Thursday, January 29, 2015

Valley

I knew it would happen, but I was naive to how bad it would be.

I am on day seven of panic/anxiety.  I want to call it a panic attack because in my experience, panic attacks are way worse than the general anxious feeling, but by definition, panic attacks are short periods of panic that pass quickly, and one of the things I've read is to tell myself is that it will be over soon. 

It's not ending.

I'm going about my life just as I have to.  Classes and coursework, driving everywhere, working in the nursery at church, socializing with people I don't know and people that I do know, party planning, grocery shopping, meal prep, making my child go to counseling because I am out of ideas, going to the gym and working out despite the "I may be having a heart attack" thoughts and feelings, Connect group, volunteering, school concerts, babysitting, laundry...  I keep telling myself that if I just stick to routine, there will be comfort in that.  But there isn't.  There is exhaustion.  Because everything routine takes at least twice as much energy now.  And I'm behind on stuff.  Late for stuff.  And that is heavy on my shoulders.  And sometimes I can't fall asleep. 

I can't stay asleep.  My body has stopped digesting my food and I have no appetite.  I force-feed myself at regular intervals to try to protect myself from things getting so much worse.  If I go somewhere and there is food; I take some and force it down even if I don't want it.  I finish it even when I feel nauseous after the first bite.  I no longer seek and long for my daily caffeine/sugar fix.  Today I actually made a deliberate plan to get a Froster to see if it can help me, but the morning was full of volunteering, and almost immediately after that, my afternoon started - an entire afternoon of watching elementary kids dance - amazing and adorable - while their mothers pretended not to see their little siblings running around the gym and climbing on stuff and falling off stages and chairs, and pretended not to hear them screaming.  I actually stuck my arm out to stop a kid from running away from her mother and off the stage for the 100th time, and instead of a thank you, the mother glared at me.  Nice.

My body has random aches and sharp pains, and I think I need to cry, but I can't make it come out.

I hate that today, my babyest boy's birthday, I am feeling tense and frazzled.  I don't want that on his birthday.

Over a rushed dinner, on the verge of tears that won't come out, I told my husband that I think I need to go to the doctor to get meds again.  I told him I'm not sure I can handle feeling like this much longer.  I have handpicked most of the stuff in my life and put it there because I love to do it, and still I feel like this.  It's some kind of lesson, I'm sure.  One that feels like a big ol' slap in the face.  To the bearer of the hand...f u.

I need to get out of this valley.  I need to blog more; let more thoughts out.  My head and chest feel full of thoughts that need to get out.  Fight, fight, fight.  The fight is just so. much. work.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Panic attack

Last night I barely slept.  It was another panic attack night.  I could not calm my pounding heart, I could not stop my aches and painful twinges.  It is so frustrating not being able to control this, and being frustrated just adds to the problem.

In all the extra hours I had to ponder this, I realized that my week has been very off track.  I haven't expended my body's extra energy by working out.  I haven't been drinking enough water.  And I haven't been eating enough food.  Yesterday I ate a granola bar for breakfast, a slice of chocolate cake and a bite of kd for lunch, and nothing for dinner because I never eat before evening plans (old habits die hard).  Since I hadn't eaten dinner, I had another granola bar at my class, then when I came home at 9:30, I had some nachos that were left over from the dinner I wasn't home to eat.

Then I had a shower and spent hours trying to calm my heart and sleep.

Just in case you are wondering, when your body is plunged into anxiety hell because you starve it until you get there, it does not forget that place once you finally get out.  It remembers.  And it lets you know when you are on the path back.  It lets you know VERY early in the journey.

Today I am exhausted and sad.  My chest hurts, my arms hurt, my stomach muscles hurt, my back hurts.  I know I need to take care of myself.  I know how to take care of myself and the needs that my body has developed.  I don't know why I cannot learn the lesson that I can't have the carefree life I used to, and I don't know why I keep letting it slide.  You bet that I took supplements today, ate a healthy breakfast and lunch and answered my belly's loud calls for dinner even though the thought of standing up to get myself dinner seemed like it would take a little more energy than I have.  I drank Powerade to help the rehydration even though I don't like it; and I am working on getting in a sufficient amount of water.  I have a new app that will remind me going forward.

