Monday, July 22, 2013

Normal Liz

*Side note: I pulled the old wiring out of these sconces and put in some electric candles. Yes, I realize this lends a certain "cheesy Italian restaurant" vibe to the dining room, but trust me, it's fun at nighttime. 

Four months ago I stopped taking my antidepressant. If you're new to the blog, I was on it because of postpartum depression. After two years my doctor gave me the green light to wean off. So I did (slowly, because doing it cold turkey is insanity at its most basic level). I was drug free.


In the past few non-antidepressant months I've felt myself wind up like a clock.

I was totally fine for a while. Then came the insomnia. I had several major freak outs over insignificant things like dirty dishes and an excess of Matt's socks tucked into the couch cushions. Day to day normal tasks suddenly seemed insurmountable. I started to have obsessive worrying thoughts that I couldn't control. Then one day I almost had a panic attack.

I went to my doctor in tears.

Why was I feeling this way? What was happening to me?

She asked me one simple question.

"When you started taking your antidepressant, did you notice any change in your personality other than not being depressed anymore?"

I thought long and hard and realized that I had. I was a far less stressed out person. I was at ease with my life. I was at ease with chaos, and deadlines, and things that normally would have put me over the edge.

I told her this and she asked, "Were you a high strung, stressed out person before you had a baby?"

And since it's just not smart to say "WELL DUH" to your physician, I didn't. I just nodded my head.

Then I went to my therapist.

Long story short, I have an anxiety disorder with a smidgen of OCD. Being on an antidepressant (that coincidentally doubles as anxiety treatment) showed me what normal really is. It also showed me what abnormal really is. I've lived an abnormal, stressed out existence for most of my adult life, but I didn't know there was any other way to be.

But I do now. And abnormal is just not acceptable to me anymore. I don't want to white-knuckle my life. I want to enjoy my days on this earth, even the crappy ones where I wake up late or I burn breakfast or Jane is in a bad mood or Mabel bites my finger.

So I'm taking my own advice.

I'm listening to the lessons I've preached to other people.

 I'm back on medication.

I probably always will be.

For a few days this felt like defeat to me. It felt like I was admitting, "I'm not strong enough to handle my own life." But that's not true. I can't change the chemistry in my brain any more than a diabetic can change their own insulin levels.

It really is just as simple as that.

In my journey to mental health I've found two things to be true.

1. You either deal with your own mental health...

2. Or you don't and make everyone around you deal with it instead.

It's not Matt's responsibility. It's certainly not Jane's. It's mine. So that's where I'm at, and this is what I'm doing. I've been back on medication for over three weeks and the difference is staggering. No, I don't feel drugged. No, antidepressants don't "make you happy." If they're working correctly, they just make you feel normal. And I feel blessedly normal. No uncontrollable fit throwing. No panic attacks. No general feeling of dissatisfaction and gloominess. I just feel normal. Just call me Normal Liz.

It's a gift from God.

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