In the spirit of last week's post, I thought I would next write about my experiences with psychotropic medications, in particular my love-hate relationship with Prozac. I may refer to Prozac from time to time as my "anti-crazy pills." Just a heads up. Ok, let's begin, shall we!
*** WARNING: FOR ANYONE WITH OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER THERE MAY BE SOME TRIGGERS IN MY STORIES. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. ***
I have been on several psych meds in the past 13 years, in chronological order from least to most recent: Paxil, Klonopin, Wellbutrin, Lamictal, Xanax, and Prozac.
They all had their time and place in my life and the most effective, in terms of addressing my "main" mental illness, was Prozac. I started taking Prozac in 2012 after an epic mental breakdown. (Yeah, I average a mental break about once every two years. Here I come, 2016!) This breakdown was also rooted in the demands of my job, but not because of the size of my caseload, but the cases themselves. I, also, hard-headedly ignored any and all signs that I was struggling with my mental stability. Enter Scary Movie Night, also called The Night Melissa Lost Her Shit...Again.
My cousin, Erica, and I love scary movies. I mean LOVE them. We love the thrill of being scared and freaked out and the more effed up the movie, the better. So, I headed over to her house one Saturday for "Cuzzy Night." She told me she found this movie called "V/H/S" that had an actual disclaimer warning people that this movie had caused "severe reactions" from viewers. "Ummmm, you had me at disclaimer. Let's do this bitch!" was my response. And do this we did...
It was an unusual set-up, five vignettes on VHS tapes that the main characters were also "watching" in the movie. All hand-held, "Blair Witch"-esque filming. Again, nothing about this is unusual for us. However, halfway through, I had to ask Erica to pause it, because I was getting motion sickness (never happened before). Did I stop? Nope. I rallied like the good scary movie fan I am and joy of joys, the very last story was THE MOST TERRIFYING MIND FUCK EVER. At least it was at the time.
Erica knew something was wrong, because whilst watching scary movies, her and I can typically be found laughing or yelling at the stupid people not to go into that room/house/cabin/hole in the ground/cemetery/abandoned nuclear waste plant/etc or we are mocking the non-scariness of the movie. I wasn't doing any of that. I wasn't doing much of anything, except sitting on her couch, motionless and speechless.
When the movie ended, I finally had a feeling: anger. I had on the worst mood. I was getting text messages from my friends, as I would normally, and it was pissing. me. off. Leave me alone! I thought. I went home and convinced myself it was nothing, just an "off" night. I attempted to sleep, but only thought about the last story, over and over and over and over again. All. Freaking. Night.
I woke up, my heart racing. I figured it was due to lack of sleep. Until the THIRD CONSECUTIVE DAY of racing heart, chest pains, shortness of breath, can't sleep, feeling like I'm going to die. Yay! The Tuesday night after "Cuzzy Night", I stayed with my grandmother because I was convinced if I fell asleep, alone in the house, with how I was feeling, I would die. (Classic panic). The next morning, I called out of work and made an appointment with my doctor. By the time she saw me, I was beyond a hot mess. I could barely move my neck and back, I had bags under my eyes like whoa, my heart was pounding out of my chest. Even as a counselor, I didn't want to/couldn't believe this was all due to anxiety. I was convinced there was something physically wrong with me.
Nope. My doctor is hilarious. She is a tall blonde from Germany who pulls no punches. She is always VERY straight forward. She told me, in her thick accent: "It is in your head. It is mental. There is nothing physically wrong with you. I will give you Xanax. This will help."
And it did, for a time. Once the physical symptoms of my anxiety subsided, the emotional component kicked in and WHOA! It was like I was hit with the OCD stick upside the head. All of a sudden, everything I did, or didn't do, would ultimately cause great harm to someone I loved. For example, at the time, I lived with my girlfriend, my roommate, two dogs, and a cat. Typical conversation in my mind leaving the house for work (EVERY. SINGLE. DAY):
Did I close the door all the way? Ugh, if I didn't then the animals could get out. And then they could get killed. Oh my god, Sarah and Jesse will be home soon. What if the animals get out, they get hit by cars and are lying in the street, dead, when they come home?? Oh my god, that would traumatize them! And it would be all my fault. So, I turned my car around, went back into the house, checked all the doors while saying out loud, "The doors are closed." Every. Day.
"All my fault" was how everything ended. If I didn't lock the door when I went out at night, while Sarah and Jesse were sleeping, that would be the one night a home invader would come and kill everyone in the house. And it would be all my fault. My OCD made me my own worst enemy. Which is why I named him (sorry, it is SO a guy) Old Cranky Douche. Because he's been around forever (old), he makes me miserable (cranky), and he takes the fun out of everything (douche!).
Another common obsession, although not one that ended with "all my fault", but had an interesting "reverse psychology" feature, was deliberately visualizing myself being killed in a violent and horrific car accident on my way to and from work. Why would you do that??? you are probably asking. Well, simple logic of course: People who are killed in car accidents never see it coming or are not prepared. If I am constantly braced for a car accident, it can't possibly happen. So, instead, I would torture myself with graphic images of being killed and call it a day. Logical, right?? Right?!?! The correct answer is: wrong.
And I did like! Within weeks, my obsessions and compulsions were practically non-existent. I feel free from the mental agony I had been putting myself through. It was amazing! It was great! It was short-lived. Everything has a cost. And after a year and a half, the cost far outweighed the benefits.
To Be Continued...