Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Cinderella Drug

Taking Provigil reminds me of the Cinderella story, but without the happy ending.

Although it's never had quite the same effect as it had the very first time I took it, when it gave me such an energy boost that I felt like me again, it still gives me this magic window of functionality.

It has allowed me to attend the preschool's "Meet Your Teacher" open house the night before school started, followed by a picnic sponsored by the school's parent organization.

Provigil also helped me make it to last week's MOMS Club board meeting. (I'm treasurer of my chapter. I might not make it to activities, but I can handle the books.) I'd had a lousy day, was exhausted, but I took Provigil around 4:30 p.m. and it perked me up enough that I made it through the 7-10 p.m. meeting.

And this weekend, I again needed the boost to be able to have dinner with some new friends we've made through Ellie. (Even Scott has commented that one of the unforeseen benefits of having Ellie is that we're meeting some cool people we really like that we probably never would have crossed paths with otherwise.) Evenings really are next-to-impossible for me normally, but Provigil makes them, if not "normal," doable.

But just like Cinderella, whose dress turned to rags and carriage back to a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, after five, six if I'm really really lucky, hours, the bubble pops.

And it all comes crashing down.

The pills, which are supposed to last eight to twelve hours, probably wear off gradually but it seems like a sudden end when it comes.

As a friend drove me home after the board meeting, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. I could barely drag myself up the front steps to the door. And the next day? I'd say it was like a hangover but that's not it exactly. It's more like a rebound effect, that by pushing my body with medication to do more than it could on its own, I increase the level of exhaustion by at least a factor of 10. It takes days to recover.

So is it worth it to take Provigil?

I go back and forth.

On the one hand, it's a big mood boost for me to feel like I can participate more in Ellie's life and perhaps even have a (small) social life. That's exactly what my internist was hoping for when she gave me the Provigil samples after I told her I needed my anti-depressants tweaked yet again because I got so depressed at how little I could participate in the activities Scott and Ellie did during her 12-day break between summer camp and school starting.

On the other hand, the recovery period from the "over-exertion" I do with help from Provigil means I am getting even less done on my non-Provigil days. (Which is most days. I've taken six Provigil caplets in 20 days.) Some non-Provigil days, I can't even manage to check my email or focus on a book, much less post to my blogs. Then again, I had days like that even before the Provigil so perhaps it's not fair to blame it on a rebound from the medication.

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