Eat Me

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TRIGGER WARNING: This post may contain triggers that some people may want to avoid. These triggers relate to anxiety, panic, health anxiety and potential side effects of anti-depressants. If this is something that may trigger your own anxiety or panic or unwell feelings, you may want to skip this post.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a medical professional. I am simply documenting my experience with anxiety and panic. The tools and/or medications I have tried/used are not recommended for others nor are they endorsements.  You should speak to your family doctor about your own health and the options that are best for you.

I have gone down another rabbit hole.

I am in the land of prescription drugs; anti-depressants. Zoloft to be precise.

It is not a trip I wanted to take. I tried everything to avoid anti-depressants. Yoga, meditation, breathing, therapy, books and a visit to the hormone doctor.

Some of these things helped a bit. Others, not so much. Nothing helped entirely.

I went to my family doctor on Wednesday (last week) which was a feat in and of itself. Leaving my house has become very stressful (almost impossible) and usually involves Ativan. I think I realized a couple of weeks ago that this was not working. It has been five months and I am really no better off than I was in December. My anxiety is debilitating. My panic is off the charts. My mind races with obsessive thoughts thanks to my health anxiety. Fun times.

I received the prescription for Zoloft (25 mg) on Wednesday but I wouldn’t start it until there was someone here with me. I know that sounds completely ridiculous but the last time I was on anti-depressants in December, they made my heart race (you can read about that here).

If there are any doctors or healthcare professionals reading this, do humanity a favour: Do not plant seeds in people’s brains who are susceptible to psychosomatic thoughts and feelings. I told my doctor not to plant seeds in my head. So you know what she did? She planted a forest! I kid you not.

Are you suicidal? Are you seeing or hearing things that other people are not?

Thankfully, no and no.

You may experience diarrhea, upset stomach, insomnia and some other side effects.

Great, thanks for setting me up for failure.

Are you manic?

I don’t know what that is.

She explained that manic is when you don’t sleep for three days and have a ton of energy and might do something dramatic like hop on a plane at the last minute to go on an adventure.

Um, no. I can’t go to the grocery store down the street so I don’t see how I’m going to decide on a last minute plane trip to Portugal. Now that you have planted that seed, I will be sure to obsess over whether I am manic or not. Thanks doc.

I started taking Zoloft on Friday, in the morning. My parents came to babysit me.

Now that I am on the pills, I am waiting to have suicidal thoughts or to hallucinate. Why are doctors so dumb sometimes? Why plant seeds? Especially when I told her not to plant any seeds?! I am thinking my doctor is book smart but is really lacking common sense.

Apart from waiting for the worst to happen, here is what the experience has been like thus far.

Day One/Friday:  I had an upset stomach all day. I didn’t really have an appetite. I was nauseous. On a scale of 1 to 10, the nausea was probably a 4. Not bad. However, I spent a lot of time in the washroom with soft stools (sorry, TMI!). As expected, I spent the day obsessing about whether I was going to have suicidal thoughts and/or hallucinate unicorns and leprechauns (thanks so much doc!).

Day Two/Saturday: Talk about crazy dreams! Wow! I was woken up around 4am with the craziest dreams. I couldn’t get back to sleep until around 5:30am. When I woke up again around 8am, I was hot and my heart rate was a bit fast (around 106 BPM). I got up and showered and sat on my bed to look at Facebook. I was relaxed. I wasn’t anxious or panicky and I hadn’t even had my second pill yet. I stood up from the bed and I felt my heart rate soar!  I took my heart rate and it was 124 BPM. I started to freak out a bit. I laid down in bed, ate some breakfast and took my second pill. The rest of the day, my heart rate was fine. I had two visits to the washroom with loose stool but my stomach was fine the remainder of the day.  I wasn’t nauseous but my stomach was gurgling really loud all day and night. I ate breakfast and snacked throughout the day. I had a full dinner. I spent a lot of the afternoon waiting to hallucinate or have suicidal thoughts (again, thanks doctor!).

Day Three/Sunday (Today):  Thankfully, I didn’t have any crazy dreams but I did wake up at 4am again. Sigh. That sucks, but I guess it could be worse. I fell back to sleep around 5:30am again and slept until 8. I got a total of 8 1/2 hours sleep which is great. When I woke up at 8am, I was really hot and my heart rate was slightly elevated (in the high 90’s). I tried to ignore it. I got up and showered and took my third pill.  It is 11am now here and I am hopeful the rest of the day will be good. I am super scared for tomorrow because I will be home alone. Kids will be at school and my husband will be at work. The perfect storm for high anxiety. I am scared I will spend the day in my bed obsessing over the potential side effects.

