So first I share all my crazy with you and now I share with you how I’m learning to deal with it. If you missed me sharing my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, read here. It will help you understand this one. My form of crazy is permanent. The mental illness I experience isn’t just for a season. I’ve spent years fighting this but have decided its OK to be with my crazy. So here is what I do to to attempt to maintain my zen.
As I stated in my previous post, I started taking prescription anti-depressants in 2010. It took about 3 months of trying different brands and doses of anti-depressants to find the right fit. I remember the moment I walked into the therapists office for the first time. In tears, I explained what I was feeling. She gave me several ideas to help me deal RIGHT NOW but also suggested I contact my doctor to get on anti-depressants. I had explained that I had been on anti-anxiety pills and they didn’t seem to work. She then explained the difference between anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. Anti-anxiety medications are often times tranquilizers. They get you through the moment.
Oh sweet tranquilizers…. the memories. I had a lovely relationship with Lorazapam (Ativan)for some time, but apparently taking that on a daily basis isn’t recommended. Something about increased tolerance and addiction come to mind.
I was showing signs of dependancy and my doctor could see it. It wasn’t the first time I came to her about anxiety and possibly depression. She said if these feelings were consistently happening every day I needed an SSRI. My brain needed help.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) -These modern medications make more serotonin available to the brain by blocking neurons from taking up the extra serotonin after a nerve spike.
Side effects of SSRIs may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, headache, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, and trouble sleeping.
Oh goody. This does not sound nearly as fun as those tranquilizers were. But would I rather be a slug for the rest of my life or a functioning adult? It’s a toss up.
No more ambien or lorazapam with these pills. There are too many risks combining all these medications. So sleepless nights and sad feelings will be my near future.
Here is the deal with anti-depressents. They are a bitch to prescribe. As in each of the options have pretty severe side effects and work differently with each person. They started me on Zoloft first. I understood it took almost a month to start feeling the effects of the medications. Afterall it has to adjust your brain function and that takes time (unless you’re a tranquilizer… obviously). I drove straight to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription. I immediately took one of the pills and went home… waiting for it to kick in. An hour later the pharmacy called.
“Ummm, ma’am, have you taken the drug yet?”
“well, the pharmacist gave you the incorrect dosage.”
Me: thinking this is probably not a big deal.
“You were prescribed 10mg and we gave you 50mg”
Within 3 hours my head was pounding and my chest was aching. I called the pharmacy throughout the evening to make sure I didn’t need to go to the emergency room. They assured me I would be ok. I did not feel ok. The headache turned into a migraine which lasted 24 hours. I was dizzy, exhausted, in pain, and thought I was dying. (I understand some people get regular migraines that could last for days. This was my experience and it sucks. I have sympathy for people who deal with this more often than once in a lifetime.)
The next day I switched to my prescribed 10mg dose but the chest pains didn’t go away. It was like severe anxiety – which is a side effect. That’s super helpful. Lets take some anti-depressants that cause anxiety. Genius. The chest pains lasted 10 days before my doc changed my prescription over to Prozac.
It took another week for the chest pains to subside. Within 3 weeks I started to feel the effects, but I wanted more. We upped the dose to 15mg and then 20mg. When I was on the 20mg, I was exhausted all the time. So back to 15mg. Then I found that some seasons were harder than other seasons. I had to find the sweet spot.
Being on depression medication with the current negative social stigma is hard. I battled feeling weak for having to be on them. In fact, I figured if I could just figure out what normal felt like then I could figure all my head stuff out and TADA … be able to deal on my own. Like a big girl.
