I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about anxiety and depression and I feel like such a fraud.
There are people out there having ‘episodes’ and ‘crises’ and getting their parents to take the kids for a few days so they don’t see them at their lowest point and I feel like such a phony member of that club.
But I do know that last year there were times when I lay in a torpor in the bath, crying and hyperventilating at the same time, unable to get out, with the water getting colder around me.
I am far too sensible, too much of a people pleaser to have the ‘real’ dark thoughts….you know the ones I mean, but I did want to crawl into the wardrobe and hide and never come out again.
I can’t actually verbalise or write the awful, pessimistic, gloomy thoughts I was having because that tiny little worm of sadness is still in there and if I feed it or give it airtime, it will become a snake. An adder at first but eventually a boa constrictor sucking the life out of me.
My husband bought a book – Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ – an account of his journey to shore up his own mental health. He read it in two sittings and gave it to me. “You should read this, it might help”. I started but found it too painful, too raw to continue. I will read it, I just can’t yet. He can’t understand why I am so frightened of reading it. But I am, because I still don’t think I’m stable enough.
Right now I feel normal. I feel like me – I can laugh at all sorts of things, make plans for our future and sing along to songs on the radio. This is me right? Well yes and no. It’s a pharmaceutically enhanced version of me.
When I first managed to realise how deep in I was last year, I went to the doctor straight away. We tried fluoxetine because I’d had it before and it worked. I was nauseous morning, noon and night. I could hardly drive because I was constantly retching. I lost 7 pounds in a few weeks WITHOUT TRYING. And as a woman who has actively lost 3 stones after both babies, I know how hard it is to lose one pound. In short I felt terrible. The irony was that because I feel so ill, my mental health was ok but I couldn’t go on like that.
So we tried drug 2 – citalopram. This was marginally better but it still wasn’t really working. I still felt sick and it was only taking the edge off. I explained it to the doctor as giving me a very thin shield, a bubble really, I knew I was protected but only the slightest knock would burst my bubble leaving me helpless and exposed.
So we tried a new approach, a new drug, venlafaxine. But to get me off one and to the other I needed a break from the medication. I knew I couldn’t do this by myself so I floated through a few weeks on several milligrams of diazepam daily. We’ve finally settled on 3 tablets of 37.5mg venlafaxine every day and I feel good.
But then I felt unbelievably bad.
A few weeks ago I started getting some very strange symptoms. It was a Sunday and I had to take it very easy. I was incredibly dizzy, I could hardly read or move my head, lying down didn’t help that much and I was finding it very hard to concentrate on conversations. I started make a note of the symptoms so that I could tell the doctor as soon as I could get an emergency appointment:
- Psycho shriek, whoosh whoosh whoosh
- Ears, slight dip in hearing
- Brain pulse
- Like jerktwitch when falling asleep but mini invisible
- 2-3 tiny short flutters
- Turn head or eyes to left
- Some tingling in right hand, little finger
I googled and thought I had some form of vertigo, maybe labyrinthitis or something much, much worse – whatever it was, it was serious and I needed some help.
Then I stumbled across this text on a random medical ‘question and answer’ site:
The sensation you are referring to is a latent sensory response between the eyes and the vestibular network. This phenomenon often occurs while under certain medications, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Paxil.
I’d forgotten to get a repeat prescription and was eking out my last tablets by only having one per day.
I was having withdrawal symptoms.
It hit home that for me to feel normal I am totally drugged up. And at that point I thought that maybe this is where it ends.
The cycle of crawling up and up and levelling out and feeling good and stopping medication. And slowly, slowly going down again and reaching rock bottom and getting more drugs and slowly, slowly climbing up again.
Maybe I just need to admit that my own personal chemistry is out of balance and I need these drugs all the time, the same way I need glasses, to correct a deficiency.
Today’s earworm: ‘What’s Going On?’ – 4 Non Blondes
Last night’s different dinner score: 2