Remission

Hey everyone. Long time no talk. The last time you all heard from me I was getting better but still not amazing. I think Reece had just turned 9 months old.

Well, Reece is now 11 and a half months old now.

Earlier this week I went back to see my psychiatrist. And I was so happy to inform her that for about a month I’ve been feeling pretty much back to my normal self!

After talking about it for a while, she has officially put me in remission!

Which means that in August of 2021 I can start weaning off the meds.

I don’t have a lot of time so I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone on here who supported me through this really tough time. There was a long time where I didn’t think I would make it through and everyone hoisted me up with reassurance and positive vibes.

Thank you all so much xx

9 months

Reece was 9 months old on the 4th of July!

It’s currently 2am here so I’m going to be super quick with this update.

Things have been going very well. The anxiety in me has calmed down A LOT and I’m so happy to report that I’m starting to feel like myself again. Of course there are still days that are uncomfortable, but this is the up and down nature of recovery.

Reece is going great! He’s sitting, pulling up to his knees/standing and also standing without assistance for very short periods of time. He’s getting cuter with each day that passes and I realise how lucky I am.

Things are good.

The month of May

May has treated me pretty well. I felt like I was making lots of progress and I had SO many good days. My calendar was full of smiley faces (sure, some of them were closed mouth smileys, but certainly better than sad faces. For those who don’t know, my ‘mood’ calendar has 5 ratings: 😭🙁😐🙂😀) and only had a few neutral faces on it.

Then came yesterday. I saw my psychiatrist and was telling her how I feel things are getting better. How the anxiety isn’t quite so bad and that it’s not quite as suffocating. That I felt things were getting easier and life was returning to a new version of normal. I told her that the depression part left me AGES ago, like, I would say in February perhaps. But the anxiety still persists.

She said this can be Normal as often anxiety takes the longest to respond to treatment and often needs to be treated for longer than depression does because of this.

She was very happy with my progress overall though. She told me our new plan of continuing with the meds and revisiting her in another 3 months. I asked her if I’m considered in remission yet and she said if this month continues on the way it does, then yes, we can call it remission.

I asked her how long we continue with the medication after ‘remission’. She explained that she had just come back from an overseas conference where they discussed this issue exactly.

She said the new research is showing very promising signs for a longer ‘maintenance’ period, where you continue on medication for longer than the typical 6-18 months. They have found a significantly lower relapse rate when people continue on the medication longer term then come off of it.

When I asked her what ‘longer term’ meant, she clarified. 3 years after remission of symptoms.

3 years.

Guys, my chest clenched. I felt pins and needles all up my neck and the anxiety hit me like a freight train.

I have been on this medication for nearly 7 months already. And I’m not quite in remission yet for anxiety. And you want me to be on it for another 3 years after remission for maintenance?

I mean, logically that’s fine. There is no point rushing off the medication and relapsing later on. If the studies find that people do better staying on them for longer then coming off, then that’s probably what I should do.

I just feel like the medication is a reminder for me. A reminder of the experience and a daily rememberance that I was unwell… that I’m still unwell.

For me, a huge trigger was thinking about ‘when’ I would get better? A timeline was a huge thing for me. Will I be better at 8 months postpartum? Will it be 10 months? 12 months?

Well, recently I let that timeline go. I can see improvement which means I AM getting better, so I have no doubt it will happen eventually. Pressuring myself to get better is not helping, so now I just let myself live and feel. And I feel like letting go of that timeline helped.

But the meds, I guess they were like the finishing thing. They symbolised the rope at the end of a race, once someone broke through it and it was gone, it was a victory. A win. A test that you passed. The end to something hard, but something you fought so hard for and won eventually. They were the end of all this and a symbol that I fought hard to rid myself of this illness. Stopping the meds would have been the final step to put all of this behind me and have it as a memory, rather than a current experience.

I felt like I saw the finishing line. And suddenly that finishing line has been pushed Soooooooooo far away that I can’t see it anymore. And that just makes me sad. I wanted SO BADLY to put this behind me.

But, today I’m trying to have a new outlook on it.

