Lexapro Journal (Continued)

I’m writing this blog as an update to the Lexapro 100 day Journal one that I wrote back in 2016.

I don’t blog that often, but when I do check the statistics for the number of readers, I see that between 3 and 15 people each day read this article. It is the only article that picks up any traction after the first few days post publishing. I has received more hits recently, so I’m not sure if it show up higher on search engines; but in any case it’s amounted to a few thousand people who have at least opened it. Doesn’t mean they read it through though!

When I tried to go off Lexapro just a little over a year ago, I wrote another blog entitled Lexapro Rollercoaster. I haven’t written anything about it since. I’ve been approached by so many people (some I know well & others hardly at all) who have read my blogs. Folks have asked for advice, inquired how I’m doing, or wanted to share that they or someone they love has experienced the same thing. Because I see that a few thousand strangers have read some of this as well, I wanted to follow-up as Lexapro wasn’t my answer.

I didn’t particularly have a love affair with Lexapro. I started it in March 2016. It seemed at first to be to a miracle drug. After several months the side effects kicked in. Particularly they were the two I was most afraid of – decreased interest in sexual activities and weight gain. Initially I thought it was a fluke and both would pass. But as pounds kept adding on and I felt less and less inclined to indulge in carnal activities, I knew it was the medication.

In January 2017 I didn’t feel like I needed Lexapro any longer. I felt stable emotionally. My primary care provider talked me through tapering off. It was a little difficult because I felt physically sick, but that passed after a few days. A few days later I felt off kilter emotionally again. I went back on Lexapro the same way I went off, but this time I held the dose steady at 5mg to test out how that made me feel. I immediately felt better, as I had the first time I went on. At 5mg I didn’t have the unwanted side effects. Fortunately my BMI had always been on the low side, and even with all the weight gain I was still in a normal range. I didn’t lose any weight, but I didn’t gain more either. The other department I feared was also in check. But my moods weren’t steady. I could get hyped up at anxious about almost nothing, and angry at the drop of a hat. I felt off balance. Nowhere near as badly as I originally did, but not as great as I did at 15mg either.

I believed with some meditation and a deeper yoga practice I could keep taking 5mg, feel better and go off completely. I set a soft goal to go off Lexapro before the start of summer in June. But I didn’t deepen my yoga or meditation practices. I didn’t have time to, I was as busy as ever. Although I cut down my professional hours at work; I taught as much yoga as I could without being picky and I wasn’t even doing my own practice. My husband and I started renting out our second home in Branford and I was managing all the rentals and turnovers. Even though I changed the stressors in my life, I unknowingly added different ones back in.

In May that year I took a 50-hour training in domestic violence and sexual assault in order to teach yoga at safe houses in Connecticut. One evening during a presentation about PTSD, I realized with unbelievable clarity that the slide I was looking at described me perfectly. Until then I have prided myself for rising above being a childhood victim of domestic violence and putting it behind me. It wasn’t until that evening I realized I was indeed affected by my past. The ground slightly shifted beneath me, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it.

My emotions became more tumultuous after that. If I was more aware of myself I may have noticed Lexapro really wasn’t helping anymore. One evening in July I had the worst emotional breakdown I ever had. I knew I needed help in a different way. After a little research I filled out some FMLA paperwork and cleared my calendar so I could spend a month in intensive outpatient mental health treatment.

Under the care of the facility, I started to decrease my 5mg of Lexapro daily to once every other day until I went off completely. I felt great. I had no responsibilities during this month other than to care for myself. I journaled daily after my sessions. For the first time ever, I had the time and was willing to really think about how I feel, where my assumptions and habits formed, and how I got to be where I was mentally, physically and emotionally. I was able to sit and question whether or not I wanted to do those things or if they were just maladaptive habits I had from childhood. I made conscious, well-thought out decisions about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to keep in my life and what I wanted to let go.

Unknown-1

I needed follow-up after the program with some type of regular treatment. I’ve gone to weekly couch talk therapy for years on an off and never found it helpful. With the advice from the program I just completed, I researched local therapists that specialized in the exercises we used that I found most helpful. I messaged a few by reaching out and providing a short background about myself. It was easy to discern who I might have a connection with through upfront written communication. I settled on someone local that I thought might work.

When I finally met my new therapist, before she asked me anything about myself; she explained some practices and tools she uses and why. She described the energy and meridian lines that run through our bodies and explained that most people start to question their lives after they meet their goals toward success (or the second half of life). She didn’t need to go on any further, I was sold. Energy, questioning life and it’s purpose, Pema Chodron quotes on the wall, a jiggle jar on the table, a semi-organized non-dusty dank/dark room… This is the therapist I was looking for and never knew it. Additionally, since I had just finished a month long intensive therapy treatment, I knew exactly what things I needed to work on and where they came from. For the first time I felt like I had clear therapy goals and found someone who spoke my language and could help me.

Around the same time I started therapy, I started a 9 month advanced yoga teacher training. This training wasn’t all that different from the standard 200 hour teacher training, but it was far more in depth. This time, having a new-found goal of self-care and making time for myself, I was actually deepening my own yoga practices. I also started a daily sadhana (spiritual practice).

I was only in the training a few weeks and saw my new therapist a handful of times before taking several weeks off for a trip I had previously planned with my husband. I was off medication and only using some new techniques and my sadhana practice to keep everything in check. It was going very well.

Once we returned from vacation I had to cancel my next therapy appointment. I got busy and fell back into the older routine of not making time for myself. After just a few days of skipping sadhana and not doing the therapy exercises, I was completely off balance. It took a full week of being back on the wagon before I felt like myself again. Two more weeks passed and I again made the decision to skip my practices for a few days because I became busy with the holidays. Again, not shortly after I felt incredibly unstable.

For a myriad of reasons I didn’t have a therapy appointment scheduled for several weeks. One day during work when I felt like I was completely unraveling, I called my PCP for an appointment to discuss anti-anxiety meds again. I received an appointment for me the next morning. I spent the evening online looking up various medications that I might ask about. I didn’t want to use Lexapro again and was fearful about gaining even more weight or losing that loving feeling again.

