I’ve started and stopped this blog post several times.
I need to write it. Maybe someone like me needs to read it. Maybe I need to read it.
I’ve blogged before about my depression, about how my discovery of fluoxitine (I was introduced to it as ‘serafem’ during my hysto adventure, but most folks know it as prozac) was almost a miraculous event.
Prozac allowed me to prioritize my life, to do the things that were immediately necessary and carry other things over to work on when the time was right. It allowed me to be a better artist and a better business person.
Disclaimer: I know prozac – any drug – is not a panacea for everyone. But it may be the bridge that allows someone to move from the non-functioning rocky terrain – across the valley of dark, dark thoughts – to a more stable landscape where life can be richer.
This August I stopped taking my prozac. Why?
I ran out.
When I lost my health insurance in June, I had enough medication for a few months. We’ve been trying various routes for insurance, the two main barriers being 1) my non-insurable status (asthma/COPD & fibro), and 2) the cost of any type of insurance for which I might – just might – be eligible.
Gerry’s taken it on as his project to wade through the various programs that I might try. He spends hours on this – tracking down health insurance for me and the kids (he’s covered with Medicare) and it’s a hard struggle. I am very, very lucky to have him.
The timing of the whole running-out-of-pills came right before Scotland, in the midsts of my travel marathon. My doctor had stopped practicing for her own health reasons, and I couldn’t get an appointment to see anyone in her practice to write me a script for more drugs.
So I figured I’d wing it without the proazc. Or, to be more specific, I’d RIDE it out. I’d been biking a lot – doing SO well with all the life stuff that I thought I’d be able to coast into a holding pattern.
But that hasn’t been the case. It’s been rough – very rough – painfully, lonely, I-can’t-tell-anyone-how-hard-it-is rough.
Having visited the happy, stable, easy to walk terrain of mental health, it’s been very hard to travel back to the rocky ground of depression. It’s been such a slow trip – so incremental – that most days it was hard to see how far back across that bridge I’d retreated.
There are some places the bike can’t take me.
There are good days – sunny days when the Vitamin D seems to work well, when I can get out and ride my bike, and when nothing goes terribly wrong to pull me down. I relished those days.
But there have been so many dark days. Like a gremlin waiting in the hedge with a stick to poke into my spokes, stupid things pop up and knock me sideways. Knock the wind out of me.
It’s probably no accident that the figurative and the literal ‘dark days’ are corresponding. It’s been rainy for a few days now and I’m feeling it. Feeling the pain, feeling the anguish.
I’ve been told by several doctors that part the Fibromyalgia puzzle is the connection between the part of the brain that controls depression & the sensation of physical pain. If I hadn’t already been on an antidepressant, putting me on one would have been part of my therapy.
Now that I’ve been off for two months the mental and the physical pain hold my being so tightly that some nights I can hardly breathe, let alone sleep.
And I cry. I cry like a little girl. Except I’m NOT a little girl, I’m a middle aged woman with very dry skin who should NOT be crying so much. There seem to be few thing so damaging to the sensitive under-eye skin than salt water.
And, as one would expect, work is just harder when my brain is fuzzed. The amount of ripping out I’ve been doing this month is monumental. In design, decision making and prioritizing are not the sexiest of tools, but they’re VITAL to creating a coherent product.
So what’s my point? Why am I writing this? I’m thinking someone else may be as cloudy headed as I’ve been in the past few weeks, and maybe I can help shed some light in their corner.
You see, I believe that when one is in a transition – in my case standing midway between relative mental health and mental exhaustion – one is in a unique position to help bridge the gap for others.
I’m afraid I’d been so – what is the word? Confused? I’ve been so – something – that I haven’t been able to figure out how to get my meds again. The idea of trying to obtain prescriptions from a new doctor (my old doctor has recently retired to fight her own battle with cancer) was so overwhelming that I just let things go.
It’s been easier to take my bike out for a 6 mile ride than pick up the phone and talk to someone – anyone – about how to go about getting help.
I didn’t know who to call. And, worse, since I felt terribly guilty for feeling so bad it was difficult to reach out. Guilt really prevents one from asking for help. The internal projected dialogue in my head has been worthy of a Tony Award – I won’t go into details, but every bad Lifetime movie has been playing in my brain non-stop for several weeks. Stop the madness.
