Going Off The Meds – Check In

Well that heart rate is getting a bit high…

I’m off two of my meds and a week into tapering off the last one, the antidepressant. It could be other things, I certainly have a lot of stress in my life. But it could also be tapering off the antidepressant that is causing me to have a lot of constant anxiety. 

I’ve noticed that I start ramping up in the evening, a little less than 24 hours after my dose. I’ve always taken my meds at night because that has worked better for me. Now that I’m on half a dose, I don’t think I’m quite making it to the next pill, and I’m drinking nearly a gallon of water a day so I may be flushing the chemicals out of my system faster than I otherwise would. Gotta renew those cells! Plus now that it’s actually winter my skin gets really dry if I’m not chugging water all day. 

I never know what to expect in my recovery process, but I knew this part could be hard. It is. I’m leaning on a low dose on Xanax every night to not go tumbling down into the pit. I’m hoping this doesn’t last too long, and there are positive effects of getting off the last of my pills. My creative function is higher, I’m dreaming with clarity and I feel much more connected. I did catch it earlier tonight, so at least observing myself and being body aware is starting to work! 

Restoring Through Sleep

I can also have physical manifestations of anxiety that make it hard to sleep.

“I slept in” is my every day this week. I wear a Fitbit (the Tiny Tyrant) for the primary purpose of tracking my sleep, because it says a lot about where I am in the anxiety spectrum..or where I will be soon if I don’t sleep more. I may have said this before, I do well on about 9 hours a night. And if your knee-jerk response to that was to negate the time I find optimal for sleep length, you probably don’t have my brain, so stuff it.

As I am getting into practicing the things that will make be better, as I begin to engage in a lifestyle that helps me heal rather than continues the damage, I have to remember to sleep. It is the only way I reset from anxiety – drugs don’t even do it. And when I am paying enough attention to myself, I need to sleep more after a severe trigger episode like the one I just had. Sleep brings back some balance, some calm and some self-awareness that I can’t get any other way. So right now I’m sleeping as much as my body wants, and scheduling my day once I wake up. I’m calling this a good use of Christmas break.

Sleep doesn’t come easily though when I’m practicing restoration. Once I’m asleep I’m good, but getting there can be a challenge. Bedtime is when I can have anxiety spikes. There’s nothing left to distract me, nothing left to figure out or do…it’s like a gasping chasm between me and rest that has no bridge and no way across. Anxiety loves to simmer as I’m trying to go to sleep, keeping me awake with the lies and uncertainty.

I can also have physical manifestations of anxiety that make it hard to sleep. Last night (and this has happened before), anxiety was cold. I had been comfortably warm watching a football game in just my pajamas. As soon as I lay in bed wanting to sleep, in those same cozy pajamas, in warm fuzzy socks, under a thick blanket, same room temperature, I was shivering with cold and could not get warm. Our experience with temperature is relative, sometimes 60 degrees can feel good and sometimes it can feel chilly. I had no reason to be so cold before sleep other than anxiety. My fingers were like ice and I shivered until at some point I fell asleep, anxious about so many things that are out of my control until I did.

But I slept, I got the reset, I woke up in a warm bed on my own time (I have no end of gratitude for this luxury), and today is a day that is starting off with restoration rather than anxiety.

Dates = 2, Me = 0

This guy is going to think I have no elegance, and that couldn’t be further from reality.

Surprisingly (my dating history inspires no confidence in the activity), dating Client’s Brother is still going well. I might even give him a real name next week.

Dates, however, have resulted in a 50% injury rate for me.

On our first date I scalded the hell outta my throat eating pizza that was way too hot. I almost only ever get it takeout or delivery, and in that case I can eat it straight away with no problem. I somehow missed that it would not be so eating pizza right out of the oven. I also did not want to spit out my food. It took 5 days to recover.

Yesterday we went for an afternoon hike along a creek on a moderate trail. There’s a bit of climbing around and walking on rocks to cross the creek in places, and while it was warm enough that the water wouldn’t freeze us, no one wants to hike in wet shoes. We were on the last creek crossing on the way back to the cars and I had carefully made it across. He was ahead of me and kept going when he got to the bank, I stepped on the bank, my left foot slipped and I crashed into a bush, cutting my ankle on the rock I slipped on in the process. Yeah, that’s an attractive quality in a hiking partner.

When I realized I was neither injured (hadn’t seen the cut yet) nor impaled on the bush branches, I started laughing at myself. Whatever, spills happen. I did have a branch of the bush stabbed through the band of my Fitbit next to my wrist, and how that happened without even scratching me I have no idea. By this time Client’s Brother realized I wasn’t behind him, and he and the dog came back to see what was up. I was still laughing at myself and getting off the ground, and the dog kindly removed the stick from my arm. Good puppy.

None of this kept us from kissing in the car before we headed off to separate obligations, and I found the cut when I got home. I almost never have this kind of thing happen to me, but ya know, ya fall down, ya get up, and I’m thankful that I could laugh at this spill.

Starting to Feel My Strength

What has been interesting about this short break is that instead of feeling weak or fat or lazy or other self-critical feelings about my unplanned pause, I felt stronger.