When my provider asked why I went off Lexapro, she asked me to consider Effexor (Venlafaxine). It’s not for everybody, but most patients don’t report weight gain or sexual side effects. I had nothing to lose.

The first evening I took Effexor I felt incredibly sick and disoriented. My husband said I looked and sounded drugged. The next morning I woke up feeling like I had a really terrible hangover. I was groggy, dizzy and nauseous. Sometime around dinner the next evening I didn’t feel dizzy if I wasn’t moving. I was able to eat. I was almost feeling normal by the time I was ready to take the next pill. The next pill brought the same side effects, but they were about half as bad as the evening before. The following day by lunchtime I felt as good as I did at dinner the previous evening. On the third morning I had some vertigo for just a few short hours. I have since experienced zero effects.

Exactly one week after beginning Effexor, I made a nice dinner for my husband and I. We enjoyed it with some wine. As we were cleaning up and getting ready to watch a movie, I was dancing around doing silly kicks and laughing. My husband said I looked and sounded really happy. To which I replied “You know what? I am!” He said it must be the wine. I laughed it off but thought about how we have wine often but I often don’t feel that way. I considered that it might be the meds. I hadn’t felt that good in a long, long time. Before I started “waking up”, having anxiety, questioning the second half of life, giving myself time to contemplate the trauma that I made myself too busy to think about…. I felt like my old self, minus all the stress.

The next day I realized I felt just as good. I felt good the day after that as well, and so forth for the next several weeks. Sometime in January I became busy again and starting skipping self-care. Like the previous experiences, I wasn’t myself. However, this time it took just two days of practice to feel good again. Then again two weeks later I skipped my self-care and practices three days in a row. Not surprisingly I fell right back into the hands of anxiety and stress. It was then I realized that I need to continue to make self-care a priority.

It’s been approximately 2 straight months since I have felt balanced without excessive anxiety. I continue to take Effexor, go to therapy and do the “work” and self-examination it takes to improve mental stability.

Thanks to the program I spent a month in last summer, yoga, and therapy – I’ve received the reinforced message that it is not only ok, but necessary to take care of yourself. I know some people take that too far, but for me taking it too far was never even close to an option. It was almost a necessary survival tactic to stay so busy that I would never have time to relive some of the trauma I was trying to avoid until my body was ready to process it. Instead of running from it, I’ve learned it’s not going to hurt me and sitting with it is the only way to get through it. Sitting with [dis]-ease has only become easier and helped me in all types of other areas of my life.

I still don’t have a magic answer for anyone looking for help. Lexapro was my start. I have my own personal combined strategy that is feasible and working for the time being. For anyone struggling with anxiety or depression – there is no magic pill. It has taken me two years to find something I can keep up with and works. I had to look to where it was coming from. For me that was a strain of PTSD. I had to figure out what works for my body. And I had to find a therapist that I really feels can understand the issues that I struggle with. I hope to sustain some level of sanity while I heal and deal with old issues that have plagued me. I truly am happy and feel more better and better each day. I trust there is something for everyone and it won’t look anything like what helps me. Like I said, unfortunately there really are no magic pills.

Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorders Infographic.png

 

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

Lexapro “Rollercoaster” Journal

 

Friday, January 13, 2017

8:53pm

Well… I just took my first reduced dose. Fingers crossed. It was an awesome medication. It did exactly what I needed. But now it’s time to stop.

 

Reason #1 weight gain. I gained 11 pounds since I started 10 months ago. 7 of those were in the past 4 months. My BMI is still only 23 point something but it’s disconcerting that week after week the scale goes up at least 1/2 lb. I was ok with it at first. I feel stronger than ever and have been more physically active and at the top of my physical fitness game than ever. But the past few weeks my clothes have been getting tighter and tighter. And that is not ok. I practically live in leggings and yoga pants now, but even those are getting tight. Super warning sign. I’ve been on amazing money saving kick. A whole new wardrobe to accommodate my fat Lexapro ass isn’t part of the plan.

 

Reason #2 is decreased libido. Not ok, I don’t feel like myself in that regard. Enough said.

 

I’ve been considering going off for a while. I knew I had an appointment today with my primary care provider. I had this appointment since last September. The side effects weren’t too bad until the last month of two. I wanted to get thru the holidays and settled with my new job. I wanted a good destressifying (likely not a real word) routine, the new VRBO property totally set and posted, a solid yoga/meditation/pranayama/mantra/daily spiritual practice set up. I have most of this now 90% there, but I need to admit to myself that realistically it’s probably not going to get better than this. I had an appointment today and decided to start tonight.

 

I’ve been reading online about the experience of going off. Brain zaps, depression, feeling out of it, head aches, nausea… to name a few. I’m ready for it. I’m done now. It did it’s job. It cleared my mind and helped me to see what I needed to do to live a more stress free life. And I did it! I’m proud. That life is in place as much as it probably will be and I’m ready to start this slow 6 week trickling down process.

 

Bring it on!

 

 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

5:45am

The morning of day 4. I have slept like a log since I was pregnant with Thomas over 20 years ago. The past few weeks with not having to get up everyday I have been sleeping 9-10 hours. It’s been amazing! But last night as tired as I was I couldn’t stay asleep more than 5-10 min at a time. Holy cow now. I didn’t even think to relate it to a withdrawal symptom until Daren mentioned it. Then I just came downstairs now and got this overwhelming sense of dizziness and nausea. I had to lay down. Ugh… I don’t want to feel like this.

 

Until last night I was going to journal about the good things I’ve felt so far. 3 namely and I have a hard time believing in the less than 48 hours that I cut back the dosage from 15 to 10mg that I can feel anything positive. But the first thing I noticed immediately was how less hungry I feel. Secondly Sun morning I woke up and my stomach felt flatter than it has since last summer. Despite not eating so well Sat night. And lastly I am having these incredible bursts of creative energy. I did so many things (recreational/income bearing) the past few days it’s not been like me since before I started experiencing symptoms of anxiety since before I met Daren.

