I was sick of waking up in a panic. Except now, it wasn't just in the mornings or at night —it was all. damn. day. 48 hours after my doctor increased my daily dose of an anti-depressant, Wellbutrin, it seemed that this overwhelming sense of impending doom consumed me. In a previous post, I discussed, my experience with some pretty scary anti-depressant side effects. I thought, isn't this shit supposed to make me feel better? And that's just it —it was making me worse. So I did what any millennial in this type of situation would do —I researched those effects. Per my Google search, I better call the psychiatrist prescribing me these meds. He was nice, supportive and sorry I had such a bad encounter. After the conversation, I learned the side effects were, in fact, outweighing any positive leeway Wellbutrin could do for my depression. I was a little bummed. TBH, I still am. Because I thought the increase was really going to help. But no. No way, Jose. So I went back to my original dose and, "We’ll go from there," he said. A part of me felt like I was taking a few steps in the wrong direction. But I’m trying to remember that sometimes, going back is exactly what we need to move forward. So I did just that. But then, other weird things started to happen. And I call the doc again. At this point, he agreed, the side effects I was now experiencing were not your standard dry mouth. He wanted to see how I'd feel if I stopped the meds completely. Because what I haven't mentioned are two new symptoms —a few somethings my doctor said were indications of a bigger issue. Because now, I was having difficulty swallowing and breathing, which was scary AF. I mean, that shit was serious enough to warrant a discontinuation. So that's exactly what I did. And here's why. Here's what happened next.
Holy shit. Last night was one of the worst nights of my life. Let me tell you why. It all started after upping my daily dose of an antidepressant I've been taking for a few years. Because last week, I met with a physiatrist to work through some of my mental health issues. Like a lot of people with depression, I take two different antidepressants. Specifically, 150 XL milligrams of Wellbutrin (the starting dose) and 50 milligrams of Generic Zoloft. More recently though, I've been feeling like they're not working as well as they should. That right there is why I made that appointment to see if adjusting any of these meds would do the trick. My main complaints were lack of focus, fatigue and an overall feeling of sadness. Perhaps I have a reason but sometimes I don't. That doesn't change how I've been feeling though. Because besides having depression, I also deal with anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and a bunch of other shit. It's like I'm uninspired to motivate myself to do the things I want to do; used to do —would like to do. TBH, I've been doing the same shit over and over again expecting different results. And because I know that's the definition of insanity, I decided it was time to do something about it. So after telling that physiatrist, he said we'd start by increasing my Wellbutrin from 150 XL to 300. And go from there. He did preface that if I became extremely anxious from the increase, to let him know right away. I didn't think anything of it. But I was in for a rude awakening. Because two days later, at around 4:00 pm, I started freaking the fuck out. It felt like I was about to have a heart attack or a seizure. I couldn't shake this feeling of impending doom. Maybe because I was experiencing heart palpitations, body spasms, brain spasms, dizziness, racing thoughts, hyperactivity and some other really intense shit. There was a point where I didn't think I'd make it. And it starts a little something like this.
A few months ago I met with a genetic counselor for the second time. For those who don't know, I'm BRCA2 positive, which means based on family history and this gene mutation I have, I will likely get breast and/or ovarian cancer by the age of 60. Damn. That's a lot to take in. That's a lot to process. Because when I originally found out, I was 22. I remember saying I'll worry about this when I'm 30. It's weird because back then, 30 seemed so far away. Like I'd never actually get there. Well, now I am and it's real. I think that's the hardest part to deal with. Because sooner rather than later, I have to do to something about it. It's like, do I undergo preventative surgery and remove my breasts and ovaries —the things that make me feel like a woman. Or, do I risk it and wait? I've always said I'd have the surgeries. It's just time crept up and now it's here. I have some big decisions to make and I don't feel ready. Are we ever though? Here is what I want you to know.
