My Morning Fog

Deborah Gray Health Guide
  • It's been a long time since I've been what you would call a morning person. The first hour after I wake up, no matter whether I lay in bed or get up immediately, I speak, think and move at the speed of molasses. Since I tend to take much longer to do anything and get confused easily when I've just woken up, I try to do as much of my morning routine as possible the night before.

    Breakfast is limited to a bowl of cereal, since anything more elaborate is just too confusing. Oddly enough, my stomach doesn't wake up for an hour or so, either. I don't get hungry until I've been awake for a while, and I have no appetite. I always pick up some coffee and a pastry or breakfast sandwich on my way to work to augment the cereal, since I know my stomach will wake up soon and decide that cereal's not enough.

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    Fate must have a twisted sense of humor, because I have been married to two men who are obnoxiously cheerful and awake in the morning. Both my current husband, George and my ex-husband, John, are/were the kind of person who can open their eyes and be not only instantly awake, but actually articulate. My ex-husband enjoyed teasing me about it, but George is (fortunately for him) wiser and lets me wander around in my fog unmolested by unnecessary chatter.

    Believe it or not, I used to wake up at the speed of light. When I was a child, I was often the first one out of bed, even before my parents. This continued into my teens, which is pretty much unheard of. A teenager who gets up at 7am on weekends? Even when I was in college I was still bounding out of bed. In my twenties I annoyed my best friend and house-mate, who was a slow waker, by being cheerful and talkative first thing when I woke up. Sometime in my late twenties, though, things changed.

    A few years ago I started wondering why. How can you go through almost thirty years of waking up instantly and then veer in the opposite direction? At first I wondered if it had something to do with my Multiple Sclerosis, but dismissed that idea. I started being a morning zombie several years before I started acquiring the lesions on my brain.

    It finally dawned on me that I started having trouble waking up around the same time that I started taking antidepressants. Not only that, when I was pregnant and didn't take any antidepressants for six months, I reverted back to waking easily. At the time, I assumed that it had something to do with being pregnant.

    Granted, this is something you probably won't see listed among the side effects in the leaflet. But it also doesn't happen to everyone. Our brains are so different that two people can experience a completely different set of side effects on the same antidepressant. Or one may have only mild symptoms, while the other person is getting really socked with them.

    And I don't have any proof that antidepressants have altered my ability to wake up quickly. But the timing makes it seem likely. And I think that it makes sense. Let's face it, antidepressants alter our brain chemistry. There's no two ways about it. Depression is complicated and multi-symptomatic, and antidepressants need to have a fundamental and sweeping effect on our brains to combat it.

  • So I spend one hour of the day in a fog now. Before I started taking antidepressants, it was the whole day. Seems like a good trade-off.

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Published On: July 02, 2008