Finally yesterday Gerry became my hero and made some phone calls. Long story short, I now have drug samples to tide me over for a month, and we have a new lease on how to go about getting my drugs at a reduced fee, but it’s a pretty crappy way to try to string together our health care.
Every day as I’m out riding my bike to make myself healthier (mentally and physically) I worry about what would happen if I were to fall, or get hit by a car. No insurance, baby, it’s a bad place to be.
Having said that, though, tonight I feel a bit more in control – a bit more hopeful – with a month of prozac on the shelf.
49 thoughts on “It’s been hard”
I’m so glad that you have a supply of those very important meds again. My husband has MDD, and his meds are a necessity, he cannot function without them. I’m glad that Gerry understands and is finding out a way for you to get what you need.
Check out places like Walmart, Giant Eagle, etc., that have prescription discount programs, I lost my insurance and I can still get my Prozac (albeit as a generic) at Giant Eagle for 4 dollars per month. It’s been a sanity saver, let me tell you.
I’m a card-carrying member of Team Fluoxotine, too. Been on the damn things for more than 6 years now (ACK!) In fact, just had my dosage adjusted to the highest it has EVER been (60 mg per day). Doesn’t make things perfect, but it does make things easier. I hope you can come up with a solution for getting health care so you can keep your prescription consistent. I learned that you just don’t stop taking Fluoxotine, you taper off, so the past month must have been pretty bad for you. We are fortunate in Washington state that we have a law that says that you cannot be denied health insurance for any pre-existing condition (I have depression and IBS, my husband is a insulin dependant Type 2 diabetic). That one little law has saved our fannies a couple of times over the years.
I’ll keep you in my thoughts and hope for Gerry’s success in his health care quest.
Hugs from near, and far. 20? Drug trials in 2 years for fibro too, all discons to side effects. Antidepressants a lot of them, to control real pain from fibro (My dr not a fan of the ‘amplified’ pain theory). But all acted as a ‘window’ for me – a window letting in cognitive thought, delight, pleasure at simple things like a leaf unfurling in a spring garden… And I bank the memories for the tough times. Thanks so much for your honesty, not because I’m stumbling ignorant in the dark, but because the silence is a heavy load at times. Works in progress ? Yep, UFOs galore, while I wait for an interlude of reasonable judgment to decide to frog or rehabilitate. In awe of your love of teaching and designing. No advice. It won’t always be this bad. And some say titrating Prozac down over months++++ reduces rebound symptoms. Thanks so much for your voice today 🙂
I have taken antidepressants off and on for almost 30 years. I know now that I will probably be on them in some form for the rest of my life. MS and depression also share ‘something’ in the chemistry.
Right now my hub and I are covered by his employer. I know that should that go away I will be on Medicare, but things will cost a lot more. On Medicare the med I take for the MS will be several hundred dollars a month according to all the research I have done so far. With our insurance, his company pays most of the premium and the copay for the Rx is $50. I can usually find that each month. If he weren’t able to work…
That ride into depression combined with working with a new doctor and the uncertainty of life around you can be so devastating. I am so proud of you for coping as well as you do. A few tears (okay, alot of tears) are to be expected on that ride. They are a part of life.
Know that my good wishes are winging their way to you, and that I hope I can show the same grace as I cope with my challenges.
I have depression and Prozac is a great help. Please regard it as a necessity as you would food or shelter. Tell yourself that you are worth it, because you are! God bless you and your family.
Does your area have a State or County supported Public Health system? In some states there are Public Health clinics that have Nurse Practioners, for no fee or a very small fee price. These clinics are for low income families – but with your family’s situation, hopefully they will be able to help you. They can treat a lot of medical ailments. And they can write presecriptions. (The Nurse Practioners act independently under the general supervision of a Doctor).
Yes, I have been getting most of meds from the pharmacy at my local Krogers, for $4.00 a month, $10.00 for 3 months. Wal-mart and other large chains in my area offer the $4.00 a month prescriptions. Even with health insurance, the pharmacy costs for us older gals sure run up. And one of the grocery chains with a pharmacy even offers some antibiotics for free. Hope you feel better soon.
I think some of the chains that offer $4.00 prescriptions may have mail order.