 

But this morning sucks. I can hardly see the words I’m typing. I’m uncoordinated, dizzy, nauseous and exhausted. Not to mention incredibly UNmotivated or creative.

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

3:40pm

Well… today I feel fabulous. Yesterday morning was the absolute pits. I had constant hot & cold flashes. I was so sick to my stomach & SO unbelievably tired. It was a hazard for me to be on the road. I didn’t want to call out sick. I only started my new job a few weeks ago. And I’m glad I didn’t because by about 8:30 I felt pretty normal. By noon I was 100% myself. Last night I took NyQuil because not only did I have post nasal drip that was keeping me up and restless the night before, but I didn’t want to chance not sleeping again. I of course slept long & deep. I didn’t wake up at all until the alarm. And once I did I felt so awake and rested. I was slightly concerned I would feel dizzy and sick standing up and moving about, but it never happened.

 

So far so good. I’m suppose to stay on 10mg for 2 full weeks, but my prescriber did say that was a slow wean and if I felt good I could speed it up. IF I’m still feeling this good by Fri eve I will consider going down to 5mg. That would be nice! I’ll see.

 

And one other amazing thing that I’m not sure is a coincidence, but the scale lowered 5 full pounds since last week. I wasn’t this light since last September. Fingers crossed it’s not a fluke!

 

Friday, January 20, 2017

7:42am

1 week on 10mg and other than a few hours of feeling sick on Tuesday I’ve had no other side effects.

 

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, the placebo effect, or something real; but I lost 6 pounds somehow in the past week and my creativity level KICKED up. Sunday morning I was suddenly inspired to really amp up my LLC. I was thinking about where I might be able to provide yoga (library, park, local businesses, etc)… when it dawned on me we have 340 rarely used completely finished space in our walk out basement. There is a bathroom & sauna attached. No overhead… what could I lose??? I immediately set to work playing with the website I paid for randomly on the fly back in Dec when I filed for the LLC and got in fire. My creative juices have been flowing ever since. I’m making crafts, finding new uses for things that otherwise would have been discarded.

 

My PCP said to do 2 weeks on 10mg and it’s really up to me if I feel ok to cut back to 5 a little sooner. 1 week seems like a nice number. Think tonight I will take only 5 and see what happens.

 

Wish me luck

 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

7:21pm

Day 9. So far so good. Feel steady, balanced, creative. 3 of those pounds came back, so somewhat of a fluke there, but otherwise I’m feeling great. Last week it was 4 days after I cut back I felt sick so I’m prepared this time just in case. I hope nothing sooner because I have a yoga dem/interview tomorrow eve and want to feel on my game. Starting up a yoga business and going off these mess at the same time may not have been my brightest idea, but so far it’s going smoothly. Yee hah!!!

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

5:31pm

Day 11, but Day 4 on 5mg and not a single sign of sickness or withdrawal. I got that yoga gig last night right there on the spot. I start 3/1 on Wednesday evenings at 5pm. I have another interview tomorrow at a chiropractor’s office in Hamden. It’s Sarah’s provider and she mentioned her friend who teaches yoga. He wanted to meet me and asked her to have me call his assistant. I did and I’m going to see to what this might be about tomorrow. Wish me luck!!

 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

12:06pm

This is the first day I feel really crummy. I’ve been feeling crummy since Friday, but I thought it was because I didn’t get enough sleep. Yesterday I had that same tired feeling and I didn’t get the best night sleep, but today after a totally long restorative rest I still have that surreal kind of feeling like I haven’t slept. I’m dizzy and just overall slumpy.

 

I’ve been on only 5mg since last Friday last week. I took my last 5 Thursday night. Friday was the first night without Lexapro since last March. Last night I was totally on the fence with deciding if I should do one day on one day off for a week, but I’d love to just get this over with so I didn’t take it. Today I woke up feeling super yucky. I also woke up with anxiety. It is going in reverse for me in that what was happening to me when I started it is now happening to me in the reverse way. I had that feeling of my body having anxiety and my brain asking why. Before the lex at all my body & brain were in sink. Like day 2 they started to disconnect. I hope the next step on going off isn’t reconnection.

 

Once I noticed the feeling I immediately sat down and did some pranayama practice (breathing). It helped immensely for about 5 minutes and then I felt anxious again. I talked to Daren about how I was feeling and two particular things that were bugging me… and then I felt better. Until the headache started about an hour after that. He is now with Devin at a hockey game. I’ve been working on Tom’s room and the basement (moving stuff around & getting ready to paint the new little yoga studio). But I had to just stop. I’m so exhausted and dizzy. No more physical anxiety, just withdrawal side effects. This sucks because I have such will, but my body just isn’t cooperating. And the one thing I really learned this past year is to honor my body. At times it’s important to listen to the body or it will shut down on you. And other times it’s important to listen to the brain- like this morning when the body was anxious for no good reason. Maybe a nap will help. Koji got when I laid down in Tom’s room before I wrote this. He immediately jumped up and laid next to me- falling asleep instantly. He is my little buddy, following me around the house all day. I love this Stinky black doggie.

 

No weight gain or loss lately. I did get another gig with the chiropractor too! I start on 2/28 on Tuesday nights at 5pm. Very excited. Between the two classes I hope to fill in my home studio, these two I just signed up for this week, the one I teach at work, and the domestic violence volunteering I am finished taking on anything new. The VRBO site has suddenly picked up in the past week and I need to go down there in Friday’s to turn the house over between guests. I’m so excited to just get started on all these things. First guests this weekend and just a few loose ends to tie up. And I’m aiming to have a yoga open house next Sun. I just need to take a break right now and let my body recover/process out these meds.

 

Scared the anxiety will come back but I do feel strong enough to recognize it before it takes a hold of me and reach into my toolbox of things to combat it in the early stages. Worst case scenario is I got back on the Lexapro because I know it works.

