Archive for the ‘medication’ Category

It is done.

The actual SmartLipo procedure, that is.

The healing process is just starting, and it hurts. And itches. And is generally pretty swollen, bruised, lumpy, and gross.

But it will get better, and I will be better for it.

I was planning on detailing the days immediately leading up to the procedure, but they didn’t really include anything special, aside from avoiding alcohol (which I’m pretty good at anyway), drinking a quart of water a day (which I’m decidedly not very good at, though I’m committed now), and picking up my prescriptions (which turned out to be the only part of this whole process I’d classify as “affordable”).

I picked up my prescriptions on Monday:

All these bad boys cost me a whopping $12.76. Thanks, insurance!

On Tuesday, I went to all my classes like normal, and then boyfriend and I headed up to Coeur d’Alene, which is roughly a two hour drive. We got into town about 8pm, and headed to dinner at a roadhouse type joint I’d been wanting to try for a while. I had some delicious pulled pork and grilled shrimp, and a sweet potato, which sadly I did not photograph. Sad, because it was epically delicious. I’ll snap a picture on a return visit. Promise. Then we checked into the hotel, which was a little dated, but contained a lovely, suite-sized bathroom and comfy king sized bed:

All this, and a view…

We spent the evening watching bad reality TV, and I took my first dose of antibiotics, and first shower with the requisite Hibiclens anti-bacterial wash as instructed. Hibiclens basically smells like rubbing alcohol/hospital hallways, is red, does not foam, and leaves your skin feeling dry and tight. Which was kind of a bummer, since no lotion is allowed in the 24 hours before surgery. But if it prevents infections, I’m all for it:

And yes, I politely wiped off the tub after staging this photo.

The hotel also provided this center-less soap, which at first I thought was kind of ridiculous, but ended up actually really enjoying:

In the morning, I got up about 6:30, called for room service, and took my second Hibiclens-required shower. I picked the hotel because it was the best deal, but mostly because it came with room service. Because I do not do mornings (willingly) and getting up to drive somewhere sounded like a lot of work. I had some delicious French toast crusted with almond flakes and drizzled with a huckleberry compote:

This cost half as much as the room. Seriously. So either the room was a *really* good deal…

After breakfast, which was counter-intuitive to have before a surgical procedure, I dried my hair and gulped down my handful of pills about 45 minutes before I was supposed to be at the surgeon’s office:

Two painkillers, two anti-anxiety/muscle relaxers, and one anti-nausea pill. Done.

Then I had some free time to kill, which I used to pace around nervously and take pictures of my old tummy in the mirror. Because while it is (finally) going away, it will always have been a part of me:

Sweatpants are sexy.

We finally headed out to the doctor’s office and got there promptly at 9:15. At that point, I was still marveling at how I didn’t quite yet feel the effects of the medication, and wondering what it was going to do to me, since taking 2 substantial doses of Ativan is essentially what I presume crack would be like. My awesome nurse, who rotates between calling me “sunshine,” “girlfriend,” and “sweet pea,” settled me into a cushy chair to wait. About five minutes later, I informed her I was going to vomit. My French toast had turned a marvelous blue color (no pictures of that). That was the point where I realized the drugs had kicked in and I no longer cared what was going on around me.

Somewhere in all of this, I donned on my extra-sexy disposable panties and robe they gave me (I assume the nurse was involved in the process, but honestly, I remember very little), took some pre-op pictures, and walked down the hall to the surgery room. The nurse put some little covers over my eyes, and for the next three or so hours, I recalled vague snippits of conversation, saying “Ow” a few times when asked if I needed more local anesthetic on my tummy, and at one point the surgeon noting they’d taken out a liter of fat.

SmartLipo didn’t really hurt too much while it was happening. I could vaguely feel the instrument under the skin moving around, but by that point, the Ativan had done it’s work and I could have cared less. It took me a full 24 hours to realize that two of the incisions are about an inch up from my lady-parts. Do no remember the surgeon being down there…

Eventually, they stood me up, assessed, laid me back down, took off some more fat, and called it good. Then the nurse had me stand and balance against a counter while she zipped me into my compression garment. Which, I might add, is crotchless and has simultaneously become my best friend/worst enemy. My bra was very bloody and gross from things running up my back (this is normal, apparently), so we took that off, and she took me to the recovery room to hang out for a little while until I was coherent. Boyfriend had apparently been at the grocery store for most of this time, and him and the nurse chatted about the medical benefits of orange juice and saltines while I munched on some of my own saltines, apple sauce, and apple juice. When I was mostly back on the same planet as everyone else, the nurse helped pour me back into my clothes and the doctor wheeled me out to my truck in a wheelchair. I remember thinking at the time that it was odd for the actual doctor to do that, so bonus points for him.

