before so that’s something (the whole thing definitely hasn’t helped my already complicated relationship with food). And after a short break, my chronic pain is back with vengeance. It’s throughout my whole body but my arms, wrists, hands, and fingers in particular have been especially painful. I’m still waiting to hear back from the Pain Clinic. I haven’t written much about my experience with them; I guess I’ve kind of been waiting to have something to write about but so far, I haven’t received any proper support. They said they’d get back to me after their next team meeting but that was early November at the latest so I’m not exactly holding my breath. The Chronic Fatigue Service gave up on me – they literally told me my case was too complicated – and I don’t have high hopes about this experience either. I’ve been waiting for some sort of support for this pain since May 2020 and I know that the NHS have been overwhelmed but that is a really, really, really long time when you’re in pain.
My sleeping is better but still not great. The melatonin helped somewhat and I managed to wrestle my sleep cycle into something a bit more reasonable: rather than lying awake all night and then sleeping through the day, I am now at least sleeping mostly at night. But I’m incredibly tired all the time and I’m drowsy in the day again, just like I was when I was taking Phenelzine. I’ve picked up my Red Bull habit again – although not to quite the same degree (yet) – which I really never wanted to do again.
Between the sleepiness and the not feeling that much better, I’m not convinced by the Moclobemide. It’s pretty reasonable to assume – at this point – that MAOIs are the only antidepressants that help at all but as I said in my Moclobemide review, this level of better doesn’t feel like enough. I still don’t feel great; I don’t even really feel good. And I’m so sleepy, all the time. I don’t feel like it’s that much to ask for: to feel functional, to write songs, to have the capacity to feel good, to even be happy sometimes. Is that really more than I should hope for?
It’s been a long few months and it’s all left me feeling very raw. And, as excited as I am to get back to Nashville, I’m also terrified. The COVID risk aside, the whole world has been through this huge thing so how could going back not be different, feel different? It also just feels very soon to be out in the world for so much of every day when I still feel so… fragile, I guess. It’s like I’ve just started putting myself back together and I’m not ready for the Jenga tower to get toppled again, to start over. I don’t know if I have it in me. I just really hope – really, really hope – that everything goes as well as it can while I’m still getting my feet under me.
Category: about me, anxiety, covid-19 pandemic, depression, emotions, food, heds, medication, mental health, self harm, sleep, suicide Tagged: antidepressants, anxiety, anxiety disorder, asd, autism, autism spectrum disorder, autistic, autistic adult, breakdown, covid-19, depression, diazepam, disordered eating, maois, medication, mental health, mental illness, moclobemide, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, nashville, pandemic, pandemic 2020, pandemic anxiety, self harm, self injury, sleep, suicidal, suicidal thoughts, therapy, trd, treatment resistant depression, trigger, trigger warning, trip, tw
Hi! I’m Lauren Alex Hooper. Welcome to my little blog! I write about living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD (Inattentive Type), and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), as well as several mental health issues.
I’m a singer-songwriter (it’s my biggest special interest and I have both a BA and MA in songwriting) so I’ll probably write a bit about that too.
My first single, ‘Invisible,’ is on all platforms, with all proceeds going to Young Minds.
My debut EP, Honest, is available on all platforms, with a limited physical run at Resident Music in Brighton.
I’m currently working on an album about my experiences as an autistic woman.