Thanks for writing this blog post. To someone who is living in Germany like me the US health care system sounds like a joke. I really hope that you’ll have affordable and reliable health insurance again soon.
And you’re perfectly right to think that it’s important to talk about something like depression, and how medication can help with that. If nobody talks about it everybody who has it thinks there is something wrong with him or her, and then they wont be able to get help.
Wishing you luck again.
@Susanne, We are working on our healthcare system. It’s still the best in the world where many people come to be treated. Where many discoveries are made. Prozac was invented in my city. It looks like Annie can obtain her meds for $4/mo. I know my prescription is the same price with or without my insurance card. Interesting to note that one poster mentioned her meds would be higher through Medicare than private insurance – think about my fellow citizens, nat’l healthcare is likely not going to be what you think.
Further, Annie’s always had the option of taking a job to obtain group insurance.
You’re rather glib about making choices about my life to prove a political point.
1) No, I haven’t had the option of taking a job.
. a) Not only are there precious few out there, but
. b) I don’t think I have the stamina for a full time job
. c) Which is why I continue to design, write and teach online
I don’t consider myself disabled, although many folks with Fibromyalgia are. I’m hopeful I won’t get that bad – bad enough to qualify for disability.
As long as I can, I will work independently – but there’s no mistaking that my ability to work has been dramatically diminished in the past year. I am not a hireable person, and your comment is more than a little heartless and flip.
2) The problem isn’t the cost of the drug, it’s the cost of seeing a doctor to get the prescription.
3) MANY drugs are not available at $4. Prozac is the only one of my drugs that is. The rest are not yet generic and are therefore quite expensive.
Yes, we have good healtcare – IF you’re fortunate enough to have insurance. Perhaps Susanne meant that our method of GETTING health insurance is a joke – which it is.
I don’t think our healthcare is the best in the world, we don’t corner the market on medical advances. There are amazing advances being made in medicine outside of our country (especially in stem cell research, where we fell behind pretty dramatically.)
Annie, you are rather glib about what health care should be all the time and you have not worked in the medical field in the legal, clinical and economic sides of the industry as I have. I think Vicky was trying to be helpful and you should cut her a break for having a different opinion than yours.
I’m a human being, citizen and health care consumer. I have a right to my opinion.
The problem is you don’t seem to have much respect for anyone with an opinion different than yours. The slightest deviation and I am labeled a troll. Why is this blog and its followers so severe with alternate opinions that are offered respectfully?
Dawn – this is said in kindness – I think you need to reread what you’ve written.
What you posted did sound a bit unkind, definitely not very respectful. I, myself, didn’t call anyone a troll (and I don’t believe you were mentioned in that comment,) however, I think that commenter had a point. The point of your comments definitely seems to be to quiet someone with whom you disagree.
Several times in this thread now I’ve been told not very kind things –
I believe you need to look to what you yourself have written and take responsibility for your own words, too. One of the reasons I’d hesitated to post this was precisely because I was afraid someone would take my current low point as a jumping off point for piling on.
You know, you get your feelings hurt pretty easily when people say mean things about you. What about Vicky? What about me? Where is the dialogue?
You make me laugh, Texas Dawn.
I believe the only negative thing I’ve said is that our health care isn’t the BEST in the world.
That’s not saying it’s not good, it’s saying that just because we’re AMERICA doesn’t mean that everything we do is the BEST. Our health care delivery system might be the best for folks with good health insurance, or wealthy enough to travel to the best clinics in the US, but the average US citizen would be better off in a different health care delivery system.
There is excellent healthcare in other countries, and the fact that our own nation ranks so low for infant mortality (30th) and longevity (24th) is something all US citizens should be aware of. We can do better.
I have great empathy for what you are going through. I have FM too. I’m on fluoxetine too. (Long live Prozac!) It’s such a random, pervasive, mysterious syndrome. I’m in a phase of feeling quite well right now after a long period of struggling with active FM symptoms. I’m having a hard time trusting feeling well. This is a really tough row to hoe and you have a lot going on. Hang in and know that I admire how you are handling the challenges life has thrown at you.
Oh Annie, so much of your post reads as if I had written it myself. That feeling of staring up from the bottom of a well with no connectivity to what could be up there… Just the fact that you got it written and reached out is a step across the bridge and as these comments fill up you will see how many people are waving to you from the other side.
