Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Staying Clean- Learning to Live WITHOUT Anti-Depressants

Next week will mark 5 mouths without prescription medication.  I went off anti-depressants a couple times and only stayed free for a week or two- up to a month.  when I went clean in June I knew I was done for good... but I had no idea of the challenges I would face.  I was full of joy, hope and optimism.

Here's the deal, for years (15 +)  I didn't feel the full impact of emotions.  For me the meds blunt the emotions and I don't get the extremes- I felt happy, but not joyous.  I felt sad, but not devastated. I feel those emotions now- I really feel those.  It can be glorious, and also crazy challenging- for me, my family and my friends.

Some days are WONDERFUL- I feel joy and light and so much energy and hope. I can see the struggles, but I am capable! No sweat. No worries.

But other days are overwhelmingly painful.  Last month I was feeling tired and overwhelmed, stressed out and on the edge of being ornery.  I asked myself what do I need to relax and to take care of me?  A hot bath would be a perfect choice.  I got in the tub with really hot water and my favorite bath salt and a happy book to read.  Classic joy, yes.  Not that day.  In the tub my mind started racing, my heart started pounding. Emotions flooded my system. I was paralyzed by them.  I literally couldn't move.  The water in the tub cooled and I couldn't sit up to refill the tub.  Tears flowed down my face.  I laid/sat/reclined that way for almost an hour when my sweet husband came home from work and came into the bathroom to check on me.  He smiled, told me it was ok and helped me out of the tub.  It was ok.  I am ok.

Last Friday was another really hard day.  I had some things that I needed to do: a load of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner.  My kids were home from school during fall break.  It took me all morning to convince myself that I could go to the store.  I can do this!  Shopping isn't hard.  I have money in the bank account, I have gas in the car, I am good to go.  As soon as I could convince myself to move I was fine.  Shopping was great.  I bought myself a treat (I <3 lara bars!)  The problem came when I started driving home.  Tears started flowing.  I parked in my garage and sat in my car crying.  Head on the steering wheel, knees pulled up to my chest, curled tight in a ball.  All because I needed to unload the groceries from the car and put them in the cupboards.  Not hard, not big, but hugely overwhelming!  It took 30 minutes to decide that I could open the car door and walk out.  I did, and I was fine. My family was fine.

Here's the thing I am learning.... I am ok.  Having a bad day is ok.  Having a REALLY BAD day is ok too! On a bad day I am still ok. I am not a danger, disappointment, burden, or a terrible person on a bad day. Is the situation ideal? no. Am I working for solutions? Yes. Am I tracking patterns and learning more about me? YES!

I used to fear those bad days.  I worried that I would someday hurt myself or others. I worried that I would not be a good mother, wife and person because I couldn't pull it together.  All that worry made the feelings bigger, and badder and more to be feared.  The fear escalated and hijacked my mind and my body.

My task has been learning to share my body with these emotions.  I'm learning that emotions are a tool- like a map or a compass to help guide our paths.  They don't have value and they certainly don't validate or authenticate my personal value or worth as a person.  Feelings don't define me. They exist to help me- but they are not the only tool I have in my backpack.  I have my mind; I have my God; I have my husband and wonderful friends.  When I'm driving and my GPS fails and I am crazy lost, I still have options.  I am still ok.  When I am lost in emotional turmoil, I too still have options.. I can use my tools.  I've got this.