I’ve been gone from OS for so long, I feel I need to write one of those papers. You know the one: What I Did on My Summer Vacation. Except summer is far from over (especially here in God-forsaken Houston where it’s officially summer ten months out of the year) and it hasn’t been much of a vacation. Quite the opposite, actually.
So, where have you been, you might ask. (Written with the unrepentant shamelessness of a truly self-involved writer – yours truly.) In short, I went to work in April, lost fifteen pounds (yet, I have miles to go before I sleep,) started on a new medication prescribed by my doctor to help control my depression, discovered my new job was OH-SO-BORING, what the hell was I thinking(!), wrestled with the new medication to find the correct dosage and finally found my way back out of the rabbit hole I fell down. If there is one thing I do well, it is that I get back up when I fall down.
The medication my doctor put me on was great at first. I was Superman, I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, I was bullet-proof. After about six weeks, though, I noticed that I was increasingly anxious, which I wrote off to settling in to the new job – not bright, since it was the same kind of job I had been doing for fifteen years and could do with my eyes closed. Then, I noticed that my powers of concentration had become non-existent. I first recognized that on OS. I found that I couldn’t read blogs for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time without becoming incredibly distracted. This was a real change from the hours I spent previously, reading, commenting and writing. Weeks went by without even the slightest inclination to write anything. My brain was full of thoughts, but they were spiraling off in every direction, refusing to be corralled.
I told my doctor that I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. He reduced the dosage. Okay, fine, but I still couldn’t sit still, and writing and/or reading anything at all was out of the question. I was still just shy of wanting to crawl out of my skin, which is the only way I can describe the intense anxiety I was feeling. Every day, I just wanted to get through the day and go to sleep.
After dealing with the effects of depression for too many years to count, one thing I have learned is that this disease robs one of perception. Therefore, yes, I knew I was anxious, but did I want to risk another dance with the devil to be rid of the creepy crawly feeling of anxiety? Was it normal to feel anxious to a certain degree? How much was too much? Oh, I had questions. I just didn’t have answers. As for my inability to concentrate enough to read or write on OS, I decided maybe I had just outgrown my infatuation with the site. Somewhere in my muddled brain, I knew I was fooling myself, but I couldn’t quite grab hold of that elusive lucid thought.
I’ve always been a reader, reading two or three books at the same time. Suddenly I was unable to complete even a few pages. No subject held my interest. One day, I happened to spy my beloved camera sitting unused in the top of my closet and realized that I hadn’t taken a single photograph of anything or anyone in months.
I kept telling myself that I should go back to see my doctor to discuss how I was feeling, but I had done that once and he told me to stay on the medicine. So, I stayed away from him, too. Finally, I just stopped. I quit taking the medication (the additional one, not the original anti-depressant, which I still take.) I quit the job I hated. I stayed at home and tried listening to what my body had been trying to tell me.
It has been a month now and finally I am starting to feel more like myself. I no longer feel the sharp undertones of anxiety with every breath. I started (and finished!) a new book this weekend. I spent the whole weekend at our deer lease with nothing but time on my hands and I enjoyed it. I didn’t go stark- raving mad the way I would have had it been a month or six weeks ago. And, wonder of wonders, I woke up this morning with a desire to write.
Whatever that pill did to my brain chemistry, I want nothing more to do with it. I know there are people who struggle with feelings of anxiety daily and I’ve never understood what that must be like until recently. God help you if that is your cross to bear.
Hopefully, I will continue to feel more and more like “me” and you’ll start seeing me around here again. I’ve missed this place and I’ve missed all of my friends here. So much for What I Did on My Summer Vacation. I think I may try a real one now.