Saturday, June 30, 2012

Better Living Through Chemistry

I spent the Christmas holidays in in a state of disbelief. I bought already prepared food for Christmas Eve. My son and his girlfriend cooked lasagna on Christmas Day. There was no tree. I put up a few decorations in a half-hearted attempt to make the house look somewhat festive. We had dinner, just the four of us, Josh, Hilary, Jocelyn and myself. Lots of people invited us to join their celebrations. But how could I inflict myself on anyone else's holiday merriment? The only normal thing I could manage to do was make the Christmas angels. I had been making them for years as breakfast on Christmas Day. But this Christmas I didn't care about traditions. All of our usual traditions were about to change.

I was panicked about being alone. How was I going to run a house? I hadn't paid a bill in thirty
years. Not only did I have my bills to worry about but my sister's as well. I was still not really eating or sleeping. I carried my cell phone around constantly, always worried the hospital would need to talk to me. I was anxious and sad about my future.

Therapy was helping but now I was considering the fact that I might need some pharmacological help. My therapist agreed, but she does not prescribe medication. I called my internist and told him the story over the phone. I asked him for something for anxiety. "I think you might need an anti-depressant," was his reply. I was shocked! I didn't like to take pills at all. I held out for years before he finally convinced me I needed to be on cholesterol and high blood pressure medication. When I hesitated he said he would prescribe them and I could decide when and if to take them. He prescribed the lowest dose possible. Finally, I made the decision that I did need them. I call them my "crazy" pills. In fact I refer to that whole period of time as "when I was crazy." I know that is not politically correct, but it's so true. It is the only way I can describe how I was feeling. Sometimes I take medicine to help me sleep. It allows me to rest and keeps me from thinking of all the things that could come up that I feel unable to handle alone.

Eventually the black mood lifted. I was able to empathize with the problems of others and not focus so much on my own. I was still incredibly sad but there were moments when I actually smiled. I don't know for sure if it was just time or the medication but I don't care. I remember the first time I laughed at work. I was behind the nurses station and someone said something funny. I actually laughed out loud. Something I hadn't done in three months. Mary said, " I think the old Lu is coming back." All of a sudden I started to see the humor in things again. The old Lu wasn't back but someone who very much resembled her was starting to emerge.

Do what you need to do to get yourself past the initial hurdle. Don't be hesitant about therapy or medication. It will help. Don't worry about what others may think or say. Do what feels right to you. Many people will offer advice and opinions. You need to follow your instincts.

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