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  • Writer's pictureK.S.

Treading Water

So I needed to learn to swim but how? At this point I hadn't passed level 1, learning to hold my breath under water. If

I stopped there I would eventually just pass out. I needed to learn how to at least tread water. I’d done it twice before so I knew getting back on medication was the first step.

I needed the serotonin levels in my brain to regulate enough for me to stop having such severe breakdowns and feelings of worthlessness. This wasn’t something I could fix by working out more. I had to let go of the guilt and shame of not being able to manage my mental state on my own. I had to tell myself that it wasn't my fault that my brain wasn't "wired correctly" and that in fact it was, and is, a chemical imbalancement in my brain. My first step, I made a list;

  1. Make a list

  2. Find a doctor and make an appointment

  3. Go to the appointment

  4. Be transparent about how I'm feeling

  5. Pick up meds

  6. Take meds everyday

These may seem like simple tasks but to someone who can barely get through the day without multiple breakdowns. Each one of these feels like getting to the top of the water from the bottom of the Ocean just to take a breath before you start sinking again.

1. Make a list

I had to start off with something simple so I could cross it off and feel accomplished. So Hell, putting “make a list” on my list was the easiest thing possible.

2. Finding the doctor and making the appointment;

It took me days trying to find a primary care physician that was accepting new patients, took my insurance, and wasn't booked out for a few weeks. I gave up multiple times but finally found one.

3. Going to the appointment

The doctor's office was 20 minutes away and I had an anxiety attack when I was two minutes away. My navigation stopped working and I was now running 10 minutes late. The office told me I would have to reschedule. At this point I’m sobbing and told the receptionist on the phone that I was an emotional wreck, I had four kids at home that needed me and could barely function. Luckily she was kind enough to understand and I finally made it in.

4.Be transparent about how I was feeling

This was actually easier than I thought. The second the doctor asked me why I felt like I needed to get back on meds I blurted out my entire life story, how I couldn't make it through one day without breaking down, how I felt like I was a shit mother and wife, and the only time I felt safe was when I was sleeping. I had been on Lexapro for 10 years previously and stopped because of night terrors and night sweats so she put me on a 5mg dose of Venlafaxin. The side effects;

  • Sweating and hot flashes. Try wearing loose clothing and using a fan, where possible. ...

  • Headaches. Make sure you rest, and drink plenty of fluids. ...

  • A dry mouth. ...

  • Feeling dizzy. ...

  • Feeling sleepy. ...

  • Being unable to sleep (insomnia) ...

  • Constipation.

Well, at least I wouldn't be crying in a corner anymore.

5. Picking up the meds

This sucked, we were in the middle of the pandemic and pharmacies were backed up for days. I waited in the Walgreens drive through for 40 minutes. I almost left multiple times and had to call my husband just to talk me through sitting in a car at a drive through. I finally made it to the window, threw my card in the tray and out came the orange bottle with the white lid.

6. Take meds everyday

I knew from previous experience the best time to take them was at night before bed. It lessened the likeliness of dizziness, sleepiness, and headaches. I set a reminder that went off every night before I went to bed to make sure I didn't miss it, and another reminder every 25 days to make sure I got it refilled before it ran out. The last thing I wanted was to forget it, this wasn't my first rodeo and the withdrawals were no joke.

After 5 days I was starting to feel a difference.

It took me over two weeks to check everything off the list, 30 days of my reminder going off to take my meds before I remembered on my own, three months to admit I needed a therapist, 6 months and three fired therapists before I gave up on therapy for the time being, and a year and a half to start meditating. But one year later I finally felt like I was successfully treading water.

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