Monday, September 26, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog

WARNING: This post contains no stolen graphics. I'm sorry.

I am an emotional roller coaster. Not right this moment, but stay with me here. The older I get the more the twists and turns and deep dives have begun to settle into small rises and falls. Sometimes it feels like I've just crested a small hill in a fast moving vehicle, but it's not the dramatic drop that causes one to scream with confused exhilaration. I used to be the Mind Eraser at Six Flags. These days I am not exactly the Tea Cups at Disney, but I've definitely got a hell of a lot less hairpin turns. I'm like the Screamer at Adventureland (you only get that if you're from Iowa or nearby... ).

Six years ago this coming December, I had what can only be considered a bit of a meltdown. Fresh from a break up, fresh from the holiday, full of self-doubt, and one day after what had been my wedding anniversary, I woke up in a panic. Panic turned to tears. Tears turned to two days sobbing and wondering if I had finally lost my mind.

I did the only thing I could do. No, I didn't call my mom or my sisters. I did not call my friends. I called acute care. Obviously my eyes were broken. They kept dripping and I couldn't make them stop. Fortunately, a doctor was able to see me and asked me to come right to the office. By this time the sobbing was almost controllable. My face was a blotchy red swollen mess. If it hadn't been for the tear streaks on my face, you would have thought I was on a bender.

When I was called back to the inner office to be seen they ran me through the standard process. Age, medications, temperature, pulse, height, weight... and that's where I lost it again. By the time the actual doctor showed up in the room the sobbing had returned full force. He went right for the heart of the problem... "So what's going on?" (They know how to ask questions that get answers)

(insert incoherent sobbing)

I believe it was out of desperation to get me off of the table and out of the office as quickly as possible that he wrote a prescription for Lexapro. Before too long I was blissfully numb. I smiled more. I didn't cry at all. I stopped yelling when I was angry. That sounds pretty good right? After years of feeling worthless and trying to smile on the outside so that no one would know that I was dying on the inside, I didn't feel anything. It was a welcome respite.

My relationship with anti-depressants lasted about one year. It took me about that long to realize that I wasn't quite addressing the problems that led me to the doctor on that cold December day. Apparently there is a fine balance with medications. Numb wasn't supposed to be the goal.

I can't remember who died, but I should have felt sadness for someone. I didn't. When I realized I had no feelings on the matter whatsoever, I asked myself a critical question... What if it had been someone in MY family. How would I feel about THAT? The answer, "I guess I would cry? Wouldn't I? I think I'm supposed to cry, right? Holy crap.. this isn't right."

I stopped taking the pills that day. It has been a very long road and certainly not one I would advise everyone to travel. There is a place for anti-depressants and it's a choice for the individual and their own doctor who is faced with a sobbing, blubbering mess in the office. I've had to address some things in my life that I had constantly smothered. There are things that I'd buried so deeply that even now when bits of them resurface I am a little shocked, hurt, and scared. Those feelings are fewer and farther between though, so I can't complain.

This is usually about the time I begin my annual freak out. Less than two months to my birthday, and by now I've usually made a mental check list of all my short comings, things I feel like I should have accomplished by now, cataloged every grey hair and wrinkle, and every single wish that hasn't been granted me. NEXT STOPPPPPPPPP PITY PARTY! This year though, that stop has been removed from the route. I found something this year... It's a faint glimmer of peace. Believe it or not, I found it here.

So to all my survivors out there, those of you who are climbing your own mountain, those of you who have made it to the other side, and for everyone who feels like they are finally coming into their own I raise my glass to you. For those of you at the bottom of the mountain looking up and thinking you will never make it, reach up. I guarantee there is a hand reaching out to help.

25 comments:

Bcca Bee said...

Omg gurl...are you peeking into my life and stealing little pieces of it? Shit are you me? Have I finally cracked and gone all tyler rearden on myself? While I ponder that I'm glad you're feeling, learning, coping, etc. it's all a process by which we take numerous roads to get there. I'll meet you by the fork on the road right next to the FML sign. We can laugh about it together.

Gorilla Bananas said...

The shrinks say say you've got to feel the sadness and grieve to heal yourself. But I don't blame the doctor for giving you a prescription in the state you were in.

WagtheDad said...

I feel for you, Angie. I've been on Lexapro for about five years. Every time I get off (and go through the month or so of withdrawal they say doesn't happen), I'm cool for a few months, and then things go wayyy downhill and I'm back to Lexapro.

I think it's great you got off of it. I would love to, but I think I may have to quit smoking first.

Tony Van Helsing said...

Beautiful post. Anti depressants are like air freshener. You can spray as much as you want but if you don't address what's causing the bad smell then you'll never get rid of it. Bit of a weord analogy but you get what I mean. Crying is a weird thing, when my mother died I didn't cry at the funeral and couldn't understand why. She died slowly over aperiod of time and I cried often but always sucked it back up. Then a couple of weeks after the funeral I dreamt that my mums was standing in a dark room by a window with moonlight coming through. I started crying in the dream and ran over saying the I was sorry that I hadn't said goodbye properly, she said it was okay and I could do that now. I woke up with tears on my face and went into the bathroom which was dark with moonlight coming through the window just like in the dream. I suddenly bent double and cried in huge, racking sobs that hurt my face and chest. I never thought they would stop but they did and it felt like poison had been drawn. I realised I had been holding it in and it had felt like a clenched fist at the base of my throat that was now gone. Sorry, I've probably gone on longer than your post but I'm with you on not smothering your natural feelings with drugs, you might as well smoke crack.

