Friday, August 10, 2018
I feel amazing! So I had some pretty crummy days this week as I made yet another drop in anxiety meds going from 7.5mg to 5mg. The first decrease from 10mg to 7.5mg had similar symptoms, so I knew what to expect. The only real difference from the first decrease to this second was the fact that the detox symptoms came much quicker…like in 2 days from the decrease versus over a week before.
It kind of wrecked my weekend as I was planning on having more time before the crummy, flu-like symptoms hit. Oh well. I missed a birthday party and stayed in bed for a couple of days. Who am I kidding, I’ve spent most of this week in bed, but gradually getting better and getting more done.
Yesterday (Thursday) was the first day I felt good enough to drive myself any kind of distance. I got a bunch done in the morning, then drove up to my husband’s work to go run errands with him and have lunch. After I got home (about 2pm) I was pretty wiped. Fortunately, we had leftover lunch and ate that for dinner. Then, we went for a swim and talked a lot and I was asleep by about 9pm.
Today is even better than yesterday. It’s not quite 10am, but I woke up before 6am, hung out with my husband, made our morning Magic Coffees, watched some helpful YouTube videos that I was backlogged on, got going on the laundry and began packing more (we’re moving Monday morning). The buyers we sold the home to will be here to check the state of the property this afternoon, so I have to be ready for that. I also want to make steaks that I defrosted earlier this week so we can eat them as salads this weekend and then make dinner. Today I’m planning to cook dinner, but not according to my Meal Plan as that was thrown out the window a few days ago. I’m thinking a roasted chicken with roasted carrots and radishes and a sauteed greens mix with crispy pan-fried bacon ends. Did I mention I had to pack more stuff today? It’s going to be a full day.
I realize this was kind of a ramble. I probably didn’t need my morning Magic Coffee with mushrooms, but it’s so yummy! I really am feeling more like my normal, morning-person self right now. I might get worn out later today, but I’m going to be forgiving of myself and aware of my actual abilities…and most importantly, enjoy the energy, focus and normal feelings I currently have while they last.
I hope you all are having a good day. We all have lives. Just thought I’d share mine because it’s a struggle getting off anxiety medication. Oh, I almost forgot that I wanted to tell you about the comparison from last summer to this summer. If you’re interested, read further. If you’re not, I really hope you have a wonderful day!
As an educator I do my best to plan changes for the Summer. This gives me time to rest, relax and adjust. When I was on Metformin, I would adjust my doses in the Summer so that I could suffer the brutal consequences in the Summer when I’m not restricted on restroom usage and I can feel crummy and it doesn’t impact anyone else. More recently, I know that making changes to my anxiety medication, Lexapro, needs to be done in this off-season as well. As a teacher, Summer is the off-season, btw.
Now, you should know, if you don’t already, changing medications like Lexapro should be done with the support and guidance of a medical professional, which I am not. I’m just a lady trying to get my life straight and my anxiety under control. I have a doctor who is supportive, guides me and is encouraging me to try to get off the medication. That all being said, let’s get on with the comparison.
My first try getting off this medication, but my doctor really wants me to try. I really want to try as well, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect. My husband and I have been wanting to get pregnant and grow our family for many years and I know I need to be off this medicine if I can be for the benefit of the baby. It’s kind of a lot of pressure. And I was scared that once I got off the meds I would find out that I really need them and stay on for the rest of my life.
I was dieting and exercising, looking for work and interviewing, preparing for the new school year, binging a lot of tv shows and just trying to be rested. I ended up losing 17 pounds and gaining 16 pounds that summer (yep, a grand total of serious effort for a loss of 1 pound). I got really sick from detoxing, but the worst part was that I was having a hard time focusing and getting weird brain zaps. I remember it was hard to drive because I didn’t know if it would become dangerous or not. So, my dad and husband drove me places and I had stuff delivered.
At one point my father and I drove (okay, he drove me) up to San Jose for an interview. I was well qualified for the position and very excited to talk with them about the direction of their school and the impact they have on the community. I had my digital portfolio and copies of brochures and lesson plans and all kinds of “impressive” documents to bring and share. Just before the interview I started getting weird brain zaps. Yes, the worst time possible. I quickly Googled what to do and read in a few places that increasing fish oil and Vitamin B should help. So before the interview dad drove me to Costco and bought me Krill Oil and Super Vit-B Complex. Naturally, it wasn’t enough time for them to do their job, but it couldn’t hurt and I had time to waste.
The interview didn’t go well. I had a difficult time recalling information that I know, discussing my experience, etc. I must have looked like an idiot. Did I forget to mention that I suddenly had issues with body temperature regulation that caused me to freeze and then sweat like crazy? I’m not surprised I didn’t get the job offer.
