Going Back on Medication in the Pandemic

It took me a while to accept (admit?) that I needed to go back on my psychiatric medication after spending the best part of a year reducing my medication for the first time since I started taking it four years ago. I wanted to see how I would do after years of steady therapy, exercise, acupuncture, and a steady process of learning more about myself and my mental illnesses. And I admit this, I did want to be “normal” and be okay without medication.

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I was doing just fine for months and months. The adjustment period wasn’t fun but it was fine. I was fine and that thrilled me! But after being still fine at the beginning of this pandemic, after a certain point, the wide-sweeping effects of the pandemic and the attendant economic repercussions hit me. Each day I would struggle to focus, to breathe, to be okay, and I would say it’s okay, today’s just a rough day, tomorrow will be better. And I had myself convinced that was the truth.

It wasn’t.

Tomorrow wasn’t better. It was the same. Some days were even worse. I stopped being able to sleep at all. My inability to fall asleep and stay asleep met somewhere in the middle.

I was not fine. Not even a little bit. But I was hoping I could ride it out. Finally, I decided to up my medication when my husband suggested that I was not okay and that I needed to think about going back up on my medication. I sat there and thought, yep, I’m a basket case. I can’t go on like this for weeks or months or (God forbid) years.

It is a completely appropriate reaction to be more anxious than usual right now but all the chamomile tea, essential oils, and walks in the world weren’t helping with the ruminations, my speeding heart rate, and the insomnia. I needed (and need) help getting through this period of history. So I asked my psychiatrist for help. She not only put me back on my medication and in a giant leap (forward, backward?) she prescribed another SSRI just to help with sleep.

And you know what? It’s been amazing. I’ve been taking it for about a week now and I’ve actually been sleeping through the night some nights. Wild.

So now I actually feel okay-ish. I’m not super jumpy and tense all the time. Just some of the time. But enough of the time for my body to relax a bit. I’m able to get work done. I’ve also decided to bake again (like the rest of America).

I didn’t even realize that I missed baking. I used to bake a lot with my mom as a kid and a teenager. I did a lot of hands-on things, like sew, garden, decoupage, bead, and embroider. In fact, in one of my college applications, they asked for my hobbies. Unlike many other high-achieving and ambitious college applicants, I put reading, sewing, and gardening.

I was clearly ahead of my time (this was over ten years ago). Now, all that stuff is cool (or at least cooler) again! So far, I’ve made lemon bars to use up lemons that I panic bought, an Oreo cheesecake and three-layer mint brownies to celebrate my husband’s birthday, and a berry crumble and cobbler because they scream summer to me, and I need me some summer-time with the unseasonable cold and wet weather we’ve had.

I realized that like cooking, I do like making things and getting away from my computer. After years of only indulging my cerebral side, it’s good to use my hands (even if I have to be careful not to overdo it physically—the increased stress has been physically challenging too but that’s another story).

I even bought a lavender grow kit online in a high anxiety moment to try to get some gardening into my apartment life. It has yet to sprout but I’m hopeful. I’m trying to remember to stay hopeful, even if positive is sometimes beyond me. So I’ll keep checking the dirt for seedlings and eat cobbler in the meantime.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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