Back at the hotel all of 5 minutes later, I curled up into bed and promptly slept for the next six hours.

I woke up long enough to direct boyfriend to purchase me a mushroom-swiss burger and salad (they said to eat whatever I wanted…) and went back to sleep until he got back from picking up dinner. By that point it was about 8pm. I ate about half my burger (which was delicious, and everything I was hoping for), took one painkiller, and went back to sleep.

The next morning, I got out of bed (which hurt a lot), and we checked out of the hotel before heading to the surgeon’s office for a post-op check up. We pulled into the parking lot at the same time as the doctor, headed up to the exam room, and I got to change into another fashion-forward pair of disposable panties for round two of picture taking. This time, I got a sweet print out of before and after shots. The doctor said everything looked good, the nurse changed my bandages and dressed my incisions (I have four of them, one below each side of my ribs and two about an inch above my ladyparts), gave me instructions for my first post-op shower (which couldn’t happen for 48 hours), and boyfriend and I headed home.

Somewhere along the way, he decided it was necessary to go to Harbor Freight, so we drove back through Washington, which was a terrible idea, because Washington’s idea of road maintenance is to not do it. Bumps were not my idea of fun, but I survived. We swung into Target for a few minutes so I could buy some boyshorts (these, I’ve learned, are the post-op undergarment of choice, because they fit nicely over the compression garment, which is crotchless). Limping around was actually a nice change after not moving for 24 hours. We swung through Hu Hot Mongolian grill for lunch (win, as I could get mostly veggies and a giant 7-up zero with cherry!) and then drove the rest of the way home. Where I promptly went back to bed for the rest of the day.

On Friday, I waited for boyfriend to get home from work so I could shower and wash my compression garment. By hand. It took forever to dry, which sucked, because while I was ecstatic to get it off for a while, by the time it was dry three hours later, I was achy and ready to put it back on. They recommend you buy two for this reason, but at $100 a pop, I couldn’t justify it for something I’ll only wear for two weeks of my life. The nurse said that was okay…

I was only allowed in the shower for 15 minutes (I’m not good at short showers…sue me…I had enough 2 minute dirty-water ones when I was a kid to make up for it) and boyfriend had to stand there the whole time to make sure I didn’t pass out, as per the doctor’s orders. I was really sore and limpy the next day (turning over in bed, standing up, and bending over are decidedly not fun), and I have a strange sore/numb sensation on my stomach that I’m not a fan of, but it’s supposed to go away in 6-8 weeks. All in all, the experience has been pretty manageable, and I’m able to get around the house now without too much discomfort. I’m applying cold for an hour or two each day to help with swelling and taking it easy. And hanging out with my cat.

Pictures of the results, coming up…

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As my quest to get totally healthy and happy continues, I find myself questioning situations in new ways. The way I process things has changed significantly in the last couple of years, to the point where things I used to just do I now sometimes over-think and over-analyze.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if it helps me get to the bottom of my emotions which have bounced around all over the place for most of my life.

When I stopped taking anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications about a year ago, I was afraid that I’d slide back into the place where my emotions hit peaks and valleys every few hours and made me feel like I was stuck on a bad roller coaster I couldn’t get off of. That hasn’t happened for the most part…the coping skills I learned in therapy helped me stay more balanced and to stop and consider why things were making me feel certain ways.

I found that I had to spend a lot of time working on my attitude, and my negativity. Negativity has always been kind of a knee-jerk response for me, because I’ve spent a lot of my life expecting things I want to be taken away; things I’ve worked hard for to not come out how I’d hoped. I never realized it was such a pervasive part of my life until I got help. For the most part, I’m better at catching myself when negative thinking starts to creep in, but I still struggle with not letting little things bother me.

Even things that don’t affect me.

Like this evening, when boyfriend asked if I’d heard about Paula Dean’s announcement that she has diabetes.

I have.

“It pisses me off,” I [innocently, or so I thought] informed him, “because she’s insinuating that it’s not a big deal, and that it’s fine for her to continue eating the same things even though she has a serious condition. She should be a better role model.”

