Steps Toward Healing – Am I… Cured?!

Last Friday I looked at my bottle of antidepressants and noticed there were only three days worth of medication left inside. I shrugged off thoughts of rushing to the pharmacy to grab a refill believing that on short notice I could simply call up the pharmacy and ask them to have my refill waiting for my husband to pick up.

Sunday came and what was left in the bottle was now one day’s worth of medication. I called up the pharmacy only to be told that I actually could not get another refill until I met with my doctor for another written prescription.

My mind raced as I realized that there was no practical or easy way of getting to my doctor before the medication ran out. My husband could not take off work to take me because I had already asked him to take time off on Friday for my wisdom teeth extraction.

I also did not have the time to take the bus there with my kids because ahead of me was a very busy week with mom’s group and meetings for different mom events with the church that I had committed to.

I questioned if this medication was important enough to miss these meetings or risk my husband upsetting his boss by taking too many days off work. And my final decision was that it wasn’t.

So one day’s worth of medication was three pills full of 25mg of sertraline. In order to not go through intense withdrawals I spaced out the pills by skipping one night of medication because the night before I had taken my regular dose of three pills. The following night I took two pills. And the night after that one pill.

I found that withdrawals of the medication sertraline is even more trippy than the side effects when trying to get used to the medication. The night I skipped the medication I was having headaches and dizzy spells. The following night that I took a lower dosage, my skin had this constant sensation of bugs crawling up and down my arms and legs. I was also very easily startled, constantly looking over my shoulder, believing something was in the room behind me. Any type of movement from the corner of my eye made me jump.

Then two nights in a row I had nightmares that were so detailed and vivid. Luckily the plot was quite intriguing thanks to my story teller mind, so I was quite entertained though terrified.

Then last night I felt normal… Like the “normal” I felt before getting pregnant and feeling the weight of this depression. I had a clear head with no anxious or racing thoughts. I didn’t feel unusually exhausted as I often did when taking my regular dosage of medication. There was no sign of any withdrawal side effects. I felt great!

A defining moment which signified that I was in fact getting better was that I had a disagreement with a friend that morning through text message. And upon realizing that our conversation was becoming a heated argument, I put my phone down and took a moment to pray. I then opened my bible and read a few scripture verses in order to calmly decide the best thing to say.

This response shocked me. I’m usually an impulsive person that is quick to attack someone in an argument. But I was able to keep cool and think things through while not on medication.

First thing this morning was my wisdom teeth extraction. Because my husband had already taken the day off work to take me, we then scheduled an appointment to meet with my doctor to talk about my medication. On my way to the dentist’s office I told my husband how calm and collected I felt.

However once I sat down in the dentist’s chair my old ways creeped up on me. The dentist started the procedure with giving me needles in my mouth. This wisdom teeth extraction was meant to be done with me remaining awake.

In my head I felt determined to take this like a champ. I even told the dentist before hand that I was not nervous because I had given birth to two kids. I’m a boss mom that knows how to push babies out of me! I’m not afraid of a few needles and cutting at my jaw… yikes that last part does sound freaky now that I write it though.

No sooner after giving me the needles did the dentist read signs of panic from me. So much so that he stopped everything and asked if I wanted to go home and come back at another time when he can put me under. I insisted I was fine but he said I was actually having a panic attack.

How is this possible when I felt like my regular self after stopping my medication cold-turkey?

The dentist and I found common ground. We decided he would only take out the top portion of wisdom teeth and do the bottom in a couple weeks. This way I would spend less time in what my body perceived as a “stressful situation”.

In all honesty, I’m glad we decided this. Through out the entire procedure I felt dizzy and like I could hardly breathe. I had many moments I felt like I was about to pass out and had to pray I didn’t. I didn’t handle this procedure as I thought I would have. I was in fact more nervous than I expected.

After this procedure was over, I visited my doctor to discuss my medication. She gave me a questionnaire on my thought life which I passed! My thoughts were positive and without ideas of self harm.

She did however insist that I go back onto my medication at a lower dosage because there is a chance my body can react to the sudden withdrawal at a later stage. In which case I can actually return to my deep state of depression and anxiety.

This is slightly disappointing because I was so ready to handle my emotions on my own. But after that experience at the dentist’s office… it looks like though my mind is ready, my body may not be. I suppose it’s true what they say, old habits do die hard.

But the encouraging thing is that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m almost at the end of this season of taking medication.

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