Last week I went to the doctor and finally agreed to take something for my anxiety. I’ve been trying to go the “natural” route to overcome it – eating healthy, mind-over-matter type stuff. That was sufficient to get me through the day, but it wasn’t sufficient for me to relax and enjoy life. Some of you long-time readers might recall that when I first started IncrediIncredipete, it was at the behest of my doctor who thought it would help my mental state. I was taking a stronger medication back then, and it really had a lot of nasty side effects, the worst of which was that it caused me to act recklessly.
I switched jobs in late 2004, and that meant I lost my medical insurance. I couldn’t afford the $300 a month for the prescription, so I just quit taking it cold turkey. That’s not a good plan, as those of you familiar with the topic know.
That’s really when the anxiety problems started creeping in. At first, it was just racing thoughts and nervousness. Eventually that deteriorated into full-blown panic attacks. If you’ve ever had one, you know – it feels like you’re dying. Not fun at all. It took me several trips to the doctor to even realize that’s what was happening. I honestly thought there was something physically wrong. Once I understood what was going on, I learned to control it – up to a point. However, part of controlling it was controlling my environment very strictly. That began to turn into agoraphobic behavior. I could tell I was starting to shut down.
I didn’t want to live that way, but I knew it was going to take more than mind-over-matter to fix. When I went to the doctor last week, I told him about the bad experience I had with a drug called Lexapro. When I first took it back in 2004, it made me sick for a few days, which is normal. However, once it was in my system fully, I felt like a zombie. I totally lost my personality, I was 100% open to outside influence, which made me behave in a reckless manner. I basically lacked the ability to say no to anything, no matter how stupid, dangerous, or unlike the real me.
About 2 years ago when I was first starting to understand what was happening with the panic attacks, I went back and the doctor prescribed Lexapro again. I had been off it for quite a while, so I figured it was worth a shot. I took one pill. That night I had the worst panic attack of my life and was literally trying to call 911 from the floor of a dirty public restroom. I didn’t have a signal. That’s the only reason I didn’t take an ambulance ride that night.
So needless to say, Lexapro was off the table. In fact, after that I was afraid to take practically any medication for fear it would trigger another night like that.
The doctor last week listened to my story, listened to my concerns (not wanting to be a zombie or be reckless), and found an option he thought would work. He warned me that the first 3-7 days would be unpleasant with side effects of nausea, dizziness, insomnia, sweating, etc. That sounded FANTASTIC, so I agreed to try it. He told me I really needed to give it a fair shot.
I took the first dose a week ago Tuesday. I was sick as a dog. I sat up wide awake all night completely nauseated, sweating profusely, and questioning whether it was really worth all this just to be able to live a happy life. 🙂 I called the doctor the next day and told him I hadn’t slept a wink and I was miserable. He had me switch to taking it in the morning. So from Tuesday until sometime Saturday, I was nauseated. Sunday I had a few hours of non-sickness and then a few bouts of nausea. Monday I was back to work and even taught class Monday night.
By Wednesday of this week, I could feel the difference. I don’t feel “different’ per se, but now things that would have triggered physical symptoms of anxiety simply don’t. It’s been about 3 years since I could say that, and it’s very exciting for me. I still have a few lagging side effects – I’m clenching my teeth a lot, and I can’t stop tapping my foot. But the icky side effects seem to be gone.
The best news is, I’m taking HALF the recommended MINIMUM dose of the prescription. They don’t even have a pill this small. I have to cut their smallest pill in half.
I’m not sure why I’m sharing all this with the world, except that it explains my absence late last week and I’m excited about it. I don’t feel like a million bucks yet, but I feel like 100 grand!