My life is so fabulous right now - I have almost everything I ever wanted.  I love every single day.  I can't let anxiety win...not today and not ever.  I hate that I have to fight it; I wish I could just scare it away and have it leave me alone forever, but that's not how it works, unfortunately.  THAT is a lesson I am learning for sure. 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Cipralex and Cholesterol

In researching Cipralex before I started taking it in November 2012, I came across an internet post written by a Canadian gentleman claiming that Cipralex had caused his otherwise heart-healthy mother to die of a heart attack, very shortly after she took her first dose.  Since I did not find any other information reporting the same, I wondered if he was just upset that he had lost his mother and that he had felt the need to pin blame somewhere and Cipralex was the place.

After my own mother had a heart attack at the end of 2013 (not Cipralex related), I sought out that claim again in an attempt to gain more information on the subject to see if my family history of heart disease paired with Cipralex would increase my likelihood of having a heart attack.  I don't know what search terms I was looking for, but I didn't really find anything that was alarming or concerning to me and I let my suspicions fall to the wayside.

In May 2014, my doctor called me into her office to discuss the results of my annual bloodwork.  I expected the regular low-iron talk or to hear that I am not keeping up with my vitamin D.  I have had both calls in the past and despite my good intentions to keep up with the recommended doses of iron or vitamin D supplements, they slowly fall away from my daily routine as I feel better and stop thinking about how crappy I feel.  What I was NOT expecting to hear was that my cholesterol was elevated well above my last measure and that it had been flagged in the report as high.

My doctor calmly stated that it was borderline high, and that I should not be too concerned yet, but due to my mom's recent heart attack and my family history of heart disease, I should take action before it gets worse.  She recommended that I change my diet and increase exercise immediately, and that we recheck my cholesterol levels in six months to determine if drugs were something we'd need to consider sooner rather than later.  You see, my mom's cholesterol had been only borderline high for the 10 years leading up to her heart attack.  Even her blood pressure was within normal range WHILE she was in the middle of the whole thing.  With this knowledge in her pocket, my doctor does not want to play around, and for that I am thankful.

She told me to cut back on red meat and stop eating peanut butter.  More exercise, fewer cholesterol-containing foods, stay away from fats.  I know that the baffled expression on my face made her think I didn't understand.  And I kind of didn't.  How would I find time to exercise MORE than the four hours per week I was already putting in?  The only way I could eat LESS red meat than I already did was to cut it out completely.  And how would I get enough protein to manage my digestion and adrenal health issues without my go-tos of peanut butter and eggs?


Now SHE wore the baffled expression.  She had no answers for me.  And once again I was left to figure this out for myself.  Kind of a theme with my health care.


As the months went on and I just kept doing things the exact same way I had always been doing them, my weight steadily climbed.  I started to speculate that my LDL cholesterol was climbing as my weight climbed, and that the visceral fat encircling my waist was growing there because of my buddy, Cipralex.  I tried to find new ways to lose the weight, or at least stabilize it, but no change made a difference.  After I wondered about this connection and research brought me no answers, I started counting the days to my next cholesterol check, just so I could see.


Well, the way things went, I ended up weaning myself from Cipralex.  I really really was convinced that it was the cause of my weight gain and I did not feel healthy or beautiful, which was also affecting my mental health.  As I cut back on my dose so very slowly, I found that I was still doing okay, and that gave me courage to see and interest in seeing just how far I could go in decreasing, rather than increasing, my dose.  On September 15, 2014, I took one last half-pill.


It was tough at the beginning to not just go back on.  But my curiosity consistently won out.  "I wonder what one more day without it will be like?"  Every day was "just one more day" and that stretched into now four months of Cipralex-free days.  My weight has been dropping at a consistent but healthy rate.  Six pounds gone in the past four months. 

I had my blood drawn on December 8, 2014 to recheck my cholesterol and my liver function.  My liver function is good, and my LDL cholesterol came in at a healthy 2.95.  Just under one month before I started taking Cipralex, it was 2.61.  In May 2014, my high reading was 3.54.  December 2.95, and the only thing I changed was the Cipralex. 

Since I know the numbers now, I want it to be back at that 2.61, and I am going to see if I can get it there by my next physical.  Maybe I can get it even lower.

I am glad that I was able to come off Cipralex.  It was literally a lifesaver for me - mentally AND physically - and I remember thinking that there was no way I could ever live without it.  But here I am, drug free!  Knowing what I know now, if I ever need to take antidepressants again (I have heard this is likely), I will do a little more research with my experience in mind and see what else is out there and what kinds of effects they have on heart health.