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

8:35am

The past few days have been a rollercoaster to say the very least. I cracked Monday afternoon. I took 5mg. And I feel better already. I feel a bit disappointed, but at the same time kind of thankful. It was a nice wake up call.

 

Sunday was the last time I journaled while laying down with Koji. I actually felt a lot better after that. I went down to the new studio area and started prepping the walls and taping so we could paint. About half way through I became super dizzy again. I finished up anyway and decided I need to stop for the day. I went to take a shower and just started feeling worse and worse. In the shower I felt overwhelmingly dizzy and nauseous. After I came out I couldn’t even get dressed. I didn’t want to. I grabbed a robe and laid down. I felt so out of it. Everything that touched me annoyed me. I had to even take the hair band off my wrist that I always wear because it felt so tight and constricting. I usually put lotion on the minute I come out of the shower because my skin is so dry; but I couldn’t imagine even adding moisturizer to my skin. Everything felt insane. My own skin was uncomfortable.

 

Daren came home from Devin’s hockey game just as I was laying down. He asked me how I felt and I just burst into tears. OK… I thought, here comes the full withdrawal experience. My husband was very sweet to me and said he wanted to paint. He asked if I would like to keep him company down there. I said yes, but it took me forever to go through the process of just putting on clothes. I went down to meet him and suddenly felt like I was starving. I could hardly move. Every time I turned my head the room spun behind me. But I gathered a bunch of random stuff to bring down to my trip to the basement. A bag of popcorn, edamame, chocolate chips and a cold IPA. Holy confusion. I couldn’t remember what I was doing one moment to the next.

 

Within a half an hour I felt better. There was a distinct 10-15 minute period where it felt like there were a serious of moments where a fog was just lifting and the world was becoming clearer and clearer. We warmed up some frozen homemade pasta sauce for dinner and boiled some pasta and I felt great. Maybe I had just gone through the worse of it. But not long after dinner when I was considering walking Koji, the thought seemed so laborious and I realized I was getting dizzy again. Oh well… I thought tomorrow is another day.

 

Monday morning I woke up & felt phenomenal. No head ache, no anxiety either in my body or mind. I thought I had this. I had my coffee, went through my normal morning routine and headed upstairs to get ready for work. While standing at the sink I started thinking about some unsolved blended family issues and things that happened over the weekend that we could have handled so much better with the kids, and all of a sudden my anxiety KICKED up. Body and mind this time, together. The whole shebang… The exact way I felt before I ever took Lexapro. The way I used to feel all the time. I noticed it right away and thought – if I can only talk to Daren and let him know that I’m anxious and tell him about what I’ll be ok. That is what I always wanted to do, just talk about an issue and work it out with my husband. I thought I would try….

 

No go. Daren doesn’t understand when I’m anxious. Even when I tell him. He says I’m too angry to talk to and I try so hard to explain that I’m not angry. There is such a difference I feel between those two emotions and I get even more anxious when he says I’m angry. My heart beats faster, my mind races faster. I shake internally. So it wasn’t a pleasant conversation. The moment my voice goes over a normal tone he fears the kids will hear us and tells me to quiet down. I never know how to handle that. I am so freakin’ anxious that speaking low is practically impossible, and not talking about what I’m anxious about seems even harder. He walked out the bedroom door. I was left in the same tizzy I felt all the time just less than a year ago.

 

I left to go to work. Now I was dizzy and nauseous again – lovely symptoms to add to my anxiety. As I was driving my mind was racing with confusion and then I just burst out crying. Then I was worried. Should I have done one day on – one day off of the meds? What if I go back? – will I experience all this all over again? Is it the withdrawal making me anxious or my anxiety making me anxious? Withdrawal symptoms do include anxiety.

 

What was clear to me was that I felt EXACTLY how I felt before I started the medicine. Same thoughts, same aggravation. In the midst of this worry, trying to decide if I should take a pill that night and crying… I didn’t realize the crying got worse and I started to hyperventilate. I noticed I was shaking, my heart was racing even faster and I had to pull over to the side of the road. I let myself cry and then I had a panic attack. Holy “s”… 3 nights off and I already had a panic attack.

 

I got to work and left by 9:30. I couldn’t stay. Everything started to calm down mentally but physically I was so dizzy and ungrounded. I went home and laid down on the couch and instead of sleeping, which my body was desperately pleasing for, I typed two long heart felt emails to Daren. After I sent them and I laid there, a cat on my legs and a dog on the floor next to me I realized too much of how I feel is just too closely related to how I felt before Lexapro. Even the act of writing and sending long explanatory emails was something I hadn’t done in a long time.

 

I slightly worried I would be someone who needs medicine for the rest of my life. That all the yoga and spiritual practices was a bunch of hooey and didn’t work. But then I considered the following:

 

1) I didn’t follow my provider’s instructions on tapering down. I felt so good I thought I could handle accelerating it on my own.

 

2) I wasn’t exercising lately or even walking at all. Not even walking the dog at night. I had been so busy with getting the rental home ready and working on things for the yoga studio that exercise had gone to the wayside.

 

3) In fact everything had gone to the wayside. I’m not eating well. I’m not doing my morning aryuvedic practices, my breathing practices, or meditating. And other than Michele’s Thu eve Yin class, I hadn’t taken anyone else’s yoga classes or done yoga outside of teaching it for weeks. I wasn’t even doing the hooey that I do know works for me.

 

4) Most importantly was that I didn’t completely deal with some of the stressors that caused me to tailspin last year. When I went to see my provider and told her I would like to go off the meds, she naturally asked me about why and what I’ve done to change things in my life so I can live without them. I told her about how I now work part time and I’m partaking in hobbies and investment activities that I absolutely love and fill me up rather than drain me. But then she asked about my blended family life. That was one of my chief complaints last year. I said it was better, which was true. But to be honest, nothing has changed. The Lexapro just numbed me to not care about it as much. And it took going off to realize that these things that I was stressed about when it comes to these issues are still there and very much alive. I didn’t work with Daren to collaborate on the best way to deal with things – and it was the first thing to come creeping back just 3 days later.