Hope you feel better soon…
I don’t know if this will help you – or if you’ve already looked into this option.
I hear ya!!
I’ve been on lexapro/celexa for 6 years now and WILL NEVER NEVER go off it!! It has made my life worth living. You have described my life perfectly when I was not on it–it’s HELL.
Those who do not suffer from this disorder cannot understand how taking one little pill a day can make such a difference–unless they are living with you!!
My husband has said this is the one medication he’d run barefoot to the store to get for me if I needed him too, it makes that much difference.
The drug companies do have programs for people without insurance–and they make enough off those of us who do–so maybe that would be an avenue for you to pursue. Good luck and stay in there!!! Roz
The hoops the drug companies make you jump through are pretty high – believe me, I’m going through that right now. One application was turned down because there were two different colors of ink used (the doctor and I signed with different colored pens)
I think the drug companies like folks to think they offer free drugs to folks without insurance, but getting them is more of a battle.
So sorry Annie!!
You THINK you can believe what you hear but then you hear stories like yours. It should be so much simpler to get help.
I’ve battled insurance companies for 20 years – ever since my daughter was born and had problems. It SHOULD NOT BE LIKE THIS!!! 2 colored pens???
You’d think they’d want that as it would show that TWO different people signed it instead of one. GOOD GRIEF!!!
It’s hard enough to deal with feeling krappy without adding insult to injury!!
Your blog was written for me. It helped me decide to call the Doctor and get help. Thank you, Thank you.
You are brave, Annie. Brave to speak out and brave to keep coping in a difficult situation. I hope things improve soon…and I agree with you wholeheartedly about the U.S. health care system. It’s remarkably uneven and unsupportive–and not always serving people’s health needs even if they manage to find work with insurance benefits. Good luck, and I’m so glad you have some sample drugs to tide you over.
Goodness, you have some mean trolls lurking in the comments! Meh to Vicky and Dawn.
And kudos to you for being the strong woman that you are, despite all the challenges you have had. Cycle on!
Having been on Prozac and other antidepressants for both fibro and chronic migraines I can kinda see where you are coming from. I quit taking them because it left my personality flat and I felt suicidal. I was on some nasty pain killers too. I take one day at a time, praise the creator in the morning that I am alive ,and until I find something else grin and bare it. I live for sunshine, but I live in a northern state and have to wait till spring now. Our St. Vincents de Pauls’ have medical clinics associate with them, I would think those in Minnesota would too. That may help in the doctor search.
I am glad you got the meds, it is so difficult being without. Fight the fight, now that you are on the upswing try to prepare as much as you can for what comes next. It sounds like you have started and will keep going. Being fatigued physically and mentally is truly difficult and exhausting. I only hope and wish the best for you.
When one is feeling crappy…well, I guess I mean when I am…I am very thin-skinned. My nerves feel unprotected, raw. That’s when I take things that sound like criticism very very hard. (And I’m a musician! Critics write stuff!) I’m on Paxil, a close relation of Prozac, for the rest of my life, I think, & I’m thankful. I have other health issues that severely limit my stamina, too.
I learned long ago that suffering from deepening depression makes me unable to look for help! And then I’m horribly inefficient about it. Add to that the complexity of the health-care delivery system here…it’s just awful. I’m watching my grown daughter suffer now.
When something sounds like a criticism, I think it’s best to let it ride. There’s no way to explain one’s real limitations to somebody who’s never experienced it. We know perfectly well that that person’s day of helplessness will come and that that person will not be any better able to handle it than we were.
I’m so glad you are getting your meds at last. I think one is supposed to taper off Prozac slowly…? And it sounds as though you did it cold turkey: yikes.
You’re absolutely right, I was quick on the draw.
I guess you could say I did sort of taper off of prozac. I took the remaining pills every other day for a few weeks…
But nothing very well thought out, that’s for sure!
Ironically, I just checked my horoscope (twitterscope) and here’s what it says today:
I read the post and the comments twice before writing . Months ago when you posted that your health insurance would end I felt very,very concerned.
Vicky and Dawn, Annie fell into a deep hole of physical and mental pain. She wept and suffered yet persevered in her work, supporting her family.
