I’m gonna be honest, for a minute there, it felt like I was never going to be okay. I wrote about my struggles with medications and mental health in this post, and it was a real shit show for awhile there. Like I mentioned previously, I’ve been on some form of anti-anxiety medicines since the age of 12, and I felt the full force of my condition getting off of them back in August.
With my new dual-diagnosis of anxiety and ADHD, I was put on a medicine called Strattera which, on paper, should have ticked all the boxes and treated both conditions. But between withdrawals from getting off of effexor and then just worst case scenario side effects from the new meds, ya girl was a hot fucking mess.
And wow, does it feel uncomfortable to admit it and talk about it. It was scary, I’m not going to lie. I’ve never felt so out of control of my own mind. My body constantly felt it was in a state of fight-or-flight, I was getting physically ill, sweating non-stop, flushing, extreme chills, brain zaps, bone aches, weight loss, shakes, my sense of smell became more sensitized and every scent was making me dry heave (in public, so embarrassing omg), crying from constant overstimulation, super emotional, and just extremely anxious.
I’ll also admit how badly my school suffered during this period. The irony of almost failing pharmacology while going through my own pharma induced nightmare does not escape me… at least we can all laugh about it now… ha ha ho ho so funny.
I think one of the hardest parts of the experience, The Great Downward Spiral of 2019 as I like to call it (TGDSO2019 for short), was the shame that came with it. I felt so much shame and embarrassment for not having full control of my mind. I could sit and rationalize every single thing that was stressing me out, that I was obsessing over, but I couldn’t stop the worry that drowned me. I couldn’t control my emotions like a “functioning” adult. It just felt like I couldn’t get my shit together. I can honestly say, it was the most extended, acute physical challenge I’ve ever endured. It was a dark time, but I made it through.
Now, with medications that are right for my body and mind (I am on a low dose of Prozac and something called Guanfacine, which helps with mental ordering and executive function with ADHD), I can reflect on how much I overcame, not how I may have failed to fit some mold of normalcy. Mental illness and neurodiversity are as real as any other disease out there. It isn’t weakness. It isn’t a lack of ability. It isn’t something you can wish, pray, meditate away. It’s a pathologic condition that isn’t my fault and doesn’t define me.
In a weird way, I’m glad I went through the physical and mental ringer these past 12 weeks. It showed me a great deal about myself and my resiliency. It was also an excellent check on the stigma I still carry about my own illnesses.
I’m in the midst of Hell Week at school—quizzes, projects, exams, practicals every single day—and somehow, I am doing okay. Like, really okay. Better than I’ve been in probably four years okay. I have a new found confidence in my abilities to power through extremely difficult times. I do feel extremely fortunate as well, and I recognize how lucky I am to be have the means to seek treatment and to have a partner and family that are gentle with me during dark times like that.
I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who reached out to me during that time. The kindness I received from strangers on the internet was one of the most comforting things I found during that time, and I am so grateful for the encouragement and kind words.
As always, my inbox is open if you ever want to talk!