Saturday, February 2, 2013

Because Your Cholesterol Level Doesn't Matter If You're Dead

Hello, my peoples. I have been neglecting you for way too long. I can 'splain. Get comfy; this one's a doozy. 
A few weeks ago, when a nasty cold was making its way through my household, all the strength and energy got sucked right out of my body. Not only was I dog-tired all the time, but my muscles felt like they were filled with sand. I attributed it to cooties, took a few days out of my daily routine to rest up, then went back to pushing myself through every-day life even though I was still pretty fatigued. Word on the street was that this year’s round of cooties were fierce and recovery times were long. So I didn’t think too much of it.
Somewhere along the way, I also started to feel kinda blue. I wasn't terribly surprised. After all, it was right after the holidays, I'd taken some time off work, I'd been sick for awhile, and we'd had some inclement weather. I was out of my normal routine more often than not for a couple of weeks, and that's always enough to bring me down. I do well with structure and adult supervision. Too much time on my hands usually gets me in trouble.

So I continued to push myself through my every-day life in the hopes the blues would pass. I thought I was doing OK. I was ignoring the whispers of intrusive thoughts for the most part and putting one foot in front of the other with a stupid fake smile on my face like a good little soldier. 

Then all hell broke loose inside my head.

Miracle Man and I had been fighting. A lot. I mean a really lot. Of course I thought it was all his fault. But then I noticed that Miracle Man wasn’t the only object of my ire – I was pissed off at pretty much everyone all the time. Especially myself. For being sad. For being tired. For being stupid. For being worthless. I had begun to loathe myself and everyone around me. Then a handful of red flags shot up over the course of the weekend that made me realize I was in deep shit:
  • I got an email from Sweet Little Sister one afternoon asking if I needed help with something I'd been struggling with, and generally letting me know she cares. I sat in front of my computer crying - yes, actual weeping - because there was one person in the world who thought I was worth caring about.
  • I got in a Facebook spat with two of Miracle Man’s friends over comments that weren't even bad. For no good reason my rational brain went on vacation and left Ragey Sassyfats in charge of all the thinkin’. I took their innocuous comments as a direct attack on my character and burned a couple of bridges in return.
  • I became jealous of people who had terminal diseases. They were lucky - they were about to get off this stinkin' planet without having to pick the least painful way to go.
  • While doing the dishes one night I held a large kitchen knife in my hand for a full minute, wondering how bad it would hurt if I turned it on myself. Deciding against making a big ol' bloody mess on the floor, I slowly put the knife away. 
  • For several days in a row, I prayed for release from this world. When I went to bed at night, I hoped I wouldn't wake up. When I woke up in the morning, I hoped I wouldn't last through the day. 
It finally dawned on me that my thought patterns were very much not normal. I mean, the inside of my head can be a pretty dangerous neighborhood sometimes, but it's never been that bad. And I realized these dangerous thought patterns were very much not dissipating. They were getting stronger and more frequent every day.
Upon reflection a few days ago, I realized that the onset of my fatigue and downward spiral coincided with something: I had started taking a statin to lower my cholesterol the first week of January. Which is exactly when I started to feel blah.
One quick Google search revealed that fatigue and muscle weakness are signs that your body seriously doesn’t like statins. And then allllllllll the way at the bottom of the literature, there was a brief mention that a “statistically insignificant” number of patients experienced severe mood alteration, depression, aggression, and suicide as a result taking the medicine.
I know, Will Smith. I don't get it either.
Let me get this straight. My doctor gave me this little white pill because my cholesterol was almost too high. Not OMG-way-too-high. Almost too high. The little white pill was supposed to protect me from the evils of almost-too-high cholesterol and theoretically extend my life. But the side effect of this little white pill - pay attention now, this is important. This little pill had robbed me of my very will to live. 
I know, Jackie Chan. It defies logic.
If I hadn't stumbled upon this little tidbit of info, I could very well ended up on a slab, dead from a self-inflicted murder (to borrow a phrase from Nikki Sixx). But, oh hay! The coroner would be very impressed with my lipid profile. So at least there would have been that. 
After wading through a handful of the search results, I discovered that cholesterol actually plays a vital role in helping your neurotransmitters - your brain juices, if you will - get from Point A to Point B. If the cholesterol level in your brain drops too low, it can disrupt the transmission of serotonin - which has an impact on mood and behavior. Serotonin also happens to be the juice my brain already has trouble with. Interesting factoid, if you ask me. 
The next day didn’t take my statin pill. I felt a lot better. Still kinda off, but not nearly as bad. But the day after that, I was a completely different person. My energy level was back up and the sand was out of my muscles. More importantly, I felt something I hadn’t felt in weeks: Joy. For no apparent reason. It was just there. No longer in a fog of self-loathing, I was ready to face life’s challenges. I still cannot believe that just a few days ago I was in a state of absolute despair, actively trying to figure out an exit strategy from this life. That thought pattern seems so foreign to me now that my brain chemistry is working right(ish) again. 

Just so we're clear: I'm back from the abyss. Self-loathing? Gone. Aggression toward others? Gone. Death wish? Way gone. Thank you, Jesus.

There is a moral to this little tale: Know your medicines. Do your research. Take routine inventory of your thoughts and feelings - depression is a sneaky bastard who whispers lies in your ear; if you're not paying enough attention he can grab the back of your neck and slam your face into the floor before you even know he's in the room. Above all, listen to that little voice in your head when it tells you something just ain't right. It just might save your life.  


  1. I am so happy that you are doing better. Prayers have always been sent for you and your family my friend. There is so much in life that has yet to be done. I know at times it is rough but just keep putting it in gods hands. He can take it

  2. I love you so very much!! Welcome back! Xoxo


Go on, spill yer guts!