Vicky your response is to say America has the best health care in the world? Annie did not have ANY health care. In what universe does “none” equal “best”? She posted about crying and suffering. If you were an employer would you hire her to work at your firm?
Dawn, it is not Annie’s “opinion” that she has no – and therefore bad – health care. It is fact. Where is your empathy for her suffering?
Just getting through a day is a major achievement, much less traveling, working and taking care of her family.
I for one applaud her for that.
Well said. I too am a medicated depressive, who has quit taking her medicine from time to time over the years I have been on prozac . No more. I did qualify for disability due to severe COPD and so Medicare has come into play for me. I really do know how blessed I am. I have recently switched to Wellbutrin for it’s weight loss properties. I was on Prozac since the early 90s and Elavil before that. During the last ten yearse I quit smoking, and went through menopause. I wouldn’t have survived without medication. I didn’t really mean to tell my story, but stories like ours need to be told, if only to each other.
Take care, Annie. I know how depression feels, having battled it for many years. On bad days I tell myself tomorrow will be better. The old mantra “one day at a time” helps me muddle through. I hope you can get your insurance sorted out – that’s a stress you could do without.
I work in healthcare, and I’ve seen the damage our profit driven system (even in “not for profit” settings) causes.
I will spare everyone what would no doubt be labeled hyperbole, and get to my point: I know you say you are not yet disabled by this disease, but you might want to begin the process of applying for SS Disability now. The process is a long one, and often true disability cases are denied out of hand the first time. It often takes two or more application attempts to get disabled status, and sometimes it takes the assistance of a lawyer (look for one that does pro-bono work, or is paid through state or community groups– check out the nearest university law school).
And when you reach that point at which you cannot sustain your life as it is now, you may not have the energy and stamina, both physical and emotional, to jump through the hoops to earn the status.
Just consider it.
I require antidepressants that are not covered by insurance. The generic brand is $135.00 out of pocket EVERY MONTH.($175 for brand name)
I researched on-line Canadian pharmacies and I now get it shipped to me for $105 for a THREE months supply and it isn’t even generic!!!!I will send you the link to the pharmacy I use if you want.
The working poor and uninsured in this country are taken good care of in Canada.
That would be great Carol – thanks! I’m sure others would be interested – would you mind posting the link here as a comment?
How is it that these things spiral out of control so quickly? My daughter works with people (and they look just like your neighbor or the person standing in line with you) that have no insurance and no one that really cares about them. I have asked her to find out for me what if anything is available for you in Minnesota. She herself was unable to get insured because she had taken a prescribed drug when she was 16. One of the questions they would ask when we were trying to get her insurance was have you ever taken ____? Well we could have lied and they could have researcher her history.
Annie you are such a remarkable person. There are so few people that could have done the things you do and yet I know when you are in that place this comment will be thrown down into the black hole. But I really mean it.
Be very careful with the generics. I don’t want to get into a huge discussion about that here, but just be careful. I will call my daughter tomorrow and we will see what we can do. What drug company makes prozac?
It is so outrageous that you have had to do without these necessary medications. And what about your hormones which are so important for mood maintaining? I hope you get sustainable Prozac soon even if it is from the Canadians. And for your birthday no less!!! Happy unbirthday then you brave woman.
I too have bben dealing with fibro about the same amount of time. I have been tom dr to dr…we are lucky to have the luxury of insurance. Right now i am in cymbalta and tramadol for pain, was feeling pretty good and then a flare-up hit today. Oy…,so miserable…I want to cry…no one gets it. It is 3:30 am and I can’t sleep….awful…I feel your pain Annie…..
I will say what so many have already said: You are very brave and strong! I, too, have FM and periods of deep depression/feelings of worthlessness. I applaud you for putting your story for all to read. I feel very strongly that one thing I can do with all this pain is to share my story whenever it is appropriate and will help someone.
I have been amazed for months as I read your blog with what you are able to do and how you carry on in the face of pain and stress.
Thank you, too, for saying you are not employable right now! (Yeah, I know, odd comment from me). I have been struggling with this issue for months and beating myself up about it. This part of your story really helped me! Thanks and gentle hugs to you. Amy
Firstly, I must tell you that I have been a fan for years and you are the only woman I know who learned to knit as I do. My grandmother who learned from her Ukranian mother taught me, and it’s a real pleasure to see you knitting! I had been told for years that I had been doing it wrong way!
