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May 6, 2008

Detective at work

Some of you've known that I've not been feeling very good for the last week or so. I missed a lot of work last week, as I struggled with some bewildering symptoms. I thought I had the flu at the beginning of the week. As the time dragged on, and I didn't feel any better, I began to think that something medical, not contagious had to be going on.

I couldn't contemplate any new medical issues arising, not when I've lost all this weight, eat so much healthier and etc. I then pondered whether there were any changes in my life that could possibly explain this. Lo and behold, I clicked in on a "change". I remembered that after about 9 years on anti-depressants, I was finally off them. My tapering off dosage was incredibly light last week, and non-existent this week. I quitt the anti-depressants for two reasons; 1) I just can't afford the $225 to refill my prescription anymore, 2) I feel I've changed so much in how I think and perceive life during the last nearly 3 year "life renovation process", I shouldn't need them anymore.

I reasoned that just maybe, there's such a thing as a withdrawal effect from going off anti-depressants, or losing the serotonin that they give you. If this turned out to be the case, could exercise and it's accompanying release of endorphins help increase serotonin to hopefully counter that effect? It didn't hurt that it was definitely time to move to another stage in my renovation project: making exercise a regular part of my life. My action plan was two-fold; 1)begin inserting an exercise program into my life, and 2) do some research to see if indeed I could be on the right path to what was really ailing me.

Yesterday, I did start exercising. I went for a long walk last night, even though I was getting off work so late, due to a faculty meeting. Not getting home from work and exercise until 7:30 p.m. wasn't something I liked. However, I just knew that it was important to make exercise the priority I have previously refused to give it. It certainly didn't hurt that it was one of the first beautiful warm spring like days to help me be ok with making the sacrifice in time. Today, I made sure to get a walk in, before I met some friends for dinner. I'm pretty proud of myself, two days in a row doing some form of exercise!! I'm also planning to start going to the gym again, I just haven't worked out how I want to incorporate that into my life. I am proud of myself for finally being willing to start exercising regularly.

Until about an hour or two ago, I still didn't know if my theory regarding serotonin withdrawal, and endorphin helping to increase serotonin had any factual bases to support it. I'm happy to say, I DID find factual support that backed up my theory. Apparently there is something known as a "discontinuation effect" for withdrawal from anti-depressants. There was a list of the symptoms one might experience. Reading the list was like reading about everything I'd experienced in the last week and a half: Dizzyness, nausea, flu-like symptoms and on and on! Wow! I am a bit impressed with myself! I turned out to be an excellent diagnostician. Maybe I should apply for House's group on TV. If you don't watch "House", ignore the last sentence, my joke just fell flat for you!

Next, I checked to see if endorphins, which I think we all know is released when we exercise, can increase our sertonin levels. Guess what ladies and gentlemen? I found information verifying that the endorphins we get from exercise CAN increase our serotonin levels in our brains. Two for two! I prescribed and began the perfect course of treatment for myself! I'm pretty impressed with myself, I don't mind admitting :) I guess all that's left is to hang my shingle and open up the shop for business. I just don't know whether that business is as a detective or a doctor!! (Tongue planted firmly in cheek)

My research pointed out that this discontinuation effect can go for anywhere from one to SEVEN (aaargh) weeks. I think I'm really going to have to get some harder workouts at the gym in, so that I can really boost up the endorphins and serotonin! I don't want to go through this for seven weeks! It does help that exercise was one of the next things I needed to tackle as I continue my ongoing "renovate my life" project. I'm glad my research backed up what my intuitive, deductive processes were telling me.

1 comment:

Ang said...

I am so proud of you. Exercize can be hard to fit into your schedule, but one of the best ways to be healthy. It sound like you are on the right track. I actually have experienced this release of endorphins. Its pretty cool. You actually feel that you can do anything. For me, I have found that I need exercise to get fit. I can not do it without. It is hard, but you will not regret it. I am so impressed with your diagnosis. I really can not put into words how happy I am for you.