It has been 8 weeks since…

Yes, it has been 8 weeks since I last took my anti-anxiety pill (although I’m still taking my anti-depressant)… and it has been 8 weeks since I experienced any form of anxiety.  Now I experience anxiety because there is a reason for me to feel this way – which doesn’t happen often.  And it’s not a default feeling that I get whenever I wake up in the morning.  For that, I am grateful, thankful, happy, celebrating, and feeling blessed.

I honestly don’t know what to make out of this – my anxiety seems to have gone away suddenly… for now.  I know 8 weeks isn’t a long time… but if you had asked me some 9 – 10 weeks ago if I could ever imagine that one day I would feel the way I am feeling now… I would say NO.   And so, I am enjoying the present… and I hope and pray that this will last for a while… a long while!!

I was asked recently by my shrink if I knew what had contributed to this recovery… was it the medication that I have been taking… or the talk therapy that I have been receiving?  I answered, “both”.  And after walking out of his office, I realized that I had missed out an important component… and that was PRAYER!  After all, I do believe that God heals, and I have been praying that God would grant me healing from this painful journey in my life.

I now feel normal and I am able to function normally – at home or at work.  I am able to contribute during weekly staff meetings and I am able to carry out conversations with my colleagues over lunch without feeling anxious.  I am able to joke and laugh again.  I am able to clown around with my kids.  What a change!

I have also experienced other changes in my life!  I remember there was a period of time when I complained that I had brain fog… and I was contributing the cause of it to the medication that I was taking.  Then, I found myself ruminating and over-thinking a lot, and my mind just couldn’t be at rest regardless of how hard I tried.  I would distract my mind by reading or surfing the internet.  Sometimes it worked but and many times it didn’t.  And then there was a time when I found it hard to write, and whenever I wrote anything, it would look like the handwriting of a primary two (2nd grade) school kid.  Would you believe that I couldn’t even sign my name on the cheque without messing it up… 3 times?  Finally, I would feel anxious just to utter public prayers.  I hated it whenever I had to pray because I just couldn’t string my thoughts or verbalize what I wanted to say.

You know what…?  Although those challenges seemed so real to me at that time, they are now a thing of the past … all the challenges that I experienced came and went.  And this gives me hope… hope to know that whatever challenges that I encounter or experience as a result of my mental health right now… will eventually go away in due time.

Am I on the road to recovery?  I certainly hope so.  It’s been 8 weeks… and I look forward to the day when I can say, “It’s been 8 months”, and “It’s been 8 years”…!!

 

 

 

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It has been 8 weeks since…

Am I Getting Better…?

So, I was finally treated for anxiety.  I  was on Bupropion and Clonazepam for 2 weeks (14 August).  On 29 August, I went back to my pdoc and  I was told that I can now take Clonazepam on a need basis.

I have been reading so much on the internet about how depression and anxiety cause cognitive impairment.  In addition to this, Benzo too, in general, does affect cognition as well.  You see, I have noticed that I have been having some difficulties remembering and recalling information… and I didn’t want this condition to worsen.  As such, I was determined to get off clonazepam, which is a type of Benzos, as soon as possible… but that would take about 1 week to get all traces of the clonazepam out of my system.

So the detox began.  The next few days were challenging.  I could feel my anxiety coming back.  However, I decided that I will not have any anti-anxiety pills to help me overcome it.  So I endured.  I was happy when I hit the one week mark.

However, I was not totally out of the woods yet since I was experiencing mild anxiety.  But it was so mild that I didn’t need any anti-anxiety pills to treat it.  Slowly the anxiety got milder and milder.  And now, I do not wake up feeling anxious anymore.  I can go about doing my things without feeling anxious as well.  The only time anxiety came was when there was a real reason to feel anxious.

Since then, it’s been more than 3 weeks since I last took my anti-anxiety pill.  I am still on Bupropion though… as well as Agomelatine and Risperidone before I go to bed.

I have never felt this good in a long time.  I believe it’s the medication that is making me feel this good.  But I am thankful.  Thankful that I am not experiencing the things that I’ve shared in the past; brain fog, inability to rest my mind – as if it’s running a hundred miles per hour, ruminating, and so on.

I know that recovery from depression and anxiety is rarely linear. There will be peaks, valleys, plateaus, blips, and dips.  But I hope (and pray) that this will not be the case for me… and that I am, in fact, recovering gradually.  I hope (and pray) that the 3 weeks that I have gone without anti-anxiety pills will soon become 3 months… and I hope that by the time I reach the 3-year mark of my journey, which will happen at the end of January 2018, I can function better with minimal help from meds.

 

 

 

Am I Getting Better…?

