It's been a while since I was here and I apologize for not keeping in touch.
I have been keeping on with life as best as I can with this monkey on my back that the Dr's are still calling anxiety, hehe. I've found out that quite a few people I know have also gone through similar experiences that I didn't even know about and talking to them has helped both me and them because I've found that a lot of them never told me about it before because they were ashamed of it for one reason or another. If there's one thing I have learned is that this is nothing to be ashamed of, it's a genuine medical condition that you can't just think away and you can't prevent from happening.
Unfortunately, in the process of coming to grips with this illness and getting everything under control, it sometimes seems that for every step forward I've taken over the last month, I've taken half a step back...If that makes any sense...
Overall I have been feeling better anxiety-wise. I went back to the Dr. and saw an actual psychiatric Dr. since I last posted anything. The Dr. did an EKG and said that my heart was working just fine and also did blood tests and said that I didn't test positive for hyperthyroidism so at least my thyroid is out of the contention for what's causing my symptoms. I've been on the Effexor for almost three weeks now (75 mg daily) and I have noticed that I haven't been feeling as on edge but I'm still taking the ativan at bedtime and occasionally when I'm feeling edgy. I know how easily it is to become dependent on the Ativan and other drugs like it, so I have limited myself to taking only half a pill when I need it so far. This has seemed to work and also decreases the tiredness and the likes. I have also noticed that I do seem to be able to concentrate a lot better than I was for a while there. I can actually sit down and do some of the things I didn't feel like I could when this all began and have felt like being around friends more than I was, so that has been a relief. These are all the positives, now unfortunately, on to the negatives which I'm sure I will elaborate on more because I guess it's just my-if not overall human nature, to chalk up the positives with a brief sentence and then go on and on about the bad stuff hehe. To prove my point, think about it hypothetically, you go on a trip to Disneyland and have a really good time but on the way there you have horrible car trouble and are stuck in the sweltering heat for close to 3 hours waiting for a tow truck and have nothing to drink but a half a bottle of warm Dr. Pepper which isn't even your favorite soft drink.... What are you going to remember more from the trip a year later when you are talking about it?
On to the half steps back I mentioned earlier.
The Dr. Bills are piling up and I haven't worked for the last month because of this. I've filled out tons of papers to try to get financial help but I haven't gotten any responses yet. I guess I should just keep my fingers crossed.
My roomates have been really understanding about all of this and have even helped me with money but I feel like I'm putting them through hell with worrying about me and also with worrying about how we are going to pay the bills. I've been talking to my mom a lot lately about this because she suffered from anxiety about the same time in her life that I am in now. I've talked to her so much and been there with her when I was at my lowest lows throughout all of it. Now I almost feel like if I'm feeling bad I'd better just not let anyone know about it anymore to keep them from worrying any more than they already have...
The psyche that I was referred to didn't really tell me anything about anxiety that I didn't already know and I think she might be a little bit too old school to still be in practice. She's 76 years old and has been a psyche for close to 40 years she said. She also told me that the Effexor that my Dr. had put me on wouldn't have been her first choice. She also cut back my perscription for the Ativan to just one pill a day before bed even though I've found myself needing it more than that occasionally. On top of that, she latched on to the first thing she could when I was describing what was leading up to this in my life that could have caused anxiety and really did nothing to relieve my overall bewilderment of this all happening so fast. I told her that I'd broken up with my girlfriend of 3 1/2 years a few months before and she did everything but tell me that was the cause of all this, ignoring the fact that I also told her it ran in my family. I didn't even get the chance to tell her that I'd switched jobs and that I'd just recently had to move which I feel is more of the environmental cause if there is one... My now ex girlfriend is pregnant. She has assured me that the baby isn't mine, but the psyche told me that the baby could be mine and if that were the case I'd be paying child support for the next 18 years and that that wouldn't be anything I'd want (obviously)... Then she asked me how I was going to pay since I didn't have insurance and pretty much told me good luck and that she'd see me in a month as long as I had paid my first bill (which was $250 dollars for an hour!). Thanks a lot doctor. Needless to say, I'm in the process of finding a new psychiatrist.