I empathize completely with your depression and fibro! When my son was born in 1992, my body generated the fibro along withh all of it’s sundry manifestations…well, you know them all! I do see a fibro specialist here in the Seattle area who is amazing, and after having tried every antidepressant in the known world, Cymbalta seems to work so well for me. I tried prozac and it took me months to wean myself off of it. It doesn’t help my pain or sleep issues, but the depression exaverbated by fibro, is extremely minimal! My pain is constant and I live on Percocet,so when I see someone like you who gives as much as you do, I’m amazed by your endeavors. I’m very proud of you, and hope some day that I could function as you do.
Thank God for kntting and for designers and teachers like you who inspire me to use my creative outlet when the body and mind don’t comply. Knitting is meditative. Knitting is my yoga. Much like Catholics and their rosaries, and Hindus with prayer beads, the tactile feel of the yarn, and the smoothness of the needles help to relax me. I think that the repetition as well heals in a very real way. I am so inspired by the fact that with the fibro and depression, you manage to care for your beautiful children while manage to have a quite demanding schedule and challenging design career. My fibro hit while my now 18 yo son was a baby. After college, I had a career in the film industry in Los Angeles, and could no longer work as I did. Knitting has given me the freedom to be creative.
If there is ever anything I can do tohelp, I’m in Washington State, and a phone call away. I know that Minnesota winters are harsh and that exacerbates the fibro. My son was born in Minneapolis and I lived there for a few wonderful years. If you ever need a break, you and those beautiful children can stay with me. I have one of the leading fibro specialists in the world here. He is a Dr. Patrick Wood and is on the board of the National Fibromyalgia Association. He tries me on experimental drugs like pyridostigmine (a growth hormone), and is a champion of women with fibro and their mental and physical health.
I wish you nothing but happiness and better health..
You are so kind – thanks!
Knitting is like a wonderful meditation, isn’t it?
And I don’t give any more than anyone else does – I’m just public about my knitting!
Annie, you don’t have to suffer. All the pharmas have financial assistance programs if you make less than a certain amount per household. It has nothing to do with insurance. It’s directly from the pharmas and the only caveat is that it has to be mailed to your doc’s office for you to pick up; it won’t be sent directly to your house.
Look at the websites of who makes whatever you need and there will be information. The various sites are connection to caring or needymeds. This has been a lifesaver for me! Email me if you need more info.
When scanning an e-mail newsletter today from healthfinder.gov, I remembered reading your blog and your need for free or inexpensive medicine, so searched their site. Your husband might want to look at this info.
At the government site
I typed into the search space free precscriptions and got these results:
these sites looked the most helpful:
prozac patient assistant programs search result:
hope everything gets better for you.
wow – what a lot of work – THANK YOU!
Not sure if you’ll see this comment but I’m just now catching up on my blogs. Anyway…often, if you call the drug company directly, they have programs for no/low cost meds. I’ve done it before for my brother when he was between insurances and it was a lifesaver (literally!).
Try ordering on line from India (~$.50 per 20mg of generic Prozac). I have many of the same health issues as you (probably more of them though, believe it or not), and live the same health-care nightmare as you did. That is, having my health insurance be taken and not being insurable without being part of a group policy. My husband introduced me to the concept of ordering pharmaceuticals from India; they’re very inexpensive, the quality is excellent, and the only hiccup is that you need to order very early.
Also, I know it’s hard, but try to ignore the people who think we can get jobs (or get free medicines from pharmaceutical companies without turning ourselves inside out if at all, for that matter) and if we can [get jobs], keep them while coping with autoimmune issues.
It’s a fantasy and we both know it.
Thank goodness for them that they don’t understand… for they clearly don’t deal with the issues that we do.
I hope you do follow through on this suggestion. It truly can make a huge financial difference.
I’m a Canadian pharmacist, so I’m not sure this applies. Many drug companies have compassionate programs, whereby if you qualify, these medications can be free, or very discounted. Talk to your pharmacist about it.
Just want to say that I hope the Prozac has kicked in and you are feeling better. You are great to post on this topic, despite the negative comments. Sounds like you have a lot of compatriots out there dealing with illness, drugs and insurance issues!! Carry on.