Tonight, I am a mess.
A struggling, emotional, scared mess.
As a teacher, I recently had a few weeks off for the holidays. Days were busy–a combination of Christmas, traveling, and getting back on track with workouts. (Because, you know, I have somehow gained more weight than I want to admit). Somehow, in the chaos of it all, I began to forget to take my antidepressant.
Last Monday, I woke up and had to go back to work. As I went through my usual morning routine, I suddenly realized that it had been at least a week or a week and a half since I last swallowed that little pill.
I stared at the bottle for a moment. I know that it isn’t good to quit an antidepressant cold turkey…but I had basically done so without meaning to.
I had been feeling better. I mean, depression is something that might be here to stay for awhile, but it is manageable, and the anxiety attacks were what really crippled me. And, overall, I have basically learned how to manage those and they felt like a problem of the past.
So, in that moment, I made a decision. It was time.
Time to stop the meds.
Time to be okay. Just as I am.
Really, as the week progressed, I didn’t think too much of it.
Life itself is stressful. First of all, it is January. January is bleak. The Christmas tree is gone, the lights are no longer sparkling. But winter is still stretching in front of me–vast and bleak. Gray and dark. Cold and awful.
Teaching can be hard. I have sweet 7 and 8 year olds who are going through so much. One of my students is autistic and going through more than any little boy should ever have to experience–which his poor brain cannot process. Everyday, he yells, screams. Rips papers, spits on me, hits. You name it. He cannot cope. He cannot express.
All I can do is love him.
But it is exhausting.
I’ve done much better with my mom and dad. However, some of the old demons…those ones that guilt me into believing I am not doing enough. Not being good enough have recently reared their heads. A grandmother on hospice. A grieving, angry, overwhelmed parent.
And me. Busy. Not prioritizing. Trying to stay above water. Reading those texts that suggest no one cares.
It makes for a bad equation that equals guilt and old feelings of never quite doing or being enough.
And, of course, there is home. Two sweet babes of my own. Two sweet babes who are really no longer babes. Who are getting bigger each and every day. Parenting is hard, and stressful, and really, if I am totally honest…not at all as fun as I had once imagined it my head, even though I love both of them more than myself.
It is what it is. But, I was coping.
Until…suddenly, I realized I wasn’t.
Suddenly, I need quiet. I needed peace. I needed to be alone.
I have been stressed and angry. Irritable. My reactions are gigantic and inappropriate. I am weepy and down. I walk down the hall at work and feel dizzy, like my brain is getting shocked.
My leg has been jiggling for two days. My anxiety is suddenly palpable and present.
I realized, today, that I have a problem. Either I have symptoms of withdrawal this late in the game (2 1/2 weeks in), or I simply am a person who cannot not take the medications.
(And, I am sure I don’t need to tell you the shame that that causes.)
I took a nap this afternoon and woke up with an elephant on my chest. I haven’t had a real anxiety attack in a while. Miraculously, I have forgotten how awful it feels.
Until I remembered.
I woke up with that sick feeling. That awful, scary, terrible feeling that made me want to reach out and ask for help, in the hope that someone could convince me I might be okay.
I went into the kitchen and swallowed an antidepressant.
Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem.
But, hopefully, it will help me feel normal again soon.
Most people today have come to learn the truth about medication for brain function. Past experiences such as trauma can change the way the brain works causing problems. Medication can help greatly to restore balance. And like other medications, such as the statin I’m on, it might be life-long. No shame for either.
If some people are too ignorant to understand that they need to get with it. Most intelligent people understand the need for medications that address our mental functioning, and that they are just as important as other medications with no stigma attached. And most people know someone, or have a relative, that requires them.
It might be worth a call to your prescribing MD to let them know about the two weeks without it just so that they know or have any suggestions.
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I’ve been to that rodeo, not fun. Best of luck moving forward.
There’s no shame in being on an antidepressant.
Scientists have proven that growing up in the environments we did physically changes the brain, which leads to depression and difficulty regulating our emotions. To the people who say we’re weak for taking them: Do you think I actually want to need them? Depression can be a fatal disease, I’ll take care of myself, thank you!
When we judge ourselves or doubt the need to take care of ourselves we’re listening to that mother. Who wasn’t a mother.
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I’ve had similar experiencing weening and switching medications. It’s not fun. Hang in there.