Mental Health Check


Itchy’s birthday was a huge success in case you were wondering. By huge success I mean there were no tears, allegations of neglect, and a good time was had by all. He even thanked me for a great day and gave me a hug.

Anytime my love. Anytime.

Moving forward, I am taking stock of my mental health.

It’s not great.

I’ve noticed that I feel alienated and paranoid; I have dark thoughts lurking around the periphery. It changes how I feel about my friends and relationships, like I am seeing people through a distorted lens.

I have been taking Prozac for the last year. I’ve been on it a couple of times to deal with what I told myself were environmental challenges. The first time was when Scratchy was about one and I weaned him. I became deeply depressed and the hallmark of that depression was a retreat into myself and the shattering conviction that everyone was judging me.

It left me paralyzed and afraid to leave the house, even though I managed to.

I went off Prozac once things started getting easier with the kids and I felt fine. Then all the shit with the city happened and I went back on it to help me get through what was one of the hardest times in my life. Again I felt like my issues were environmental and once all that cleared up, I would be okay au naturel.

I chose to go off Prozac because I felt like it was interfering with my sexual function. Not so much desire (because being crushingly depressed isn’t conducive to a satisfying love life), but ability to climax.

Having gone off it, I think I may be right, but I don’t know if the trade-off is worth it.

Would I rather:

  1. Have more frequent but mediocre sex which still leads to marital happiness, or
  2. Infrequent (like really infrequent) but normal feeling sex but I’m a horrible person to my family and everyone?

It’s a tough one but all my internet research tells me this is a normal side-effect.

Anyway, after a rather difficult day I took stock of my recent obsessive thoughts and made the connection between having been off Prozac for over a month and this all encompassing feeling like everyone I care about is drifting away from me because I am weird.

I don’t want to be that person on anti-depressants her whole life but when I go off of them I am overwhelmed with negative thinking. I see the connections between those thoughts and the lonely life my mother leads. I hear her voice in my head criticizing everyone around me, convincing me that I don’t belong, that I am different, that I am better off without them.

Mental illness runs deep on my side of the family. I lost one uncle to suicide while hospitalized for schizophrenia, another aunt died in a mental institution, one uncle (still living) is the most traumatized, terrifying and abusive person I’ve ever met, my mother has completely alienated everyone in her life and is now alone (I suspect she has severe narcissistic personality disorder and social anxiety) and my other other aunt refuses to have contact with anyone in her family.

Maybe my fits of depression aren’t environmental after all.

It would be nothing short of a miracle if I didn’t carry some of those imbalances myself. I can’t will them away. I can’t yoga, meditate and supplement them away. Telling myself that I’m fine doesn’t change anything and will only hurt me and my family. I must admit to myself that I may need help for the rest of my life and that’s okay, especially considering the alternative.

I believe in a holistic approach to mental health so here’s my plan:

  1. Get back on Prozac
  2. Cut back on alcohol. I have been drinking pretty much every day since I went off Prozac which isn’t good for me. I don’t get wasted or anything but it feels excessive. Yesterday I decided not to drink and I kept finding myself looking longingly at the bottle of bourbon. I don’t believe I’m an alcoholic because in the end I can say no, but I want to reserve drinking for social events and not for when I need to take the edge off which appears to be all the time these days.
  3. Continue with yoga and walking
  4. Learn to play the guitar

My dad bought me a guitar years ago on a trip to New York City. Since then it has lived through a fire and spends all its time in a corner gathering dust. The only person who plays it is my brother-in-law when he visits, which is rarely.

IMG_0056

Look closely and you’ll see all the dust

I would like my kids to play instruments. Itchy played the viola for the fifth grade orchestra but I couldn’t get him to practice at home. Ever. He says he enjoys it but he doesn’t get the practice thing. What better way to encourage my kids to practice something by doing it myself?

My friend Tiffany once told me that the guitar is wonderful for dealing with depression. You can take all that frustration and channel it into perfecting a chord progression or a song.

I don’t want to spend money on lessons just yet so I purchased Guitar Method from eMedia and I have it on my Way Of Life app to do one lesson a day.

Here is today’s lesson, simple C and simple G7 chords. Don’t laugh.

Also on my list is limiting Facebook, alcohol and spending, cooking dinner, going for a walk, having salad for lunch, doing yoga, and doing a handstand every day. I already do most of these things.

Except for the Facebook part, I really need to stay off it. It feeds into my feelings of alienation.

IMG_0054

The prettiest yoga “studio” in the world

I got as far as what I wrote above when Bina stopped by to say hello. I’m really glad she arrived unannounced because I surely would have made an excuse to not see her. We spent a couple hours in the sunroom talking.

IMG_0057

She asked me the most important question after I gave her my mental health rundown.

“Most people don’t like taking anti-depressants because they don’t feel like themselves. How does Prozac make you feel?”

To be honest, I feel more like myself when I’m on Prozac. It’s not that I’m happier in a forced la-dee-dah kind of way, I just don’t worry as much. I have a longer fuse, am less likely to snap at people, I don’t obsess over relationships and am less negative.

Maybe my true nature is to be obsessive, negative and short tempered but I don’t see how being that way makes me a better person or serves my family. If that’s the case, I’d gladly not give in to my “true” self.

