Here’s the follow-up or more accurately, the prequel, to last week’s Random Ramblings.
Remember the “Good Things” Jar I talked about starting way back at the beginning of the year? I finally put my first “good thing” in it!! I’m sure there have been loads of other good things that have happened in the last few weeks, but I haven’t been aware of them. Actually, I haven’t been aware of much other than a completely consuming, foreboding sense of anxiety.
I went back to the doctor at the beginning of January and went back on Amitriptyline for the pain in my jaw or TMJ (Temporomandibular joint). My anxiety level was so heightened I went to the doctor a few days later and asked to be put on Zoloft, the same anti-anxiety medication the kids are on. The pharmacist told me it’s a mild medication so I thought this would be a good choice. Not so much.
My symptoms worsened. I was waking up in the middle of the night with full blown panic attacks – every night. After a week of this I looked back at the calendar and realized the intense panic attacks began 2 days after starting the Amitriptyline. I don’t believe in coincidences like that so I went back to the doctor. It was decided to go off the Amitriptyline and some of the anxiety decreased, but not all.
I kept taking the Zoloft hoping that after a few weeks (meds can take 2 to 4 weeks to see any change) I would begin to notice a change. After 2 weeks I was still experiencing severe anxiety – I couldn’t eat (on the upside I’ve lost about 12 pounds), was only able to sleep for a few hours at a time, was nauseated all day and had diarhhea. I was shaky, weepy, having suicidal thoughts, and a plethora (I love that word) of other symptoms.
One morning I decided to take the edge off by having a nap; sleeping for 2 hours at a time at night can cause drowsiness (and irritability) throughout the day. I’d only been asleep for about 20 minutes when I was awakened by a pounding sound. It took me a minute to realize it was my the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears. I checked my heart rate (thank God for grade 5 gym class) and it was 114 beats per minute. That’s pretty high. Especially considering when I exercise (ok, it was 2 years ago in July sometime, but I exercised) I can usually only get my heart rate up in the 80s. After doing a bit of quick research it turns out Zoloft can cause an increased heart rate. I stopped taking the Zoloft that night.
I went back to my doctor, again, and we agreed to forgo pharmaceuticals for now. I’ve been seeing my therapist regularly again and doing more Neurofeedback therapy . My therapist recommended I take some supplements to help with my healing process. I’m now taking B6, a vitamin B complex, Omega-3 fish oil (not the capsules, no no, the actual oil, which I have to drink with orange juice – mmmm, yummy fish oil in OJ – fish juice!! it’s the best) of which I take 6x the recommended amount (as per my therapist’s instructions) and Gabba. From Natural Factors.com:
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a natural calming and anti-epileptic agent in the brain. In fact, it is one of the brain’s most important regulators of proper function and neurotransmission. It appears that many people with anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and other brain disorders do not manufacture enough GABA on their own.
I’m going to ask the kids’ psychiatrist about it for them. I am doing much better than I was a few weeks ago. I’m sleeping for 4 to 5 hours at a time now and am able to eat (I think I may have put a few pounds back on, darn-it-all). I’m also able to laugh again, which is a huge blessing.
I’ve been debating about sharing this poem with you for quite some time. I wrote it back in 2011 during a very dark time in my life. I hoped to never revisit that space, but I did this past month. I decided to share it because, well, it perfectly describes the head space I’ve been in.
It’s an interesting journey, this thing called life. I’m so grateful for the friends and family who wouldn’t allow me to let go even though I wanted to. I’m giving it my best shot, this journey I’m on, I truly am.