First step off the merry-go-round was to cancel surgery. The more I read about the surgery and the things that I can't do afterwards (like kneeling), the more I realized that I was not ready. Physically, I cannot do all the things I want to do. But, I can pace myself and do most of them. I realized I had not given enough energy toward actual healing. This is difficult due to that merry-go-round, but I believe I can heal. And that there will always be surgeons, if I need to go that route.
I am not sure how the spiral I am in got started, but some things have gotten a bit out of control. There are lots of cause-and-effect pathways that are so very clear to me, but what hasn't been so clear is how to step off the merry-go-round.
Step two was to try to deal with the overwhelming anxiety I was feeling. I have had numerous nights of waking up, trembling, sweaty, dry mouth, heart pounding with a feeling of impending doom. Then I am awake and have difficulty getting back to sleep due to the noise my thoughts are making. So, I went to my doctor and told her about the anxiety (thinking this was all anxiety about having major knee surgery). She did the usual "depression questionairre" and concluded that I have more anxiety than depression. I agreed...depression is something I have *always* had, sort of like a birthmark or long legs. I have threaded between being philosophical about it, hating it, hiding it, ignoring it, embracing it, and fighting it. I haven't spent as much time fighting it as I might have, I think because of the belief that this is a part of life for me.
But anxiety, this one is pretty new. In the distant past, I had a couple of bouts of phobias- they disappeared as mysteriously as they came without me doing too much about them but avoiding the phobia inducing areas. Driving across the bay bridge was a long standing one that evaporated the night I drove across to be at my Mother's side in the hospital after an aneurism burst in her brain. Proving that there are things that are larger than fear. But, I digress.
My doctor prescribed a 3rd generation SSRI for me (Lexapro). My experience with SSRIs has been short and distant, but I have seen them work for other people pretty well. I decided to put my "I can heal myself" feelings in a different perspective, seeing as I wasn't being successful at either getting my knee better or taming the anxiety. One of my favorite expressions is "A headache is not a tylenol deficiency". Extrapolating that to the anxiety, I do not believe that anxiety is a lexapro deficiency. For me, it is important to determine not only the underlying cause, but the deep spiritual meaning of it all in the grand scheme of my life. (Those of you who know me well, know that this is quite true of every part of my life).
So ok, I read everything I could about the lexapro, spoke with a couple of people who had good results with it, and decided that it could be a good thing for me. The next thing I knew, I got a call from my pharmacy that the lexapro is not a covered in my insurance company formulary. They recommended a covered medication called Celexa. So, I read all I could about celexa, and found nothing in anything I read that mentioned that Celexa is effective in treating anxiety, but it is pretty specific for depression. So, now I had the dilemma: should I accept a treatment for depression (which I was not considering a problem) and hope that the anxiety gets better? My answer was no.
Another call to the doctor to ask about getting something for anxiety that I can take on an "as needed" basis resulted in a presciption for Xanax accompanied by a long lecture about how benzodiazepines are highly addictive and that I need to be really careful about taking them. After a solemn promise that I would call the second I felt that I was having a problem, and a reminder that if I haven't developed addictive behavior by my age, that it would be highly unlikely, I got the Xanax. Several nights later, I woke up with huge anxiety again, took 1/2 of a Xanax and was able to sleep. Over the next few days, I took another 1-2 pills, with good results of decreasing my anxiety and helping me sleep. Good enough! But.....not.
Last week, I realized that the depression is not something that is 'just there', I realized it has invaded my being while I was off fighting the anxiety dragon. In fact, I realized that I don't even feel like myself. Finding myself weeping on my drive home, and feeling overwhelmed by seemingly small things, I reassessed the idea of taking an antidepressant. As you can tell, this is not a light decision for me. (For those of you that have read this far, bless you, you're probably wondering how I can even stand myself by this point!!) So, I called my doctor and said "Ok, let's start the Celexa", but things being the 'way they are', my doctor was off last week. The covering doctor was not willing to prescribe the celexa in my doctor's absence, so I didn't get the prescription until yesterday.
Last night, looking at this little tiny pill, I wondered how something so tiny could have any kind of effect on me, and isn't there a period of time where you have to get enough of the drug for an adequate blood level, and maybe I won't feel any different, etc. What if the pharmacist gave me the wrong drug- how do I know this is the celexa and not some weird chemotherapy drug? (This is anxiety at it's best)
So, I took the pill, and had a quiet evening at home, noting no ill effects from the pill.
This morning, at 5 am, I was awakened by saltydognh getting ready for work, he told me he had been awakened by my snoring. I was quite congested (hence the snoring) but I had slept through the night, no anxiety!! Driving to work this morning, I felt a better sense of order of my thoughts. So, maybe the tiny little pill is like putting a drop of food coloring in a large jar of water. That one little drop of coloring makes a difference to the whole jar. It is a sense that a ray of sunshine is just peeking out from under a heavy curtain, and I have hope that the whole curtain will be opened and I will rediscover myself in the process.
Which brings me to Step 3, finally. This step is not something I have started yet, but will be very important to my overall mental and physical health. I need to start an exercise program and lose weight. My plan is to join a pool near work. Swimming is something that I can do and will nto put undue pressure on my knee. I will be carpooling withsophiebythesea within the next week or so, and plan to exercise before or after work, maybe even both. I have gained an additional 15 pounds over and above the 20-25 I already needed to lose, so I have a lot of work to do.
None of the things I am doing is independent of the others. Decreasing anxiety may decrease anxiety eating, decreasing depression may provide more energy for physical activity. I didn't even mention the stressful work environment I am in, but feel that if I can get things flowing emotionally and physically, dealing with the work crap will not be as much of a hardship for me.