First of all, I believe in mental health transparency. That’s not to say that I think it’s your responsibility to disclose the state of your mental health – privacy is very personal – but I don’t believe it’s anything about which you should ever feel ashamed. I have clinical anxiety.
About a year and a half ago, I began taking a medication that changed my life (Celexa). I went from a bawling wreck to someone who was emotionally stable enough to learn the basic coping mechanisms that I could never master before. Before Celexa, I was constantly at a 6-8 on a 1 to 10 anxiety/arousal scale. If you’ve never had anxiety like that, imagine that you’re constantly in fight or flight mode, constantly feeling like your next step could make or break your entire life.
I’m grateful that the final push came in October of 2011 and I began to take Celexa, and noticed an almost immediate difference. My concentration improved. My friendships improved. My dating life improved tenfold. It was truly amazing. After a couple of months, I noticed some less than desirable side effects, but I figured I could live with them. It became harder for me to orgasm, but I could still do it, so I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was gaining weight, but I’d also just turned 21, so I blamed my craft beer habit.
I truly believe that without Celexa, I wouldn’t have been able to get to the point that I’m at right now, where I know how to cope when I do have infrequent anxiety attacks. I know that the world isn’t ending, that I’m loved, and that I need to step back and evaluate objectively. I know to breathe, play with my dog, grab a book, or go for a walk. I know that text-barraging my partner will do nothing but annoy him or make him worried about me for little reason.
So, I want to quit. Admittedly, I have no PCP (primary care physician, not angel dust), and I’m no longer permitted to see the doctor I had been seeing through my university. I do not advise my readers to quit a medication without discussing it with their doctor. However, I will be honest: I’m in the process of slowly weaning myself off of my medication. I’m going from 40mg to 30, then 20, then 10, etc. My goal is to be off of it completely by April. (Weaning off slowly helps control withdrawal symptoms, and makes it easier to spot potential health problems.)
I want my sex drive back. I want to feel up to it more than once or twice a week. I want to lose the 20lb that Celexa tacked onto my tiny frame. I want to manage this myself, because I feel up to it now. I want to use what I learned in the last year and a half and prove that I can do it naturally, and with the help of the strong support group that I’ve built.
I wouldn’t be where I am right now had I not admitted that I needed help. This isn’t a post about the evils of SSRIs. If you feel like you’re drowning in worry, and you can’t control it, don’t hesitate to talk to someone. I think it might have even saved my life. Because this is a personal blog, and because I like to challenge the preconceptions that we have as a society about “TMI”, I’m sharing this. I hope it makes a difference to someone.
I hope that if I have any readers who are struggling that they’ll feel comfortable enough to talk to someone. Hell,email me. I’m practically surgically attached to my phone. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and everything to gain.