So off I went. One year on, six months off, one year on, one year off, one year on, six months off…. how long am I going to do this to myself before I realize maybe I’m not one of those people that gets to go off of this medication. Insert sad face emoticon here. Last summer, I forgot to call to get my prescription resent (I mean I remembered every day I just forgot or was too lazy to actually make the call to get them shipped). I went 10 days without medication. That means, I didn’t wean off of them carefully like is required, I went cold turkey. I was a train wreck. Finally I called in the prescription and requested an emergency dose from my local pharmacy. Needless to say, that will not be happening again. I’m cool with being a lifer (as of this moment). I’ve experienced depression and anxiety long enough. I’m good with being a functioning human for my husband, my kids, and myself. That being said, I’m still fighting the stigma internally and externally.
I heard a woman in my moms group make a side comment about all the moms out there who just take meds to deal with life. I guess that’s me. The problem is, I wasn’t dealing before. I was curled up in my bed, trapped in my mind, and had a potential of physically endangering myself. So maybe she doesn’t need the meds, but I sure as hell do. I’m no longer going to defend my need for being on them, but embrace it. Hell yeah I’m on anti-depressants! THEY ARE FANTASTIC! I feel like a normal person. I’m not overly happy. I still can get sad or anxious in certain situations, but I’m not so hard on myself that I feel sitting in the dark closet by myself is the best plan of action. I can function in society with the best of them and that, my friends, is awesome. So if you are in a place of depression, give it a shot. Be patient, but give it a shot. Live your life as your BEST SELF! And realize, not everyone needs to be on anti-depressants permanently like I do.
I’m also realizing that I can’t just count on my medication to cure my depression. I also have to adjust my lifestyle. I have to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Body, brain, and spirit.
With that, I start with therapy. Working with someone to heal your brain and spirit. My therapist clears my brain from the clutter I have built up in my lifetime. She helps me bring in positive and helpful emotions that bring me peace and understanding. I have 2 therapists. One for my marriage and one for myself. Both end up helping with healing my entire self. My self worth has improved. My spirituality has grown exponentially. My patience has increased as a mom and a wife. I’ve become much more compassionate… considering before I proclaimed often my emotionally dead heart… kind of a big accomplishment here. I’m finally happy with where I am in life. As an anxious person, that is saying a lot. Before I was never enough, I was always playing catch-up with those around me. I am enough. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a cool phrase these days. I am enough. Fully. I 100% blame my therapists and the work they have forced me to do on myself for this revelation. I’ve started reading the bible more and building my relationship with Jesus. I feel like this is the first time I’m doing this, but I’ve known Him for so long… I just never let Him in. I should probably write more about that, but I’m not there yet.
Therapy has created the person I was always meant to be. But the work is not easy. It’s constant. I have to forcibly shut down the negative talk within my head. But I can finally do it. I can finally ignore the angry self deprecating thoughts that constantly pop up. Therapy is like a personal trainer for your brain and spirit. I wish I would take as good of care of my body as I have been my mind, but I’m sure it will come. It is part of my goal every day to maintain physical strength in some capacity. Lately it’s just been carrying my baby around everywhere which hardly counts. It’s better than fudge and soda I guess.
Every day is a new challenge between mind, body, and spirit. I wrote in my journal (the one that is hidden under a pile of laundry I have yet to fold) all the things I wanted to accomplish in a day. It goes like this:
- Wake up at 5am
- Drink 24oz water with vitamins (Get 100/oz water each day)
- Meditate 10 min with essential oils (frankincense usually… because WWJD?)
- Visualize my day in a positive way accomplishing easily all of my tasks.
- Exercise for 10-30 min
- Listen to a motivational book for 10-30 min (during exercise)
- Write or journal for 10-15 min.
- Connect with 2 friends. Build relationships.
So far, I have completed all of these things in one day… never.
That journal entry was dated a year ago. So I’m not some sort of amazing human that takes care of every aspect of her body, but the point is I try. I probably get MAYBE one of those things on my list done every day.
So that is how I keep the sanity in my day… I try things … every single day. I’m not perfect at it, but at least I try.
Giving myself every possible opportunity to be authentically me in the most peaceful and inspiring way I can, is the greatest gift I can give my body, my husband, and my children.