After Bina left I refilled my prescription for Prozac and went on a walk while talking to my best friend. She has known me my whole life, knows my family history, and I trust her to give me the best advice without judgement or ulterior motive.

IMG_0063

I am incapable of feeling down while looking at apple blossoms

And I bought a bunch of different “fancy” drinks.

Having a drink at 5pm is as much about the ritual of saying the day is over and now I’m going to relax. A glass of water just won’t do that for me. My criteria is that it has to be low in sugar, fizzy, and refreshing.

IMG_0064

So far I really like the Dry soda in Blood orange.

Anyway, I’m feeling better already.

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Mental Health Check

    • I feel the same way about you. Sorry I haven’t reached out after you took the boys for Mothers’ Day (which was awesome BTW). I owe you one.

  1. More walks (avec moi). Less Facebook. Yes yes yes!

    I think that Prozac is pretty safe and if it makes you happier it seems like a no-brainer. I moved country to be a happier person as I have a very real SAD problem living in the UK. I just liked who I was so much better on (the very rare) sunny days that it was worth forgoing everything I knew and moving away from everyone I loved (apart from Matt) just to be that person more. I’m not saying I know much or anything about Prozac really, but I do think it is very important to do all that you can to be happy more than not happy.

    • We definitely need to walk more. I’m just sad because Blue can’t do it anymore. It feels wrong to walk without him but so it goes. I can’t neglect my Tabby.

  2. Love your honesty, too. If you ever find the pull of bourbon too strong to resist, please ask your physician about Campral. For me, it was a miracle drug- although one can drink alcohol while taking it (as opposed to Antibuse), it takes away the desire. I took it for several months eleven years ago, and have been happily without any firewater since. (I was on Prozac at the same time- but haven’t needed it since, either).

    • I think I have been self-medicating with the booze which would explain why I found myself drinking more this month. I rarely drink to excess but the regularity of it is a red flag for sure. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll file it away should I need it in the future.

  3. That’s deep. I’ve never actually considered coming off of Paxil since I was put on it when I was 16 because I have been too afraid of how/what I will feel like if I do… I should think about doing more “healthy” and positive things like you do. Your willingness to talk about such personal things (things I would usually have a hard time with myself) is inspiring.

    • I’m finally dealing with my denial over the very real possibility that I suffer from more than external problems. It’s not a huge deal, I could be so much worse off. I need to – if not resign – be okay with the fact that my brain needs help. Fortunately Prozac is one of the best understood antidepressants out there … and it’s generic so it’s cheap! Sharing personal things comes with practice and I’ve had a lot. It has always been my experience that when I am honest about myself, plenty of people show up for me. It’s quite humbling. Thank you for sharing with me.

  4. You express yourself so beautifully. Who cares if you are on Prozac? If it works then there really isn’t much reason to stop. Your writing would be so great for someone to read that is contemplating going on Prozac but is too apprehensive to try it.

    • I suppose I fell into that mindset that using pharmaceuticals is a sign of weakness. I would never judge anyone else for using them but me? Never. It’s BS of course. Again I love how practical you are. I hope to visit you on your little peninsula one of these days.

  5. Over the last year since things went really south at work and I’ve been more or less forced by bad financial decisions to stay put and cope. And i noticed this spring that over that year i have been self medicating with alcohol more than I think is right. I completely understand your distinction with alcoholism vs self medicating. I think i’m in the same boat. It was my biggest push to finally get back into therapy after a year (i quit because of said job situation changing my insurance literally over night).
    I want to tell you that i think it’s great you’re re-upping your prescription. It’s totally true that for some kinds of mental illness / people who deal with depression over life issues and PTSD that don’t actually have chemical issues in their brain, taking an antidepressant can be a temporary thing. A tool to help bring your brain into the right place so that therapy techniques can take hold and change the way you process things. But if you really suffer from mental illnesses that are caused by chemical brain issues, which you do, drugs might be something you always need to help your body do right by itself. That’s ok. it’s not a sign of weakness or anything like that. Those over used memes about “you wouldn’t tell a diabetic they should stop their insulin, so why would you tell someone with mental illness to stop their meds” are also very true.
    I hope this came off supportive and not splainy. I wish you the best of luck in the continual process of learning (and sometimes relearning) how to take care of our bodies and souls.

    • Wow, thank you. That wasn’t splainy at all. Honestly there are things I need to hear over and over again. I am sorry about your situation and I hope you get the relief you need. Your comment means the world to me.

  6. I appreciate your honesty. This whole mom thing really sucks sometime. Love my kids but I feel like the worst mother. My confidence is at an all time low. I’m going back to school just to save myself, otherwise I’ll walk out the door one day n never come back. I’ve always admired you as a mother. Keep your chin up. XXOO

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Appearances are deceiving aren’t they? Andrew is such a sweet kid and you bigger boys are on their way to independence. You are so close! Bravo for going back to school, it really is important to have a self outside motherhood. Me? I’ll stick to pottery and one chord guitar songs for now.

  7. I’ve been on Lexapro for about a year. I just met with the dr. today and we are going to try weaning me off, since life feels a whole lot different than it did 12 months ago. But, I am totally open to going back on if need be. There is nothing wrong with needing a head med, especially when it helps us have a better life – and give more to the people around us. Love to you!

Really? No way.

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