I ran out of tools in my toolbox.
You know…the ones that help me calm my busy mind.
In my twenties, I suffered with panic attacks and when I was up to multiple attacks per day, I sought help. Valium did the trick…plus something to help me sleep…plus something to help me wake up. I was under a doctor’s care through it all but while the meds stopped the panic…I lost a year in the fog.
Luckily, the doctor did a bit more than just medicate and regular visits taught me the tools I needed to calm myself…to ground myself…to clear my busy head.
When my divorce hit, the panic came back but knowing it was “situational”, I refused any medication. Admittedly, I did have a prescription for Ativan and I carried that beloved bottle back and forth to the lawyers, back and forth to court, and on several plane rides but oddly, just knowing it was there if I needed it, was enough. In time, the prescription expired and I returned the unused pills (except for the one I took when I got a root canal) to the drug store for safe disposal.
Anxiety, depression…it’s always a little bit present. I come by it honestly and have several resources I turn to for help. Sometimes I head out in the fresh air. Sometimes to the mall. Often I gather with friends. The spa helps…a good book…a cup of tea. A walk. Writing. Lists. Time with my folks. Live music. A chat with my kids. Meditation and deep breathing. All are within my toolbox. All help when I’m feeling low and my tricks have never betrayed me.
Until they all stopped working at once.
This last several months I’ve not been myself. Life in general…hormones and menopause…anxiety and stress…all have wreaked havoc on my mind and I’ve not felt right. I’ve known I’m an ass. I can feel that I’m rude. I’ve not been sleeping. I’ve been irritable. I cry at the drop of a hat. Stuff has gotten to me that shouldn’t. I’ve panicked…felt overwhelmed. But mostly. I’ve been sad…and along with being sad…I’ve been lonely, bored, down in the dumps and miserable.
I’ve been working…and getting things done that HAVE to get done…but that’s about it. I haven’t wanted to do much of anything. Spending time with my girlfriends is a very temporary fix where it once could lift my spirit for days. Getting a dog helped a little…but not to the degree I’d thought it would and in fact, has come with it’s own set of stresses as raising a puppy does. Two months ago I went to listen to some live music and ended up in tears when the lead singer asked me where I’ve been. Two months before that, I met a new friend and told her my life story in one night completely losing it on this poor unsuspecting woman! (Thankfully, she’s remained my friend!)
For the last several months and even longer, I kept thinking it would all get better just as soon as the next cheque came in, just as soon as I got some more sleep, just as soon as the house sold, the weather got warmer or my headache went away. I kept waiting to feel better…but feeling better kept getting further away.
In early May, I went to the doctor for a sinus infection and completely fell apart. Along with the antibiotics, I left the office with antidepressants despite my fear of the “fog”…with hopes that this “new generation” of medications will be a whole lot different than the ones I’d been on a few decades before.
For the first ten days, I slept. Unbelievably. I napped every afternoon for multiple hours at a time but eventually, that started to sort itself out. Within a short time, I began feeling a little less wrecked…a little less frazzled…and I continue to improve.
This last few weeks, I’ve been busy with the ending of the school term for my youngest and our trip to Nationals for volleyball. Plus I did have a lovely celebration for my 50th where I felt like the belle of the ball surrounded by so many people I adore! However, due to life and everything else that life entails, it’s taken all of my energy to stay ahead of my work and keep on top of being a mom with things that pop up in my children’s lives as well.
My wanting to write has not quite come back so there’ve been limited blog posts from me. There are drafts, where I’ve tried to write…but they all feel quite dull and drab and blah to me and I don’t want to sound so dull and drab and blah. I feel like I want to take a few days away to catch up on my writing and get my mo-jo back…and I’m looking into a few ideas to make that happen.
I’m six weeks in on these meds and I have to say…I feel quite good. I’m due for an increase but the panic has stopped…the sadness…that’s going to take a little longer.
There are great things happening in my life and I’d love to be able to share them with you. I will…I’m getting close…in fact, I’m hoping that writing this post might help move me forward. It’s been half-written for weeks which is why it probably sounds a little blah’er than I feel at the moment…but I didn’t quite get it finished…haven’t quite wanted to finish it…wasn’t sure I even wanted to tell you what was going on and then today…I decided to share.
I believe that Mental Health needs to be spoken about. I believe that I’m in a position to help those who are also going through a rough time. But, at the moment, I need to take a few more deep breaths and continue on this healthier path with the help of my doctor and this medication that’s finally making my brain act the way it’s supposed to…and as soon as I feel like it…I’ll be back.
I appreciate those of you who’ve reached out to ask me where I’ve been. I’m here…I haven’t forgotten you, in fact the opposite…I think of you often! I just took a wee little break.
See you soon.
Love this post, and I’m so glad the meds are helping. I’ve been taking mine for … *counts distractedly* … I think three years this summer? I have stuck to the same one (Sertraline) but have had to change the dose occasionally — up for a while, and lately down to a lower dose because I felt too foggy all the time. It’s unfortunate we can’t just find a pill that works and it will work forever, but at least this is a start. Thank you for being so open about how you’ve been feeling. xoxo
It was your post about your meds that pushed me to go to the doctor and ask for help. So…I owe you a lot of thanks. Mostly, I appreciate that you wrote about it on your blog…took away stigma and gave me courage. xo
It sounds like you are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. Thanks for bravely sharing your story. I’m sure it will help a lot of people.
Thinking of you Colleen. Take good care of yourself. Love Aunt. BettyP
I hear ya girl…fortunately, the warmer weather is helping me at the moment. Having my kiddos home over the summer puts my focus on them and keeping them busy. Most days I will be okay…but I am just coming out of my cave. This past Fall/Winter/Spring has been hard. I am so glad you are getting help managing your feelings and emotions. It is the hardest part…asking for help. Thank you for sharing ♡
I’ve missed your posts but happy to hear you are looking after yourself.