 

Without doing any exercise, spiritual practice, or dealing with one of the largest contributors of my stress; I’m not sure why I thought I could live anxiety free now. Monday afternoon I got up off the couch and took 5mg. I wanted to get set and in a comfortable routine again before going cold turkey. I wasn’t ready. I have been neglecting the life style and practices I put in place to feel better, and took to working equally as hard but on different things. I also now know what Daren and I have to work through with the blended family issues. I want to stay on 5mg until I have these things under control. It was my provider’s only concern, and she was right.

 

I struggled emotionally all through Monday- day and night. Yesterday I woke up and felt COMPLETELY anxiety free physically and mentally. But I still had some obnoxious withdrawal symptoms. Namely the dizziness. That has been the worse for me. I was describing to a friend on Monday that it feels like I haven’t slept – and although eating, drinking tea, laying down, even trying to sleep seem like they might help; nothing helps. It’s such an uncomfortable feeling.

 

And today after my 2nd dose of 5mg last night, I almost feel completely normal. A little queasiness, but overall so so so much better. I know what I need to work on and what I need to do in my life to remain mostly stress free. Going off for just 3 stinking days helped me to see that.

 

I share this because when I have questions about what is normal and what isn’t; and when I feel like I am derailing and I look to the Internet in desperation for any sign of anyone or any institution who understands… I find little only nuggets here and there of anything I can relate to. I share this because maybe it can be someone else’s nugget. Whether you do know me in real life or not, I’m not as perfect and put together as I might always look. But like all humans I try to show up in the world the best I can, and in general that me who shows up is a pretty happy person who wants to help and connect with others through my own passions and experiences.

 

5mg is my magic little helper for now. I know when I try to go off again when I decide I’m ready to try again in a few weeks or months, I will go through some of the side effects again. But maybe this time I’ll be a little smarter about doing the things that help me feel better & actually listen to how my provider tells me to do it. And if I’m a person who needs this forever – maybe I should just accept that and not fight the tide. We’ll see!

 

Peace, Esterina

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com

Lexapro 100 day journal

Wow… 100 days. I went to see my primary care provider this afternoon for a follow-up on my anxiety and refill on my SSRI. I noted to myself that I have not journaled in a long time about my experience with Lexapro and came home to do so. I put the date I started and today’s date into Excel to see how many days it’s been – since I completely lost count; and to my utter surprise it’s 100 days exactly today. I feel like things are under control. I get anxious occasionally and I did have a panic attack last Wednesday at work. But the last time before that I had a panic attack was 5 weeks prior to then, but it was an incredibly stressful morning. As I told my provider this afternoon, I almost need to feel slightly anxious every so often because it’s my body’s trigger to slow down. If I went up any more on my dose I might not feel anxious at all and push myself too far. I’m in a good place.

And slow down I have! I am smelling the roses. I catch myself unnecessarily trying t o beat the clock for no good reason and I stop to consciously appreciate the present moment, no matter how unpleasant (except for traffic… I have NOT mastered feeling ok with the present in traffic). I am on my back deck. I can hear the trees blowing in the wind. I am not taking appreciating life for granted. I hope I always feel this way. I’m going to try to make an effort because life is better slower and in gratitude. I spent the day weeding the garden with my feet in the dirt. I thought about weeds and good and evil & cleaning/purging and how we need to do that with our minds by meditating reguarly. You can’t weed on occasion and expect weeds will not grow. You can’t clean every so often and think your home will not get dirty. As above so below – you cannot meditate every once in a while and expect to walk around with a clear head and zen outlook.

I loved the journey since I started medication. Someone told me to journal about it and I did. I was so afraid to start my medication. I kept the meds a few days before I began and read about it online obsessively. I was afraid of not feeling like myself. A girl wrote about how she had been on Lexapro for a year. She was artsy and creative and had incredible mood swings before she started the drug. She said she drew and painted so much more passionately before she started and now wondered if she should go off and be her real self again. That scared me. But the 5-10% of people or so who had good things to say, and didn’t have a nightmare of an experience said they were glad to actually feel like their old self again. That is what I wanted. I like being passionate & creative and all that jazz, but I did want to feel like myself. What would be the worse thing? It would be a nightmare and I’d go off and be in the same place I was? My biggest fear was losing myself, but actually – I found myself again. And I’m all the better for it.

 

March 16, 2016; 10:16pm

And here goes 

About to take my first dose of lexapro. I may be miserable the next few days and worse off. I’m officially someone diagnosed with a mental health condition and I need meds. I pray it works because I so desperately want to feel better. This may be the last of the real Esterina. I love myself. I’m sorry I lost it. I will be better. And here goes…

 

March 18, 2016; 5:44pm 

Lexapro – Day 2

I am a person who is in touch with themselves. Deeply. I can already feel a difference. This morning when I woke up, it was the first time I woke up and didn’t have the sense of impending doom looming over me in a long time. It was amazing! But I know it’s not working yet because after a few minutes of lying in bed I started my normal anxiety. Only this time it felt different. I was short of breath, but somehow it wasn’t causing pain in my head. It was like it was cut off from my head or something. Then I read a text from Daren that he sent last night. I could hardly see it. The words and font looked kind of different, smaller if anything and a little sharper. I went down to the kitchen and prepared a fresh juice. I went back upstairs to reply to Daren’s texts. It wasn’t until he started making rigmarole plans with different pick-ups and hockey bags and complicated collaboration that the anxiety really started. Only it didn’t even come close to a panic attack. 

Today at work I was able to focus. Focus on one thing at a time. Not as well as I’d like but I was SO SO SO productive. It was crazy! I had energy I hadn’t had in years. Is this what drugs really do? No wonder these are prescription drugs. I almost want to up my dose to the 10 I’m not supposed to start until at least Sunday, but I’ll hold off. 

Driving home felt good. Usually I’m numb and kind of miserable. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I was happy, but I was pretty ‘unmiserable’. 

