it’s amazing what changes in a single week

Death_to_stock_photography_Wake_Up_8

Wouldn’t it be adorable if this photo accurately reflected my life? All the LOLs.

Last week I traded emails with a stranger, a man, whose life mirrors mine. We’ve arrived in the middle of our lives, and although we know, logically, what we’ve achieved, we still feel like failures. This feeling of helplessness is further amplified by our mutual chemical imbalances. I’ll be honest–I’ve become good at building and maintaining a fortress around me. Rarely, if ever, do I share the details of my personal life (and trust me, I only share the broad strokes here) with strangers not for any reason other than my own inability to be vulnerable around people. Also, I’ve spent half my life parenting others that I’m always fearful of being put in that role again. Perhaps this is why I never yearned to have children of my own. But this man’s story put me on pause and he confessed his fear of taking meds, that they would transform him into some kind of somnambulant, and this was my worry too (would I lose my ability to write–crazy shit like that). I told him what my psychiatrist told me–the journey back is about the right meds (and dosage), talk therapy, a decent diet/exercise routine and social stimuli. Meaning, I had to see him consistently, take my meds, and leave my house. At first, the idea of all of this seemed unimaginable since four-block walks to the grocery store literally left me exhausted and pained, but honestly, the alternative wasn’t better.

I also wrote that what works for one person (in terms of medication) might not work for others. My body doesn’t respond well to SSRIs after a rather frightening reaction I had to a Celexa/Trazadone cocktail in my early 20s, so my doc put me on Wellbutrin, and although I had some minor side effects (tremors, dizziness, dry mouth), they went away after a few days. Within a week, I experienced an 180 in terms of mood and energy level, which is kind of unheard of (most drugs take at least 4 weeks to experience full impact). When I asked my doc about this, he mentioned that my body chemistry reacted favorably to the drug + dosage, and it might be the addition of a placebo effect (my desire to get better coupled with drugs that help me get there) that caused the precipitous change.

He reminded me not to get high off the honeymoon, that there’s still work to be done.

I work best with a routine, so I schedule and map out each day so to ensure that I leave the house (because drugs aren’t a cure-all). I’ve been spending time with people who are “on my bus” and avoiding scenarios that pile additional anxiety on top of that which already exists. Food’s tricky because the healthy stuff is expensive so I balance what I can and make all my meals at home. I take long walks every day, and some of my friends have been kind enough to send me gift cards for spin classes and yoga.

Let me be clear–my situation hasn’t changed. I’m drowning in a mountain of debt and maxed out cards and only have enough money for one additional month of rent and things get…precarious, however, what’s changed is how I’m managing the situation. I still have anxiety, but it’s manageable, and I don’t feel as helpless and hopeless as I did only a few weeks ago. My world feels less cloudy, and I wake with clarity and calm. Friends whom I least suspected have swathed me with their kindness and virtual fist-pumps. And if I lose my home and have to deal with the financial burden of what follows–I’ll deal with it.

Yesterday I joked with my therapist in the middle of a particularly tough session, asking if it was okay to get a little high off the honeymoon, because, my god, this is the best I’ve felt in the past six months.

We laugh and nods. A little.

Onward.


Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

18 thoughts on “it’s amazing what changes in a single week

  1. Will I there ever be a blogger who hasn’t suffered from anxiety/been through therapy/taken antidepressants? I’m certainly no exception! I’m starting to believe that blogging should be included on the ‘journey back’, since it seems to provide relief for so many of us…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha. True. I think it’s important to share our stories so as to remove the stigma that surrounds depression and mental illness. Also, there’s something to be said for the support of a community. 🙂

      On Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 9:03 AM, love.life.eat wrote:

      >

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Prayer has helped me go through my depression…plus good music the second I wake up & go to sleep. Listening Joel Osteen’s sermon ..i have restored my happiness 😉

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  3. Prayer also helped me go through my state of depression for the last 3 months. All of a sudden I have multiple options, I am extremely happy, I have friends who are there for me, and I have students to teach at month end so I can pay my bills. Yes, your life will improve as well Felicia. Stay positive and know you can. hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great blog and great job! I love your openness, and know what you mean about usually sharing life’s details in broad strokes. I think all of the actions you’re taking (walks, therapy, great attitude, etc) are making you feel equally as good as the drugs! You’ve earned the good feeling, girl!

    My own personal thought are these. Sometimes, with most things, (especially debt), just taking the first steps on the path, (those first steps in the right direction) bring great peace and relief. My recent realization is – that having a plan and knowing that we’re working towards it is cure enough for what ails us.

    Keep up the good work, with all the actions you’re taking in the right direction, (I don’t think it’s just a honeymoon, I think you’ve started a revolution) and you’ve worked for the continuing good feelings!

