The afternoon after my first therapy session, my GP wanted to see me again to know how I was. I shared with her my positive impressions about that beginning of therapy and she sentenced “Ok, so that’s all you were needing”.
Not really. The following day everything started again as usual: fears, lack of appetite, stomachache, tachycardia and all the rest.
I spent some more days like that, counting the hours separating me from the second therapy session, that was going to occur two weeks later. Then I got back to my GP: no, therapy was probably not all I needed.
She handed me the telephone number of a neurologist she knew and 3 days later I was impatiently sitting in the umpteenth waiting room of the umpteenth specialist for the umpteenth medical investigation of the last 3 months.
The response didn’t change much from those I had been listening to: no neurological pathology, anxiety was my monster. We had to break the vicious circle that had me experiencing the symptoms, that increased my anxiety, that magnified the symptoms and so on. Given the disabling effects that my anxiety was having on my personal and professional life, the instrument to break the cycle was deemed to be Paroxetine. In the meanwhile, restoring some proper sleep was the first goal and Xanax was the second instrument.
I had been fighting against the idea of taking any psychiatric drug until then, but my body and my mind were equally exhausted after months of constant anxiety and sleep deprivation. I felt I didn’t have many other choices and so I gave up fighting against meds.
The morning after, I obediently started my program with a Paroxetine pill every morning after breakfast, while I still procrastinated on the 10 drops of Xanax every night before going to sleep.
Remember when I was saying that after I collapsed to the ground on that mid-March morning, the worst was still to come? Well, here we go: the worst kicked in on the third day after I started taking Paroxetine.
Getting asleep was still a dream (nice, uh?) and again, after two days of almost complete no-sleep, the third night was an absolute nightmare (ok, I’ll quit the sleep metaphors). I spent the entire night awake, tossing from side to side, feeling my thighs and legs burn, ruminating on the terrible stuff I had read on the Paroxetine pamphlet (by the way, I know you shouldn’t read that stuff, but how can you avoid doing that if you’re anxious?).
I got out of my bedroom explicitly asking for help. I stumbled on my dad and told him: “I’m not feeling well, my head is confused”. My head was a mess actually, I couldn’t even tell whether I was completely awake or in a weird non-asleep-yet-non-awake status.
I just had two ideas in my mind:
- Paroxetine was messing with my head
- My anxiety was going to last forever
I had all of the symptoms coming back again, I was confused, exhausted and desperate. I was seeing no way out from the dead-end street I had taken. I was sure my life was never going to be back again the way it used to be; I was feeling helpless the way I had never been or I had never imagined I could be before. I was stuck in a cage and I was lacking both the strength and the will to search for a way to get out of it.
My life had never been that meaningless and miserable. This was my lowest point.
During lunch time, I sat at the table trying to push down some soup with little success. I was seriously considering quitting Paroxetine. That was when my dad looked me in the eyes and told me bluntly: “Do you think you can make it on your own with no meds? Do you think you’re strong enough?” I just shook my head. No, I didn’t own a millionth part of the energies I would have needed. “Therefore you have your answer: go on with your meds and stop thinking.”
I didn’t stop thinking, but I gave up for the second time: I was going to trust the doctors and my parents, I was going to go on with Paroxetine and I was going to start with Xanax. The only exception I allowed myself was to limit the Xanax to 8 drops per night, instead of the 10 that had been prescribed.
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