I laughed like I did when I was younger twice in the past two days. Once about an hour after I took my first pill. I immediately felt a sense of chill about 5-10 minutes later. I did have a few margaritas with Gretchen and Lucy earlier in the evening. I know I’m not supposed to drink and take this, but I didn’t want to say no to hanging with them, especially while Daren was away and I haven’t seen them in so long. And I was suffering SO much with anxiety I didn’t want to wait even another day until I started the journey. So I took it that night. I felt a little chill as I drifted off into bed. I thought back to the day and remembered a funny incident at work. Haha!!! I couldn’t stop laughing. It was like when I was a kid or teenager before I got married and had kids… when I’d laugh all the time. Then yesterday the same thing happened in a meeting. It was a construction meeting and one of the police officers was describing an area that someone requested we do construction in. He was describing the half wall they were asking for and the reason being he said was… he didn’t know the medical term – but it was to give the patients a “shot in the buttocks”. OMG, I started laughing but stopped. I was holding back – I mean this is a professional meeting & all right? I’d heard this shot in the butt story before. Then when someone else was referring to it a few minutes later and he said “to give these shots in the butt” I started laughing again. And like when I was young. I knew it was inappropriate but I was giggling uncontrollably anyway. I couldn’t stop and it was almost embarrassing. Everyone looked at me when I really busted up. With tears streaming down my face. I said “I’m so sorry I’m laughing about this like a 5 year old”. And they all started laughing too. It felt so good. It felt like me raw. What’s funny is that it is me raw. I guess that is what it feels like to have my brain more in balance. 

I NEVER really time off from work. But over the past year or two I’ve probably taken between 6-8 mental health days with some other excuse. I always felt guilty as if I was cheating the system or something. I do it so nicely too. I make sure my work is done, my meetings are covered, I often get online & work throughout the day and answer questions. But overall I felt guilty. Truth is though, I do have a mental health condition and needed those mental health days. My reactions and feelings aren’t normal. I truly am suffering. It took having my first panic attack to realize how unstable I felt. While I don’t treasure them, I do in some way for getting me to realize I really was at a breaking point and needed help. I need help. It feels good to say that. And as long as this medication keeps improving and there are little to no (and fingers crossed for no) side effects then I’m SO happy I’m taking the steps to feel mentally healthy again. I cried coming home from the doctor when the med was prescribed. I felt like a loser. Now I don’t. I read somewhere where someone wrote coming out with a mental health disorder to other people felt worse than coming out of the closet. I felt like I could sympathize. I stared at the bottle. I read the instructions for a medicine the first time ever. I read everything I could get my hands on online about Lexapro. I was scared. When I finally made the decision to start taking it I was kind of excited and not scared anymore. I’m glad I waited the time out because now it feels right. Fingers crossed it’s only on the up & up from here. I want to be me again. 

March 21, 2016; 5:35am 

Lexapro – Day 5

Tired is all I can say. I have no energy. Saturday morning I woke up in full on Fight or Flight mode, only my thoughts were rational and I didn’t try to figure out what was the matter with or try to talk to Daren about all that is wrong in our lives & the world. It was just obvious that my body was reacting to absolutely nothing and I had to let it ride out. My mind didn’t follow it. It was nice, but unsettling. I can’t believe the medication would work so quickly. Saturday late afternoon when I went to take a shower, about 2 minutes into it I was hit a giant wave of exhaustion. Crazy exhausted. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it out of the shower safely. I did though. Daren came up and made sure I was able to get dressed. Then I went downstairs to the couch and kind of didn’t move most of the night. I got up for about 15 min to eat dinner, but had to lay back down. I slept for about 2 hours before dinner. Then again through most of the movie we watched. Sat night I know I looked at the clock before I fell into a deep sleep in bed, and it was 10:50. I woke up at 7:50, a full 9 hours later! But I was still tired. Saturday evening I switched from 5mg to 10mg. I was expecting to wake up with some wooziness and nausea, but didn’t. I was just super lethargic.

I forced myself out of bed and downstairs for some green tea. Stupidly Daren and I started our quarterly detox too. Probably a bad idea to be detoxing and starting a new medication. I started to gain some energy around noon. I made all the dinners for the week and cleaned up the kitchen & house a bit. Then I took Koji on a very mild 2 mile walk. But when I came home I was exhausted again. I went to take a shower (a very quick one because no one was home and I was afraid I’d fall asleep in there). Then I went to the couch. I couldn’t really fall asleep and I had no motivation to do anything. I had a mini panic attack. I’m not even sure why. I was incredibly depressed and crying on the couch. I was thinking about putting real clothes on today to go to work (no yoga pants) and it just made me so sad. I felt like I couldn’t deal with life. At that time I felt pangs of anxiety, but nothing fight or flight like within me. It was more like depression to be honest. No beating heart or doom & gloom thoughts. I got up to eat and right back to the couch. Until bed. I slept like a log. I had a hard time getting up for work today, but here I am.

 I feel drugged up. I really do. My motor skills are slower than usual. I’m SO tired. I can’t say enough about how little energy I have. And I’m really hungry. Don’t know if it’s the meds or the detox, but just hungry. I hope this wears away. I’m having a hard time caring about anything, especially work. I hope this balances out. Good vibes & lots of love.

 

March 25, 2016; 5:40am

Lexapro – Day 9

I’ve been SO depressed. I had no energy the past few days. I have been FORCING myself to walk. I drank pink wine & had chocolate last night. I had such forceful cravings. I should be getting my period so that might be it too. Plus I have heard Lex can make your anxiety and depression a little worse. I’ve felt my body in fight or flight a LOT, but my mind has not always taken me there. It has a few times. It’s been a rough few days since I’ve last written. 

Today I’m feeling great so far. I’ve only been up a for a little bit though. I got up & stretched and I put on a mask and gave myself a mani & pedi. I feel good. I feel solid. I still feel anxiousness in my head, but I just feel happy. I want to stay here (as I know everyone does). I NEED to work peace and meditation into my day everyday. It helps. I feel good. Namaste.

