The reason I'm posting about this day, even though it was embarassing and kind of degrading, is because I think it will be cathartic, and I think it's important to be open and honest about this, not only because of me, but because so few people understand this, and maybe someone out there will feel less alone if I talk about it.
I went in to work this morning, and my stomach was feeling churny and awful the way it does 90% of the time now. This was full day number two of my transition from one psychiatric drug to another. For those who have never taken them, psychiatric drugs need to get into your system for a bit before they start to work, like antibiotics, except that this process can take anywhere from days to weeks. Both of the drugs I'm dealing with are SSRI's - selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with happy, basically. The "reuptake" process is when cells pull seratonin out of the system so it can't bind to the receptors in your brain and make you feel happy constantly. It sounds wierd, but brain chemistry is a delicate balance, and the neurotransmitters help to moderate your response to different situations. With depression, panic disorder, or PTSD (the last two of which I have), the seratonin is off balance somehow. The drugs keep the level of seratonin - the "happy" message - higher than it would be otherwise, to theoretically help you feel better.
When you switch from one drug to another, you take smaller doses of each during the transition time, which makes it tough. There's not enough of the new drug in your system to work yet, and you're weaning off the old drug so that its not as available to your system as it was. That transition time, for me, is not going well. This morning, I wasn't feeling well. The symptoms of a panic attack are like what you would expect of a ManBearPig jumped out and attacked you. It a lot of ways it feels like a heart attack, and a lot of people end up checking themselves into the hospital because thats what they think it is. Your chest feels really tight, think like after you've been having a hard cry for a long time. Your limbs tingle from the flood of adrenaline which, if ManBearPig attacked you, would help you to run away faster. You feel like you can't draw enough breath. And after a while, the adrenaline overworks these systems and makes you feel like crap. In addition, it's incredibly frustrating, tiring, and saps you of mental strength so that anything, absolutely anything, will make you fall apart. Thats what happened to me today.
I was feeling sick, so I asked Chris to bring me in the herbal stuff I got from the local herbalist, which helps and doesn't make me feel as drugged as the "fast-acting" anxiety meds. I asked if he wanted to have lunch at me, and he said he was too busy, which is fine normally, but today it felt like such a huge rejection. I didn't say so, but I was close to tears when he left. I went to my desk to take some of the herbal tincture, and I would up spilling it all over myself. That was it. I was a wreck, and I had to call him back to get me so I could go home and change my clothes. My coworker is the nicest woman on the planet, and she said to take an hour, change, relax, get lunch, and come back. I might have even been okay if we'd stuck to that, but bless her heart she arranged for other people to help her out in the front office so that I could take the rest of the day off. I adore her, she is the cat's pajamas.
Chris and I DID eat lunch together (imagine that, he's more flexible if I tell him how I feel, what a novel concept *facepalm*.) I didn't want to be alone, though, so I went to Diane's and we hung out for a while. While I was out of the house one of my bosses apparently stopped by my house to check on me and I wasn't there, so he called and left a message, which I got later. I then had the worst panic attack ever, I thought he was gonna fire me. I knew I didn't do anything wrong - I didn't go home because I was sick but because I was a wreck and needed to calm down, and being along at home was SOOOOO not a good idea. I was incredibly upset, not to mention sometimes I hyperventilate and feel like I'm going to pass out. I called him back when I got the message, and fortunately he was just checking on me. Have I mentioned that I love the people at my work? I panicked because I feel bad - a lot of the time lately I've been having trouble keeping it together, and sometimes my work suffers because of it. I am incredibly lucky that they are being so patient with me. Compassion is such a rare and precious thing. I was relieved to still have my job, intensely so, but the chest pain from that attack has still not gone completely. I need to sleep, but I'm waiting until a normal night-time hour so that my sleep schedule (har har) doesn't get thrown off.
This is the most difficult struggle I've ever had to deal with, this whole panic disorder/ptst/depression thing. I want more than anything else to go back to normal, to be able to function like I used to. Did I used to be lazy? yes. Did I always function as well as I could have? no. Will I ever take for granted being able to get out of bed without fighting myself? never. not ever. It's so embarassing when you can't even control your emotional response to silly things like spilling something on yourself. It's embarassing to have to admit to the people you work for and with that you just can't handle being at work and being professional right then. It's hard to feel like a ticking time bomb, and it's hard to have people look at you like you might go off at any second. Every day that I wake up and leave my house is a victory, and I don't always get that victory. Even the most patient, compassionate person occasionally looks at you like "why aren't you better yet?" They can't help it if they've never been through this. I didn't understand before, and I've been judgemental in situations like this even without realizing it and without wanting to be. Unless you've been here, it's hard to know how physical
this struggle is, how much it degrades your body while it eats away at your soul.
For those readint this who have never suffered with any of these things, please take these things into account when you deal with people who do. I am extremely lucky; the doctors tell me I will get over this, that it probably won't last forever and that one of these days I'll be able to go off the meds and feel normal again. Some people don't ever get that chance, for some people its something they live with forever. They are not lazy, they are not pathetic, they are not making excuses. They're surviving, one day at a time.
Labels: anxiety, life