I ended up quitting my job. I tried to go back after about three weeks and my first night back felt as close to torture as I have ever experienced in my entire life. I was working in a meat processing plant. Stress city! Where I worked I was surrounded by about 100 other people. There was constant loud noises from machinery and the likes and it was a very high intensity, physical, and fast paced atmosphere. The day I went back I found myself propped up against the table to keep my balance, I was shaking pretty badly, I kept bumping into everyone and everything, I had a really hard time concentrating and I was jumping at every loud noise I heard. I was sweating profusely despite where I worked it's a constant 35 degrees and everyone kept asking me if I was ok every five minutes. The quickest way to convince someone they aren't ok is to ask them if they are every five minutes I discoverred...heh. I could have stayed at this job. My Dr. offered to give me excuses for as long as I felt I needed them, but that wasn't going to pay the bills and I also felt that I was wasting the time of my employer there by missing so much work and not being sure when I'd be able to come back. I decided that my job there wasn't doing anything good for my mental or physical well-being so I quit. This was a somewhat disapointing decision for me because it was good money and I had worked there for about five months with no problems and I just wished that this could have continued. Aparently my brain had other ideas I suppose. I'm now going back to my old job where I worked for nine years and I feel I will have a better chance of getting better.
Finally, I have been experiencing what I'm pretty sure are side effects from the Effexor. It seemed to start working pretty fast for controlling the anxiety but about four days into increasing my dosage up from a week at 37.5 mg to 75 mg I experienced about two days of severe depression accompanied by what I can only describe as mild depersonalization. Everyone said that it was like I was there, but I wasn't all at the same time. Either I was more depressed than I thought I was or it was the medicine. I'm pretty sure it was the medicine...While it was going on I can't say that I was suicidal, but the idea of feeling like I did for those two days for much longer was enough to give me a pretty good idea of why people that felt like that all the time would consider the horribly bad decision of killing themselves. Thankfully, this got better but it soured me on the idea that I might have to up my dosage again...I have also noticed over the last week or so what I'm pretty sure is an increase in my blood pressure. I have an at home monitor which is a blessing and a curse all at the same time because I sometimes find myself checking it way too often. The highest I've seen it get so far is 150/105 at one point when I was feeling dizzy. I don't know if this the anxiety or the medicine or something else causing this. I've had two bouts of lightheadedness and almost fainting when I stand up caused by a big drop in blood pressure. I've also noticed an increase in my heart rate. I'll be sitting down at it will be like 65 bpm and then I'll stand up and two minutes later it's 125 bpm without any physical exertion besides standing up and walking around. I don't feel any discomfort in my chest and I'm not sure if this is normal for me or not. I had another Dr's apointment where I could have discussed this with her, but the gods must not have been feeling very generous towards me that day (if not just this month in general) because I'd been up the entire night before with a really bad toothache. When it rains it pours huh? I pretty much just told her I was fine because the only thing on my mind at the time of the apointment was getting to a dentist to fix my throbbing tooth which he did in about ten minutes and then I was kicking myself for not talking to the Dr. more...
Unfortunately, I went online and looked up Effexor and that was about as comforting as sitting on top of a live grenade..hehe. I have probably read close to 200 random forum discussion posts about the horrible near death experience of trying to get off of Effexor according to most people that posted anything. I've also heard that many psychiatrists refer to the drug as "Side-effexor" and that if you miss just one daily dose you are in big trouble. Of course, it's probably just a case of the only people that have anything to say about it are the people who have bad experiences, but the online petition with 13,000 signatures denouncing the drug because of the fact that withdrawing from it causes, "Brain shivers/brain zaps/electic shock sensations/severe nausea/horrible mood swings/dizzyness" didn't help much to reinforce this idea... I've pretty much been forcing myself to take the medicine every day after learning all of this because the withdrawl almost sounds worse than the condition it's supposed to treat.
I'm hoping maybe someone reading this might have past experience with Effexor and can tell me if the side effects sound normal or if I should possibly start talking to my Dr. about possibly just stopping the antidepresants and sticking with the anti-anxiety medicine or taking another antidepresant, and I'm also hoping maybe there's someone out there that successfully got off of it without feeling like they were about to kick the bucket...hehe.
That's pretty much how I've been doing. I'm doing better with the anxiety as I mentioned earlier but there have been some drawbacks. I also want to apologize if this sounds somewhat melodramatic. I realize that probably most people reading this have probably battled with anxiety and the likes for a lot longer than I have and have probably had it much worse than I have. I don't mean to come off as just someone that can't find the good because they are too worried about complaining about the bad. I've read a few posts like that online. Example "MY DOCTOR IS AN IDIOT! I'M DYING! NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO ME! THEY ARE ALL MORONS AND ONLY I KNOW WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON!" etc etc...heh.
Someone famous who's name I can't remember once said "true knowledge is the ability to admit the fact that you know nothing", or something closely resembling that. about my current condition, I've read everything there is to read I believe, but I'm still coming to grips with everything involved and I'm just seeking out some help along the way. Thanks for your time.