Changing Meds and Other Changes

I started the process of changing to new medications a few days ago.  And I’m noticing some changes already.  I have found I actually need a little less sleep now.  Used to be I got 8 hours a night like clock work, now I need only 6 to 7 hours.  I have even been making a point to get out of my complex more.  Went to the park for an hour and chatted with a bunch of neighbors on Saturday.  Found out three tenants are moving out within a month. One of those tenants was the grumpiest and angriest man I ever met in my entire life.  I mentioned him in a previous blog.  He’s one of these old guys who doesn’t believe in mental illness.  He believed that people like me were just making these problems up because we “are lazy and don’t want to do any real work.”  I hate people like that.  Guys like that are petty people and just have to make everyone else miserable.  Needless to say I won’t miss this ornery old man.  His impending departure was the happiest news I have heard in weeks.

Got out quite a bit today.  It was quite warm here today, more like late spring than early spring.  Currently have a baseball game on in the back ground.  I enjoy watching baseball.  It is more relaxing than football, that’s why I enjoy it more.  I’ve been out more the last few days than the previous two weeks.  In addition to wanting to get out and about more I’ve been wanting to socialize more.  I actually felt lonely today for the first time in months.  I previously haven’t minded the solitude and have actually wanted it.  But now I’m starting to actually want to socialize.

I’ve been listening to more music too.  Found out I like some of the newer dance, techno, and dubstep music.  Normally an older guy like myself would like only music they grew up with.  But I have never cared about when music was made.  Good music is good music, I don’t care if it’s Mozart, Louis Armstrong, old Delta Blues, John Lennon, hard rock, hip hop, or techno.  I never did like these old guys who always complained about the “lousy kids.”  So I vowed at age thirteen that when I became an old guy myself, I’d go easier on the kids than my elders did.  Been watching a little more tv too.  I’ve been watching ‘Marco Polo’ on Netflix.  If you are turned off by violent shows, I don’t recommend it.  But it is a cool show about how different cultures interact with each other.  Another series with similar themes I’ve been rematching is ‘Hell on Wheels’, which is about the building of the first transcontinental railroad in America immediately after the Civil War.  I still watch ‘Star Trek’ every so often.  But with wanting to socialize outside my apartment more, I may be finding myself with less down time.  And that would definitely be a change.

Losing Weight While On Anti-Psych Meds 2

One of the most common side effects of taking antidepressants  and anti-psych medications is weight gain.  I myself was no exception to this.  But now that trend has been  reversed.  I’ve been working on becoming more active and tracking what I eat since the middle of March 2014.  As of early November 2014, I have lost over 55 pounds in this time.

I suppose I ought to go into some of the background of this.  In August 2013, it became obvious to me I could not keep going as I was.  So I hastily started out trying to lose weight.  But I didn’t actually keep track of what I ate, was inconsistent about exercise, and tried to follow a plan that I didn’t specifically tailor to my personal likes and tendencies.  That first attempt at losing weight failed.  I had to take some time, figure out why it didn’t work, and adjust accordingly.  That’s how I spent much of December 2013 and January 2014.

I also talked to my psych nurse about my intentions of losing weight.  He and I agreed to switch to two newer medications that didn’t have as much of a tendency to promote weight gain as my previous two medications.  It was tough to change medications that had worked well on the mental side of my health.  Yet, both my psych nurse and I thought that a wrecked physical health would only ruin my mental health eventually.  The change over was a rather slow process that took most of January 2014, all of February and March 2014.  It was, as time would show, a change over that was worth it.

Once the weather started to warm up in late March, I made it a point to walk outside for at least 10 minutes per day.  That doesn’t sound like much but it was a start to developing good habits.  From those beginnings I am now able to do 35 to 40 minutes of physical activity five days per week.  I make it a point to take at least one day per week off from exercise merely to allow my body to recover and break up the routine some.

I also track everything that I eat.  I do this through a free tracking profile I have on webmd.com.  All I had to have to sign up for this was a valid email address.  The profile I have tracks calories eaten as well as calories burned through exercises.  Another site I used to get some good ideas was trimdownclub.com.  It does cost some money through a one time fee.  I have looked around online and there are numerous apps that track calories used, calories eaten, etc., and many of these are free apps.  I just track everything through my laptop computer as I don’t own a smartphone.

Once I decided I wanted to lose weight, learned my tendencies and how to work accordingly, changed my anti-psych meds to some with less side effects, began building my psychical stamina slowly, tracking everything I eat as well as my exercise, stopped making excuses as to why I couldn’t get healthier, and even quit punishing myself for those inevitable days where I backslide, it became just a matter of running my tailor made program and doing the work.  I also do not weigh myself daily.  I usually only weigh every four weeks.  I do this so as to not get discouraged if the numbers aren’t changing on a day to day basis.  I also do not go only by what the numbers on the scale are, I also go off how I personally feel.

I also do not follow any one program completely.  I’ve taken advice from many sources, such as Weight Watchers, Trim Down Club, Glycemic Index diets, Paleo diets, as well as my personal preferences.  It took several months of research and looking at my own tendencies before I started losing weight to figure out something I thought would work for my personal circumstances.  I certainly couldn’t afford some diets or much organic foods as I’m living off Social Security Disability Insurance at the moment.  But the facts are I am losing weight while on anti-psych medications and working in the constraints of a very limited budget.  It can be done but it does take facing the truth about yourself and knowing your tendencies.  Something like this, for the results to last, has to be a complete lifestyle change.