It is a very frustrating thing, to feel as though you are not in control of your own emotions. I have had episodes of anxiety and depression throughout my life. I consider them to be states of being alien to yourself. As my pulse quickens and the pressure in my rib cage compresses, I feel not only the obvious onslaught of a panic attack, but a searing anger at my inability to snuff the dragon and just relax. Depression, on the other hand, is a misty thing; your rationality advises you sternly of all the things you have to be grateful for, yet you find yourself wallowing, quiet in a corner. You drift in and out of reality; bitterly berating yourself for every single mistake or misdeed you’ve committed since birth. Your painfully slow tears blur your vision, and you vaguely wonder if this feels similar to drowning.
I had never sought treatment until very recently… mainly because I would rationalize the need away. ‘It’s not bad today’, ‘it hasn’t been bad for a while’ were like mantras I recited. I didn’t need help; well, more accurately, I didn’t need help as much as others did. I was overreacting, exaggerating my symptoms.
I finally sought respite about 6 months ago.
I was between my Anxiety Horizon and Angry Phase in my claims metamorphosis. I found myself almost literally forcing a smile and a blindingly bright disposition on my days off, in a meager attempt to calm the ever-threatening hysterics. Walking into work was akin to the green mile. I would hasten to quiet my haggard breathing as I envisioned myself, fat and 50, walked those same dreaded steps. As always, my rational side would kick and sigh in frustration, reminding me that ‘Hey, It’s just temporary. You got this job because you’re in between undergrad and grad. You need some professional experience, and quite frankly, you need health insurance.’
‘I kn-n-now’, I’d blubber, but what if my dreams fall through the cracks? What if I just get too lazy? What IF??
This constant tennis match finally drove me to my family doctor in January. I was very frank with him. I explained my current situation, and how I had thought of treatment, but was not sure it was necessary until now. He then asked me if these feelings happened near my period… I grit my teeth, thinking, Dude, I’m a grown-ASS woman. I KNOW when I’m just PMSing. And then I remembered, oh yeah, this guy hasn’t seen me for at least 10 years. He doesn’t know, he’s just gotta ask the questions. So I dutifully Answered. Do you exercise? Yes. How often? 3-4 days a week. Well you should increase it. ….Okay….Do you drink alcohol? Umm…. yes…. How much? Um…. 1 drink a day**…?….
Alright then, he said rather briskly, let’s start you off on Sertraline! (Think generic form of Zoloft), Come back in 6 weeks and we’ll see how you’re doing!
I was a little taken aback at the time. After all, a man who has not seen me since I was a teenager, spent all of 10 minutes catching up, just decides eff the counseling! Let’s go for the drugs!
I took this medication in various doses (as prescribed by the Doc), and decided a few weeks ago to gradually bring down my dose until I was off. I felt that I had overcome that hump, and could now regain my mental and emotional control. The rough patch was over; I was comfortable, although not exactly mentally stimulated, with my job. I felt competent. I felt generally happy. So I gradually came down. And then it gradually built until today happened:
I’m tired, but that’s normal. I’ve got my coffee, my water for hydration and lubrication (seriously, we talk ALL. DAY. LONG. on the phone. If I don’t constantly have a drink by my side I’m mute by the end of the day). And then I sat down. And I had a myriad of annoying things waiting for me, coming for me. (I won’t bore you with the extremely dull details). And after I bitched to a colleague over something they immediately perceived as “Not a big deal”, I suddenly became aware of that familiar feeling: My quick breath, my heart, my compressed chest. My anger. And I felt so powerless. My rational side quickly chimed in with a ‘it’s not worth the emotional energy, just let it go!’ I snapped back, “I would if I could! CLEARLY!”.
(Side note: in case you haven’t gathered, I have an ongoing internal dialogue with my various selves. Sometimes I end up talking to myself. There was a manager who used to sit directly in front of my cubicle, who I am now convinced thinks I’m an utter loony).
So I took what control I could. I grabbed my water and my keys, and I immediately went down to my car. The prescription had been refilled already (I hadn’t called my doctor yet to let him know of my weening), so I picked it up this morning, just in case. I promptly popped a low dose, sighed, and went back upstairs.
It took about an hour, but I calmed down. I still felt those inklings of irritation at this monotonous job, but they were subdued. Manageable.
I guess if I’m being honest with myself, which I sincerely try to be, I don’t like the idea that I may need to rely on this medication for a while longer. It feels weak. And I like to feel strong. In mind, body, and soul. I suppose, in the mean time, I’ll have to settle with finding my strength in acknowledging when help is needed. Not gonna lie though… kinda feels like a cop out.
**Come now, Laura. We all know that’s not exactly true…. Shut up brain! I do what I want it’s my hot body!