Finally, Treatment for my Anxiety

For the past weeks, my anxiety seems to be worsening.  In the past, all I needed was half a tab of Xanax in the morning and that will do that work for the whole day.  However, in recent days, it stopped working and I had to take my Xanax throughout the day.

So 3 days ago, I decided to go to my psychiatrist. “Doc, I don’t think I have depression but what is bugging me is my anxiety and it seems to be worsening”.

I’ve been with this psychiatrist for 8 months and for the first time he started asking me questions relating to my anxiety; Where is your anxiety?  Do you have heart palpitation, shortness of breathe?  What goes through your mind when you anxiety comes?

He eventually prescribed Bupropion and Clonazepam for me.  Clonazepam was like a miracle drug… once I took it, I started to feel normal again.  Not only did I stop experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety,  I was able to focus on my job better, socialize and laugh with my colleagues.  Laughing is a big thing for me because I’ve not been able to laugh for a looong time.

Looking back, it seems like my doctor has been treating my depression and not my anxiety.  And the only reason why I had Xanax was because I requested for me.  Did I not tell him that I have anxiety too…?

If only the doctor knew that I have anxiety, I wouldn’t have to struggle with it for the last 8 months – that’s a long time for me.  It affected me so much that there were times when I wanted to give up this fight with depression.

I am definitely happier now… and finally, my anxiety is been treated!

Finally, Treatment for my Anxiety

Dilemma: Do I continue seeing my Shrink?

So, tomorrow I will be seeing my shrink again.

I’ve been seeing my shrinking for more than 2 years or so and on a weekly basis, although there has been periods of time when I stopped seeing him due to my “relapse”.  So here’s the question – is it time for me to stop seeing him?

I’ve tried to suggest to him more than a month ago, and his response was that I was not ready yet… and nope, I did not ask him what he meant by “not ready yet”.

Why am I so eager to stop my sessions with him?  Well, it’s been so long and I don’t feel like to sessions are going anywhere.  Sure, he listens to me and I learn something about myself whenever I meet with him.  He also helps me to see things from different perspective.  But we keep talking about similar topics and I find that tiring.  It doesn’t seem like there has been any major breakthroughs.  Like recently, he asked me again if I knew what made me go into depression…this was at area that we explored many months ago. Sometimes I feel like I am paying just for someone to listen to me.

I’ve been truly blessed that I do not have to pay for his service.  The church that I work at is paying for it – $200 per hour and we would meet for about 1.5 hours or more sometimes.  This means an average of (at least) $300 per week and that works out to about $1200 per month.  That’s a lot of money!  If I were to foot the bill on my own, I doubt I will be able to afford weekly sessions that last for 2 years.  People tells me to be thankful for that.  Yes, I am but yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel bad that the church has to spend so much money on me.  I spoke to my wife about me wanting to spot seeing my shrink last night but she didn’t sound like she supported the idea at all although she said I couldn’t bring it up to my shrink and explore it with him.

While I want to stop my sessions with my shrink, I have my concerns too.  What if I had a relapse?  Would I get blamed for sabotaging my own recovery for ending my relationship with my shrink prematurely?

I am curious.  I am curious to know many often do people meet with their shrink, and for how long.  I tried to google but can’t seem to find any answers to my question.

In any case, I will explore with him again tomorrow.  Perhaps I can work out a plan – to meet him less frequently to meeting him on an ad hoc basis or when I have a need.  Let’s hope he understands where I am coming from and would not out-talk me into continuing my sessions with me because I am not ready yet.

 

Dilemma: Do I continue seeing my Shrink?

Any Good News Today…?

No, I did not…!

So I went to my psychiatrist this morning…hoping that he’d reduce the dosage of my medication.

I told him that I’ve never better this well in a long time, told him I’ve not taken xanax for the past 3-4 weeks, shared with him about my lifestyle change. All went well until he told him that it’s best that I stay with my current dosage. Needlessly to say, I was disappointed. I tried to negotiate with him but it was no use. He told me to focus on staying well and let him be the doctor.

So what’s the plan for me if I continue to feel good? ASSUMING I continue to feel this good.

I am currently on 50mg of Valdoxan, and 1mg of Risperidone. He will see me again in January 18 and will then consider tapering down my Risperidone. As for my Valdoxan, I’d have to wait till June 2018 – that’s one year from now – before he’d consider reducing it to 25mg. He also said that I’ll probably need to be on it for 2 years before he’d taper down further. Basically, I’ll still be on medication, at least for the next 3 years.

I’ve been on medication for the past 2.5 years now. It’s been a long and tiring journey for me. I was hoping that with a reduced dosage, I can soon put this depressive episode behind me. But unfortunately I can’t because I’ve got 3 more long years to go…!! Wish I could say “time flies”!