Just because I won’t be stopping them anytime soon, doesn’t mean I’m going to be ill that entire time. It doesn’t mean I’m going to be unwell or that I can’t put this experience behind me.

Continuing the medication is just a way to prevent any future relapses. Why race to the finish line if you’re just racing right back to the start?

So the way I’m looking at it now is that I’ve passed the hard part of the marathon. Or maybe I’m just about to pass the hard part. The rest of the marathon consists of me walking, swimming, relaxing and dancing my way to the finish line. There is no rush or pressure to get there. I’ll get there when I get there.

And then when I finally do come off of it, I’ll be set for the future.

Okay, some baby spam now.

Today sucks

Today fucking sucks balls. This week sucked. This month sucked.

I’m just, I don’t even know anymore.

This anxiety is getting the best of me. I don’t even know what’s wrong with me anymore.

I was going okay. I was slowly getting better. Some days were horrible but overall I could see progression.

Then I got my period on the 3rd of April. The first day was fine, but on the second day I woke up with panic levels of anxiety. And that sort of continued on. And kept continuing. It slowly calmed down, but it took a good week and a half to really feel a drop in anxiety.

But since then, there has been a low level of anxiety that hasn’t left me. And I almost feel like I’m getting worse.

I mean, I’m not back where I started and that’s great, and I understand that healing from postpartum depression and anxiety isn’t a linear progression and there are ups and downs along the way, but I feel like I’ve dropped down to a point and I’m just not getting back up again.

I don’t know what to do. Everywhere I read tells me this gets better. That PPD/PPA is temporary and treatable with professional help. But I’ve received professional help. I’ve not deviated on my recovery plan once. I’ve gone to every session with my psychologist and I’ve been 100% open and honest. I’ve done the meditation and enlisted the coping strategies. I take my medication and my supplements. I get help and I take breaks.

So why the fuck am I still suffering?

Guys, in a short few weeks Reece is going to be 7 months old.

Do you even know the pain of not feeling like yourself for nearly 7 months? I feel like I’ve lost myself and I’m searching so hard to find the girl I used to be. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of her, but she always manages to get away again.

Most of the time my mum is amazing. She’s supermum and I can’t even begin to explain how amazing she is. But there are other times when she gets tired and frustrated too. When she’s overtired and at the end of her tether. And sometimes she says things that really cut me deep.

Like today. It had been a busy morning and we were going to a birthday party. She had gone to shower and get ready so I was in charge of looking after the kids. Reece was asleep so i painted Scarlett’s nails. Mum showered and cane out while Scarlett and I were eating lunch. Soon after I finished I planned to go shower but Reece woke up. So I played with him for 5 minutes before I asked my mum what she wanted me to do with him so I could go shower. I didn’t know if she wanted me to put him in his bouncer or on his playmat, or if she wanted to hold him.

She started laughing, but a humourless laugh. I asked her what she was laughing at and she said me. I asked why and she said ‘you always time it well don’t you?’.

I asked her to explain and she said ‘you always time your showers just after he wakes up so that I have to look after him’.

I mean, I don’t do it on purpose? I haven’t noticed it and if I have been doing it subconsciously I haven’t meant to. It’s just that I always leave my showers to the last minute to make sure everything else is done and everyone else is ready, since I can get ready the quickest.

But her comment cut deep. I interpreted it as she has observed I’m not spending enough time with the kids and that I go to all lengths to avoid them. Conclusion? She thinks I’m a bad mum.

Then we were st this birthday party. I didn’t want to be there but I went out of respect (I already said I would go so I couldn’t just pull out of it at the last minute). Anyway, I was uncomfortable and anxious (as always lately), and I wanted to leave quickly. But I sat there and pretended to be happy. After the cake was cut my mum brought over a piece of birthday cake for Scarlett. But mum handed it to me. I asked her if there was a spoon and she said there were no spoons left.

My mum is a real clean freak and hates picking up food with her fingers. So icing? Nope.

So I laughed and said ‘oh, there’s no spoons so you gave it to me so I would have to get the icing on me! Good one mum!’.