Then boyfriend accused me of being too negative, which made me mad, because I felt like I was just responding to his initial inquiry, so I yelled at him and informed him that I’m sick of feeling like he’s setting me up for failure by trying to dictate how I should respond to his questions. Since I can’t know what he’s thinking, I can’t always respond how he wants me to. Am I supposed to lie, and pretend things don’t bother me when they really do?

Eventually we retreated to our respective corners and discussed things, and he told me that for him it comes down to my response…still. It’s not a problem that I think Paula Dean should be a better role model; it’s a problem in his mind that I let something that absolutely doesn’t affect me become that big of a deal that it pisses me off.

Fair enough.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as I start to put my music out into the world and prepare to face the inevitable barrage of negative feedback that is sure to accompany the positive.  Getting to a point where that negativity doesn’t bother me, and recognizing that it doesn’t have to affect me unless I let it, is going to be a process, but it’s going to start with making these other little changes, like not being phased by what a TV personality does. I can disagree with it, but it doesn’t have to piss me off. It can just be what it is.

But seriously Paula Dean…behave yourself. There are kids watching you.

Blah

Posted: July 17, 2011 in medication, weight loss

I know I need to get back on top of this whole blogging thing. For me. Because I think it’s healthy to write about things. It has been a VERY stressful last couple of weeks.

I stopped taking Effexor. After three years, the withdrawals were crazy intense. I was expecting things to get interesting as I phased off the medication, but I don’t think I was prepared for how intense the withdrawal symptoms were going to be. I felt everything from flu-like aches that lasted for days to jitters and shakes, fevers, cold sweats, severe dizziness and lack of energy to nausea and depression. By day 4 of no medication in the system, I was experiencing random bouts of crying for absolutely no reason.

That culminated in an explosive (no pun intended) all-out fight with boyfriend following the 4th of July fireworks show we attended. I had a panic attack, for the first time in over four years, and it was absolutely TERRIFYING experiencing a panic attack while coming off of the medication that I started taking to stop having panic attacks in the first place. After a few more days of essentially balling up on the couch, things started getting better, and I think I’m finally through the worst of the symptoms. I still feel a little light-headed when I stand up, but other than that I feel almost…normal?

Being able to go about my daily life and not have severe, debilitating anxiety attacks is pretty amazing. My band had a performance last Saturday that didn’t go as well as I might have hoped, but it was good to learn that I could get through that and be totally fine. I wasn’t even nervous when I went on stage, and for someone who was terrified at the thought of singing karaoke a year ago, that’s a pretty huge step. Doing it without medication? Even better.

I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with my diet and exercise too, and I’ve been enjoying testing out healthy new recipes in my kitchen with fresh ingredients I pick up at the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings are also time that I get to spend with a good friend, and that in and of itself is a huge, positive step, and a case study in how far I’ve come. When I met this particular friend, I really didn’t have a lot of friends. My therapist had been encouraging me to try to meet new people outside of my department, so I poked around on myspace half-heartedly for a while and stumbled onto a profile for a grad student who also loved the Deadliest Catch and was looking to meet new people. We chatted on myspace for a few days (bonus points to her for rolling with this and not thinking I was totally creepy) and eventually met up for coffee. I embrace all the cliches here when I say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It’s pretty amazing to think about how far I’ve really come in the last year, isn’t it Ladypants?

Here, a glimpse at some of the healthy yummies I’ve been experimenting with:

One of my all time favorite salads - mixed greens, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and a little bleu cheese with fat free raspberry vinigarette.

Fingerling potatoes, corn on the cob, and baked tilapia. Delicious.

Baby beets and carrots with fresh cilantro and pomegranate basalmic vinegar. I added beet greens at the end for extra flavor. Yummy!

I’m doing pretty good with eating healthy and exercising lately. I’ve lost almost 5 pounds, and I finally feel like my weight loss is back on the right track. Yay for that! I’m even more excited about this because it’s been a terrible, stressful week (more on that later). I’m in the final days of weaning myself off of Effexor, which I’ve been taking for about 3 years, and the withdrawal has not been fun. I feel dizzy, nauseous, jittery, and lethargic.  I’m hypersensitive to everything, and the tiniest things are making me want to crawl into bed and cry. This happened when my dosage was reduced from 75 to 37.5 mg too, and since I’ve been through the withdrawal process once before I have a lot of hope that things will balance out in a few more days. It just sucks in the meantime. To top it all off, there have been new developments with grad school, and I’m seriously thinking about quitting. Again.

