new meds. who dis?

Let’s kick this post off by stating the obvious. Shit is weird right now. Real weird. Not like oh look at this is exciting fun new world weird. Weird. Unsettling. Scary. People who I’ve known for years who have never shown a hint of anxiety or depression are in the thick of one or the other. For some it’s both.

We don’t know what we don’t know and that continues to be more true every day.

But still, as people do when we can, we carry on. And with that in mind, there has been some fine tuning of my anxiety medication. Not because it wasn’t working before, but because things change and plans must sometime be altered. And altered again.

So after 10 days of the new medication, during a med check-in with my doctor, she asked if the new “booster” meds were working for me and I said “I’m sleeping at night, so yes” and she, thank all the things in the universe, told me that sleeping wasn’t enough because they’re supposed to be helping during the day too. And we adjusted them again.

I would like to say that saying “yes” to a new medication was the hardest part. But I’d be a lying liar. New meds are hard. There are all sorts of little pockets of ugh that come along with them.

Side effects, thinking you’re having side effects when you’re not, having your partner read all of the documentation for new meds so they know what side effects to look out for because if you read them you’ll think you have them all because you’re already anxious, exhaustion, confusion, the need to sleep several extra hours a day, the moment you thought they were working but realize that they’re not actually working, the moment you realize they’re working and that’s why you’re sleeping all the time, the moment you realize they’re not supposed to make you sleep all the time and that’s a side effect and you have to get through that to see if they’re working. The possibility that they’re not working. The crying. Also the couple of times during adjustment that your hand just couldn’t hold on to a water bottle and the bottle fell from your hand and your partner had to ask if you were having hand tremors and you realize that was one of the side effects he’s been looking out for and you just don’t know anything because you’re tired. Damnit.

It was nearly a month ago when this adventure with additional medications began. I’ve had to make some adjustments. I’ve had to remind myself to be patient. I’ve had the super vivid, weird-as-they-get dreams that come with new brain meds.

Now I’m a person who has to take meds twice a day instead of just once. I’m still a mess but slightly less of a mess. And this is still a huge ongoing process. But at least I’m not having anxiety about my anxiety meds.

I’m reminded more than ever though of the differences between Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. How they are inextricably linked for some. And how they can thrive in their own pockets of space and time. Which is to say this new medication is fixing the thing it’s supposed to be fixing. That my steady flow of anxiety that was once again with me all through the day, nipping at my every thought and energizing my body so all I could do was worry has backed off significantly. But the moments of heightened anxiety that lead to a panic are still lurking. So things aren’t quite okay.

And I spend a great deal of my time, at work and with my friends and family, reminding people that it’s okay not to be okay right now. That the present is a time for kindness. To oneself and to others. That we’re all doing something new. That the world is different. And it’s scary. And we may need to take a break.

And when we move forward, when we’re ready to move forward. That we move forward with intentionality and kindness. With purpose and, if we can muster it, with passion.

That now is not a time to fake it until you make it. Now is a time to forgive yourself your faults and flaws and take the time you need to grieve, to process, and when you’re ready… To heal.

Featured image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

medication iteration…

When I finally gave in nearly two years ago and asked my doctor for help with my anxiety, being medicated was the most terrifying thing in the world to me. I didn’t want to do it but I could no longer continue with the status quo I’d been living.

I wanted my anxiety to abate, but I also didn’t know how much it would change me as a person to have that part of me dulled or cut out. If you believe, as I do, that your entire lifetime of experiences make you who are are at any specific moment. Both the good and the bad. Then you might understand why, as a person who loved much of her life, I would be terrified to change something the size of a mountain.

Also anxiety has a funny way of preserving itself. It feeds lies. It feeds panic. It does everything it can to keep itself safe within you so it can live and grow and thrive. Like a parasite eating away at the rest of you.

The hardest time was the first few weeks when my new medications weren’t yet taking hold and every morning taking a pill that was making me tired, stupid, and dizzy seemed like the worst idea ever. When my anxiety told me I was killing something good with every swallow.

I don’t want to drone on about things I’ve already said but…

I will repeat, that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and also Panic Disorder. And it’s no walk in the park. I’ve heard anxiety scoffed at as the socially acceptable hip version of depression. I’ve heard people with anxiety and panic mocked for as just being too tightly wound. Or chided for not being able to get their shit together. I assure you, it’s none of that.

So, as is probably no surprise to anyone, my anxiety has risen to a new level during the recent global pandemic (starting in the months leading up to it). Not just because of the Coronavirus situation itself, but because of how humanity in general is responding. Or not responding in many cases.

It started as a low whisper, grew to a constant white noise, and before I knew it I was back in the wind tunnel of full blown anxiety. My anxiety meds not really keeping anything at bay. My body tingling with stress and fear from the moment I opened my eyes, if I was lucky enough to sleep. My panic attacks coming in clusters more and more often.

And so I told myself it would be fine. It will get better soon. I’ll get used to this new normal. I’ll adjust. I’ll adapt. I’ll cope.

And I started using my coping methods more and more frequently. I started taking my panic medication more frequently. My tells started to show more and more. And then last week some sauce packets we didn’t need or want were delivered with our takeout. And instead of tossing them, which yes I know is wasteful, I dug through a cabinet looking for an empty canister to store them in. You know, in case we need them. For later.

I was a sauce packet hoarder my entire life. Because I was afraid to throw them out. Because we might need them. For something. Someday. But we never used them. Ever. Never ever.

With that in mind, and with the knowledge that I had once again started exhibiting other tells, and also knowing that my panic prescription was almost out I called my doctor and once again did the really hard work of saying “Help me.”

Are my meds losing efficacy for me? Did I adjust? Or is the world just too much to bear right now? I’m not sure, but I was sure I was backsliding. I could feel the soft sucking quicksand of my illness sucking me back in.

So for the first time in a while I’m in the midst of making some changes to my meds. I feel exhausted. I feel dizzy. I feel like thoughts are trying to work their way out of my head as though they’re moving through cooled pudding.

This time I want to take them. My meds. I want to get back to what was my new normal 6 months ago. But my anxiety still has other ideas.

Featured photo by am JD on Unsplash

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If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, anger or any combination thereof please reach out for help. To a friend, to your family, a doctor, clergy member, or a counselor. You can call 1-877-726-4727 (Monday – Friday 8am to 8pm) for help locating mental health services available to you in your area.

If you feel overwhelmed and like you may harm yourself you can find local resources to help you here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call the National Suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255 (24 hours a day 7 days a week).

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Note: medication isn’t the answer for everyone. It hasn’t always been the answer for me. It may not always be the answer for me. I hope it isn’t. I’m just sharing my story as it is. Right now.