And then she turned around and said ‘no, I gave you the cake so you could have at least some interaction with your child’.

And she may as well have gutted me right there.

Because I thought I was doing really well. Scarlett and I had a dance battle this morning. We played and did some karaoke. Then this afternoon we painted her nails, got her ready and had some lunch together. At the party I played on the playground with her for half an hour (it would have been longer if we werent called back for food), and we went for a walk around the lake to see the ducks.

I mean, I know I’m not a great mum. I’ll never be a perfect mum and I resent that about myself but I try. Despite my anxiety and the constant battle with my head, I try.

But that comment made me feel about 1 inch tall. Because despite my best efforts, I’m obviously still not enough. I’m not a good enough mum for my kids. I can’t give them everything they want and need.

And it brought out scary thoughts. Thoughts like maybe I shouldn’t be here. Thoughts that maybe they would be better off with my mum… without me. That maybe I had infertility problems because I wasn’t meant to have kids. That maybe I’m not cut out for this and I should quit while I’m behind.

And im not suicidal, I just feel worthless. I sort of feel hopeless.

I don’t know if I can fight this anxiety forever. I don’t know if it’s a battle I’m going to win. I don’t know how much longer I can keep fighting.

I just want this to be over.

Does it get better? At I the exception to the rule? Are they lying when they say PPA is temporary and treatable? Because I don’t know if I would class 7 months as temporary.

6 months

This is just a quick update on everything!

Reece turned 6 months old on the 4th of March. He’s getting so big, it’s crazy!

He’s making a lot of chatting sounds and is a little pleasure. Seriously. He’s a dream baby. He sleeps when I want him to. He’s easy to settle. He’s happy doing his own thing, but also loves interaction.

He loves his sister sooo much.

He can’t sit up yet or rolls from his front to his back (he’s done it a few times but I think they were flukes because he’s not doing it consistently).

We started solids this month. He’s not really too happy about he solids at the moment. We’ve tried cereal, sweet potato and carrots. I can’t really say he liked any of them but we are continuing to try!

He’s got two teeth, the two bottom front teeth.

He’s very smiley and happy. He loveeeeeess his nana. He also loves being in an upright position.

He’s pushing himself backwards on his tummy and trying to get up on all fours.

Overall, he’s a pleasure to be around.

Scarlett is doing well too. She’s learning new things every day and just loves to be doing things. She loves reading and any art activities. She is obsessed with play doh and kinetic sand. Drawing has always been a favourite of hers but now she likes to draw things, rather than just squiggles.

She’s in that terrible twos stage still, so lots of tantrums and whinging, but it’s part of her age and most of the time she’s a delight. We mostly get the hissy fits when she is tired and fighting sleep.

I am doing okay. I’ve had a rough week and a half with anxiety. It started the day after I got my period and sort of didn’t let up until the last couple of days, so it went on for just over a week.

This whole process of recovery from postpartum depression and anxiety is just so hard.

Some days are so good and I cling to those days like a mad woman, and other days are so difficult.

On the good days I think positively and I am constantly reminding myself that I can beat this thing and eventually I’ll only have anxiety over really major things, and not just general anxiety that hangs around for ages.

But on the bad days, my brain tells me I’ll never get better, and because I’m vulnerable, I almost believe it.

The other day I was at work and things got a little too much. The anxiety was already high and it just got to be a bit too much. I started crying because I couldn’t help wonder how my life got here. How did someone who used to be so bubbly and (for the most part) happy, turn into this person?

It just got me down.

So the anxiety is still clinging on, but the mood/depression part is all fixed. Of course I have bad days still, but everyone does and that’s just a normal part of human life. I do find that if my anxiety is high, I’m more likely to experience low mood.

My psychologist told me that I’m ready for fortnightly sessions. So for the last 4 weeks that’s what we have been doing. And I don’t know how it’s going.

Of course the recovery process for PPD/PPA is up and down, but I felt like I was mostly stable. The downs were happening far less and they weren’t as bad. Since spacing the therapy out to every 2 weeks, I feel like the downs happen much more frequently. They aren’t bad… well, expect for that week with the period, but overall it’s just a few anxious days then it’s done.