As an aside, my eyes have been burning but that could be sinus problems (the weather in Ontario, Canada has been up and down and has caused me to have sinus headaches).

Also, I have a really bad taste in my mouth. I am thinking that is the pill but it isn’t a big deal at all.

As for my anxiety and panic, I have not had a panic attack since starting the pill but I am only on day three. Placebo effect? Maybe. I will take it, thanks very much! I definitely feel more relaxed, my heart rate overall has decreased slightly. I didn’t leave the house this weekend and have no interest in doing so just yet. Hopefully that will come.

So there you have it.

If I could just get a handle on my obsessive thinking, I would say that so far, this drug doesn’t have bad side effects at all (for me and my body).  A little upset stomach is nothing to complain about if it will take away my anxiety and panic. I’m a bit tired but I don’t know if that is the medicine or the anxiety or the stress of starting the new pill. I’m not lethargic so that’s good.

I will continue to update as the week progresses.  If you have a positive Zoloft story, I would love to hear it.  Please do not post any negative comments or experiences about Zoloft as I am too open to suggestion and need only positive support right now.

© The Flip of the Switch, April 2016.

 

 

Red Alert, Shields Up!

USS Enterprise

 

Do you check your pulse?

I do.

All. The. Time.

Suffice it to say, I have health anxiety. Full out, freak out, stress out health anxiety.

I describe it as,

An irrational fear of illness and/or death due to the inability to logically explain certain physical sensations during a specific period of time whereby the anxiety and panic are relieved once the physical sensations(s) subside.

Case in point:

Today, I was sitting on the couch. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I was enjoying a cup of tea. A picture postcard morning.

All of a sudden, out of no where, I felt like I was being smothered, I couldn’t take a deep breath and my stomach started hurting. Ah, the infamous stomach ache. How I despise thee. Commence the racing heart, sweating and thoughts of sheer terror and I had officially entered the domain of a psychiatric war zone. Having said that however, when it happens, you don’t know that it’s “all in your head” and that you aren’t actually in any “real” danger. You just think you are about to die and that your poor children will come home from school and see you lying in a pile of your own vomit on the bathroom floor with your pants pulled down to your ankles.

Seriously.

It’s pretty fucked up, eh?!

I raced to the washroom where I proceeded to do what one does in the washroom. But, what I am quite sure is the anomaly, I panicked. Over a stomach ache. A naturally occurring, quite necessary, physical action that all humans experience. Why, why, why?

The logical side of me will explain.

I am in a constant, heightened sense of reality. I am on the alert to recognize any physical sensation that is out of the “norm” or which I cannot logically explain. Once discovered, within a millisecond, I irrationally decide whether to ignore it or whether I should sound the alarm and proceed down the spiralling abyss into the psychiatric war zone.

Nine times out of ten I choose the spiralling abyss to hell.

It is so easy to sit here now, without a stomach ache, and logically explain what happens during an attack of this magnitude. While it is occurring however, there is no logic. The logical part of your brain shuts down and you enter a realm of disillusion, confusion and terror.

There could be no rational explanation for my stomach ache. It was something that was threatening my existence and as a result, I entered fight or flight mode. A logical outsider with the same experience would think, “Oh, I have to poo”.

Not me.

I think “Holy shit, something terrible is happening.  Red alert!  Shields up!  Set phasers to stun and ready photon torpedoes!

Seriously.

This is my life with a stomach ache.
With health anxiety.
With a raging hormonal imbalance.
With panic.

It’s not just stomach aches that can now set me in to a state of sheer panic. Any unexplained physical sensation can send me into the brink of instability and down the path of panic. It can be my racing heart, a hot flash, a pulled muscle or a urinary tract infection.

It has been about five months now since the switch was flipped and I jumped down this rabbit hole of anxiety. I have tried an SSRI (I had a bad reaction so I came off it), yoga, therapy and vitamins. I have not tried the bio-identical hormones yet as my family doctor is concerned there may be an increased risk given my strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. I think it might be time to try a different anti-depressant. I feel like I have exhausted the natural remedies and I just don’t want to feel like this all of the time. I want to be able to have a normal stomach ache. Like a normal person.

Yah, yah, I hate the word normal too. But I long to be normal.

So there you have it. My day in a nut shell. It went from calm and relaxing to intensely horrifying in the blink of an eye.

Damn you anxiety.

Damn you panic.

Damn you hormonal roller coaster.

Do you experience anything similar? Do you have health anxiety? Do you struggle with finding logic and rational thought during a panic attack? What tools do you use to help your anxiety and/or panic? Are you on an anti-depressant? Please share your story. Your experience, tips, tools and knowledge will help me and others.

Yours in panic,
The Flip

© The Flip of the Switch, March 2016.