I'm sure at this point in your life, you've been sick at least once. When that happens, normally you have two choices. You either go to the doctor for some type of antibiotic or you sleep it off until you feel better. But what if you never got better? What if that cold or flu never went away? What if those temporary aches and pains and feelings of fatigue were permanent? What if it got worse? Like when the winter blues turn into a full-blown state of depression and you can't find a way to see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? What then? Seriously. Imagine the anxiety of knowing what you have was constant. Imagine what it would be like if that doctor of yours said there was no cure, and that it would, in fact, be a part of your life forever? Now, envision trying to explain all of this to your friends, family, and co-workers. How do you describe this shit in a way they'd understand? Because you look perfectly fine —on the outside that is. How would you cope with having a chronic, invisible illness? Would you be deemed lazy or even crazy? Would you be treated differently? Would you be excluded from activities or on the contrary be so tired that you continuously say no to those friendly invitations? At that point, would it start hindering your relationships, both personal and professional? The short answer, yes. Absofuckinglutely. Because when you break a bone, your physical disability is apparent to the world. Friends, family, and coworkers can see the cast on your arm and know without a doubt that you're sick. “Get some rest,” they’d say in a concerned voice. “You don’t look well.” But that’s the odd thing about not feeling well —you don’t always look the part. So yeah, I'm not the girl I used to be and here are four reasons why.
Sometimes happiness is staying in with a gluten-free pizza pie and Netflix. Like Netflix and chill but literally. Because most people search for happiness outside of themselves. I know I did and admittedly, sometimes I still do. But that's a mistake. And I'm trying to stop. Because happiness is something that you are. It comes from the way you think —not what you have or even who you have. It's all about our insides. Except, it's harder than you might think to break these patterns. Maybe you want to be happy but you keep waking up doing the same things that continuously make you miserable? The thing is, if we have time to feel like shit, complain and sift endlessly through notifications and newsfeeds, then we have time to meditate, journal, and do something about it. But normally, we just do what we're used to doing and the cycle goes on. Not today. Not anymore. So here's the final segment of my series on life lessons and seven things I think you should know.
Sometimes I feel as if I’m a failure at a disease I never asked for —something I could have never prevented. Most days, yeah. I look like everybody else. But I’m not. I want to feel normal. I don’t want to be different. But I am. Every single morning, I get out of bed just like you, but my routine is probably different than yours. I mean, how would your life change if you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that you were told was incurable? For me, I’m tired. I’m tired of having to prick my finger every time I want to leave the house or do anything for that matter. I’m tired of worrying that maybe one day, I will not wake up. Because yeah, there’s a chance, I won’t make it past a certain age because of some diabetic complication. Oh and, I’m tired just thinking about how tired I am. But no one really notices. No one actually wants to talks about it. But I do —even though, most can’t understand. No one understands because you don’t until you do. You don’t because you don’t have too —until it’s you. Well, now it’s me. I was never good at math but now I have to be. And even though, it's apart of my new normal, I don't think I'll ever get used to it. So this is what I want you to know.
Regardless of the politics, it was still hard. In short, I hated being home. It was a shocking reminder of how messed up my family life had become and I didn’t want to deal with that or feel any of these feelings. I mean, what teenager would anyway? I remember wishing I was anywhere, but here —be careful what you wish for. At the time, I was a freshman in high school. I lived in an affluent suburb of South Jersey and up until this point, everything was fairly "normal" —except, a few somethings were about to go really wrong. It would later be revealed that my once perfect existence was really all smoke and mirrors. But let's start at the beginning.
It's been a month. I feel good. I feel better, not perfect but getting there. I'm on my way to sanity. Except, for some reason, I'm still feeling left out. What were my druggie buddies up too? I couldn't help but think back. It wasn't all bad though. As the days went by, I started opening up more. I gave myself over to the process. I followed all of the rules and did my best to be my best. Eventually, I started to heal. When that happened, I realized that healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. I mean, the damage had been done. But that's irrelevant. Healing actually means the damage I caused no longer had to control my life. And when I figured that out, well, shit just made sense. Here's what a day at the mission looked like for me.
I remember love. I remember laughter. But I also recall resentment and tears. I will say that growing up, I never went without. In fact, I always had too much. And I think that's how my addiction ultimately began. My family was loving. My mom, selfless. My dad, the provider. And, my sister, my role model. We were small but close-knit. I'd like to say fierce. They always had my back. They were (and still are) a bit overprotective but you'll never hear me say they didn't care. So if you're wondering why I am the way I am today, read this.
Home —what was that? I hadn’t had one in what felt like forever. The only thing I had was fear. Except, today, I was an official resident at my very first drug treatment center. I made it through the intervention, the detox —both which I never thought would happen, and now this. I remember arriving in the druggy buggy (our way of saying a white van) directly from the county ran detox that I didn't want to admit, saved my life. I remember them searching me. For once, I had nothing to hide. I remember them finishing up the in-take process and taking me to my new home away from home. I was ready.