I’m just hoping that maybe by the time Reece is 1 year old, this will be over. Everyone, please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Now, baby spam!

One of those days

Today has been tough.

Nothing too dramatic happened in the morning, just that nothing went the way I planned and everything took twice as long to do.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was tired. Really tired.

But Reece has had two teeth pop through over the last week and it looks like a molar is about to come through. He’s also going through a wonder week leap, so he’s been a bit cranky.

I am feeling like such a selfish person. For the last two months Reece has rolled from his back to his stomach but he can’t roll from his stomach to his back.

So I’ll have to stop what I’m doing to roll him back. Most times, he immediately rolls back over to his stomach. It’s fine the first few times, but after literally turning him 30 times in 50 minutes, I was at the end of my tether tonight. Then he was tired, so I put him down for a nap. He napped for 10 minutes, refused to go back to sleep and was sooky for the next two hours.

Then bedtime came and Scarlett decided she wanted to sleep with her nana. I told her no, that nana had to be up at 4:30am and then no one could watch her, plus nanas bed doesn’t have bed rails. And she lost it. Screamed.

She literally cried so much she vomited. Everywhere. Twice.

So then at 11pm I had to bath her. And after her bath, she cried because she was tired.

And vomited again.

So another fucking bath.

Then we finally get into bed and Reece wakes up crying.

And then I just fucking lost it. I cried for so many things. It sounds stupid but I feel betrayed that Scarlett wanted to sleep with her nana. I feel like she should want to sleep with me always. It’s our thing. The only thing we really have that’s just us, and always been just us.

I cried because I’m not better and I feel extra sensitive. I cried because I felt bad that everyone else had to help clean vomit. I’m sad that simple things like managing everyday life is overwhelming. I can’t help but think about what I will do if my mum dies.

It’s terrifying.

But, my logical brain stepped in. After I stopped crying my logical Brain said ‘but chantelle, a lot of people would feel overwhelmed in your situation’. I figured that I had a big day and nothing worked out. Everyone would be stressed with the day I just had and all the obstacles I had to jump through just to get to bed.

I’m tired and I’m cranky AND to top it off, I’m still recovering from a postpartum mood disorder. Of course a day like today would get to me.

But my logical brain said something else, it said ‘it’s just a bad day, it’s not a relapse and tomorrow is a new day’.

And that, my friends, shows how far I’ve come in recovery.

General update

Hey all.

I haven’t updated for almost a month. The month has been relatively okay. I had a full week where I felt nearly fully recovered. Then I had some anxiety and things got a bit patchy, but overall I have most certainly improved. I started taking a herbal supplement called Affect-D, and so far I think it’s really working. It helps calm you, which is great for the anxiety.

Anyway, things haven’t been as bad. Would you believe that a lot has happened in the last month.

  1. I confronted my biological mother and brother about bitching about me and my illness behind my back. Instead of sitting on it and festering ill feelings, I just told them exactly what I thought about them. It was incredibly therapeutic and it was nice to have those feelings voiced. They of course didn’t like it though.
  2. I went back to work! Which was much needed since my bank had over $10,000 worth of debt and a total of $3 in my savings account 😳 I am only back for Sunday’s and public holidays right now, but I’ll gradually increase my shifts until I’m working 3-4 days per week.
  3. I’ve been alone with Reece now several times and it gives me NO anxiety at all! Yay!
  4. I feel like the bond between Reece and I is really growing. He’s just so cute and his personality is really starting to show
  5. Reece turned 5 months old. Holy shit. Where did that time go right?
  6. I’ve been consistently cooking dinner 3-5 times per week. As well as lots of lunches as well. Cooking is a task that is enjoyable for me but also productive, so I feel good after I’ve done it. Other tasks still overwhelm me right now, like laundry.
  7. My psychologist is happy to move our sessions to every 2 weeks, starting next week. She says I’m improving and don’t need weekly sessions. I made another weekly session for next week and then, if I’m still confident in that decision, I’ll go every fortnight (which will help the bank account greatly considering it’s $220 per session).
  8. Reece saw an ophthalmologist several times to determine if he had a condition. Long story short, he does not have a brain tumour like they suspected, but he does have damaged nerves in his neck from the forceps used during the c section to get him out. This causes his pupils to be two different sizes in the dark as his right pupil doesn’t get the message to dilate.

