Down With the Lexapro Flu

Hello, Friends! It’s been awhile. It’s hard to write, work, care-take, AND get the fifteen-plus hours of sleep I need when I bite the bullet and go back on antidepressants.

Since I last wrote, I had a promising appointment with a new doctor, and I’ve been taking a low-dose of Lexapro for three weeks.

I feel way less depressed and slightly less anxious. That’s the good part.

The not-so-good part is that my focus is worse than ever, and that I could sleep around the clock. I think the sleep part might be getting better…but I’m not 100% certain of that. Hence the term ‘Lexapro Flu.’

I warned Gil when I decided to go back on the mood-enhancing (hopefully) drugs that this ALWAYS happens. They make me SOOOOO tired. In all honesty, the exhaustion is the sole reason I have avoided and procrastinated getting myself adequately medicated. It’s the hardest thing for me. I feel like I imagine people with narcolepsy feel.

My first stint on antidepressants was way back in the late nineties shortly after my life fell apart. My dad was dead; my boyfriend was in prison. My mom was fragile and my brother was beginning his illegal drug phase…and I was seriously pondering dropping out of college. Fun times I tell ya.

My aunt and uncle thought we could use a getaway and booked a family vacation on Sanibel Island. I hear it’s lovely. The bed in the condo was divine, but that’s the extent of my memory of the place because…back then I had ‘Zoloft flu.’

Of course, sleeping your life away isn’t that big of a deal when you have no job, no children and limited responsibilities. I basically slept for six weeks and then returned to life well-rested and significantly less depressed and ready to make some changes.

I stayed on the meds for a year or so and then went off them successfully with no major depressive relapse to speak of.

A few years later after marriage, job changes…life, I tried Zoloft again and I couldn’t do it. I could not get through the six weeks needing around-the-clock sleep. Employers frown on snoozing at your desk in case you were wondering.

I managed to avoid the severe depression of my past and recent present, but in many ways I struggled for sure.

I’ll spare you all the other details for now; I’ve written here and there about the different meds I’ve taken (mostly ADHD meds), but the short is that being diagnosed with ADHD in my early thirties altered my entire mental health plan. I also had two children back-to-back soon after I was diagnosed, and while I had a bit of depression after, I discovered that SNRIs were a better fit for my symptoms. Still, I’ve learned the hard way that mental illness is chronic and must be managed. It’s frustrating, but it’s reality.

The past two years have been different. We moved, which has mostly been positive, but I underestimated how such a change would impact my delicate mental health. Changing doctors has been tough and I’ve mostly been existing – a far cry from living and certainly from thriving.

I hate to even bring it up, but since last November’s presidential election…I have wilted. I’ve found myself in a negative spiral of utter hopelessness. I’m angry at the world and have wanted to hide in my house and never come out.

Anxiety morphed into depression and none of the tools in my mental health toolbox were working.

As I said, it’s been three weeks now. I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor tomorrow. He was insistent that we get my anxiety to a manageable point before tackling the ADHD. Most likely I’ll be able to add a stimulant, which I’m hoping will help with the fatigue (I really hate that term because it’s the understatement of the decade.) I’m leery because stimulants never…stimulate me in the sense of waking me up. If anything they calm me down…and it I get any calmer…I just don’t know.

I’ve still been playing tennis and getting plenty of exercise. I’m going to bed early, and only taking short naps during the day. I mean, I think I’m getting to a point of not needing quite as much sleep, but it’s a fight. I’ve put off all my work. I’m freelancing and doing transcription work, but my focus is so bad I’m scared to do too much for fear I’ll botch it all up. Thankfully, I taught some tennis clinics in late summer and fall, so the big money (ha!) from that is now rolling in, but yeah, I gotta get over this exhaustion.

Everytime Gil sees me on the couch he asks how long I think the Lexapro flu is gonna last. We joke when I decline various invitations that I should simply say, I can’t come. I’m down with the Lexapro flu.

So yeah, the anxiety/depression is better. I’ll be back with the full report when I can stay upright for longer than five minutes.

What’s new in your world? Any experience/commiseration with fatigue when taking medication. Any tips?