You know that moment between sleep and wakefulness —when you're just getting up and reality is a little warped and everything seems OK? Well, that moment ended. Everything comes flooding back when I realize, it wasn’t a dream. What the fuck was I going to do now? I was in love with yet another addict and I would later learn that my bad taste in drug dealing boyfriends only escalated the inevitable. But eventually, I learned that when you refuse to settle for less than the best —the best tends to track you down. I was actually being treated right. I wasn't lied to. I wasn't being deceived. Because of that, I wasn't lying or deceiving either. And after that, well, things just started working out.
I arrive home and to my surprise, I beat my sister there. I was so depressed just thinking about what was to come. I had a feeling this was the end. And so, I tried to drown my anxiety by taking more pills. I snort three in one line. I instantly felt better. As the powder hit my bloodstream, I could breathe. It would later be revealed that all of this was leading up to my intervention, which ultimately drove me to detox and rehab for the very first time. This is what you need to know.
Even before I was an addict, I battled with sleep —not so much staying asleep but I couldn't slow my mind down long enough to go to bed at a decent hour. Some nights, I'd toss and torn while others, I was sick of pretending I was comfortable. So I'd get up at whatever time it was, usually 2:00 a.m. and start my morning routine. But once I found what worked for me, I actually felt better during the day. I want you to say the same. I want you to sleep in and not feel bad about it either. So here are four reasons you should stay in bed and snooze.
It was the summer of 2010. I was supposed to take a few classes over break but when my financial aid was denied, it initiated a chain of events that forever changed my life. Before I knew it, I was addicted. I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into before it was too late. I was sick if I didn't have them, yet, I didn’t understand what I was doing —that's the problem with painkillers. Sometimes you don't realize how bad it really is until you run out of pills.
I always felt different. At least today I know why. It's just I sometimes still fear people think I'm crazy because of my insane insecurities. I mean, on one hand, I am but on the other, I'm just like everybody else. And yet, it doesn't make me feel any less alone. You may think I'm being weak but you never really knew me and you certainly don't know the person I've become. I want you to know but you never ask. If you did, this is what I'd say.
I was the girl hiding in her closet at 2:00 a.m. doing crunches because I couldn’t sleep. I was private to the point of fault. No one could see me work out and I hated the idea of anyone watching me eat. Except, when I finally made the decision to seek treatment, I knew I had to change my behavior. I needed to alter how I looked at fitness and my relationship with food. At the end of the day, I wanted to not only look good but feel good too. So, let's start at the beginning.
I was the poster child of hedonism. I chased highs and escape. I ate too much. I drank too much. I gossiped too much. I bought too much. I smoked too much. I worked too much. The list clearly goes on. Because I felt so empty, I used an insane amount of external things to fill the holes on the inside —anything that fed my senses, I was hungry for. Because I had failed to address any of the things that were driving my need to escape in the first place, my first go at ditching pills crashed and burned. But then, I switched my plan of attack. It was during this time that holistic therapy began to take on a whole new meaning for me. So here it goes.
I remember being on vacation and not needing my standard amount of insulin. I didn't understand why my blood sugars were so stable and almost normal until I understood how stress effects just about everything. Many anxious moments occur spontaneously. However, some can be predicted. And if you can predict it, you can prevent it. Here's what you need to know about stress and blood sugar levels.
When Naomi Sear found herself in jail outside Denver, Colorado on a fall afternoon in 2015, no one could have predicted it would have been the last time the decade-long opioid addict would see the light of day. And I don't mean figuratively, I mean literally. When she was arrested on two misdemeanor warrants, her parents decided not to pay her $300 bail —under the assumption, she would be safer in jail and away from heroin for a few days. 72 hours later, Sear died of dehydration at the county jail, according to a coroner’s report. The alleged cause? Let's find out.
I think you have to want it bad enough to overcome addiction. I couldn't let these pills go, even after I hit rock bottom. And then I found yoga. That's when everything changed. I get it though —the process of recovery is stressful on its own, and without your usual means of coping, it’s really easy to become overwhelmed. So, here are three ways yoga helps me stay grounded.