Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Far and Away (part 2)

So, the process of getting off the meds began. I didn’t notice anything different at first. And even when I did notice things, I didn’t connect it with the medication. Really, I’d never gone off my medication the right way before. The right way would be talking to your doctor and weaning off slowly. The wrong way? Cold turkey. And that was the only way I’d gone off the meds before. (usually by accident) The type of medication I was on was an SSRI (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). The reason going cold turkey is a bad idea? Withdrawal. I’d experienced the withdrawal symptoms in full force before, but this time I thought because I was weaning off slowly I wouldn’t experience withdrawal. Turns out, I was way off. Looking back, I can see that I was experiencing some mild withdrawal early on. I felt scattered, like I couldn’t focus. Some mild anxiety. Nothing huge, which I guess is why I didn’t connect it to going off the meds.
The real trouble started after I’d taken my final dose. A couple days later I started feeling “shocks” in my face. Dizziness. Nausea. I thought I was just tired or maybe getting sick. So, I put my symptoms in Google (the go-to place for info, naturally) and when I saw “vertigo” pop up, it all clicked. I wasn’t getting sick. I was going through withdrawal. The reason it suddenly made sense for me is that vertigo was one of the withdrawal symptoms that had been the worst for me in the past. And once it clicked, it dawned on me that all the symptoms I was having were not symptoms of some mysterious illness – they were withdrawal symptoms. Vertigo, nausea, fatigue, feeling “scatter-brained” (for lack of a better term), feeling ‘on-edge’, and ‘face shocks’ or what some call ‘brain zaps’ (probably the most disconcerting).
Well, I’ll try not to bore you with all the details there, but suffice to say, I was feeling pretty miserable. I had been so excited to take my final dose, to be done with that specific medication. Then when the withdrawal hit me so hard, I was beyond discouraged. I tried not to think it was proof I couldn’t handle it. I decided I just had to make it through the withdrawal. I was going to have to tough it out. I knew if I told my doctor about the symptoms I was having, she would put me back on meds and wean me off even slower. I didn’t want to do that. Call me impatient (it’s ok, it’s true), but I wanted to be over it sooner, rather than later. So, I decided to find a way to cope (and my awesome hubby supported me).
That was about two months ago. The initial withdrawal symptoms have subsided. What’s left in their wake is just me, or what I suspect is me, without meds. The anxiety and depression I’ve dealt with for years have not disappeared. But it’s not the debilitating anxiety and depression that put me on meds in the first place. As I alluded to in my last post, I’ve had a handful of times in my life when the medication was a necessity. I wasn’t able to function. I believe God used the medication as a tool to bring me out of that. But as I also said in my last post, I’m not in one of those times now, and I’ve been hanging on to this medication as a security blanket. I can’t deny that I fear experiencing one of those times again. But God’s brought me out of every single one. And so, I try to remember, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
I’m not exactly sure how to explain how I’m feeling these days. I’m on edge a lot. I feel almost constantly stressed, even when I’m in a situation that should be relaxing. I also still struggle with feeling “scattered” sometimes, having a hard time focusing. So, I’m trying to find new ways to cope with all that. First realization? I’m not very good at it. The biggest thing I’m working on (minute by minute) is giving up control to God. I have a tendency to try to hold on and fight for control. And (big shocker here) I’m never good at it. I usually make things worse for myself. I also have a natural tendency to worry, and that seems to be amplified these days. Mostly, I worry about what other people will think of me. (something that I know in my head isn’t worth worrying about, but can’t seem to stop myself from doing) So, I spend a lot of my time trying to relax, calm down, and not worry. Sounds pretty normal on the surface, and it is to a point. But it’s intensified to the point that it makes some days incredibly difficult.
So, I can’t deny that things have been, and still are, tough. But what I can tell you is God is so good and so faithful. He’s my Shelter and Strong Tower. He’s given me a husband who is beyond understanding and patient. He’s given me two boys who can make me smile, even in the midst of tears. And He continues to teach me so much through all this. Things I’d like to keep sharing with you here. So, we’ll ‘talk’ soon. ;)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

No comments:

Post a Comment