Warning – This is a long and personal post with NOTHING to do about personal finance
Rewind a year ago. I’m sitting in my doctors office…again…crying…again… about my depression and anxiety. I’m sobbing, trying to explain the mishmash of thoughts in my brain; Scaring the bajeezus out of my Doctor. At the end of the appointment, he prescribed me Paxil.
The first four months on Paxil were ethereal. It felt like I was on a constant happiness high. I was sleeping 8 hours a night, I felt valued by the people in my life, I wasn’t perpetually tired, and I had motivation. I was excited about the future – I was excited about life. Elated in a way I had never been as an adult. For the first time ever I was the best wife, the best friend, and the best employee. I was confident in my body, and felt secure in who I was. For 6 years I had lived under a constant ebb and flow of MDD and GAD. Never had I experienced what I can only guess people without a mood disorder experience.
Even while on the drug, I knew it wasn’t real. As happy as I was, I could tell that it wasn’t me. Everything I was feeling was made in a lab somewhere. This was Paxil, not me.
Deep down I knew it, but my serotonin levels were through the roof – silencing any doubt that clouded my judgement of the antidepressant I was on.
Then suddenly, without warning, it stopped working.
In April/May I began eating – a ton. Feeling full was impossible. No matter how much I ate, I wanted more. I stopped having sex. Paxil eradicated my drive for intimacy. My sleep returned to it’s pre-Paxil pattern of none. My esteem plummeted and I panicked. By July 2016, I was 14 lbs overweight, the heaviest I have ever been, and completely miserable. I stopped taking Paxil. Cold turkey.
Of course, I went back to my Doctor. At this point I had tried every class of antidepressant on the market. I was, to put it nicely, pissed. Not only was I infuriated at this whole medication process, I was sick. Sicker than I had ever been. I had cold sweats, hot flashes, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I was throwing up, my mood was erratic, my thoughts were all over the place, and my eyes couldn’t focus on anything.
My Doctor didn’t address the withdrawal I was going through. He didn’t offer advice on tapering off the meds. What did he do? As a last resort, he prescribed me a “trial drug that hasn’t hit the market yet.” I asked… “So… you have no idea what this is going to do to me?” Answer? He had no clue.
I left that day with a smoldering hatred. A hatred for my disorders. A hatred for my body, that somehow rejected drugs after a certain amount of time. A hatred for the medical industry as a whole. That hatred eventually led to a feeling of exhaustion, and then a single question: “I’m tired of feeling this way. How do I fix this?”
The next three weeks were hell. That’s the only way I can describe it. Paxil withdrawal is the worst experience I have ever had. There were days where I was completely debilitated. It felt like it would never end. Paxil is so notorious for this that there’s a website dedicated for people going through it. Just click here.
I decided that I would no longer take antidepressants, anxiety, or sleeping pills. Over the next 6 months I dedicated myself to change. I cut refined sugar out of my diet (mostly), and I stopped eating red meat (I still have bacon every now and then). I learned how to cook at home. I started going to the gym 2-3 times a week. I stopped getting ice cream every other day. I stopped eating and drinking so much dairy. I drank a ton of lemon water, and herbal tea. I also stopped drinking so much beer, and started taking daily vitamins, and melatonin for that pesky thing called sleep.
Slowly but surely, I started to feel like myself again. I feel better now than when I was on Paxil – The happiness I feel is real, not chemically induced by a drug. I have changed almost everything in my life. From diet, and exercise, to limiting unhealthy relationships, and stressful situations. There are still bad days, don’t get me wrong, but since the day I decided that antidepressants weren’t for me, I’ve managed to finally find what is for me.
I know that holistic health isn’t for everyone. I also don’t want you to read this, and think I ‘look down’ on people using medicine to treat their mental illness. Absolutely not, I was on meds for years. I have just decided that what I’m doing right now works for me.
This has 0 to do with finance, but I thought I would share my ‘why’ when it comes to spending money on gyms, clean food, vitamins, and even therapy when I have episodes. This is what keeps me alive, and this is what makes me a happy Frugal Fox. 🙂
If you ever want to share your story with me, I will listen.
If you have a mental illness, I understand.
I hope you feel that you can come to me for support.
We have to stick together in this.
You are never alone in this fight.
If you’re interested in learning more on mental health statistics, click here.
If you’re interested in volunteering in organizations that promote education and awareness, here are a couple I have worked with, and highly recommend:
P.S. I’ve got a new Doctor 🙂