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Sunday, July 5, 2015

When Anti-Depressants Fight Back


"That's all I want in this life: for this pain to seem purposeful."
-Elizabeth Wurtzel Prozac Nation

Ok, so I kind of struggle with depression, maybe sometimes I'm a little melancholy, perhaps I crawl into a little dark hole and shut out the world, and there's a chance that's not all that uncommon.

Imagine that. Imagine that I spent a decade feeling like I was unjustifiably sad and had to fake happy as often as I could to balance it out. I mean how else could I explain people calling me "Mrs. Brightside," when I felt so dark more often than not. I was truthfully conscious of the fact that throughout much of my life I had plenty to be thankful for, but often felt so heavy, dark, and full of a sense of impending doom.

In between those times though, were times when things actually were ok, sometimes even better than ok. I had plenty of times I felt insanely happy as well.  I guess that's typical for people like me. I intend to expand more about depression itself in an upcoming blog, but I really wanted to share my most recent experience first.

Paxil.
Pax-hell.
You'll feel better, they said.
Just take it for a little while, they said.

This is why I try to never listen to "they." Yes, I was struggling in 2014. Yes, I had some hurts I had been struggling to get through and my anxiety was worse than it ever had been. Yes, I was losing sleep and feeling a tad unmotivated at work. Yes, after keeping the weight I had lost off for almost 6 years I slowly gained about 20 pounds over the course of the year. Sure, I might have needed a chemical boost, but I did not need self-destruction in pill form. Was I in for a surprise or what?!

Holy where-the-hell-did-four-and-a-half-months-go Batman?!

Paxil.
Pa-devil.
You'll be able to sleep again, they said.
You'll be good as new in no time, they said.

Ok, from February-June:

My anxiety attack count went down,
I got more sleep,
I was writing poetry, and
I met an amazing man and fell in love, but....

I got more sleep because I rarely wanted to get out of bed. I was writing poetry because I wasn't feeling motivated to do ANYTHING else and writing a blog would take a longer attention span than I was capable of having. I was still having some anxiety attacks, they just weren't as frequent. I did meet a wonderful man, and I am lucky he is sticking it out through all the storm that I am hopefully almost out of.  Then, the unexpected bonuses....

Paxil.
Shit-xil.
You'll want to run again, they said.
You'll be healthier all around, they said.

Numb.
I was like a numb, mindless, unmotivated, sleepy, zombie. Oh did I mention I aquired a lovely slew of hives that got progressively worse as the weeks went on. I didn't care about things that normally were important to me. My car looked like I lived in it. Dishes would sit longer than normal. Laundry piled higher. Before I started on Paxil I had just started working on becoming a morning person and was getting up at sunrise and doing yoga, drinking green smoothies, and was on a whole new health kick that I was actually excited about. Guess how many times I did yoga and drank a green smoothie from February to June. You guessed it, zero. Well, I may have purchased one from Jamba Juice, but that doesn't even count. Ready for the kicker? I piled on another 30 pounds in 4 months to the previous 20 pounds I had put on in 2014. The worst part about all of these things was I either didn't notice them, or if I did, I didn't care. I couldn't care.

Am I painting a decent picture for you? I was suffering from mild depression and severe anxiety, so I sought help. Then one day I woke up, looked around my room, couldn't button my pants, looked in the mirror and then the breakdown came. I couldn't live like that anymore. Why didn't I return some phone calls but I would others? Why didn't I feel like going into my office or working out? I was coasting on cruise control down a bizarre road of nothingness. It was a miracle I met my boyfriend when I did because I had so very little to give anyone. I hated what I had become and knew it had to stop or it would get worse. I had 4 pills left and no refills. I had two choices, continue the nightmare and call my doctor to get more meds, or run hard the other way. So, I chopped them in half and began my escape.

It wasn't easy. I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life and almost thought I was having a heart attack. Then came everything else. The past several weeks have been some of the hardest weeks I have experienced. I couldn't think, complete sentences, or make sense of much. I had shocks in my brain that felt like I was being electrocuted and would send shocks throughout my body. They were so intense and painful at first I couldn't even drive and I did end up in Urgent Care. I like to think I deal with pain fairly well, but the part that was hardest to deal with was the uncontrollable emotions. I cry at the drop of a hat. I can't help it. I'm so overly sensitive right now it's absolutely intolerable. I have had my feelings hurt by friends and family recently in ways that I don't think I would've been too bothered with normally. I am still forgetful and get frustrated easily. I am miserable in countless ways, but I have hope. I know I'm going to get through this part and I can absolutely see the light.

Paxil.
Pax-hole.
You'll feel like yourself again in no time, they said.
You'll be happy, they said.

Now I'm 50 pounds overweight, with skin discolorations from wherever I had hives, I feel electric shocks in my brain every few minutes, I cry even when I don't want to, some nights I can't sleep at all, and some nights I fall into a deep sleep leaving people I care about hanging waiting for my phone call, my mind is still a little cloudy, but I know it's almost over. I know I can get through this. I went rollerblading twice last week. I cleaned out my car inside and out, put air in the tires and did some normal repairs on it that it has been needing. I am doing everything I can to stay positive. This has truly been one of the most confusing and frustrating times in my life. On the other hand, I think I learned so many lessons. My anti-depressants actually put me in a state of feeling more depressed with less passion for life in general. (Not to mention the weight, the skin spots, the constant puffy eyes and brain zaps). I should have communicated more with my doctor, the nurses in my life, people around me, etc, but I just kept it all to myself trying to fight my way through it; that's the first lesson. The next lesson was I should've talked to the doctor before yanking myself off of the poison pill I was taking because that could've all been much worse. I also realized that it's so important to pay attention to the little clues around you when battling depression, especially when meds are involved. All the little clues were right there in front of me screaming that the meds weren't working as they should've been.

Now what.

Apologies to those affected during my drugged up ambivalent state.
Get my health back.
Start my yoga practice again.
Feel.
Feel everything again.
Appreciate the darkness, for in it I found my way to the light.
Hang in there through the tears and brain zaps knowing that they won't last forever.
Share my story so that others will know they aren't alone, and maybe some people out there will understand depression and withdrawals on a deeper level than they have before.

In closing, I am not seeking sympathy or pity, I felt very strongly that I needed to share my experiences, because for the first time ever I am truly understanding that I am not alone. I hope this helps someone else realize that as well. Now for some yoga...

Namaste.