It’s such a good feeling to come out of a PTSD episode (I don’t even know what to call it, so let’s go with that). At the same time my brain started to let off I finished a work deadline with time to spare and some good news about being exempt from a state review. I also got an extra part of the project completed for now and was pleasant in my response to a client rep who leans heavily on an attorney I’ve never met – nor have I agreed to work with. So. Much. Relief.

After pounding out the miles for the last few weeks I hit a wall physically as well as mentally, and I haven’t exercised much in a few days. I just couldn’t. To compare, I’m working out about 12 hours a week on average. So far this week I’m at 3 hours, about half of normal. And that’s ok, because my body said it needed to rest, and I listened for once.

All of this the day before my brother has his next surgery, which will change the family dynamic and schedule once again as we transition to supporting him. Talk about timing! But my brain knows, doesn’t it? Time to get it back together, and time to get back to hitting my carefully-set Fitbit goals. The little tyrant tends to control me.

What has been interesting about this short break is that instead of feeling weak or fat or lazy or other self-critical feelings about my unplanned pause, I felt stronger. I’ve lost 3 lbs in as many days (ok but I did stop eating sugar after that Friday meltdown), I can see more tone to my body and I am willing to be more physical – rather than just walking, I’m ready to start tackling trails, hopping around, on and over rocks and tree roots in a way that is much more challenging than what I have been doing all year to rack up miles.

I watched the intro videos to a power yoga series (I really like DoYouYoga and have found the membership to be well worth it) and my first thought of watching this trim and muscular woman hop into a handstand and switch kick into Warrior I was no freaking way can I do this. I’m 30 lbs overweight, and I don’t have a lot of the body strength it takes to do this kind of cool yoga stuff.

Yet.

I also couldn’t run part of a trail, I also couldn’t get my weight down, I also couldn’t find healthy ways to cope with anxiety, I also couldn’t be a successful business owner, I also couldn’t drive again, I also couldn’t love that hard again, I also couldn’t be comfortable in groups, I also couldn’t focus that long, I also couldn’t grow a garden. Three beautiful avocado trees and a boatload of herbs and citrus later, yes I can.

Maybe I can’t do it yet, but starting to feel my strength is making me think yes, I will.

Still Recovering from That Last PTSD Throwdown…Oh, and No Stalker for a Month!

2 was enough. 2 wasn’t my steps for the day or my exercise goal or any of that, it was enough for me.

Y’all. That epic face on the floor sob fest is still polluting my brain, making me tired and causing a haze of ugh. The show must go on, however, and I’m a day, a permit application and a set of historic window reproduction drawings plus a snarky response to a City Administrator away from 4 days off. I am so thankful I’ve held it together long enough and strong enough to get this project done on time and to a quality I can take pride in. I’m also thankful that I skipped exercise yesterday and read half a book instead. I did 2 trail miles today and ran about 1/4 of it, which was also an accomplishment, because I don’t run.

I stopped at 2 miles. That was huge.

2 was enough. 2 wasn’t my steps for the day or my exercise goal or any of that, it was enough for me. It was enough for me to run errands, take care of paperwork, stop for a trail run and go just far enough but not so far that I wore myself out. I’m like a kid that once too tired loses their shit and has a meltdown. So I stopped. Go me, because I am not really one to stop. I keep going until I hurt. Or my brain breaks.

In better news, it’s been a month since I ditched my cyber stalker (Stalked – Get Off My Cyber Ankles) and he hasn’t found me. He does check my work social media, but he can’t comment, and I don’t have a direct view of his stalking. It’s awesome. I had no idea how much that was weighing on me, but my resting heart rate is down 4 bpm from a month ago, and that has been one of my goals – get anxiety down enough while I sleep that I don’t look like I’m about to stroke out. Exercise, firm decisions, lots of water and more sleep have really helped.

I’m sitting here working late again, and my therapist and I had a chat about that. Since work is a coping mechanism for me, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing to work into the evening while I’m comfortable at home. But apparently not putting it down and doing my own thing is not the best, so I made a plan for my upcoming days off to rearrange my space so that work is over there and I am over here…as in, stop working on my laptop from my bed. Yeah…still practicing.

A Day of Rest

Anxiety pushes me to keep moving, keep going, do, do more and do more than that.

Yesterday I carried a baby around, played with small children while their parents ate lunch (we ran like airplanes and made a “campfire” with acorns, leaves and sticks), worked quietly and watched my football team lose in the last minute after dominating the first half. No exercise, no letting the Fitbit dictate my day, no feeling bad about finishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, no staying up late “just because”. After a week of massive steps forward in my recovery, dreaming every night with dreams that are resolving things in my brain, putting dozens of miles in, hitting a big deadline and enjoying the heck outta some bagels and coffee, I rested. It felt so good.

Anxiety pushes me to keep moving, keep going, do, do more and do more than that. Resting, quiet, stillness have been my enemy. I haven’t quite gotten to taking a day off or going on vacation, but I have finally established a bit of a weekly schedule, set some boundaries for myself and gotten some sleep. This is the acknowledgement of that, that for an entire week I put effort and attention toward taking care of myself, even when I was busy, stressed, anxious and multitasking.

PTSD is a weird beast. It’s taken a long time to beat it back, but this was the first week that there wasn’t a glimmer of light, there was a beam of it. I’m basking in it!