Anyway. I thought it would be fun to start taking pictures of some of the everyday things that make up my life. So here are some pictures of what I’ve been munching on this week…

BLT Wrap with Watermelon

 

Friday Morning Breakfast

 

Dinner Salad

 

Instead of dwelling on how much I hate being in grad school, I’m trying really hard to focus on my friendships and stay positive in my life. Coffee with a friend and a walk around the farmer’s market goes a long way. I remember the times before I had a lot of secure, strong friendships and remind myself to look back once in a while and see how far I’ve come in the past few years.

Something I couldn’t have done two or three years ago:

My band, Jackson Blue, at our debut performance on June 17th.

Today I got yet another reminder of how importance persistence and tenacity are, as well as another chance to work on not letting my trauma brain take over. It’s amazing how the littlest things can trigger trauma brain to kick in and start raising my anxiety levels. It’s a little surreal to find myself in the position of middle manager between my healthy, intellectual brain and my trauma brain. Now that I’m capable of recognizing when trauma brain is trying to take over, I can generally calm myself down without having an anxiety attack. Reaching this stage in my healing process makes me feel confident that I’m prepared to ease off my medication soon, which is a goal I’ve had for a long time. I’ve been taking Effexor for about 2 years now, and for the past six months or so I’ve been on an extremely low dose (37.5 mg per day). For the first few weeks that I took the lower dose, I did notice some moodiness and heightened anxiety, but that gradually balanced out. I’m expecting that when I go off the medication, I’ll experience something similar, but knowing that it’s going to get better gives me a lot of confidence that everything is going to be okay.

Back to today.  I got a text message this afternoon from the girlfriend of the bass player in the band I joined asking if I could meet up with her for drinks. She characterized this as “girl talk,” but insisted that it was nothing bad. Still, somewhere in the back of my head, even though I knew that the most likely situation really didn’t involve anything bad happening, I was nervous. Really nervous. My stomach tightened up and I could feel the anxiety coming on. My mind instantly went to the worst case scenario – that this was going to be an uncomfortable talk that somehow involved something going wrong with the band. I recognized that my trauma brain was taking over and told myself to breathe and work through it. Trauma brain insisted that practice last night wasn’t that great…we learned a lot, but it was a difficult night for me vocally. I jumped right to worst case scenarios…my voice just wasn’t strong enough to allow them to keep me in the band; they just really weren’t feeling it; I needed way too much work…

Flash forward to a few hours later. I arrived at the bar for drinks, composed, but still nervous. The conversation started off in a direction that made me nervous, but as it progressed it finally sank in for me that I was making myself a wreck on the inside for nothing. While we were talking about personalities in the band and how the group dynamic developed, I wavered between waiting for the hammer to fall and telling myself that I was reading too much into things. Then she insisted that she had been meaning to have this conversation with me for a couple of weeks and I relaxed…it had nothing to do with last night’s practice, or any other practice. She was trying to give me friendly advice and insight because she wants this band to work, and so do all the other guys in it. They wanted to make sure I was comfortable. Not only was nothing wrong with the band, but she was trying to reassure me that all of the guys in the band (who are guys, and therefore will probably never tell me this on their own) are really and truly excited about having me join. They’re nervous about being too critical or pushing me too hard – which is reassuring in a strange way. I’ve been so worried about making a mistake that would screw up everything I love about this band, I haven’t taken as much notice as I should have of the things that are working well…and there are a lot of them. This goes back to my trauma brain, which tells me not to get too excited over anything, because my past experience tells me that any time something good happens to me, something bad will follow. I’m in a healthy place now and making healthy decisions based on thoughtful consideration, so I have every reason to believe this won’t be the case. Yes, there will still be disappointments and challenges, but those are part of life. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the good things too as they happen.

I left drinks feeling much better, and also more bonded with my band mates, even though none of them were actually present. Learning that they were getting disillusioned about the prospects of finding the right lead singer at the same time I was getting disillusioned about finding the right band mates was a strange sort of reminder that timing does happen at certain times for certain reasons. I truly do believe that we end up in the places we need to be at the times we need to be there for a reason, and this is a case where finally the timing and all the other factors fell into place. All the other bands I auditioned for that weren’t the right fit were trial runs for this one – and it looks like it’s going be a great experience. I love that my band mates have a lot of experience and a lot of technical knowledge that I can learn from, and after the conversation I had this evening I feel even more confident asking for their guidance and input because it’s clear to me now that they are excited about having me grow right along with them as part of the band. They are willing to invest the time and effort that it takes to make this all come together, and that’s the best kind of support system I could possibly have. Finally finding the right group of people to work with who can give me constructive criticism and feedback and help me improve is a really good feeling. I’m grateful for all the experiences that have gotten me to this point – steps forward and setbacks alike.

