Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lesson learned

for the past five years or so, I've taken a very low dose of a mild anti-anxiety medication. I started taking it because five years ago, I was a mess - a bigger mess than I am now, which is hard to believe. I was having anxiety attacks in the grocery store that would leave me shaking and gasping. I'd have anxiety attacks at play dates with good friends and their kids. I wanted to do nothing but hide in my house and sleep, which was tough to do with two small kids running around.

I had also stopped eating, which is my typical reaction to stress. And I had started some worrying OCD behaviors like balancing my checkbook four times a day and checking credit card balances at least that often.

My doctor started me on Paxil, and that did not go well at all. It made me want to sleep even more. I knew I had to stop taking it the day I was driving down the road and contemplated crashing my car into light pole, not to kill myself, but to be injured enough that I would end up in the hospital where I could sleep for several days. I stopped taking Paxil the next day and called my doc in tears.

She put me on Lexapro, and that has worked very, very well for me. I don't have anxiety attacks in the grocery store, and I can function at social events without a problem (other than being overly shy). The medication also keeps my tendency towards anorexia under control and eliminates the big OCD stuff like balancing the checkbook. I still can't go to bed without checking all the locks in the house in a particular order, but I view that as a safety impulse born of living in Gainesville, FL at the time of the murders.

This past Saturday, I took the last of the Lexapro I had on hand, but I didn't worry too much about not having my dose for Sunday because I figured I could get the refill on Monday without a problem. I've missed one dose in the past and not had any ill effects.

Except I was out of refills, and by the end of the day on Monday, the pharmacy still hadn't heard back from my doctor on the refill. By that time, I was already in full-on withdrawal mode with weird jolty feelings all over my body and increasing anxiety levels that left me short-tempered and barely able to function. Tuesday afternoon, the doctor's office still hadn't called in the refill, so I called them directly to see what was up. It turns out I was due for an appointment, but someone there forgot to call me and tell me that was why they hadn't sent the refill.

Fortunately, the nurse called the pharmacy, and they filled the prescription right away. It took several hours after I took the dose for the jolty feelings to go away, and the anxiety levels remained long after that. I was not a good mom or wife yesterday afternoon, which really upset me. I lost sleep last night over the events of the afternoon and evening.

I've learned two very important lessons. First, I should never let my refills run out like that again. I need to request them before I'm out of pills. And second, I do need this medication to function, and that kind of bothers me. I had hoped that I had gotten past that mess five years ago, but apparently not. I guess I should just be grateful that I have found something that works well for me without terrible side effect - like making me want to crash my car.

I'm a fan of better living through chemistry.

7 comments:

Janice Ellen Wright said...

Wow, how ridicurus that you'd get jerked around like that. I'd expect that of New York doctors, but not yours! That reminds me, though, I've got to go call in my Zoloft refill...

Holly said...

I hate when I forget to refill my prescription. I wrote a similar post in August- can very much relate to you here and just wanted to commiserate and send you my empathy. After the birth of my first born, when I was in the throes of PPD, I thought the same thing- I didn't want to actually die, but I wanted to go back to the hospital and be pampered and taken care of. And yeah, sleep! Unfortunately, the ER and the psych ward are NOTHING like the maternity ward. Or maybe fortunately?

Thinking of you and hoping you have a better week.

Keeffer said...

this isn't necessarily a sign that you do need the medication (although family history does point to yes.)

withdrawal and its effects are always worse when you go cold turkey, and it wouldn't have been nearly as bad had you tapered off. not that i'm recommending it, but i'm just saying. i am saying, if you want to try, do it the right way.

i've tried going off twice in the years since i've been on meds, and realized i am not meant to live without meds. i've made it 6 months and realized life is too short to live so miserably.

Becca said...

I too am on Lexapro, and I too cannot live without it. I have come to terms with it and decided I will stay on it for the rest of my life and therefore stay married and in custody of my child.

calicobebop said...

I too am a fan of better living through chemistry. I say, whatever works - works! As your previous commenter pointed out - it's a better alternative to divorce and social services...

Baino said...

Hadn't placed you as anxious or OCD at all! I've had those feelings but it's usually a stress response to some event and haven't ever sought a chemical solution although for some I think they're a big help. Here your antidepressants would never be prescribed over the phone. You have to visit your doctor for any prescription refills. Even the contraceptive pill.

Suna said...

I have had the same experience with the very low dose I take of my anti-anxiety stuff. I have no idea how I would have made it through the last couple of years without it. I am much better now at keeping track of when it is running low!