Written a million varying ways, I contemplated whether to share this post at all. The Chad was against me even opening my door, but I am just that, highly open, never shameful, fearless, full of snark, and ready for whatever comes. But I am ever inspired by the women who wrote heartfelt posts, as part of a meme, that I knew I needed to share my story.
My life is not all rainbows and effing sunshine. I do keep a positive attitude because really, if you let it get to you, the cliche of “misery loves company” could not ring more true. In 1998 I had a ruptured appendix and suffered from peritonitis which is a nasty infection of the abdomen. Basically I was within hours, after spending days with a ruptured appendix, of enjoying the last bits of my young life. I suffered from many complications which included an abscess and later a tubal pregnancy resulting in the loss of twins after trying to conceive for over two years. Finally though The Chad and I successfully conceived our oldest child Grant who was born in 2003.
2003 was a tumultuous year. Jobs, moving to another state, jobs, money. Did I mention we were pregnant? We put our house in New Mexico (and in case you didn’t know…its the state between Arizona and Texas) up for sale and moved. We depleted our savings, moved into a TINY apartment, put down our beloved fur baby before Grant was born and then delivered a baby and tried to become overnight parents. No problem.
That was the year in a nutshell. Then add that we were in desperate need to move out of our tiny Scottsdale apartment into a home. Lots of pressure. Add that The Chad and I were both working full time and we were both laid off the week after Christmas due to our office downgrading from retail to wholesale only. Now we are searching for jobs again, to which we found right away. Then closed on our house a few months later and then a few months later found we were pregnant with twins. Again. Total fluke…not planned.
I was fired from my job…over the phone mind you…for being pregnant…AGAIN…and so I went back to work for the employer who laid us off since I found they were doing retail business again. But in the meantime we found we were pregnant with twins….that we were losing. They were mono-amniotic (identical twins sharing the same sac) and they were aborting themselves. I was devastated. I have a whole post about it.
At some point after The Chad and I struggled to find where we fit together along with our life and our child I got terribly lost. I did not feel right. I believe my feelings had to do with delivering, via a miscarriage, at home a 16 week twin pregnancy. Alone. In pain. In shock. Alone. I was depressed, I am sure I suffered from post-partum depression following the loss of the twin pregnancy. Plus I was a mid to late 20s woman trying to finish figuring out my life and juggle being a new mom and the pressures that come with the job of being a mom. I admitted I needed some help. Somewhere. I talked with my mom and she suggested that I do talk therapy and I couldn’t agree more. So I found a physician near home and work that I could commute to for my sessions. I made my first appointment in August of 2004. That is when my life was turned upside down.
My first appointment assessed my feelings of my life, my child, my marriage, my life outlook. I was guarded to be Â honest, not sure what to share until I finally began to let loose that I was frustrated. A LOT. I would lose my cool and feel anxious and angry and the feelings became overwhelming at times. I admitted that my smoking habit was growing as no matter how many cigarettes I smoked….I still was anxious and I never had a calm. Forty-five minutes later I walked out with a diagnosis and a prescription. I thought HALLELUJAH! I know I am a mess and this will make it better.
My first prescription was Celexa. I was blown away the first time I took it. I just felt like I was on a cloud. Like when you are buzzed drunk, just totally euphoric, giggly, at ease. I could manage life on Celexa for about a few months. Then came the severe aggression, the raw ugly feelings of pain and anxiety, sweats, then came the fear I would physically hurt Grant because of my frustrations. Another office visit, explaining exactly those feelings and 15 minutes later I was out with a $40 co-pay and a new prescription of Wellbutrin. Huh, well I hear this can help you quit smoking too so this should be good.
Nope. The doses were tweaked at least once a month until I found a point where I was semi-operational with complete lack of feeling. I loved my new numbness. But with my numbness came disconnect and the need to just be me. I took care of my responsibilities as a wife and mother, but I had no connection. I was a soulless being on a path of unknown life, albeit robotic if you may.
Finally the killing blow. I went in to see the doctor again, “I have a new drug that I would like to try that is more driven for the anxiety…..” and everything she said was a blur. No more than five minutes were spent in her presence, I waited longer than I saw her and a new prescription for Effexor was written.
The Effexor was wonderful for a good period of time. Until I would go out for dinner and drinks with the hubs and end up in a pool of vomit in my toilet because drugs and alcohol do not mix well. My inhibitions were slowly depleting and I was living more of an independent life everyday. If you could count the days. While on Effexor my sleep was staggered. A nap around two in the afternoon for 10 minutes bed by 11pm, up each and every morning around 3am, 4am if I was lucky. I was revved and charged to go at these hours. I was superwoman. Or so I thought.