Someone told me once that attitude is the only thing 100% in my control. For a lot of the past 10 years since he told me that, I’ve been too anxious and too traumatized to really put it into practice in my life…it’s hard to have a good attitude when you’re miserable and depressed and hurt and angry and don’t understand why. I still struggle with this, but it’s good to finally see myself coming out at a healthy place where I can have control of my attitude…maybe not 100% of the time, but I’m working on it.

I’m still having a hard time dealing with the rampant drama in my department, and the fact that my main adviser has all but dropped off the face of the earth. He resurfaces every now and then, either because the chair of the department has contacted him to demand that he take care of some specific task (hello, prelim reading list…which I still had to get from another professor), or because he has demands of his own that he communicates through middle men who probably don’t want to play that role. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, because anything I do is going to entail the beginning of World War III. I’m also starting to feel like my professor is using his position to bully me into doing certain things, whether it’s taking classes I don’t need, doing research that isn’t benefiting me, or giving high marks to students that don’t deserve them (all of which he’s done in the past year, before going on sabbatical and dropping off the face of the planet).

Yesterday morning one of my professors that I don’t actually have any classes with right now dropped into my office to say hello and ask how I was doing. She asked how trying to study for my prelims was going, and whether or not my adviser had finally gotten my materials to me. I caught her up to date with the situation, which hasn’t changed much since last semester when I had a class with her, and mentioned that I was considering the possibility of changing advisers if I could convince one of the other members of my exam committee to take me on. She was very supportive of the idea, and suggested a coffee date next week to talk about the idea some more.

Then I meandered down the hall to talk to the second chair on my committee. He technically only specializes in one of my two fields, but he’s brilliant and I’m very lucky to work with him. I asked if he would consider switching to being my first chair…and he said no. For a long list of personal reasons which had nothing to do with me. Even though I understood where he was coming from, it still sucked to be told no. The fact that he recognized it wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear did strangely help, but it is testing all of my newly acquired life skills to manage the fact that even though this person has rejected one request, he is still working with me in other capacities. No matter what he thinks about this decision, I still have to interact with him almost daily. And I have to do it with a great deal of respect, which this professor rightly deserves. Not being able to resort to my habitual default plan (run, hide, cry, scream, have anxiety attacks, sleep too much, be depressed, snap at people, and skin pick, or some combination of the above), was difficult. To be honest, I did pick my skin significantly yesterday, but even this was drastically reduced over what I would have done even, say, a year ago.  I used to pick my skin until it bled…sometimes for hours at a time. Yesterday I lost perhaps a total of 20 minutes to picking. This is on the one hand basically nothing, and on the other hand a little devastating, because I wish the therapy were progressing faster. One of the things I’m still struggling to learn how to do is take a breath and just calm down for a second when things start getting overwhelming. It’s a lofty goal that’s easier said than done.

Back to the opinion spectrum. By 10:30 yesterday morning, I had two opposite opinions about what I should do. One professor said to jump off that ship before it sank any farther. The other said to stay on that ship and patch it up by whatever means were necessary. In the afternoon, in anticipation of yet another meeting with a professor who actually scares me with his enormously high standards, I went to talk to my department chair to get his feedback. He laid out numerous possibilities, some of which were feasible and some of which made me want to throw up in his wastebasket.  I didn’t, and went home to mull the possibilities (which now ran the spectrum from doing nothing to initiating World War III) and pick my skin instead. I was very very anxious about my meeting this afternoon, and lost sleep over it.

This morning, I decided to take a chance and drop by scary professor’s office during his office hours instead of waiting until my meeting this afternoon in the hopes of just getting it over with. He’s actually very nice, but I’m always afraid I’m going to piss him off unintentionally because his standards are so insanely different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It actually went fine, and I left feeling strangely relieved, even though nothing was really solved.

I’ve had four meetings, gotten four different opinions, and still have no plan of action…but I did get my Effexor prescription refilled, have lunch with a friend, and make significant progress in finishing an article that I’ve been working on for what feels like forever. I also picked at my skin a little bit this morning. Not sure what to make of this strange mix of healthy and unhealthy responses.

