Late last night I decided I was not going to accept a sub job for the following morning. I was experiencing anxiety from which I was medically immune. I needed time and an empty house to sort through this anxiety.
I went to see my general practitioner a few years ago, this really cool dude who happily shared a picture of a grapefruit-sized cyst he removed a few moments earlier. He spoke to me about the regular information: eating right and possibly losing poundage to alleviate the knee pain I sometimes experience. At the time, I was running regularly and could stand to lose thirty pounds. It was this extra weight that was cause for concern. I mean, I don’t mind it usually so long as I’m still muscular. I thought for sure that my blood tests would reveal that I’d need a cocktail of blood pressure or cholesterol medications.
But I didn’t need medicine. I was healthy and I could tell that my doctor knew I was disappointed.
I didn’t know why I was disappointed. Maybe it was because a lot of my friends were starting to take medication for one reason or another. Maybe it was because I carried more weight, therefore I felt I should neutralize this load with chemicals. Maybe I felt like I didn’t deserve to BE healthy if I didn’t LOOK healthy. I guess it was hard to accept that despite my body shape and size, my body shape and size were fine.
The doctor then approached the medical cocktail I was already on. Did I want to still be on antidepressants? Did I want to reduce my meds?
I felt my eyes water as depression was a topic even less approachable than fatness. I couldn’t face life without my pills. They were a cushion to a harsh reality, making the pain far less than what it was and demagnifying the joy so as not to be drunk on endorphins that make the bipolar sect like myself look like we’re on speed.
My doctor, being sensitive with all of that information revealed in a single tear, said that I didn’t have to change a thing and that being on antidepressants could be like a prescription for glasses, one that I could need all my life. Those statements saved me that day. I knew that life was ever changing and while I had adjusted my prescription in the past, I would do it when I was ready. If I was ready.
A couple of months I felt ready. I started taking my pills every other day which was not too bad.
There was a week were I started to feel unbearable anxiety. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t articulate how I was feeling, I was moody and irritated with everyone. If I didn’t sleep, I didn’t function.
I didn’t like myself. I wanted to go back to MY normal. I didn’t like feeling that I was always about to say something important but nothing ever came out. Nothing ever came to mind.
Somehow I got through that. When I’m cognizant about the negative emotions, I tell myself I have to face them head on. If I need to take a nap because everything is too overwhelming, then I take a nap. I needed to do something with this anxiety, to channel it for good.
I started to declutter EVERYTHING. I donated toys and clothes we no longer used. I threw away so much that I filled seven garbage bags. My kids had a knack for saving last year’s homework, toy packaging, dried markers, broken barrettes, and pencils too short to salvage. I donated books that my children no longer read and organized what was left of our books into nonfiction and chapter books. I consolidated all of my teacher and craft suppplies into drawers and even labeled these drawers!
Pretty soon I realized that I was only taking my antidepressants twice a week.
I’m realizing epiphanies during this med cocktail reduction.
1. Sometimes I don’t like myself, particularly when I’m a bitch to everyone around me. The best way for me to combat this is to acknowledge my bitchy ways and channel this into something productive. Write it out. Get on the bike. Watch crap TV.
2. Life is really difficult without antidepressants. It’s cringe-inducing and sometimes I want to go back to taking my prescription daily. I constantly tell myself that if I do have to go back, I am not a failure and really, it doesn’t even mean anything.
3. Life is really amazing without antidepressants. I can feel wholly and without regard. It’s scary for someone like me who’s been semi-feeling for the past fourteen years. It’s intense and unpredictable which brings me to my next epiphany.
4. I live in constant fear that I will say something that I regret. I feel like I experience emotions more intensely and probably at a thousand times more than a person who does not have depression. If at any time I articulated any negative emotion to anyone, especially as magnified as I felt, I could probably crush someone to the tiniest shred of humanity and then flick them away without a care in the world. I would never forgive myself if I verbally obliterated anyone.
I am really lucky to have someone like my husband R in my life who knows exactly what I’m going through, having weaned himelf from antidepressants after the accident.
This morning I went to the gym after dropping off the kids at school. I lifted weights for the first time in weeks and still feel powerful hours later, sitting here at Starbucks and writing away my anxiety. I realized that as I was leaving the gym that it was far easier for me to feel feel guilt. Guilt for not running in a race in a year, not running at all for the past few months, not going to the gym in a month, for eating too much sugar at yesterday’s San Francisco Giants game, for eating too much PERIOD.
And then I stopped myself. Why was it so damn easy to tear myself apart than revel in the joy of feeling strong and powerful?
It was too easy.
So now I take it back. I take that guilt back and hereby replace it with the feeling of accomplishment and strength. Now I smile and feel it.