Attempting to Take Control
Is Anxiety and Depression Inherited or is it Caused by Something?
I have experienced anxiety my entire life. The inability to turn my brain off and cast away the over thinking that I engaged in nightly was driving me crazy. This first appeared when I was in middle school. I have always been one to review a situation multiple times after it happens. I, for the longest time, had no shut off button. Everything that happened to me seemed so important. I then felt it necessary to share with everyone I saw. I was on fast forward all the time and didn't recognize how my behavior impacted those around me. When I finished interrupting or barging into a special moment that people were sharing with another, I would then feel immediate remorse and that "you stupid idiot" feeling. The saying, "I put my foot in my mouth" seemed to be my mantra. I would spend hours before bed repeating the incident that had occurred and what I should have done otherwise. I would beat myself up mentally and awaken exhausted the next morning.
In High School, I mellowed a bit but not much. I still barged into situations, I talked non-stop and worried all the time. I had confidence but lived to hear compliments from others. Judgments from others; positive judgments, pushed me to go farther. Negative judgments crumpled me to the floor and caused my body to react with intestinal distress and headaches. Overall however, I felt happy and relished my friends and life in general.
In college, a bit more mellower and much more responsible, I engaged in these faux pas less often. I was sure I knew where I was going, how I was going to get there and of what I needed to do to be successful. I was dating a "snake" that was quite the womanizer and when the day came (unfortunately 5 years later) that I realized he was putting my health into jeopardy, I screamed "Goodbye" and moved on. I graduated, got a job right away and then... froze.
I was suddenly feeling a huge, black cloud covering me like a shroud. I loved my job but suddenly felt inadequate. I was afraid to date for fear that I was imperfect. I continued to smile and laugh but lay awake in bed for hours before succumbing to exhaustion going over situations in my head that happened each day and what I should have done instead.
In my late twenties, I met my future-ex-husband. He possessed a lot of the same qualities that certain authoritative men that had shaped my life had. It was a terrible match but I felt I was not worthy of anyone else. After two years of tumultuous living together, we stupidly chose to marry and have a terrible 13 year marriage. During this time, I gave birth to two children. I also lost myself. My anxiety and depression became unbearable and I decided to begin taking antidepressants 11 years ago. I have been on different SSRI's (Serotonin increaser) over this time and for a while, they worked just fine.
The Easy Fix
When I first began taking SSRI's, my doctor prescribed Zoloft. I became the 1 in 10,000 that rejected the drug through uncontrollable bowel issues. Nix Zoloft. Then came Paxil. This medication was quite mild and after months of taking it, I could see no changes in my moods or anxiety. Nix Paxil. Then, my doctor discovered Lexapro, a new drug that had little side effects. Lexapro was my drug for 6 years. I also gained a lot of weight. I always thought that the weight gain was due to my over eating... my outlet from my unhappiness. I was still running 5k's and kept very active but my weight zoomed over 200 pounds. Then, I went through my divorce. It was not amiable and my children suffered immensely. Guilt, depression and anxiety became the three stooges that accompanied me each day. I worked really hard to provide a loving, safe home for my children. I became more active in my job and continued to be physically active as well. However, I kept stepping into a black hole each time something set me back.
I enlisted the help of a therapist. I highly recommend therapy. If you have a great therapist, she/he will get you to solve the issues. They won't tell you what to do. Therapy helped me unleash the nightmares of my past and encouraged me to set goals for my future. I also switched SSRI's to Celexa. This is the SSRI that I currently take.
With therapy and Celexa, I was now confident that I had a grip on my life. I found the fix. At least I thought I had until this year.
Now I Wonder.....
I've taken an SSRI now for 11 years. Some worked and some didn't. Those that did work came with side effects. The Celexa that I take now has lost its effectiveness. I am more depressed than ever. Let me explain something. My life is filled with stress. Stress from my job. Stress in raising a teenage daughter who views me as the enemy right now. Money stress and bankruptcy. The average person experiences these stresses and feels deep sadness, depression and hopelessness. Do they all take medication for it?
In doing research online, mostly on medical websites, the statistics show that only a small percentage of patients that take an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication experience success. Many of these patients find after a few years, their medication isn't effective any longer and are often prescribed new or additional medication. My own doctor, when hearing of my "dark world" wanted to give me 2 other medications to add to the Celexa. I refused.
I am not against medication. In fact, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to take an SSRI for the rest of my life. Each time I have tried to go "off" of my medication, I would experience awful side effects and my crying would become uncontrollable. I believe that I have inherited some type of clinical depression.
However, I also think back to when I felt the most alive, active, confident and self assured. None of those times existed while I was on medication. My medication takes the edge off. It doesn't make me feel loopy or disoriented. I do however, feel sad quite a bit and as if something inside of me just wants to explode. Sometimes I have to beat the rage and fear I feel inside down with faith and hope that I will get through the current situation.
Lately, I've begun to question the long term effects that these SSRI's have done to my brain. Is my brain capable by itself, of producing serotonin anymore? If I begin therapy again and focus on forming positive relationships, trying to lose weight and doing things I find enjoyable; will I then produce those blissful feelings within myself naturally?
As of late, I have fallen into deep despair. I am at a very high dosage of Celexa. I do not want to continue to alter my feelings with medication. I have thought about life without me in it. I have questioned my purpose and cry quite a bit. This is while I am still on medication. So, I believe that the medication is not doing its job anymore.
I am afraid of freeing my body of this pill. I have been dependent on it for so long. I know that weaning myself slowly is the safe way to rid my body of it. I assume it will take months before it clears my system. I fear how my body will react to the lack of medication it receives. Will I be edgy? Angry? Sullen? Depressed beyond what I will be able to control? Or will I feel real emotions that I can embrace and find a voice within myself that will encourage me to trust in my instincts and my faith?
Taking the Leap
I've decided that I will begin weaning myself in two days. I am curious as to how many people have done this too and have felt better?
I will come back to this hub and post my progress or lack of it.
I find it scary to think that I may have to be driven by a chemical for the rest of my life. I have never attempted to harm myself or anyone else. I have never set fires to anything or destroyed property. I have never broken a law, committed a felony or hurt an animal.
Therefore, I feel that I am a good candidate to try this. As I said before, I am not against medication and I see the need for it. People with Mental Illnesses cannot survive and live complete lives without their medication. I feel a need to see if my life can be different without an anti-depressant/anxiety medication that I willingly have taken for 11 years. Wish me luck.