In the spirit of candidly sharing every part of this recovery thing, I’m going ahead and talking a tiiiny bit more about ladystuffs because it’s critical to the story. Plus, after telling the world I was clinically horny last winter, I figure anyone still reading my drivel is equipped to handle it. So, after about a month of ongoing crabbiness and desperately seeking ways to keep my ever-present irritability at bay, I suffered the single worst spell of PMS I’ve ever experienced, and realized that these symptoms may not’ve been related to withdrawal but were, instead, just coming to light after being obscured by the psychiatric meds and should probably be looked at separately.
Long story short: I’m not on birth control anymore and everything is genuinely great.
It was kind of terrifying, given that I’ve been on it since I was 17, but I figure I’ve already kicked a 12-year addiction to antidepressants, so cutting myself off from unnatural hormone replacement was a logical next step. Sure enough, my moods immediately stabilized, my abdomen stopped cramping nonstop, and my mind has just been at peace.
At this juncture, I’m completely au naturel.
And that seems to be the Answer as far as my mental health goes.
I’m not an idiot, though; I’m still going to be vigilant of my moods and energy ebbs and flows. Again, after the terrifying manic episodes I’ve been having in the last few years, I’m too paranoid to let even an energized cleaning spell go by without heavy consideration, and I know that many, many people quit their medicine believing that they’re “fine” only to horribly relapse. That’s the last thing I want.
But I also know that every single mental problem I’ve had in the last decade has happened while I was on antidepressants, and my massive psychotic break (almost exactly a year ago to right now, actually) happened while I was on medications for both depression AND bipolar disorder. Like I’ve said before, these medicines weren’t helping anything, and I was living a lifestyle of moving from illness to illness…which was bullshit… From where I sit now, I’m inclined to believe at least 75% of this madness was precipitated because I was so heavily medicated (the other 20% being from the birth control, and the final 5% is my own natural color.)
These days my mental state is rational and predictable on a daily basis, which wasn’t even possible during the Effexor-zombie apathy spell I was experiencing for months at the beginning of this year. I’m still working on building up physical strength, and I’m monitoring my diet with lots of protein, so my carb-binge cravings have finally subsided. I’m finding I’m a lot less exciteable than I remember being in my youth, and I tend to be a lot more laid-back than I’ve ever been. I don’t nervously blurt or ramble when I’m bored or nervous, which is a huge relief; I feel more at ease moving through social interactions these days. A lot of that I’m sure has to do with age, but being that I’ve been a hyperexciteable mess right up until a couple months ago, finding out that I’m really a lot more relaxed when I’m unmedicated is a delightful surprise.
I feel like I’ve had a complete mental makeover. The person I’ve been in the last couple months has been drastically different than the scary, insane thing I’ve been exhausted being for an eternity now. Aside from physical issues throwing kinks in my daily life, I’m finding that I’m more consistent than ever and my progress at recovery is slow and steady instead of coming in fits and spurts like usual. With this lack of constant drama, our household is flourishing; my husband feels more comfortable and relaxed and, as a result, his creativity is bursting, which spurs on my own. We’re calmer and more content; stress, anxiety, and fear don’t lie just below the surface of our interactions anymore. It’s an incredible luxury.
I will say that, now that I’m not constantly battling some mental demon, I am excruciatingly bored with this stay-at-home lifestyle I’ve set up for myself. Having the Bear at home for summer is keeping me entertained and staying creative, but the minute she goes off to school in a couple weeks, I’m diving right into a couple ventures I’ve had on the backburner for years now. Originally, I thought I’d look for work, but as I was interviewing for another non-prof office gig a couple weeks ago, I realized I’m not convinced I can swing a 9-to-5 lifestyle. Instead, I’m going to spend more time sloooowly integrating structure to my life and figuring out where New/Healed/Mostly-Sane Liz can thrive.
Honestly, for the first time since I was a kid, I feel like forward movement and living a full, unique, healthy existence is something I’m actually accomplishing. It doesn’t look impressive on paper, but this thoroughly-therapied, at-peace-and-slowly-plodding-forward-at-my-own-pace version of my Self is my favorite of my acheivements so far.