    I especially loved that you said, even if the worst happens, you’ll handle it! Fear has lost its grip! Me too, I’ve made the same resolve, and rest easier because of it! Lots of good wishes for all the peace and happiness to come.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m so happy to hear you’re finding some relief and hope it’s lasting 🙂 Wellbutrin also worked wonders for me, and also just as immediately, so much so that I also wondered if it was placebo effect, but better is better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My life has kind of fallen apart since the beginning of the year but it has been…ok, really hard but it has helped me see that I let my depression run the show for too long without doing all of the positive things possible to keep it under control. I am back on that path now and it feels good. In this uncontrollable, ever-changing world to at least be able to say, “Well, I went out for my power walk today” (especially since it is freeee!).

    One of the next steps for me is talking to a doctor here in the States (I am here for a few months) about the possibility of switching to Wellbutrin because I have been on Lexapro for ten years now and just never questioned that it only kind of worked and just accepted the worst of the side-effects (nor did my doc, unfortunately). Hopefully getting back into therapy will be the next step (there is a place here that gives sliding rates to the unemployed and uninsured, that would be me).

    So, you aren’t alone…well, I guess that is obvious. 😉 I will be cheering you on, even though I believe deeply in the core strength that I have always heard in your writing. Sending my Best Energy to you as you keep moving forward…
    PS. And how wonderful to encourage the man that you have been in contact with too…

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    1. Oh, Heather! I’m so sorry to hear this, but I’m glad to hear that you’re on the road back. It’s really amazing what a change in medication will do. To be honest, I avoided drugs altogether because I was afraid that I’d be catatonic (think Jack Nicholson at the end of Cuckoo’s Nest) or that the side effects would outweigh the benefits. I had such a bad reaction to Celexa that I made meds verboten until I realized I absolutely needed them.

      I’m so glad you’re in the U.S. Are you able to bring back pills in bulk to France? How would that work, if you don’t mind me asking? I know nothing about prescriptions in Europe, but I’m interested.

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      1. I actually brought pills in bulk FROM France to cover at least the beginning of my stay here as it is so much cheaper, even without proper insurance. To give you an idea, a month of Lexapro costs me under 2 Euros (yep, you read correctly) in France while the same dose cost me $150 in the US last year when I was stranded during the Air France strike. Isn’t that insane? The flat rate for a doctor visit is 23 Euros. Especially with a recent US prescription, I can’t imagine that you would have any trouble getting a new one in Europe (well, especially France which is the anti-depressant capitol of Europe!). I will say that my doc (and this is someone that I went to for over ten years) normally would only give prescriptions for anti-depressants for one month at a time (!!) but as I did not have great insurance, she would give me three months at a go. If you have any other questions about this, always feel free to email me at robinsonheather at yahoo dot com.

        I fought getting on meds for years for the exact same reasons – this despite my loaded family history. It wasn’t until the depression/anxiety/insomnia actually became dangerous that I was like “Ok, fine, I’ll do it!” especially because I was travelling for work in some places where I really could not risk falling apart at the time. Now I am absolutely good with the idea of taking them for the rest of my life but hopefully one that serves me better than the Lexapro currently does.

        Thanks for your well-wishes. I have to admit that it feels really strange to be back. People keeping asking me how it feels to be home and I respond, “Home is in Provence!”
        So much structure, tumbling like a house of cards. I think that you understand that. And this may sound a little odd but I also just find it really noisy here too.
        Be well. Let’s keep on taming the tigers.
        PS. A book that has been really helpful is “When things fall apart” by the amazing Pema Chodron.

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  7. HI Felicia. Been reading your words nodding my head and sending you good vibes through the computer (did you get them??). Proud of you for doing the work. Sending love.

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  8. Power to you lady champion! Routine i everything, and that comes from someone who still struggles with it daily. I find that making a short list (2-4 items, tops) of things i’d like to accomplish today helps immensely. They aren’t huge tasks. Mine today is clean the rabbit cage, because their glare is becoming unfriendly. However, seeing it checked off on a list gives you the permission to be gentle with yourself later, when the exhaustion kicks in and you need to take a nap. You’ve done your work for the day. You’re on the road back to you. It’s okay to rest when you need it.

    Much love and joy to you during this stage of your life. You are not alone! Embrace these honeymoon periods because a good day is still a good day and that’s worth celebrating.

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  9. Hi Felicia,
    I’m Ana from Madrid (Spain). Sorry but my english isn’t very good. I’m not sure how found your blog but since I met it I try to read you and I just want to send you all my good vibrations.

    With love, Ana.

    Like

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