As many of you probably know, last year, I had a bit of a breakdown. My personal and health problems became too much for me to handle. I became paralyzed by anxiety, fear, and physical pain. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t enjoy the little things that make life worth living: a challenging, sweaty workout that you hope never ends, a leisurely stroll on a crowded city street, the simple pleasure of just holding your husband in your arms, laughing with friends, SEX, dressing up and looking damn good on a Friday night. The list could go on for days.
All of the above situations made me anxious and nervous. I often couldn’t breathe, let alone find enjoyment in anything. Damn, I was a mess. I have never felt that low in my entire life. EVER. I sought help from a doctor. That part most of you know. I was thrown a lifeline and I took it.
That lifeline was Paxil.
I have never talked about the Paxil part of my recovery until now.
I don’t know why I haven’t discussed taking an antidepressant on here before. My family has a great deal of experience with mental illness, and I am well aware of the stigma surrounding it. But all of that knowledge didn’t stop me from hiding it from you guys. I disliked seeing new doctors because under the section for “medications you are currently taking” I always had to write in Paxil. I hated that. It was painful to have to describe to inquisitive doctors why a seemingly level-headed girl was on meds. “Well, let’s see. I’m a super easy going person. Nothing bothers me, and that’s why I’m on anti-anxiety medication.” I was a walking contradiction.
I think it has more to do with my pride than anything else. I have always been too proud to ask for help. Before, during, and after my breakdown, I continued to feverishly clutch to my pride in a pathetic, self-defeating sort of way.
I was too strong, too sane, too “normal” to need help. In my mind, taking medication was a sign of weakness.
Well, I’m here to say that even the coolest, most put together, smartest, whatever-est people need help sometimes. It’s not weakness. It’s being human. If I’ve learned anything throughout this ordeal, I have learned that. I leaned on my husband and my family like no other. I lost friends. I’m still processing what it means to go through such a bad time in your life, and to never get a call from people, who for a long time, you called dear friends. Best friends, even. When I think about it, it’s like an open sore that won’t heal. But, I’m rifting.
Anywho, back to the Paxil.
I started taking it in September 2010, and I instantly felt better. My chest loosened, and I could take deep breaths again. My mind was clearing, and things began to make sense. Within months, I was seeing glimpses of the old me. I scheduled an appointment to see a new gynecologist, and I got the surgery I desperately needed.
I got my life back, and that was such a good feeling.
After surgery, I became consumed by my recovery. We went back to trying to conceive again, and I was afraid to go off Paxil for fear that my nerves would come back with a vengeance. So I stayed on it a bit longer. A few doctors warned me that I shouldn’t be on Paxil while pregnant. Yes, I’ve seen the scary commercials where they talk about Paxil, birth defects, and class action lawsuits. I know the risks, but at the time, I felt like I couldn’t go off of it. I was frightened by the withdrawals, but more importantly, scared to death of relapsing into a state of constant, out of control anxiety.
Since then I have made the decision that I do not want to be pregnant and on it. I think it is an individual choice that needs to be made with your mental and physical health prioritized first. I’m not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. I will say that Paxil saved me right as I was about to break in half. I took a low dose, and fortunately, it was enough for me to get back on track.
As of this week, I am happy to report that I am taking half of my prescribed dose. Hopefully next week I will be completely drug free. I don’t know for sure how this will affect me, but I think I am ready to let go of Paxil’s hand and face life on my own.