It took a long time for things to calm down. I may have decreased the medication too fast, but I should have given myself time to just rest and relax without having to go on long road trips or impress anyone. Looking back, I see what was really going on. I should have not accepted job interviews. Live and learn, I guess.
After summer ended, I returned to work and learned that my friend had lost of ton of weight from doing Keto. She had been telling me about it since she started at the beginning of summer and I thought it was another fad diet. I chose to stick with traditional diet and exercise. I forgot to mention that most of my coworkers and I were in a Weight Loss Challenge over the summer. I lost and my friend won. She won a big pot of money, but more importantly, her health was good and she lost weight.
From that point I realized I needed to learn more about what she was doing. What is Keto? Are you really never hungry? Are you sure it’s healthy? You know, questions any sane person would ask when something is completely against “conventional wisdom” and everything we have learned our entire lives. September 1, 2017 I officially started Keto and my husband began the next day.
Life was looking up. I was off my medications and was on this journey with my coworker and friend, as well as my husband to get healthy and lose weight. It’s been a dream to get healthy, but it was always so darn hard before. I was feeling really good. Really good.
Anyway, the saddest part of this whole thing was that after being off Lexapro for months I started really struggling again. I had to get back on the medication. I was so stressed out from work that I just couldn’t cope. I felt like a failure. I didn’t want to quit my job. It was such a mess that I didn’t realize for a while that my sources of stress and anxiety were mostly coming from work.
I thought this meant that I would have to be on anxiety medications for the rest of my life. Not only is that a bummer that my brain can’t function like it should, it meant that if I did get pregnant my baby would be impacted by this drug. But, I was doing what I had to do and feeling calm and happy again.
Late Spring 2018
I had my annual appointment with the doctor to talk about my progress and what all has been going on. She and I were both pleased. Keto had made a clear and obvious difference in my life and I was feeling mentally very well.
The doctor suggested that I try to get off the Lexapro again. I told her that I thought since I failed before it meant I had to be on it for life. To support my claim, I did learn this from one of the depression/anxiety classes I took at Kaiser. But, the doc said it wasn’t true and she wanted me to try again.
I had an especially difficult time at work this school year, so not only did I know I would be trying to get off the meds in the Summer, but I also knew that I would be quitting my job. It was time to focus on my mental health and well being.
I’ve never felt such a relief as the moment after I gave my notice. It was planned and discussed with my husband, so financially we would be okay. We talked about how I struggled when I wasn’t working because I didn’t have purpose and was bored. Being a homemaker without children is not great for someone who doesn’t like to clean. It was the right time.
I started on 10mg of Lexapro with Ativan as needed for panic attacks. I had been doing Keto for about 10 months. I had the support and encouragement from my medical doctors and my family. I had a plan because I remember how I felt last summer, for the most part.
The plan consists of stepping down 1/4 dose each month until I was off. I also have backup plans for everything ranging from grocery shopping to cooking dinner, household chores (like laundry) to paying bills. I boosted my supplements to support my adrenals, my brain and my sleep from the beginning. And, I’m on Keto but give myself a few extra carbs on the days I want them.
The first month went okay. After a week, I was sick for about 10 days. I thought I had the flu and was losing my mind. Then it occurred to me that it was this detox I was going through, emailed the doctor and she confirmed my suspicions…which actually made me feel less stressed because I wasn’t imagining things. The last couple weeks of the month I felt good. Quite normal. I still did things to keep as calm as possible. I mean, life goes on while I’m doing this.
I’m in the first half of month two right now. I was expecting to have a week or two before feeling sick. That didn’t work out at all! I got sick pretty quickly after the change in doses. But, I didn’t feel quite as terrible and not nearly as many days. Unlike last month, I did have a little bit of an issue with shopping without much care…so now I am the proud owner of 2 new swim suits and my husband has 2 pairs of pants and 2 shorts. He hates it all. I usually am a bit more frugal with the money and feel a bit bad that I spent money on these types of things without talking about it with him. All things considered though, I’ve done worse damage buying a new purse at the mall. Apparently I’m frugal enough to shop at Poshmark while I’m losing touch with my brain. So it’ll be okay. We’ve eaten out a bit more than I would have liked because I don’t want to cook or can’t get to the grocery store to buy more food.
I am gradually getting out of this funk. I am fully aware that it will all come back, or some version of yuckiness will happen when I drop my meds again next month. But I feel amazing today. I actually feel good, like I did well before I had anxiety and whatnot.
I really feel like it’s important to share my story with you. Not because I need you to know me. Not because I feel special. But because when I was going through this I really couldn’t find much information or personal experiences. You are not alone. For those of you with family or friends going through this right now, please be extra kind and forgiving of them and their actions right now…it’s a crazy time with your brain does crazy things.
I’ll keep you updated as things progress in regards to my mental health. I hope you all well. If you have any questions or comments, please write them in the comments section below. If you have a suggestion that you’d like to share, please do!
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