The bottom line: if you’re going to jump off of one ship that’s sinking, you have to have something else to jump on to. Easier said than done. Especially if you don’t know how to swim. I don’t. But I have every intention of learning.

I have a professor who qualifies as one of those rare people who is both impossible to please, but generally right, making it impossible to be legitimately angry with him. I feel like every time I turn around I’m doing something to make him mad, whether it’s failing to include the correct introductory sentence in my emails or needing to leave class thirty minutes early to make it to a funeral. There are many days when I feel like I can’t do anything right, and I’m not the kind of person who can manage to not let things like this get to me.

The disconnect comes from the fact that he has impossibly high standards, but they’re also legitimate ones, and the higher he raises them, the harder I keep trying to earn his approval. In some says it’s a throwback to my childhood of always seeking approval. On the other hand, there’s really nothing unhealthy about it, and as long as I remain aware of my tendencies of constantly seeking approval, I can keep them in check without too much trouble. This is a solid indication that my therapy is working and paying off, so in that sense it’s a good thing.

At the same time, it’s hard to reconcile in my head sometimes. The fact that I’m getting to a place now where I can start to manage these things without needing medication is a good sign.

When it comes to medication, I’ve tried a lot of them. The first anxiety-related medication I started taking wasn’t directly related to my anxiety at all…I started taking Detrol LA the summer I graduated from high school. I was teased for years about my tiny bladder, and by the time I made it to high school, I had a hard time making it for more than an hour without using the bathroom. It seriously impacted my ability to function – I couldn’t even sit through a movie most of the time without having to leave half way through. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it through my college classes, so I asked the doctor for a prescription. I took it for a few years, and then finally gave up because I still felt like I was having to use the bathroom all the time. I also started taking Prozac in college, before a trip to Europe that I was terrified of going on. A few months after I got home, I stopped taking it because I didn’t notice much of a difference. I had rabid panic attacks the entire time I was away, and I still had to use the bathroom all the time, so I gave up on the medication all together.

When I went to Alaska, my therapist thought Cymbalta might yield better results, so I started taking that. It was then that I learned why the Detrol LA wasn’t working on my frequent bathroom trips – I had to pee all the time because I was anxious, and that affects nerves. The Detrol works by calming muscles, so essentially not only did I have to pee all the time, I couldn’t actually fully empty my bladder, compounding the problem. Before this takes a header off the diving board into the “too much information” category, I’ll just sum up by saying that when I stopped taking the Detrol and started working on organically managing my anxiety, my tiny bladder problem improved dramatically on its own. I still have issues when I get really anxious, but most of the time, I’m just fine.

I stopped taking the Cymbalta cold turkey [side note: bad idea. Never EVER stop taking medication cold turkey. In addition to mood swings and other side effects, abruptly quitting the medication causes severe dizziness in some people, as it did with me]. when I got back from Alaska. Though my panic attacks were better while I was in Alaska, I was tired of medication that wasn’t helping me control my skin picking and wasn’t eliminating my panic and depression entirely. After about a year off of medication, I decided to give it another try, because I thought it might help me while I worked through some underlying issues (which, as it turned out, went much deeper than I had imagined). After consulting with my doctor and my therapist, we decided to give Effexor XR a try.

The first few days I instantly noticed a difference in comparison to the Prozac or Cymbalta. I felt totally numb…a bomb could have gone off next to me and I probably wouldn’t have cared. I decided to trust the therapist, who thought we should give it two weeks – if I still felt out of it and disoriented, I’d come off of it. My mood balanced out after a few more days, and I began to notice that I felt more calm and was better able to think about what was happening in a situation before reacting out of anxiety or panic. I felt more in control and level-headed. It didn’t eliminate my skin picking or my anxiety, but it did give me some breathing room to work on deeper issues.

I’m now approaching a place where I’m ready to be off of all my medication and getting back into the real world on my own. I’ve stepped down to half the dose of Effexor I was originally taking, and I’m ready to phase off of it by the summer. Scary? Yes. But also exciting. I truly believe that medication is a great thing when used properly and under the supervision of a professional, like a therapist. On it’s own, it’s not a cure-all – I’ve learned that one pill a day won’t fix everything. When that was my hope, I was, of course, disappointed. But there is a place for medication, and in the right situation it does work. I’m living (and still imperfect) proof.