For those of you who know me in actual life (or have been a follower of my blog back in the Xanga days), you will know that for several years I have struggled with depression and anxiety. During law school, I had an epic mental breakdown and was pretty useless for nearly an entire semester. Back in high school, I had a slight issue where I would randomly pass out for no apparent reason. I went to a doctor, and the doctor decided I was having “panic attacks” and put me on Zoloft to help. I never noticed any difference, and I still randomly passed out, so I stopped taking them a few months later (only to later find out I actually have a blood pressure problem where my blood pressure will drop out for no reason, causing me to pass out, before rebounding immediately and all is well. All I needed was to make sure I ate a little more salt and would be fine…go figure). So, when I started having problems again in law school (only this time definitely feeling loads of panic and anxiety), I thought I’d go back to the doctor to see what they thought. Only this time, a new doctor put me on enough tranquilizers to drop a cow. Needless to say, I immediately got a second opinion.
I can still remember walking into the second doctor’s office. It was either my third or fourth day of non-stop crying, lack of sleep or energy, and no food (who has time for food when all you do is vomit it up anyways). It was clear that my anxiety was out of control, but I honestly never once thought I was depressed. After talking to the doctor for nearly an hour, explaining how I would just randomly sit on the couch and start crying for no reason, he stopped and looked at me and said, “and what, exactly, makes you think you’re NOT depressed?” And it was a light bulb moment, in all honesty. I’d always thought depressed people were covered up in bed 24/7, wanting to end it all…and while it sucked and I felt AWFUL, I wasn’t in that state, so clearly I wasn’t depressed…right? Not so much.
It took a little while, and a little juggling, but I finally found a medication that worked for me. Slowly, things got back to normal, and I was more “me” again. It was good! I never really had any adverse side affects, and overall I feel like they did a world of good. I also combined the medication with therapy, which also helped a lot. At the end of law school, I weaned off them, hoping that I would be ok and that the anxiety and depression were merely situational. I mean…law school is freaking RIDICULOUS! Of course I was stressed and anxious! Sadly, a few months after being off the medications, all the old symptoms came back and I was at square one, all over again.
I immediately went back on my meds, made another therapy appointment, and started the slow process of getting back to normal. And that’s where I’ve been, since 2009. The stress of moving overseas and living in a foreign culture never made me think it was the right time to try again. Plus, the idea of going back to that out of control place in my life was scarier than just about anything else I could imagine. I didn’t want to be that person again, and I knew the medication worked, so why bother!
But, since moving home, and now trying to have a baby, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been leaning on them like I would a crutch. I don’t think I need them, and yet I’m too scared to stop. And I don’t say that to offend any of you out there who are taking medication for anxiety and depression, not at all! In fact, the minute things go tits up again, I’ll be the first person at the doctor’s office asking for a refill and heading back to therapy. But…I wanted to try one last time. Give it one last-ditch effort to go on my own and hopefully not require full-time medication to control my anxiety. Plus, I would really like to get pregnant and go through the pregnancy without any additional medications. Will it be possible? Who knows…I sure as hell don’t. But, I want to try. I want to give it one more shot just to be completely sure…and if it doesn’t work, well…then I’ll have given it my best. There’s no shame in going back on them, and I think those people who look down on others for taking medications to help out are assholes.
I’m a little over a week out being medication free. I weaned over the span of nearly two years now, and for the past three or four months I’ve been taking an extremely low dose. While we were in Seattle, I forgot to take my meds for a few days and realized that now was as good a time as ever to just wean completely off. So far…things are going well. I feel evened out emotionally, and good otherwise. Now I just need to make sure I have a good support system just in case, which I’ll hopefully never need. I’ll try to update more about this, if anyone is interested in my journey. And if anyone of you has any questions, please feel free to ask! I’m an open book about my anxiety and depression, and if my past experiences can help in any way, I’d love to do that for you.