 

March 28, 2016; 12:24pm

Lexapro – Day 12

I had an absolutely terrible weekend at first. I mean terrible. I felt great on Friday. Like my old self. I was productive at work as I was the Friday before. I had a beer Friday night at the Wolfpack game and felt ok for a while. I started feeling a little depressed and by the time we got home I wanted to kill someone. I was so anxious about our ridiculous lives. None of the kids were supposed to be with us, but 3 of them suddenly were. I fell asleep right away but woke up to Kieran taking a shower at 12:15 in the morning. His mother left his belongings behind my car earlier that evening, and then Gabby ran them over while we weren’t home when she borrowed my car. She had to have the neighbors come over and help bail the crap out from under the car. Once I woke up and couldn’t fall back to sleep my blood started to boil and my anxiety kicked in. I lost it. I had a panic attack. The next morning on the couch I had another. Overall I’m not really feeling better yet. Today at work I haven’t really done a thing this morning. I’m so completely unmotivated. I know that doctors sometimes prescribe Xanax or something for breakthrough panic until the SSRI starts to kick in. I’m in a weird place. I have my fingers crossed this works. Every passing day I hope I’m one day closer. I did have the energy to get up & do some yoga stretching this morning.

 I know I sound a little rambly. I can’t wait to have motivation again. I did have it on Friday. Today I’m moving in slow motion. I was better this morning. I even did my 5 minutes of meditation that I always intend to do. I did it on Friday too. I really did give me a good sense of peace and inner stillness. Just now I’m SO tired. I’m tired. I’m not doing anything useful for the world. I don’t know what to say. I want to feel better. I just want to feel better. I really do.

 

March 30, 2016; 5:32am

Lexapro – Day 14

One thing I have been forgetting to mention is the very realistic dreams. People seem to use the word vivid but to me they just seem real. Like it’s real life and I wake up confused about whether or not something actually happened.

One of the things that recently happened to me last Tuesday is that several of my pills went down the sink. I ordered a pill box so that wouldn’t happen. It had 4.5 stars on Amazon so I chose it. It came on Friday (I think… maybe Saturday?) and I’ve been using it ever since. I’m not completely impressed with it. I just thought it would be easier than twisting off that terrible cap every time. Then last night I dreamt of this pill box. The days of the week wouldn’t close. The pills were falling out all in my make-up bag. I thought to myself that I needed to write a bad review and in my mind I thought as a consolidation the company would be mailing me a new one. I wasn’t going to get another one, I was just going to put the pills in a plastic bag instead. Vivid dreams. Realistic really.

 

April 1, 2016; 5:21am

Lexapro – Day 16

Yesterday was the first day I felt good all day. I think waking up & doing yoga first thing had something to do with it. I’ve also been meditating every morning at work for 5 minutes before starting the day. I’ve been opening the the window and looking out. Hearing the sounds of West Haven waking up. Feeling the cool morning air. Even the day it was raining. It was nice. Today I am in Newington. There is no window. I will try to meditate anyway at 8:15 when morning report starts and I know no one will bother me. 

Yesterday I felt kind of normal or what I imagine other people feel as normal. I caught myself catching my breath a few times and taking deep sighs, but I didn’t try to follow my body to why I felt stressed and just kept saying to myself that I shouldn’t water the weeds (of thoughts). It helped yesterday. It doesn’t always. Hopefully it’s the lex and then hopefully I can remap my brain to do that all the time.

This morning was the first time in 2 weeks that I woke up and didn’t have stress coursing through my veins with my heart beating. I’m trying not to think too much about it because it can go any second, AND thinking about it causes more stress usually. Please God/Universe/Almighty…. I need a clear mind. Peace. Tranquility.

 

April 4, 2016; 5:40pm

Lexapro – Day 19

Today I feel really good. Saturday I felt overall nothing. Not depressed. Not happy. Just nothing. Unmotivated too. I kind of did almost nothing. I did change out my summer and winter clothes though. Not having the feeling of being too attached to doing anything else or the outcome helped me to just concentrate on what I was doing and do it well. Time flew by. It was kind of nice and it felt nice to look back and see the progress I made with the clothes change. Something simple and it made me feel accomplished. Then for some reason on the way down to Shannon’s wine party later that afternoon, listening to music I perked up. I perked up so much I was singing to the music. It felt nice. After that I went out with Mirta and Elizabeth. We went to J. Timothy’s. I was kind of mellow. I feel like I’m losing my mind sometimes. I feel duller somehow.

Yesterday I woke up pretty motivated. We slept in until after 9 I think. A good night’s sleep felt really nice. I didn’t do much of anything yesterday at all. I made a few foods in the morning to prep for the week. I took my time. Again not being attached to an outcome feels nice. Then I touched up all the white trim around the house. Sometime in the morning while cooking, most of us were at home but all split up doing various things around the house. I was suddenly incredibly motivated to talk to Kieran and Devin about odd blended family situation. What I’m forgetting to write is that on Friday right after I wrote in here Daren copied me on an email to his ex. She was vague about Keiran’s plans so I asked to clarify something. Well…. she went nuts and spouted back that I’m the step-parent and there is no reason I should communicate about her kids plans. I just wrote back again and said I’d like to know what is going on in my own house.

One of the main things I’m learning about myself is that a situation doesn’t bother me as it’s happening; it’s usually down the road hours or a few days later that I’m affected. I think it was because it was how I coped with domestic violence as I was growing up. At the time of an unpleasant experience I am strong and normal. Only later do I allow myself to process. So, as I was happily cooking Sunday morning, I started to process what felt like an unnecessary attack on Friday. I was in a good mood and just felt like I could talk to the kids. Daren was supposed to come home sooner than I thought with Devin so I was kind of waiting for them. But a lot of time passed and I didn’t have the opportunity when I was ready to talk it so I missed it. I really wanted to air things out though, so I thought I would write down everything I wanted to talk to them about and chat together after dinner. Then I thought the kids might get upset and misconstrue my words, so I thought I’d send an email ahead of time so there were no misinterpretations. I thought about what I might write for hours while I cooked and painted. I finally sat down and the thoughts were just pouring out of me. I imagined their mom one day reading it in case they got upset and forwarded it to her, so I was very PC.

