Think about what you put in your body and why. Talk to your doctor or a different doctor and see what you need and what you can live without. (J)
I was a pretty well medicated kid. I had allergies, recurring bronchitis and sinus infections as a child. My well meaning parents took me to a host of regular doctors and an ear/ nose/ throat specialist. I don’t remember what the names were of all of the pills and antibiotics that I took – just that some of them made me extremely hyper and that I constantly had to pee for a couple of years in junior high. TMI, I know, I know. I really think that the amount of medication I took kind of screwed up my immune system. For many years, I was frequently sick, no matter how much medicine I took.
I also began having severe panic attacks around the time I graduated high school and in college – so there was more prescriptions for that. One doctor said I had a mitral valve prolapse (which later doctors said they could not find a trace of), so he prescribed beta blockers. Another doctor recommended anti-depressants, one of which (Serzone) has been taken off the market for the rare complication of causing severe liver damage. The panic attacks, which could last for hours, came and went throughout college and into my mid-20s. I was given Xanex, Valium, Clonopin, Serzone, and I may have forgotten one or two others. I didn’t like taking these kinds of drugs because they made me very tired and sometimes nonfunctional. I would level out for awhile, get off whatever medication I was on, and then if I came under much stress, I would be back to shaking and hyperventilating. I went to emergency rooms generally at least once or twice a year due to chest pains, trouble breathing, dizziness, and a feeling that I was absolutely going to die.
Finally, after a very traumatic experience that made me question the very core of who I was – I flipped out to the point that my roommates called an ambulance. The emergency room gave me a referral to a psychiatrist after being unable to find anything physically wrong with me. I didn’t have insurance at the time, but it was sliding scale fees and even someone on my limited income could afford it. The psychiatrist put me on Paxil for awhile and also helped me work through some things. The Paxil kept me calm enough to work, sleep, and function at a fairly normal level and the talk therapy helped me figure out how my habit of keeping all my feelings inside was leading to an extreme amount of anxiety.
Around this time, I made some other changes in my life as well. I began attending a martial arts school, which helped me work out some of my frustrations and feel stronger. I started meditating and trying to eat better. Slowly, I started to feel more normal. After about 6 months, I told the doctor that I didn’t want to take drugs anymore. She agreed that I could start cutting down and within a few months, I was off of everything. Within a few more months, I was no longer seeing the psychiatrist either.
I am happy to say that while I do still get very anxious on occasion, since that time I have not had any more debilitating panic episodes. I have learned to recognize what triggers me the most. I am learning to be a more positive person and I take better care of myself in general. I also know that if I ever do get to that state again, Paxil is the only one of the medications I have tried before that I would consider taking.
For the most part, now I try not to take medication at all unless I am really, really sick. I feel that all of the medicine I took when I was younger caused some of my hypersensitivity today. I don’t believe on relying on drugs as a crutch because you don’t want to address your problems (this includes both legal and illegal substances) – I look at them as tools. I do think that you can work with a knowledgeable health professional to find out what works best to get you to a more stable place where you can use other measures. I have had good doctors and bad ones – I am very happy with my current physician who answers all my questions, treats me with respect, and listens to what I have to say. I have gone from having hypochondriac tendencies and feeling I need medication for every little thing to understanding that if I take a day off and take care of myself – many times whatever is bothering me will go away.
However, I also know that some people who could really be helped by medication don’t want to take it. If you are not able to function in society or work, you should really consider talking to a qualified professional (mental or physical) who can help you find the resources you need to get yourself together and feel better. If what you are taking doesn’t help, try something else until you find what fits your unique chemistry the best.
It’s all about freedom! The healthier and more self-sufficient you are, the more your own happiness will be in your control!