Go ahead, shoot.
I was discharged from the VA Hospital in Bedford, on August 20, 2016, for addiction to Xanax for the most part, and alcohol for the least part. A dangerous combination. I still maintain that alcohol is not my drug of choice. My real problems were a dying business model and a dead marriage.
Upon my release, when they gave me my belt and shoelaces back, they also gave me a couple of orange bottles along with strong warnings. Take this stuff or I could stroke out. They did not want to release me at this time and told me they thought I should spend at least another eight weeks with them. Eight weeks? My house was being sold, my marriage was breaking up and funds were being (cough) reallocated.
The bottles contained high doses of blood pressure medication and two anti-depressants. Still wobbly, I agreed. I took to a hotel room in the area and tried to sort my life out. This would take months, of course. I was cool with the marriage ending but everything else was in the wind.
Fast forward 6 months, and I have a follow up with a VA psychiatrist and a primary care doc. I am down 37 pounds through exercise and proper nutrition. I have always known what proper nutrition was so it wasn’t too difficult to get back on track. The fact that I have always craved exercise helped me enormously.
So he checks my chart and says, “When did you stop taking the anti-depressants?” At that point I hadn’t, and told him so. He told me anti-depressants were notorious for weight gain and said he was surprised I wasn’t at least 20 pounds heavier. His point: You should not be losing weight. At all. Get the fuck outa here, I says.
I don’t have enough problems? You’re gone a saddle me with additional weight so my self esteem can erode even further? VA docs aren’t like your run-of-the-mill, keep the patient at all costs, shingle hangers. No, these guys have a job for life and will hit you right between the eyes with what they think. And that’s a good thing.
If you are a person who is depressed, the last thing you need is to blubber up. Weight is one of the biggest life challenges we face. Very frustrating.
At this point, I am off of all meds except for Flomax and some Advil. But at this stage of my life, if there was a Prostate Mail-In-Rebate Program, I would be writing this from the Post Office.
The point of this whole piece is the steep emotional price we pay for depression medications. Seems a shame we have to trade off our self esteem in order to pull ourselves out of the doldrums. Exercise sure helped me. Could maybe help a lot of folks. I had a pharmacist tell me once, “They ought to put this stuff in the drinking water.” I think they have.
Today, much lighter in weight and fortune, I certainly have nothing to be depressed about. Whew!