Sometimes you need a brutal awakening to remind you just how fragile this whole mental health thing is.
This week, I forgot to take my meds.
It was only one pill, on one day – I’m not that bad, surely it won’t be so terrible?!
It began with a mild panic. It was the morning after, sometimes I don’t take my pill until the afternoon because I like to take it with food so that the nausea doesn’t kick in. So I didn’t remember until the following morning when I woke up with my tell tale sign – numb elbows.
I know, it’s a weird one. It’s a mixture of numbness and stiffness. My arms become basically useless, and about a stone heavier each. Usually I only wake like this when I haven’t slept well because I’m nervous about the following day. But nothing was on my mind and I’d slept pretty well, for me.
Anyway, that made me realise I had forgotten to take my tablet.
And then mild panic became quite serious panic…
From then on, I knew that it was all completely psychosomatic, but my arms got heavier, and my lungs felt tighter and I basically had the longest panic attack of my life, it lasted for literally hours. But the weird thing was that eventually it became purely physical.
I rationalised with myself that I’d taken today’s pill and even if today was a bit rough, I knew I’d be back on track soon enough.
And from then on it was like an out of body experience… I could feel my physical sensations happening but felt totally detached from everything. My arms were still weak but I could move them, if clumsily. My breathing was tight and shallow, but I was coping ok. My thoughts weren’t racing. My brain wasn’t overreacting to anything. It was like my body was completely on autopilot and my brain was like “oh for goodness sake, wear yourself out already”.
Once I’d gotten over this strange and freaky day, I realised a few things.
Firstly, I seriously need a routine so I don’t forget to take them again!
Secondly, it was so strange to experience the sensations of a panic attack without actually panicking?! I could see what was happening to my body and could assess it like an outsider. It was a bit like… when you go to the gym, you know that after you’ve done some exercise you’re going to be sweaty and hot and maybe tired, but you know a good sit down will probably solve it and you don’t REALLY think you’re about to die. Well usually, you can’t think straight when a panic attack hits, you don’t think logically, you don’t know what to do for the best, and frankly, you DO think you’re going to die.
Thirdly, it was quite a kick in the face to realise just how much I still need to take my tablets. Yeah sure I’m getting better, but I caught a glimpse of the life I had before and I am not ready to go back there. It has made me realise just how fragile this thing is, and how I can’t can’t can’t let it slip again.
I am on 100mg of Sertraline a day, upped from 50mg
This post is in no way dismissive of the choice to not use medication, it is just a musing about how much they have helped me, and basically a reminder that whatever your choice of recovery (medication, therapy, homeopathy etc) it needs upkeep!! )