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.
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.