I can’t think of much else. We are good. The kids are doing well and I’m hanging in there. I’m still not where I want to be but I’m so much better than I was.

https://youngivferchantelle.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/img_6088-trim.mov

Ups and downs

I’ve been pretty quiet on here lately, only updating when I can get a spare moment to do so when I’m feeling up to it.

Things were going pretty well. I obviously wasn’t feeling like my normal self, but the closest I have come to it.

Then came last Thursday. I woke up feeling a bit anxious and wasn’t sure why. I did my relaxation and breathing techniques, did some mindfulness and grounding, and eventually the anxiety faded.

Skip to Friday and it was probably at the same level. I couldn’t quite figure out why all of a sudden I had dropped down the ladder of recovery AGAIN. Over NOTHING.

Then, because I was so anxious I got really defeated and sad. So I was back to a pretty dark place. Not as dark as it has been, but just low. Crying. Anxiety. Constant googling.

Saturday night came and all hell broke loose. My anxiety levels peaked and I was crying and freaking out. I went back to that place of ‘will I ever get better?’ And more catastrophic thinking.

Sunday I tried to pull myself out of the hole and made arrangements to go to the movies with some friends of mine. I was really anxious and they could tell I wasn’t myself. I could tell I wasn’t myself. But the day was good. The movie was fabulous and it got me out of the house. That night I got my period.

I remember people saying that after childbirth your body chemistry changes and you can go from not having PMS symptoms to suddenly having them all. I thought maybe this was the reason for the anxiety?

Then jump to yesterday. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist.

She said ‘Hi Chantelle, how are you doing?’.

And you guys can imagine what happened right? Tears. Sobbing. Ugly crying. Chest heaving. Hyperventilating. Bone deep sadness just erupting from my body.

She calmed me down pretty quickly and asked what had happened. I explained everything. The anxiety. The panic. The period.

So she tried to nut out what happened. We spent an hour going over everything. And let me tell you, there is a reason these psychiatrists are paid the big bucks.

She asked what had changed last weekend compared to other weekends. After some thought, I realised that every weekend for the last 4-5 weeks we have been going to a market in Sunday’s, but this weekend there wasn’t one on.

She asked if not having anything planned makes me anxious. And it does. I know when I’m out and distracted I feel better. And as soon as she pointed this out, it clicked. I was avoiding having down time because that leaves me stuck with, well, me. Me and my thoughts.

I was anxious over having to face reality and instead of dealing with the anxiety, I’ve been shoving it down and keeping busy to avoid it.

She explained that when people get anxious they tend to follow two vicious cycles. Avoidance or reassurance. Both of them make you feel better in the short term, but keep the anxiety going on the long term. Reassurance behaviours consist of things like googling recovery stories of PPD or constantly asking family/doctors if they think you will get better. Sure, you feel fine once you find the answer you want, but then you’ll want more reassurance. So you’ll keep seeking it. Eventually the reassurance runs out and then you are left with nothing but anxiety, which is now doubled because google also shows you the bad answers you really shouldn’t have seen.

I’m guilty of reassurance seeking behaviours.

Avoidance is avoiding places or situations you know will give you anxiety so you don’t have to deal with it. While that’s great in the short term, the longer you avoid something the worse the fear becomes. Plus, you develop new fears. You may start out anxious in a bar, so you stop going to them. But then restaurants have bars, so you avoid them. Then you avoid cafes. And then shops all together. Eventually you’re confined to your home where you can’t avoid yourself. And the anxiety hits.

I’m guilty of avoidance.

So she gave me strategies to help myself. I need to stop avoiding because I need to learn to tackle the anxiety on my own. I can’t run from it. It will just keep the anxiety going longer. I also need to stop seeking reassurance.

