Thursday, May 21, 2015

on being real

I never thought I'd be the type to say antidepressants are life savers, because it's easy to have an opinion when it doesn't involve your struggles or your own life.

I like the idea that getting enough fresh air and exercise will cure it all, but it doesn't.  Sometimes it's in your genes, and as much as you want to control that part of your life- you can't.

I was not a part of this prescription drug world until I was told I had social anxiety.  This was after a 24-hour-heart monitor, an MRA and doctor appointment after doctor appointment.  I had passed out in public with Jack who was just two at the time.  I had severe anxiety and didn't know it.  My hands would go numb and next thing I knew... I wasn't sure if I was breathing.  Once I was diagnosed, things made sense, things leading all the way back to my childhood.

They prescribed me three different drugs, one for blood pressure, one for social anxiety and one that would mellow me out.  For the next month I walked around like someone with no weight on their shoulders.  No racing thoughts.  No panic attacks.  No more freaking out in public.  No more lies so I could stay home.  I felt more in control of my thoughts, feelings and actions.  I felt a peace I never knew existed.  

I remember a counselor telling me this peace is what is normal.  I wanted to cry.  I was living in such a chaotic world for so long.  It's like someone turned down the volume and the music was finally pleasant. 

I had to quit all the medications cold turkey when I became pregnant with Jude.  I remember being mostly depressed and on edge during my pregnancy.  I remember wanting to be a better mom and wife and I knew as soon as I had him, I could get back on my medication and be that person again.  So I decided not to breastfeed and the day after he was born I began the medications again.  After I had Jude, it was the happiest time in my life.

Fast forward almost three years...

100lbs heavier and still happy, I wondered about my weight.  I wanted to see if the medication was causing the weight gain, so I decided to cut one of them in half.  Surely I could control it myself now.

Within two weeks I noticed a drastic change in my eating habits.  The lower dosage seemed fine and I was more in control of my eating.

Fast forward 3 more weeks.  Everything is irritating, sounds, people, if someone brushes against my skin the wrong way.  I'm talking faster.  I'm not happy.  I notice my negative attitude and even how much more I complain.  I feel like I can't control my thoughts, my words or even my emotions anymore.  I feel my heart racing in my chest.  My hands are often swollen from the higher blood pressure.  I want to stay home, going out seems like a chore.  I can barely sleep at night and during the day I am exhausted.

I know I need the full dose of my medication, even if it means gaining weight.  So today I put myself back on the full dose, with the accepted thought that I may need to be on these medications for the rest of my life.  But if it means a happy life, I'll do it.  And maybe we need to give doctors more credit.

It is my struggle.  It's a stigma.  It's mental health.

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