Well, I clawed my way out of the darkness and it feels good. No, it feels better than good. It feels triumphant, it feels victorious, it feels amazing.
Winning? Most definitely.
For starters, I requested a different psychiatrist at my doctor's office. My former psychiatrist...she and I just never seemed to connect. I didn't feel like she really listened to me, as I would go in every 6 months to check in and she would literally sit glued to her computer the entire time, going through her checklist of things.
"Are you still taking the prescribed dosage?" "Are you getting enough sleep?" "Have there been any major changes in your life?"
I complained at one point that I didn't feel like the Wellbutrin was helping any longer and her answer was, "Well, then quit".
So I weaned myself off the Wellbutrin and went about my life.
But, within time, it became evident that I couldn't do it on my own. I walked around in a rage all the time, the littlest things would set me off, everyone around me walked on eggshells.
My coping skills were completely unhealthy and, at times, dangerous.
The new psychiatrist listened to me...he heard every word I said. And then he repeated back to me all my symptoms and then asked a series of questions.
"Would you say you spend most of your day feeling anxious and worried?" "Would you consider yourself an obsessive and/or compulsive person?" "Do you lose sleep because you feel like you can't shut your brain off?" "Do you feel like you can't breathe or you feel trapped most of the time?"
As I fiddled anxiously with the zipper on my sweatshirt, I nodded my head vigorously as he asked each question.
Then he said, "I think your main issue isn't the depression. You seem like an extremely anxious person and when you're anxiety gets out of control, it leads to depression...this feeling of being trapped and then you panic. Am I right so far?"
I don't think I ever stopped nodding my head in agreement with everything he was saying.
"Your brain is constantly on, all the circuits going haywire...it never shuts off," he continued. "You probably crave calmness and that's why you clean your home compulsively and things feel chaotic when your home is disorganized, right?"
"I'll bet noise affects you, as well. And with 4 young children, I'm sure there are times where you want to just rip your hair out when the noise reaches a certain level," he smiled.
Finally, I felt like I could breathe. Someone truly understood how I was feeling. And he wasn't just anybody, he was someone who was in a position to help me.
And then he spent some time discussing various medications with me, giving me the option of choosing which one I felt would be the best fit based on side effects and whatnot.
Ultimately, I decided on a low dose of Paxil, with a scrip for Klonopin on an "as needed" basis. The Klonopin, he explained, would help with insomnia if I took it at bedtime or it could help me during the day should I feel overly anxious, rather than rely on an unhealthy and/or dangerous coping mechanism.
After a few days of taking the Klonopin at night and not liking the way it made me feel the next day, I stopped taking it and went solely with the Paxil.
And here's how I can tell it's been working...for the first time in years, I enjoyed spending time with my children during winter break.
I wasn't panicked every minute of the day, wondering how to entertain them. I didn't feel like a total failure if I wasn't overseeing every single activity.
We baked cookies together, we played board games for hours, we went on long bike rides, we took walks, we shopped, we watched movies, we played the Wii...we had a FABULOUS time.
Not only have my children noticed a huge difference but Tim has, as well.
Yesterday, he said, "You come down the stairs in the morning in a good mood. The way you're interacting with the kids is so different. You just seem able to handle everything so much better now."
You want to know the best part?
When I smile, I feel it. Truly feel it...from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.