Ed Adams said...

Plus, they kill your sex drive.

BUT, not as much as suicide does.

Paula said...

Angie, I think you are wonderful and strong. I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be in life, but I'm at peace with where I am and I'm starting to think that's all that really matters.

Angie said...

Bcca Bee!
One of the things I like the most about this wonderful internet world is that it takes those things in life that we've let make us feel so alone and shown us that we're more alike than we ever thought possible. I'll see you at the corner!

Angie said...

GB,
I agree 100%, but you're right. The state I was in called for some intervention. I don't regret asking for help or taking it.

Angie said...

Wag,
I've spoken with a Dr about it and mine was purely situational depression. If there is any amount of chemical imbalance in play along with an adjustment disorder, the process of weaning off is harder. You and I have similar backgrounds, though our depression is different in onset. I admire you for knowing when you need to get back on to be honest. So many people refuse to believe they need the extra assistance in coping and things go very badly.
I wish you the very very best in staying off the smokes! That can cause a bit of stabbiness!
PS. They deny the withdrawal like they deny the fact that the first two weeks make you an insomniac tweaker!

Angie said...

Tony,
It's a great analogy! I like it a lot. I don't know that anyone can prepare for loss. I think even those of us who have many people we could lean on in those difficult times have a hard time really admitting to anyone how lost we are. For me it wasn't the loss of a loved one that brought me down. It was a loss of control of my life, my emotions, my world... and I was trying to raise two kids alone. (I feel a 38 Special song coming on) I squeezed too tightly and lost control. I think anti-depressants serve as a great buffer (in the right dosage) for being able to address those issues caused the break down. But you are right… you can’t ignore the problem forever.

Angie said...

Ed,
Thank God I didn’t have anyone to drive my sex car anyway! :-p

Angie said...

Paula,
Thank you! We might have taken different paths, but I think we’ve ended up on the same road. The sense of being “okay” is new to me. Being at peace with yourself really makes all the difference in the world.

Pat Hatt said...

Glad the pity party has gone out the window and the mountain has be climbed, as new inspiring winds blow. That's what I have to say about that, from Pat..haha

Angie said...

Thanks Pat! Now get back to work. I saw where you live. These are working hours Mr. Don't you worry about me. My boss already saw me blogging! :p

Jaclyn said...

I think most people follow that self-preserving instinct to bury the shit they can't deal with, but that's never worked for me. For a long time I just held onto the idea that everything would work out so it was easy to never feel overwhelmed with sadness. But after 4 years of trying to get pregnant, my husband's cancer, infertility and IVF, I was on the edge and emotional, but happy because I was finally pregnant. Then my baby died inexplicably at 24 weeks. And I just shut down. I spent weeks just crying and blaming myself and feeling like I could die... almost hoping I would so I could be with my son. It took a long time to get back any semblance of normalcy after that. Even now I find I can mostly be happy and normal but sometimes it just comes out of nowhere and I'm hit by a wave of grief and my daughter is the only thing keeping me from shutting down. But it made me realize how strong I am. I've been through the worst thing a person can have happen to them and I'm okay. And so I know I'll always survive, no matter what happens. So I guess what I'm saying is it's okay to let it get to you sometimes if you know you can pick yourself back up.

Steve Bailey said...

Im so glad to hear you have found a little peace.... i kinda feel the same way.... for me writing my stupid blog gives me some clarity too.... and then some nausea... but then back to clarity.

Angie said...

Jaclyn,
I can see where you would have been emotionally on edge. There are never words to fully express "I'm sorry for your loss". I can tell from reading your pages in the past that you are strong. Your daughter is a miracle and a blessing... and if she is your reason for staying strong then she's even more of a blessing. You're right... sometimes it IS okay to just give in to it.

Angie said...

Steve,
Welcome home! A little literary catharsis goes a long way. Well, that's what they say anyway, or what they might say if they used the term literary catharsis. Okay... no one says that. I know what you meant though. About everything except the nausea I mean. The Dr. is in. Tell me what's ailing you, sir.

Jen said...

Sending you much love, my dear. Three years ago I was deep in the grip of both alcoholism and an eating disorder and going through an extrely volatile divorce. It was a tough hole to crawl out of, but I did it inch by fucking hellacious inch. The light on the other side has been amazing, and well worth the journey.

Angie said...

Jen,
HUGS! I'm glad you made the journey, woman! The perspective when you've come through the other side of hell is pretty amazing isn't it?

Jen said...

True 'dat, girl. I swear, the blogging community has been the greatest therapy by far!

Azra said...

I was on anti-depressants too - in my teens. It was one of the worst times in my life. Thanks to God I came out of it alive. It's amazing though how even the ugliest things that happen to us make us who we are - it shapes and moulds us to become better people. Just look at you, as awesome as ever ;)

Heather said...

I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. I have been that blubbering mess in the dr's office very recently with no explanation, only my dr. said that I'm a normal healthy mother of many and I need to find better ways to deal with my stress (basically told me to suck it up). So - no Lexapro..but still have lots of tears and no answers. It's nice to read comments here and see that I might come out okay on the other side of all this.

Angie said...

Heather,
Sweetie you are not alone. There is no doubt in my mind that you WILL come out okay on the other side. Of that I have no doubt. You're busy as heck and life gets overwhelming. Give yourself a break hon. You deserve it! I'm here if ya wanna scream.

Pam said...

Love this. Love.

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