To stop these behaviours, I need to create evidence for myself to create reasonable doubt in my mind. For example, I will demonstrate with the fear of never getting better:

  • I know I’m getting better based on the amount of smiley faces have been logged in my mood chart during February compared to the smiley faces in January
  • This month I’ve been able to be alone with Reece several times for several hours, last month (or any of the previous months) that wouldn’t have been an option
  • Even though I have gone ‘downhill’, I haven’t reached that deep, dark only black hole again. And I won’t, because I have already dealt with many issues that aren’t triggers anymore
  • Even though there will be downs, I knew that the recovery process would be up and down, but with overall improvement, and even if it’s a slow process, I’m doing everything in my power to recover
  • Trust my doctors who have told me that everyone recovers from PPD/PPA if they stick to their treatment plan, and so far I have not deviated from that plan once
  • My bond with Reece is growing this month, whereas last month I questioned whether I would ever feel anything for him
  • I have become more competent with household things. A few months back cooking a meal would have been out of the question because it was too overwhelming, but this week alone (during a low week!) I’ve managed to cook 4 dinners and 3 lunches
  • I’m able to meditate now. There was a point where I couldn’t lay down because I felt like the walls were going to close in on me
  • I can tell I’m getting better because I’ve forced myself to socialise more, despite the fact it gives me anxiety and makes me uncomfortable. A few months back just having someone ask if I was okay made me fall apart
  • I’m more present for the kids

There are more but I’ll be here forever listing them.

The point is, I need to create evidence against the things that make me anxious. This is a process and I’m still learning to do it, but today I’ve been feeling better, so let’s see how we go.

Taking a breath

Guys, I feel like I can breathe again. I don’t want to curse or jinx myself by posting this, but the last couple of weeks have been pretty good!

They haven’t been perfect, and there has been A LOT that has happened, but despite all these incidences I have coped very well!

For example, I finally confronted my brother for missing his nieces 2nd birthday, skipping my baby shower and having no interest in Reece what so ever (he hasn’t even met him and he’s 4 months old). That conversation ended up with him blaming me for his mistakes (stupid, right? Because I forced him to miss those events 😐) and having him admit that him and my biological mum have been talking behind my back about this illness and how weak I am etc.

They said a lot of really hurtful things about me. But I shouldn’t be surprised, both of them are very selfish and make everything about themselves. They don’t have a sympathetic bone in their body so I can’t expect them to understand.

Anyway, I confronted my biological mum after that too. Which ended with us cutting each other off (I’m sure she will contact me to see the kids so I don’t know why she wanted to cut ties).

I also had my first night in FOREVER alone with Reece and Scarlett. And it was fine. I implemented by coping strategies and did well. Reece literally slept through the entire thing 😂

So after a hectic few weeks, I’m proud of how I’ve pulled through.

The anxiety has eased up which has been amazing. My mood has levelled out completely and I’m almost feeling back to my normal self (well, I guess my normal self with a little anxiety and PTSD from this experience!).

It’s funny how many people I’ve spoken to who have been on antidepressants that I know. I’m so surprised that people keep their use of these drugs so secretive. I’ve never been one to be ashamed of something about myself and this is another part of my life. It was only that I’ve spoke up about it that my friends have been like ‘yes! I took an SSRI too’.

One thing a lot of them have said is that it blunted their emotions. Like, it didn’t make them happy or sad but at a baseline. They found they couldn’t cry while taking them and when they came off them that was the biggest thing they noticed. Well, I haven’t had that. I still can cry, and I did just the other day when I found out about my mum and brother. It was a hurt cry though, not a ‘I’m crying for no reason’ cry. The only thing I’ve really noticed on them is that my eyesight is still blurry and my memory is TERRIBLE.

Reece is going really well. He’s smiling more and giggling. He rolls from his back to front now. He plays with his hands and feet. He’s chatting away! He grabs things and puts them straight into his mouth. He still sleeps through the night. He’s still very calm and happy!

I got his 3 month photos back and I couldn’t be happier with them.

Things have been good. I’m so hoping that I don’t go back downhill again. I have been keeping active and eating better. Taking all my supplements and doing things to push myself.