My work began failing because I was too busy playing the social butterfly due to the extended loss of my inhibitions. The lack of complete feeling towards anything. I felt no emotion. If I felt any emotion it was rage, anger, drive, the loss of control fired these emotions. Which were followed slowly by sadness, pain, which I began to drown with spending. I explained some of these feelings to the doctor and so she upped my dose and again I reached a minimum of euphoria before falling into the same patterns. I would fall asleep with a racing mind of bills, kids, work, anxiety about a stupid conversation, what to wear, my looks, my weight (which surprisingly I lost 30 pounds that year) and whatever I could think of to worry about I would dwell on and fall asleep spinning about. My waking moments were to tackle those worries, at the same time. I was a mess.
Soon I began to self medicate my medications. Shopping. Food. Starbucks. And more. Whatever I could grasp I would use as my new addiction to fuel and feed these feelings. I had to get rid of these feelings. I could not feel. I would not feel. I had to get better, I had to take more to deal with these feelings. Yet another appointment which resulted in the nail in the coffin. My final dose was upped to a point where I completely lost my mind. I was a full blown manic depressive on the medication. I called The Chad when he was on a business trip in Memphis in 2005. I unloaded on him. I shut my office door and hit every corner in a circle of minutiae that made zero sense. I could feel my grip in reality slipping. I called the doctor. She told me to reduce my dosage to where I was prior.
By this time my body was almost convulsing while I was at work. I excused myself and picked up Grant. I called The Chad again…..he insisted the medication was hurting me more than helping. I knew this. The little bit of me that was corned by the dark passenger of my addict, my addict that told me to never feel and these drugs would help me to never feel, my glimmer of myself told me STOP. I had called into work for an extended weekend and began to stop taking my medication almost instantly that day. Bad choice and good choice.
January 2006 I basically entered myself into an at home detox and intervention via a phone call from my husband, my step-father, and cursing my doctor. I stopped taking the Effexor immediately because I wanted control over my life again. My life has spiraled so far gone I had no idea who I was anymore. I would rage on in anger and then cry and want to kill myself within breaths. I was unsafe. Blessed by daycare at the time, I let Grant go there during the day while I tried to figure my shit out. Until my step-dad came over. Seeing how far off the handle I was detoxing off of SSRI’s he removed all the guns from the house. Locked me in and returned with time to drive me to North Scottsdale to pick up Grant from daycare. He stayed with me until I reached a moment of stability until The Chad got home from Memphis.
Over the next week I detoxed. If you have never witnessed or experienced detox, it is pretty much the way Hollywood depicts. I was sweating. Pissed off. Dry mouth. Crying. Rocking in a corner feeling anger, depression, wanting to kill myself, wanting an answer. I called my doctor. The quack tried to diagnose me during detox as bi-polar. Looking back now I should have reported her to the medical board. Hind sight is always 20/20. During my detox she agreed to help lessen my pain by offering me an anti-psychotic. She also offered me in patient treatment…no actually she almost convinced me I was crazy enough to be admitted. Sadly, The Chad and I both considered the idea. My mother (the R.N.) however, KNEW otherwise. She knew that my behavior and actions were driven by the medication and that in-patient treatment would only make this worse. I needed all the drugs out of my system and a clean slate and a clean doctor to assess me.
Ignorantly I took the prescription for the anti-psychotic and became a prisoner within myself. I sat for two weeks staring aimlessly into space. Eating. Staring. Eating. Shivering. I had brain shivers. I felt twitches along my spinal column I can only explain as electrical shocks. I could hear myself yelling in my head. A little version of me yelling to wake up. Wake up. WAKE UP! And I did.
Two weeks later and 20 pounds heavier I woke up and quit cold turkey every bit of medication I had ever taken in my life. Tylenol and multi-vitamins included.
I got on on the phone and began to call more talk therapists. I needed help. I needed answers. I found them. My problem was my failure to accept, process and bargain with my feelings. I came from a dysfunctional home where feelings were never spoken, acknowledged or heard. You don’t feel in an alcoholic enabled home. You don’t feel, EVER. For over 20 years I dealt with oppressed feelings. Coupled with personal feelings of loss and inadequacy surrounding the loss of multiple twin pregnancies and the birth of a child and trying to cope with doing the right things as a parent and wife.
But the unfortunate reality was that I destroyed my life, my marriage, and almost my son for 18 months because of medication. Excessive spending, questionable behavior, actions of self-loathing and self medication pushed every inch of our envelope and my own. February 2006 is when I became drug free and a stay at home mom. My dark passenger drove me there. I find a blessing in going through such a horrific experience but will reassure people that being a medicated mommy is not always the best case. I found that dealing with my family of origin and the deep seeded issues of being raised in a full on dysfunctional family of emotional oppression is what the root of my problem was, not just the postpartum issue after the loss of a second trimester twin pregnancy.
I also found after my sobering experience is how addicted I became to such a “non addictive” drug. Wanting so badly to reach my high or numbness I found I was an addict and in turn picked up other addictions while fighting within myself. Sometimes I wonder how much emphasis is stressed for people to take medication than to process life organically. I am not denying that taking medication for a short time would have been beneficial, but I also wonder if we just play chemistry with people for cash.