 When I was finished, I felt spent. I sent it to Daren first for his advice. I had no idea how he would react. I asked him to read it and disappeared to take a shower. I felt a huge release and a little panicky. I think a few weeks ago before the lexapro I might have had a panic attack. But I didn’t. I did feel shaky though. Daren came upstairs after my shower to tell me that it was beautiful and that I should sent it right away. I did. Then he told the boys to read it. Kieran did, Devin had some kind of mishap with receiving it. We kind of openly talked about a few things after dinner after Gabby left the table. Then I left Daren and Kieran to talk while I took Koji out for a walk. I know I left the door open for them to talk about some stuff more openly than likely they ever have since I’ve known them at least.

 After that I was kind of numbish again. It’s nice to be numb. I thought I would be upset not feeling so hard, but it’s kind of peaceful. This morning I woke up with more energy than I’ve had in long time. I did about 15 minutes of yoga, no meditation. Had coffee. Actually listened to music again & sang! And I’ve been moderately motivated at work. Not as much as I normally am, but much more than last week. That’s how I am! Thanks for listening.

 

April 7, 2016; 5:56pm

Lexapro – Day 22

I’m so so so tired of not feeling like myself. I’m tired of feeling blah and uninspired. I’ve been escaping with reading. I don’t want to deal with my bullshit life. I don’t know what to do anymore.

I’m not doing well. I can’t say this medication is working. I had no control over my mind today or my emotions. What can I say?

 

April 22, 2016; 5:21am

Lexapro – Day 37

Let today be the start of something new. It’s earth day. We had a beautiful full moon last night & now one this morning. I’ve felt good the past few days. I want to somehow get out of working at the VA, at least full time. I know it doesn’t work for me anymore and I’m just not that interested in the politics of it anymore. Not sure what to do. Wish me luck in discovering whatever it is.

 

April 27, 2016; 12:49pm

Lexapro – Day 42

What inspired me to write is the walk I just took. I’m walking much faster and with much more gusto. I have been walking since 2003 at lunch nearly every day in rain, snow or shine. I have been walking with gusto for years. I never stopped walking, but I did stop walking with gusto. I still took the stairs, but never with conscious thought anymore. Walking the stairs made me pant. I’m not panting anymore 🙂 I don’t even know when that happened :-). I can’t smile enough about this.

 Everything else in my life stayed the same. It’s my body that is different and calmer. I am enjoying the little things more. Things that used to stress me out matter a bit less, but excitingly enough I’m more excited and engaged with them if that makes any sense.

 What likely stopped me from completely falling to pieces are the good habits that I had already. Like taking the stairs, walking daily. Getting up early to stretch and having a quiet cup of coffee. Eating fairly well. I had lost any and all motivation. I hated doing all those things. But the act of doing them out of habit helped me not to delve into a downward spiral. I’m proud of myself for not giving up and just going through the motions even though I wasn’t there and couldn’t care less about it. It still helped even though I couldn’t feel it at the time.

 All else is ok. I am not loving my job like I never had before. Not since the early days in the Coast Guard as a non-rate have I stared at the clock and mentally counted the hours and minutes until I would get to leave. It’s been a while. It kind of stinks. I liked being engaged more, but I feel a call to do something more. I wrote about my experience with stress in my blog esterinaanderson.com. It was cathartic. I had it posted to facebook. I’m not sure if I already journaled this or not, so I may be repeating myself – lol. Just wanted to catch up. 6 weeks. Feeling good.

 

May 12, 2016; 12:37pm

Lexapro – Day 57

Happy happy lunch break. It’s been a while since I’ve written about my lex experience regularly these days. I’ve been feeling better. My physical anxiety has not gotten better – only mental. I can think so much more clearly. The biggest thing I did yesterday was actually write to my acting boss & the director to ask to work part-time and if that’s not possible I understand that they will have to replace me. I basically said in a very nice way it’s part-time or I just can’t. I told them about my stress. I told them it sounds like I’m sharing something personal but I’ve shared it publicly. I haven’t heard back yet, but I do have an appointment (requested by the director himself) for today at 2pm. It has to be about my email I imagine.

The strange thing is that I’m not worried about this meeting at all. What is the worst thing that can happen? They fire me and I stay home & relax and garden, take care of Koji, read, cook dinners for the family, pick up kids who need rides. Shop for our food and not have it delivered? Clean my own house & not have a service come?  Like normal people… 

I can think about opening a yoga studio and start an hour bank in my town. I’m still fairly young, I have skills that are worthy, and I have motivation to do good for the world. If I can’t do it at my job where I’d like to, I’ll do it somewhere else. That I know for sure.

In some weird way, I’m really oddly not tied to the outcome as much as I may have once been. Is it the lexapro? The yoga?  My intentions I’m a bit better about setting? I don’t know… but I’m happy and I threw something out there that I can’t take back, and whatever happens it won’t be what I’m doing now… and that makes me SO happy. Hugs & lots of love to all beings.

 

June 24, 2016; 7:51pm

And as I read back through all of this and previously journaled day 100; I’m in an awesome place. I still don’t know what’s going on with my job! I’m working 3 days a week for now, but don’t know if it will be in my current position or any myriad of possibilities. Who knows? I’m ready for anything! It’s been a while since 3/16 when I journaled “here goes”. No regrets! For anyone ever wondering if it’s worth its, for me… it was.

 

March 29, 2018; 1:14pm

The story didn’t end here. I no longer take this medication. It’s been a journey… And I’m in a better place because of it. Lexapro Journal (Continued)

 

If you enjoyed my writing, consider leaving a comment, sharing with others, or following my blog

https://esterinaanderson.com