Leaning In

I was talking to a friend the other day about how I haven’t blogged in while. Her response was, “Well, maybe that’s a good thing?” Good meaning I haven’t had any issues with anxiety to write about lately. I was like, yeah, good point! Then she said, “I guess it’s there when you need it, right?”

Well, here I am. I need it.  

This summer I’ve actually been pretty content. Besides the normal end-of-summer laziness kicking in, I’ve been in a pretty good place. I was nervous about the change in medication, but optimistic. Things were a little bumpy right after the switch; the typical withdrawal symptoms ensued, but they were a bit milder than I expected. I pushed on through and followed my schedule of introducing the new meds, weaning on as slowly as possible. I didn’t notice too many negative side-effects, and seemed to have made the transition successfully. This week, however, (week 3 since the change) has been a different story. To put it simply, my mood has turned pretty sour. In fact, today I hit the lowest of my moods in a long, long time.

I remember the last time I went through a big medication change, about 3 or 4 years ago. I was folding laundry while watching Kathie Lee and Hoda, and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to jump through the screen punch them in the face. If you know me, I’m pretty sure you know I don’t ever feel like punching anyone in the face, let alone random talk-show hosts. It was so overwhelmingly irritating, and alarmed me so much so, that I ended up calling my doctor to ask if this was normal. I proceeded to tell her all of this and she laughed. “You’re probably not the only one who wants to punch them in the face.” Good point. Although, I kind of like sweet Kathie Lee and Hoda (I mean, who can’t appreciate women who get to chat and drink wine at 10am everyday? They had rainbow sangrias last time I watched them. Cheers, ladies!). Humor aside, (although I do still crack up when I think about that moment) I knew this wasn’t a normal feeling for me. Sure, I have my ups and downs, but this was borderline rage. 

So I can’t completely rush to judgment after a day like today, knowing I’ve been through times like these before, but I know it needs a closer look. It’s just not typical for me to have raging mood swings. Unless you’ve threatened my children or I’m about to give birth. Please grant me a free pass there.  Anyway, I’m thankful that now I can recognize when something needs to change without waiting it out too long.

Looking back on this day, I should’ve been in a glorious mood. I mean, I had 4 hours to myself today while my mother-in-law came to stay with the kids. I leisurely shopped at Banana Republic, ate lunch by myself, and got a freaking frappuccino with the whipped cream.  Tough day, I know. All that and STILL I felt like I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

Red flags were waving everywhere.

I came home to my sweet babies and found that just the amount of noise they were making made me want to walk right back out the door. Just the thought of cooking dinner made me want to poke my eyeballs out. My only reprieve came in the event of slicing up a pablano pepper for dreaded dinner prep, scratching my nose, ending up with flaring, burning nostrils, and having to stick milk-soaked paper towels up them for 15 minutes. One cannot help but laugh at that scenario (in-between muffled curse words), even though it burned so badly I almost called poison control. Thank goodness for Google.

Thankfully, my hubby took over dinner duty while the kids stared at me wondering what on earth had possessed their mommy. While I mentally decided to quit and call it a day, (knowing realistically there was still a good bit of day left so sadly I could not quit) I realized that I was not having a normal response. Ok, so the burning nose called for an appropriate amount of drama. But the ungratefulness? The irritability? The hopeless sadness and emptiness I felt? No. Good. Reason.

I apologized to my husband when I finally sat down to dinner (which turned out quite tasty, even though I was still mad at those peppers) for being such a mess. He was such a sweetheart.

“I know you’re going through this medication change, babe. It may be time to recognize that it may not be working. You’ve got to make that call for yourself, though. It’s okay.”

Bless him. He has learned how to handle me and my issues so much better over the years. It’s funny, because he’s usually the moody one, and I’m usually the one that helps calm him with my steady, positive outlook and extra dose of patience. Tonight, I appreciate his ability to return the favor. He smiles at me.

Peace out, babe. I’ve got the kids. 

So here I am, soaking in the bath tub, trying to cheer up. I’ve already watched a plethora of funny cat videos, but have barely cracked a smile. I mean, if funny cat videos don’t do the trick, there’s a problem. RED. FLAG.

