Several years ago, I was riding in the car with my mom, and, as usual, tears were streaming down my face. What was I upset about? Who knows. Was the reaction I was having too big for the problem? Probably.
She gently mentioned that she thought meds for my anxiety might help.
From there, it took me a year to call and make an appointment.
And then, guess what? I canceled and rescheduled. Canceled and rescheduled.
Funny how when you have so much anxiety, you have too much anxiety to make an appointment to help with said anxiety.
I had just had a thing at school, the day I finally decided I had to do it. Enough was enough. I’d been accused of doing something that not only did I NOT do, I felt so angry and ashamed that someone could even THINK I could do something like that. I was sat down in an office and a parent was allowed to scream at me. I was sitting down, he was standing up. The whole thing was a NIGHTMARE.
And it rattled me. My dad used to yell at me like that. Scream. I yell at my kids from time-to-time. My dad was different. It was sharp. Angry to the point of scary.
I honestly felt like it rattled something loose inside of me. Things that I had bottled up for years and years. Things that I had stuffed down further to make room for grief.
A doctor said to me once that since my childhood was lived in fight-or-flight, that my body couldn’t really discern whether something simple like calling to make an appointment I didn’t want to have from something truly harmful.
So, I went on anxiety meds. I was one of those people before that said, “They are great. People should take them. Just not me.” The first 6 months were so horrible. I tried 3 different kinds of meds.
One made me literally fall asleep sitting up in the middle of the day, as though I as on actual drugs. One caused some trouble in an area I probably shouldn’t talk about, and one literally made me constipated.
I finally settled on one, and at first the difference was incredible. I didn’t feel so irritable! I didn’t want to yell! I hardly cried!
But then, after a while, I felt like they weren’t working. My dosage was upped.
And then again.
And then again.
And pretty soon I was on 150 mg of an SSRI and I felt like a walking ghost. It took me a while to realize that I was depressed. I was having the worst school year ever, and the stress was overwhelming. Some of my friends were pretty much done with me. Inter-personal relationships all around me were failing. I was having vivid, terrifying nightmares and not sleeping.
What’s funny is I was so close to upping my dose again, when something nagged me. Maybe, just maybe, these are the wrong meds for you.
I also bet you’re wondering what the heck my point is right now.
Today, I’ve been off anxiety meds for 5 days. I went from 150 mg to 100, to 50, to 25, to 25 e/o day, and now none.
And it’s possible because … drum roll … I haven’t been at work since March 13th. Teaching is STRESS. Our work is STRESS. During this quarantine, I’ve walked 3 miles every day (sometimes 6!). I’ve run and jumped into the pool with my kids to cool off when we arrive back home. I’ve slept in and read books and listened to podcasts and not sat with anxiety, wondering how I could cancel the thing I should never have agreed to. Ha ha, suckers! I don’t even have to answer the door, because quarantine!
Am I anxious about things? Heck, yes. But I’m not stressed. And I have laughed SO MUCH in the past 5 days. The thing about antidepressants is that they level you out. So there aren’t so many lows, but I wasn’t feeling the highs either. And the highs are what make me who I am!
I’ve been stressed since I was a small child. Will my parents divorce? What will my dad say or do next? Then a boyfriend who gaslit. Then my parents did actually divorce. Then infertility. Then cancer. Then the twins died. Then my mother in law. Then my family members hate me, what did I do?
Type II diabetes. Anxiety. Stubborn belly fat that won’t go no matter what.
It’s time for me to attack the problem at the source. I HAVE to say no to things that don’t bring me joy. I have to say NO. I have to focus on my health. Exercise. Meditation. Nature. TAKING BREAKS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA!
If this doesn’t go well, I will 100% go back on anxiety meds. When school starts in the fall, and I have to go back in the building, which causes me to actually feel the stress rising up, and I need them again, I will take them. This post is not me advocating “Everyone go off their meds! WAHOO!” Not even a little. I’m not actually sure yet if this was the right thing.
But, like always, I share this to let you know that you’re not alone. Therapy. Meds. Stress. Sadness. Wondering if you’re normal.
You are, yo.