I did delay going back to work until the second Sunday of March. I really hope going back to work doesn’t send me in a spiral.

Anyway, some comparison photos! 9 days to 3 months. Look at the hair change!!

Still hanging on

Things have improved since last time. THANK GOD.

My mood is MUCH better. I still have ups and downs but right now they aren’t so down.

Last time I updated I had just gotten to 20mg of lexapro. I’ve now been at that dose for two weeks. I’m feeling much better in myself and I’m certainly not crying as much. I still feel slightly overwhelmed sometimes but I’m able to function much more than what I was.

I still have anxiety though. Don’t get me wrong, it is better. I don’t wake up with that crippling panicky feeling and it doesn’t stop me from going out or anything, it’s just like an underlying uncomfortable anxiety. Sometimes it is there and other times it’s not. It’s worse when I’m unoccupied, like if I have a quiet day at home. Probably because I can sit there and analyse my feelings, whereas if I am out I am distracted. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do notice it when I’m out.

I should note that the anxiety has improved and I’ve stopped all benzos. Simply because I was taking Valium and it wasn’t doing a damn thing. I think my body has become a little resistant to the Valium so it’s not as effective in the doses I was taking it. I didn’t want to increase it because I was taking 10mg per day 😳

So I just decided to stop it and live without the benzos. It’s not too bad right now. Like I said, the Valium wasn’t doing anything so the anxiety is the same. But the fact that I don’t HAVE to take the benzos indicates improvement.

Certain things do trigger the anxiety, going to bed is a big one lately. I think because I went through a period where it was really hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. It happened right after I got to 20mg of lexapro. So going to bed was anxiety inducing because I never knew if I’d be able to fall asleep or not. After about a week the sleep settled and I was able to fall asleep like I normally would, but the anxiety about going to bed lingered. Being alone still triggers anxiety. Seeing either my psychologist or psychiatrist gives me anxiety because I am scared about what is going to be brought up.

But my mood is better! And I’m so thankful for that. My next psychiatrist appointment is this week. We were going to determine whether I needed to switch medications. She said if I didn’t notice any improvement then we would immediately switch, but if I noticed improvement then she was more inclined to keep me on it. Since I’ve noticed improvement I think she will keep me on it, but I am going to ask her if all my symptoms should be gone.

I was under the impression that antidepressants should get you to ‘remission’ which is all symptoms being gone. And while my mood is MUCH better, the anxiety is still there. Although it is better, it’s not where I want it, which is gone. I guess I want to be back to the person I was before, which was very happy, highly functioning and not anxious at all! Obviously except for certain situations, like if Scarlett ran off in the shops and I couldn’t see her I would get a jolt of anxiety, but that’s normal. Or if I was at work and a patient came in and we almost lost him/her. Again, normal when you think that a patient is about to die.

Anyway, I think the downhill spiral was due to a few things:

  1. my medication not being at a sufficient dose
  2. My psychiatrist and psychologist being on a two week holiday, leaving me feeling completely alone and vulnerable

I am on the up though so it’s reassuring. I know I will get better and I need to focus on that.

I think I’ve realised a few things over these last few weeks. A big trigger for my anxiety seemed to be the thought that I may get depressed again in my future (even though I’ve never been depressed before apart from after the birth of Scarlett) and need medication again.

What I’ve realised is that if that’s the case, then I go back on medication and that’s okay. If I have a problem with how an organ of mine functions and I can utilise medication to fix it, then that’s what I’m going to do. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Depression and anxiety are treatable. I need to remember that.

And also, Kristen bell takes medication every day for depression. I was shocked to learn this because I’ve always looked up to her and admired her for her bubbly personality. She always seemed so happy. It was a shock to learn that she’s suffered from depression from a young age and she combats it with daily medication. It was reassuring to know someone who i admire so much was willing to speak about this and share that she too takes medication. If I do end up with a chronic illness or if it happens again, at least I know I’m not ‘crazy’, I just have an organ that doesn’t function optimally, and I need to take medication to fix it.