I guess what I need to do now is to come to terms with it. I need to continue to ask God for patience and to allow Him to heal me.

Any Good News Today…?

Some Good News, Please…?

When I last visited by psychiatrist about 2 months ago.  He doubled my Valdoxan dosage from 25mg to 50 mg.  Needless to say, I was not happy at all.  It’s always easy to increase the dosage but I know it will take a while before the doctor will reduce the dosage.

The month of May was tough.  If you recall, I had a conversation with my boss and my depression made me believe that I was going to loss my job.  That really affected me a great deal.  As if having depression was not bad enough – it made me panic.  I questioned about my future, my abilities, and if I could even secure a job given that I am down with depression since companies do discriminate against people like us.  I was also told by my boss that I was not spiritually at peace with God.  As a result of all these negative thoughts – and many others – it made the month of May pass very slowly.  I also wondered how I am ever going to be healed (from depression) if I am not at peace but in a state of panic and desperation.

Thank God that through a colleague and a church elder, God assured me that I was not going to loss my job.  That helped me.

While all these were happening, I also began to realized that I have been wallowing in my self pity pit.  I told myself that that I am tired of being in that pit.  Somehow I managed to find some willpower from within to make some changes to my life.  I started to exercise (walking twice a week), I started to read (and realized that reading actually help me to relax), I started to explore that possibility of taking a counselling course (that I have been wanting to take for the past 5 years).  I also started to listen to my other voice instead of listening to my depressive voice.  Basically I told myself to do things counter to what my depression was telling me to do.

Well, in my last post, I shared about my joy and on how much better I am become.  Since then, I have not felt the need to take my Xanax for my anxiety.  My depression has been lifted – except for the occasional moment – but it will disappear as soon as I engage in some form of activities like talking to people.

I have an appointment to see the psychiatrist tomorrow.  I plan to share with him about what I am been doing for the past weeks and how much better I have been feeling.  And I am secretly hoping to he will start to taper my dosage down as a result.  And if he does that, I know it will really be a great encouragement to me and help me in my recovery.

Having said that, I have been reading on the internet that sometimes doctors will only start tapering down when the patient feels good for a duration of between 6 – 9 months.  My heart sank when I read that… so, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Dr Lee, can I have SOME GOOD NEWS, PLEASE…!!

Some Good News, Please…?

Today I want to share my joy…

I’ve not written for some time now.

Since my last post, I’ve been feeling better.  I’ve been having mild anxiety in the morning – and it gradually disappears in the afternoon. I started my ” exercise” routine – that’s if you can call walking “exercise”.  I brisk walk around my neighborhood for an hour and at least twice a week.  I finally went to the gym 2 days ago after a long time.  I been reading quite a bit too.  I found out that reading helps me to relax and also do away with the brain fog that I’ve been experiencing.  I’ve been a little more active around the house too and I am also thinking of taking up a part time course on counselling – this has been something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but never really got around it.  But this time, I am serious thinking about it.  And I am pretty excited about the possibility.  Basically I’ve been doing things in an attempt to break the cycle of depression.

Today I want to share my joy.  I woke up yesterday morning not feeling any anxiety at all. Actually I’ve been free of anxiety for a few days, and I’ve not had the need to take my Xanax.  But what made yesterday different was – for the first time – I felt as if my depression was lifted as well.

Let me explain what I mean.  Yes, I have been feeling better.  But even though I am feeling better, I know deep within that I am not well yet.  This is because I can still feel as if I am still under the cloud of depression.  My mind gets fixated about my condition, I worry about things and I can’t seem to brush off not having such thoughts.  My mind seems to be running all the time.

However, that changed yesterday.  For the first time, my mind was able to “rest”.  The dark cloud of depression seemed to have disappeared.  I didn’t entertain any thoughts about my condition..  There were moments when my mind wasn’t entertaining any thoughts at all – basically, I was at rest.  And it felt good.  I was able to talk and joke with my colleagues – and it felt like the old ME was back!

I am not sure what brought about the change.  Was it because of the exercise, reading and the other stuff that I’ve picked up during the last few weeks that brought about this “healing”?  Or was it because of some unconfessed sin that I was finally able to deal with a couple of days ago?  Or was it due to my medication – the increased dosage that I’ve been put on for the last couple of months?  Or was due to the combination of all that I’ve mentioned?  Whatever it is, I thanked God for the wonderful day and prayed that this new found good feeling would continue.

Yes, I woke up this morning feeling pretty much the same… as yesterday…!!

Thank God for another good day!!

 

 

 

Today I want to share my joy…