I see you, a-hole brain. Don’t think I’m giving up without a fight. 

The interesting thing is, this time it’s not so much a feeling of fear, but more of a sadness. In technical terms, it’s called depression. Although this diagnosis falls onto a spectrum. Catching it at the top end, however, is the tricky part.

I felt like the new medication was doing pretty good in terms of anxiety. I’ve noticed a little trouble catching my breath here and there, (a typical anxiety symptom) but not much in the way of panic. Feeling pretty darn calm, actually. I’ve driven on the interstate in small amounts without much of a flinch. I’ve been in social situations and haven’t noticed the usual nerves. But, I have noticed a bit more sleepiness, more of a lack of focus and motivation, and overall just feeling more drugged. Fun. But, like all changes in medication, it takes a few weeks for the effects to “kick in”. Well, this is week 3, so time to analyze. I’m thinking, no bueno. 

But how frustrating is that? I spent all this time worrying about changing medications, fill 3 different prescriptions, finally muster up the courage to try one, and now I sit here in a bubble bath on a beautiful blue-sky sunny day after shopping and Starbucks and I’m still not in a good mood?? Snarl, boo, hiss, pout. I guess this is the part of the journey that just plain stinks, the part where you try something on and it just doesn’t fit. If only I could squeeze into that glass slipper and end up with the Prince Charming of mental stability. If only life was such a fairy tale.

So what do I do now? Do I go back on my old meds, that I felt trapped on, but seemed to be working ok? Do I try something new? Do I give it another week and see if anything changes ? I really, really don’t want to go through another month being a science experiment, but is there any other choice? Am I looking for answers in all the wrong places?

Looks like I’ll have some extra praying to do tonight.

On a positive note, my dark mood has given birth to newfound inspiration. I’ve been feeling uninspired in the writing department lately, and I have been pretty bummed about it. Part of my Starbucks journey was meant to be spent blogging away, happily sipping on java-chip goodness while letting the creativity flow, but it just wasn’t happening. Ok, so I was a little distracted by the teens at the next table debating politics; I mean, that was just too entertaining not to eavesdrop upon. But, I spent the good part of an hour in front of the screen with nothing to show for it. Then I left feeling so damn ungrateful and selfish for being so frustrated over nothing more than a lack of inspiration. I mean, there are people in this world dealing with grief, loss, war, trauma, poverty- real problems. And I’m sitting here drinking a $5 coffee beverage whining about feeling uninspired??  Puh-lease. If that’s the only thing I have to complain about, I should be elated.

But today, I realize that validation is less important than recognition; recognizing the warning signs of a need for change. Seeing the subtle way your feelings and emotions can slowly start to sabotage your well-being. It’s not an easy thing to see; it’s sneaky and unintentional, but having more than a decade of experience with the monsters of anxiety and depression can prep you for such an uprising. It’s tricky to find the fine line between giving yourself the grace to be in a bad mood and realizing that the mood is taking over your life. I am so, so thankful for the sense and the ability to know the difference.

And who knows, tomorrow I may wake up all smiles and giggles, and look back on today as a complete fluke. That’s the funny thing about life, we aren’t quite sure what each day will bring. We know there will be good days and bad. We are all on this roller coaster just riding it out, not sure when it will come to an end, but hoping we can say that it was the best ride we’ve ever been on. Even though there were parts that scared us to death. Even though there were parts that shook us to the core, that made us want to get off, that made us dizzy and uncomfortable.

We aren’t in control of our ride, but we can grease the squeaky wheels a bit. We can ease up on the seat belt and enjoy the breeze in our hair. We will get turned upside down, but we can enjoy the feeling when we find ourselves back upright. It’s a long ride, and sometimes the turns come out of nowhere, but sometimes we can see them coming a mile away.

There’s a turn up ahead for me. I just have to find the strength to lean on in.

 

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2 thoughts on “Leaning In

  1. Heather-I admire your willingness to share!! I know it helps those who are experiencing some of the same issues, but it also helps those of us who have had no experience with this level of anxiety! Thank you for opening the eyes of our understanding so that we are able to feel more compassion than frustration!! xoxo

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