Talking about the meds we use to help regulate our mental health can be even scarier.
One of my favorite memes reads:
If you can't make your own neurotransmitters, store bought is fine.
And they are. Sometimes, we need the extra help. Because we can't make what we need ourselves.
And that's okay.
This blog was written by Val and Colleen.
I had been taking Zoloft for almost 2 years. I was tired of being an emotional slave to a pill. I was tired of having to remember it every night-- or else I would withdrawal symptoms that made life unbearable. I was tired of the emotionless zombie that I was: no extremely happy, no horribly sad-- just there. I was tired of remembering to refill the prescription every 60 days. I was tired of all of it. I wanted out. It didn’t matter that my heart would still race. It didn’t matter that driving in the rain incited blinding panic. It didn’t matter that despite a hysterectomy, I still experienced PMDD. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to be done with the stupid pills. I marched myself into the doctor’s office and announced that I was prepared to come off the Zoloft. He argued with me, but I eventually won. I started the weaning process. It took about a month.
At first, I felt great! I felt free! I was super happy! My calendar began to fill. I stopped sleeping. I felt rages. The rages grew hotter. Heavier. Fiercer. Scarier. The sadness crept in. It flooded my entire soul. Hopelessness. Worthlessness. Self-absorbed self-loathing. I was consumed. I was either incredibly happy and energetic or extremely sad and exhausted.
Then the tantrum came. It came with a fury. I don’t remember it. I was blind. I was deaf. Everything was big and loud but silent. After the tornado of fury passed, I realized that I had to get help. I had to go back on the pills. Stupid pills.
Every year I track along a similar cycle. October comes and I feel myself slipping. It’s darker outside and it’s darker in me. I am sadder, I am slower. I am fighting to find “ok” by noon every day. It’s harder to get out of bed. The day feels insurmountable. By November I’m concerned. Around December I start to revel in it, and then I start to come out of it.
This year though, This year it was darker and it was deeper. And on top of that, the things happening in my life were darker and deeper. Concerns about my kids. About my husband. Another deployment looming--the third in 3 years. I was exhausted. My reserves were gone. The cyclical slipping felt like it would make me fall into an abyss.
I was already doing counseling. I was already increasing exercise. I was doing all the things you are “supposed to do” and still I was slipping. I wanted to avoid the pills. I’ve been on them before. They helped until they didn’t. And there were side effects and worries about side effects. And the feeling that the pill was in control and not me.
But still I was slilpping. And I was doing all I could to avoid the pills. To get better without them and it wasn’t working. It just wasn’t working.
So I went to the doctor. I told him all of this. He handed me a prescription.
I went home and stared down the bottle. Would I take them?
I took the stupid pills. It is not easy. Everyday I think about how I need a stupid pill to make it through the day. My brain announces my weakness and tells me how I’m codependent on pills. I try to remind myself that it is okay. It is like a blood pressure pill. I have to take it. I have to function.
At first I couldn’t tell if they were working. Each day, I’d feel the sadness lighten just a little bit. Days went from gray to light. Blank stares changed into a determined focus. Body aches and fatigue morphed into exercise and deliberate movement. Hopelessness became hope. I am starting to live again.
I don’t like the laundry list of side effects, but I realize there is a cost-benefit. I’m active in my home. I’m part of my kids’ lives. I cook food. I go on outings. Those dark scary thoughts are a distant past. So I’ll take the side-effects. I’ll take the pills.
I took the pills. I honestly might not have except that my friend, Colleen, said it was ok to flip off the bottle and stomp off when I took them. I don’t know if they are working. The side-effects aren’t terrible. That’s a plus.
Am I getting better? This time it hasn’t been like a light switch flipping on.
But I feel steadier. I don’t erupt in anger as quickly. It takes a little less time to get my game face on for a given day. They might be working. Maybe.
And at least I know I am throwing everything I can at this to feel better and to function better.