Today is my second day on a new medication I’ve been prescribed called Luvox (I’m on a quarter dose, so 25mg). It’s a psychotropic (mood-altering) SSRI medication designed to treat depression, social anxiety, and similar disorders.
SSRI stands for ‘Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor,’ which basically means that the drug blocks the absorption of Serotonin (a neurotransmitter “thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness” according to the Wikipedia article). Serotonin that is absorbed into a brain cell doesn’t do any good – neurotransmitters only work when they’re in between brain cells, where they facilitate communication between them. The way SSRI medications are thought to work is by increasing the amount of available serotonin in between brain cells, and we think they do this by preventing brain cells from absorbing the chemical.
Did you notice the weasel-words (‘thought to work’ – ‘we think’) in the paragraph above? I did too. Apparently, SSRI drugs aren’t completely understood by medical science, but we’re pretty sure this is how they work. =P
Anywho – the reason I’m on this medication is because I have social anxiety issues to work out, and according to my doctor this will help. He told me not to expect anything right away, that the drug would take some time to start working. Despite this, though, I’ve felt somehow different over these past couple of days.
Before I continue, I know that I may just be fooling myself with the placebo effect, especially in light of what my doctor said about how long it would take to start affecting me.
It’s hard to put words to this feeling, by the way. Normally in certain social situations (any sort of situation in which I’m expected to interact with more than a handful of people, even friends), I feel like I’m slightly ‘out of phase’ with the rest of the people around me. I feel like an outsider, like I don’t belong, like everyone’s judging me on my quirks. I know this isn’t true, but knowing and feeling are two separate things. Yesterday, however, I didn’t feel this way at all.
Tasha brought Lorna and the kids up to my work yesterday for lunch, and we went to Waffle House. The place was packed – it was lunch time after all – and normally that would have made me apprehensive from the start. Instead, however, I felt completely fine. We picked an available table and I sat down, ordered, hung out – all like normal people – and it didn’t occur to me that this was not my normal behavior until we were leaving the place!
When we were done, Ta asked me to take care of the bill. There was a lady waiting in the middle of the room, and I wasn’t sure what she was doing – whether she was in line to pay or not – so I asked her. I said, “Excuse me, are you waiting to pay?” Just like that. She answered ‘Yes,’ and I waited behind her until she was done. Perfectly normal, right? For perfectly normal people, perhaps – but I’m not perfectly normal. I felt no anxiety at all in talking to this lady, whereas this sort of simple social interaction would have made me very uncomfortable in the past, to the point where I may not have bothered asking her.
This all sounds really mundane – I can already hear some of you thinking, “All you did was ask her a question, what are you getting all excited about?” I understand, and won’t hold it against you – but anxiety is a horrible feeling, one that those who experience it would probably do anything to not experience, including avoiding social interaction when it occurs. Being free of that feeling would be great, and I think this Luvox might help.
I have been warned that drugs alone will not cure this problem. I was aware of that going in – I’m going to have to work to make this happen. In a few weeks I’m planning on going to a club with Tasha, and I’m going to try and enjoy myself, make some friends, and do… normal people stuff… Strange – thinking about this sort of thing usually triggers a very slight anxious reaction, but right now I’m actually kinda looking forward to it. It’s only been two days, though, so I don’t know.
There’s another component to this feeling, as well, that is even harder to put into words. I feel, different from myself in some way. Not completely different – I’m still me after all, but I’m… calmer these past couple days. Things that drive me crazy or set me in a bad mood just kinda… haven’t. Caspian for example threw an epic fit yesterday when I tried to put him in his carseat. He kicked, fought, struggled, arched his back, made it generally impossible to get him in. This is usually, for some reason, one of my hot buttons – the sort of thing that pisses me off and gets me yelling – but not this time. Calm is really the best word I can think of to describe this.
Maybe depression, anxiety, and anger control are related to serotonin in some way. I don’t know – I’m not a neurologist – but I’m very interested to see where this goes. I’m excited! =)