Friday, May 10, 2013

Healthy as a Horse

Those of you who have been with me on my journeys for the past few years will remember that I wasn't doing so well a couple of years ago.  For those who may not know I was anxious, depressed, tired all the time (sometimes to the point where I could barely lift my feet off the floor to walk properly), achey, and prone to feeling faint, nauseated, feverish, etc.  I'd break out into hives at the slightest provocation.  Eventually it got so bad that I missed two months of work.

To make a long story short, a doctor finally figured out that all of my physical symptoms were by-products of stress.  I started taking a small dose of SSRI medication and improved rapidly.  In the past year and a half my health has continually improved including my mood, my weight, and pretty much everything else.  I went from being, for all intents and purposes, disabled by mental illness, to being as healthy as can be.  Fit as a fiddle.  Quite capable of extensive goal-directed behaviour (thank you, dopamine).

So, am I "all better" now?  Am I going to try coming off my medication?  Am I ready to travel the world and throw all my previous fears into the wind?


Firstly, I plan to stay on that medication until the day I croak, or the day they invent something better, whichever comes first.  I NEVER want to risk backsliding.  A psychiatrist told me that coming off the medication means risking a relapse, and not only that, but if I did go off and then re-start the meds, the same medication or the same dose might not be as effective as it was before.  Or not effective at all.  Because the human brain is weird and we still don't understand it.  I do not plan on taking any chances!  Taking a tiny pill once a day is a minuscule price to pay for having my whole life together.

Secondly, although I totally qualify as a normal, mentally healthy person now (possibly above average, if I'm to accept the compliments that often come my way regarding my levels of patience and equanimity at work), I can still sometimes feel my old brain chemistry trying to assert itself.  If I don't get enough sleep, or life gets very stressful, and especially if certain hormonal shifts are throwing their weight behind the balance, I start to see little signs of my old symptoms cropping up.  I might sleep 12 hours straight through, and then wake up feeling anti-social and like there's nothing to look forward to.  Or a couple of hives might bloom up on my arms, and the joints in my hands and feet might feel stiff and achey.

So far the symptoms have always passed in a few days, or at most (after I had a flu which really brought me down) for a couple of weeks.  If I felt the need, I would not hesitate to go back to my head-shrinker for a re-evaluation.  But basically I feel that I can maintain my balance by taking care of myself, and not pushing myself too far outside my comfort zone.  I listen to my body.  I eat well. I exercise.  I walk outside in the fresh air.  And I don't go chasing after challenges just for kicks.

So don't expect me to take off for an attempt on Mount Everest, or to find me planning to open a restaurant.  As long as I take care of myself, I will do just fine.  Like for example there was a cold making the rounds at work last week, and I didn't catch it.  Like I said, I'm as healthy as a horse.  Just a little skittish, is all.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Glad things turned around for you and you are feeling better. I agree that it's not worth the risk on stopping the meds especially if you aren't having any major side effects.

LL Cool Joe said...

Well that's good to hear. No you shouldn't come off the medication, if it's keeping you well why rock the boat? I think we all go through days in our lives where we get stressed out and then get ill. I know I do.

G. B. Miller said...

Excellent news!

You should never go off your meds or even skip a day. Skipping even one day creates a havoc that will take days for your body to recouperate from.

Jenski said...

If anyone tells you you should try going of the meds, tell them they're crazy! It's wonderful that you got your life back and have been able to maintain a health balance.

DarcKnyt said...

Praise the Lord! I'm so glad you're doing well, Spark. The world is a much better place with you in it firmly. :)

Vanessa T said...

They say all the really good Thoroughbreds are a little skittish. :D

This is such joyful news, Spark! I have prayed so hard for you to be well! I remember those times when you were so down, and I was so worried that the docs wouldn't be able to help you back to your sweet self. I am so happy you are feeling so well now!

It's a broken world, and we are all broken people, and if a little pill helps you keep body and soul from being a bit less broken, then that is a blessing. *hugs*

Granny Annie said...

Yes I remember your struggle. Why give up a good thing? It is called "Better living through chemistry". When I die, they will have to pry my "mood" meds from my cold dead hands.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: I'm so lucky - I'm not even having minor side effects.

Joey: Yes, it's a universal situation, only the degree of sensitivity varies among different people.

G B: I am as careful as I can be about taking my little orange pill. One day I did forget. Fortunately my dose is so low that it didn't make too much difference, not that I noticed anyway. But I would never take a chance on purpose.

Jenski: I used to think that all pharmaceuticals were inherently bad for one's body and should be avoided if possible. I no longer believe that, and wouldn't accept that opinion from anyone else.

DarcKnyt: Thanks! :-D And thank you for your prayers.

Vanessa: Thank you for all your prayers. I know they helped. I couldn't have made it without divine assistance.

Granny Annie: When you consider all the chemicals going into our bodies that we don't choose (additives in food, environmental pollutants, etc.), and how they all affect our brains and therefore our moods, righting the balance with a chosen substance just seems sensible.

Lynn said...

I do remember - that was a terrible time for you. I'm glad the meds are working and glad you still want to take them. Wise.

Jameil said...

I'm so so glad you've found something that works for you! I hated seeing you so miserable!

Tracy Moore said...

I am so glad that you're doing better now than you were there for a while. Staying on the medication is exactly what I would do too. Wouldn't be worth going back to feeling the way that you were. So glad that you are committed to taking care of yourself Spark! Wishing you loads of health and happiness. <3