12 thoughts on “Down With the Lexapro Flu

  1. May God bless and heal you. My tip? “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” If you don’t know Jesus, invite Him to come into your heart and save you. Then ask Him to heal you. The Bible says that by His stripes we are healed. He has healed me many times over the years and healed other people I know, including my son who was scheduled to have a metal rod inserted in his back before the Lord straightened it. We have the x-rays to prove that. Start reading your Bible, perhaps the New Testament. Maybe start with Mark. Find a joyful church and attend it and make friends. Going to church should be FUN! Look for a church with a praise & worship band. A church where folks aren’t afraid to raise their hands and shout to the Lord in praise and children are allowed to dance in the aisle and enjoy church too. This works for me. All in the same day, my husband was sent home from the hospital to die; my mom died and I couldn’t go to her memorial service because my husband was terminal; our beloved sheep dog died, and our truck (our only transportation) caught on fire in downtown San Antonio. But that wasn’t the worst day of my life. Four years ago, my only son a USMC major, crashed in a plane when he was going to attend the funeral of one of his Marines. Only the Lord pulled me through all this and the joy of the Lord IS my strength no matter the circumstances in my life. Hope this helps you. God bless and keep you. You are brave and courageous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wise words for sure. God and prayer have gotten me through numerous time for sure. You have certainly had a lot. Much love to you. Thank you for the kind words. Glad we connected. Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. This is exactly what we were trying to avoid with our son. I’ve been down the medication path multiple times with multiple outcomes similar to yours. Hopefully you can get your energy back soon! If you aren’t scared of the possibilities of natural medicine and oils. You should definitely give the liquid Xanax a try. I’m 2 months in with our son and myself and I can honestly say, I feel amazing. And you should too! Whatever the path, we all want the same outcome, I wish you the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’ve experimented with different oils with good results. I’ll have to look at the liquid Xanax blend. I’ve had good results with both of my sons using various oils. Magnesium helps a lot, too. It’s a process for sure. All the best to you and thanks for the suggestion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Couples With ADHD | Grief Happens

  4. If it’s not too personal, can I ask how you came to be diagnosed with ADHD? I have only recently realised that I might have it, and part of me feels slightly ridiculous because…. if I have it shouldn’t I have known before now? But it honestly had never occured to me. It would explain a LOT of the behaviours that I struggle with though, from reading about it, as well as a lot of struggles from school and just… life, generally. But I see that you got diagnosed in your early thirties and that gives me hope, in a strange way.

    I hope you get past the Lexapro flu earlier than expected!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course you can ask! It was kind of bizarre actually. I had returned to college (I had dropped out the first go-around to move to New York for a job as a flight attendant) and while I was doing okay back in school, I still could not stay organized and on top of everything. I knew I was intelligent, but my whole life I had heard that I wasn’t applying myself and living up to my potential. The other side was that at times I probably wasn’t trying all that hard…so there WAS some truth to that “not applying yourself” line. I had taken a massive load of classes (23 hrs – in most US universities, a standard load is 12-16 hrs per semester), so I had 6 or 7 different classes to keep up with which is a lot for anyone, and certainly someone like me. Even still, something felt off. I was now paying for my school; I was 30 yrs old; and I was hella motivated like never before. I made all As, a C, and a D in anatomy which meant I had to retake it. I was distraught. Then, a very random thing happened. I spent a few days at my mom’s house over the long holiday break. One night I was perusing her bookshelf and found some books about ADHD – the specific one that grabbed my attention was Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell & John Ratey. I started reading it and could not stop. It was all me!!!! Now…the reason my mom had those books was because my younger brother had been diagnosed with ADHD when he was 6 or 7. But…he and I are worlds different as far as symptoms (this is typical with boys and girls, plus there are a gazillion different ways ADHD presents.) I honestly see it as more of a difference rather than a disorder, but getting treated has definitely benefitted me. I just can’t get too wrapped up in the label because then it sort of hinders me. I can fixate on what I’m not able to do more than how the difference actually benefits me in ways. (Not sure I’m making much sense.) So…back to when I first read the book. When I returned to school, I made an appt at the learning/counseling center and laid it all out there – told them my thoughts, history, etc. So…they tested me, gave me some options (at that point I wanted to try meds just to see if they’d help.) The whole process – the realization that I had it and that I could be helped and the counseling and meds — was 95% positive. My focus for things I found tedious and boring improved 100% and I finished school and started a graduate program. Meds are tricky (as I’ve sporadically written about on this blog) and have to be altered. They’re far from a fix-all but more one tool that can help. I’ve been off them for awhile…but it’s time to go back. I know myself & I’ll likely not take them forever – more off and on. Fortunately I’m able and comfortable doing that and it hasn’t been a huge deal for me (tho I am way dramatic on my blog from time to time, it prob seems like a huge deal.) So…yeah…that’s the story. I’m happy to answer any other questions you have. I have an appt today…so I’ll hopefully be a bit more focused. Maybe I’ll do a segment here at the blog. I’m toying with the idea of launching another blog about family life with ADHD. Both my kids & my husband have it…so we’re an interesting bunch for sure. Keeping a sense of humor is crucial. It’s always great to hear from you. You’re such an observant and intelligent writer with so much empathy and compassion. I suspect a lot of kindred spirits have ADHD. I guess more than anything it’s figuring out how to manage life enough that you’re able to live the way you want and do the things you want. I hope this made sense. I’m speed typing on my phone & can’t edit at the moment. Take care, Quinn. ~ Viv


Comments are closed.