So Long, Anxiety! (Sort Of), Part 1

I’ve been taking anti-depressants for 19 days – so almost 3 weeks – and I pretty much think I’ve experienced all the benefits and side effects this medication can give me. Maybe there’s still a bit more change to see in me because I know when I first took these meds I had completely changed. I lost all interest in all my hobbies and didn’t really need to stick to a routine anymore, nor did change bother me. This time my interests in my hobbies have stayed intact, in fact, I’ve become very much in love with Star Trek all over again and have started to fall in love with Adventure Time.

Although I have days where I’m low on energy and feeling both lethargic and apathetic and need to give myself a swift kick up the butt to keep doing the usual things I do in a day, I’ve also found on my more hyper days that I’m, well, more hyper and that never happened last time. My meds don’t seem to work as well on those days. Usually the medication makes me less impulsive which is a welcome change, especially when I look back on my history of impulsive purchases, but when I’m in this hyper mood I become impulsive again. On the plus side my concerns about losing my creativity when on these meds seems to be eased when I’m hyper because my mind will go to many fantastic places without even trying to conjure up some type of creative idea. They come to me spontaneously. Then there are times on these meds where I don’t seem to have an imagination at all.

I know I said in my last post how I didn’t think I had bipolar if the meds worked but I think that might have been a bit pre-mature. The good news is the depression and anxiety is controlled when I would be in a normally low mood but in the higher states it seems anxiety is just more manageable but still present, while depression is mild but OCD-like symptoms have become worse. I just know I’ve been washing my hands a lot. I’ve even had to remind myself of the times when I was young and I went many hours without washing my hands after petting the dog, playing outside and eating sweets and I never got sick over it. 

My major test comes in just 8 days where I have to face my fear of going to a place I’m unfamiliar with just to see one of my favourite singers. Sometimes I feel like I can do it but at night when my meds wear off my doubts begin to resurface and linger. I’m trying to tell myself it will be ok. I mean, I’m hardly worried about going overseas compared to how I’m worried over getting to a venue and returning home in one night so close to where I live. I may also have to muster up a lot of courage to approach and talk to this singer for reasons I’d rather not disclose yet just in case a certain someone may happen to be reading this post.

Overall the medication has been good for me. Early in my treatment I felt uncomfortable being around people and was impatient and anti-social around them, but now I’ve gotten used to the meds I can be in the same room with people and talk to them. When I’m in a rush though I do blow them off. I go from being tired to active to tired again many times in the day but it’s just a bit more extreme than what I’m used to. I usually speed my way through tasks and end up using up all my energy in one go so I’m used to taking a lot of breaks and eating a lot of food just to jolt me back into action. Speaking of eating, the medication has increased my appetite which I was able to deal with by changing my eating habits around. I never did return to having a usual appetite after Ritalin left me with appetite suppression. But now my appetite has seemed to become more or less normal – according to the way I see other people eat – so I only needed to add a few more snacks to my shopping list. At first I didn’t care much about putting on weight because I now have a different view on how I see body types – not everyone can or should be thin etc – but I don’t want to have to buy new clothes so I’m trying to stay the same weight.

The way I found out I had increased my appetite was kind of scary. I would wake up in the morning around 7am or earlier and because it’s been really cold out I just rolled over and tried to sleep in for one more hour (and then another and another) but by the time it was 9am my body would be in agony. The pain was so great that I have to currently be in that type of pain to correctly describe it. It was basically the most severe case of hypoglycemia. There was muscle tightness and light headedness, shaking, sweating etc. So, I started leaving a banana on my bedside table at night and eating it as soon as I got up gave me enough strength to go downstairs and get breakfast. During this time I was still eating very little during the day, because I usually don’t eat when I get hungry but at certain times when I usually get blood sugar crashes. I remember once I did wake up in pain because I didn’t eat much at all at night, so that was when I decided that I needed to eat more. And ever since I can wake up in the morning, roll over for just one more hour, and then finally get up even though my body is no longer in pain. Usually. I get up more for my two cats. They have to eat and I’m usually the only one who feeds them.

A downside to being on these meds is that it’s very hard to focus on reading, unless it’s Star Trek related. I’ve managed to read some of my Marvel Fact Files but I just can’t focus on a comic book. I’ve been watching a lot of TV during the day and even getting out of the house to go for walks. I was even reminded that my skin likes to go all bumpy when exposed to too much sunlight. It’s been almost impossible to write and explain myself properly, so being able to write all of this feels like a real miracle has happened. 

The meds do help with keeping my anxiety and depression low during the day and I stopped writing a to-do list. The only list I use now is a shopping list. There’s no harm in using a to-do list to stay more organised but it’s now all in my head. I’m not forgetting to do tasks as much as I used to. My nighttime routine has pretty much stayed as it is but I’m more flexible with it.

The meds don’t seem to be that miracle pill I was looking for but they are helping to make life easier for me. I’m not sure if they will help me become more independent and make it easier for me to manage the stress of being in a working environment, because I think my days on this disability pension are numbered. I’m both looking forward to that day and dreading it. Sometimes I wish my brain wasn’t so different. People say it’s good to be different, and it is, but when it comes with a whole lot of impairments that lead to mental illness, and without it life was tough anyway, and you can’t even get a job or survive on your own or even meet someone for lunch in a restaurant you’ve never been to before, being different suddenly becomes less desirable. If you’ve never had to rehearse a conversation in your head with just a few people you’ve only watched a distance for over a year you probably can’t understand the torture my mind can be under. The ‘what if it never happens,’ or ‘what if I make a fool out of myself’ or even ‘what if they don’t end up liking me’ and other such doubts swirl around my head in between extremely over confident bouts of ‘next time I will definitely say something – I was just tired/anxious/depressed/completely unprepared last time – yeah, it will definitely happen this time, I’ll make sure of it.’

But is what it is and at least there’s still a lot left for me to learn about Star Trek.

I probably shouldn’t go back on stimulants. I’ll just see how I go with being on anti-depressants and fish oil (for focus, motivation and energy) and I hope it doesn’t make me too manic.

One last side effect I’ve been having…well, I hope it’s not a side effect and just a result of the cold; I’ve been waking up every couple of hours after a very short sleep. I usually don’t sleep well but I’ve had a few nights a week when I got at least 6 hours…5 hours. Although my mind seems to be incredibly active when I do wake up so it might have to do with my more hyper mood, whatever may be causing it. It’s at least a fun mood to be in.

Anyway, I may update you all in another 3 weeks when I hopefully know more about what these meds are doing in me and if they begin to manage my symptoms of anxiety and depression better, and if I survive seeing one of my favourite singers in a big old scary venue, that’s only really scary because I haven’t been there for many years. And also I’ll probably be in Portland so I’ll let you all know about my adventures over there too.